Oahu, Hawaii

Aloha, friends!  The husband and I just returned from another adventure, this time about 6,000 miles away in the state of Hawaii.  As many of you know, the husband has been traveling there for work for many months (and will continue to do so for the rest of the year, at least), so we planned for me to join one of his summer trips a few months ago.  This was my second time to Hawaii, but first time to Oahu (my first visit, we stayed on Maui).  We had a pretty good time with the husband showing me some of his new haunts in his home away from home and discovering some new adventures.  He ended up having an extra day off of work while there so we ended up having pretty much 4 full days to spend together, which was nice.  His company puts him up at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki, so that’s where we stayed.  The room was decent enough- clean, spacious.  We had a balcony with a view of Diamond Head which was nice.  I will say that I was not happy (insert pouty face here) that the hotel pool is currently under renovation, so no pool time for me!  Also breakfast here is way overpriced for the buffet, but since the husband’s breakfast was covered by his company’s reservations, it worked out ok for us.  So… since I just know that you’re all dying of anticipation to hear what we did, wait to further… 😉

Day 1:  Thurs:  This was really just my travel day.  The husband had a usual work day in Honolulu.  I left the ‘Noke at 5:20 a.m. to go through Charlotte and Phoenix, on my way to Kona.  Kona- btw, very interesting airport.  It’s all outdoors and very lovely. But confusing as heck when you are unaware that you have to completely leave the gate area you arrived at to recheck in thru security, etc to get to your next gate.  Good thing  I had a 2 hour layover here!  From there is was on to Honolulu, where I arrived around 6 p.m. local time (around midnight EST).  The hubs met me at the airport and after dropping of my small bag at the hotel and grabbing a quick shower, we headed out to an early (and easy) dinner at the nearby Moana Surfrider Hotel.  We ate at their outdoors cafe where they had a couple of musicians providing entertainment.  After a dinner of sliders and chips, the hubs insisted on walking around a bit so I could see some of the street performers in the area which was quite the hoot.  Then it was off to an early bedtime for me!

views from the top of Diamond Head

Day 2:  We were up pretty early on Friday (darn that whole time zone thing) so we stopped by a coffee shop to grab a bite to eat before heading out to hike Diamond Head, part of the exterior of the crater from an extinct volcano.  I will say, that walk started out ok, but lord have mercy- there are some serious stairs to climb as you go up the mountain.  After hiking, we stopped for lunch at the South Shore Grill on the way back to the hotel.  This is just a hole in the wall place where you order at the counter and then find a seat to eat, but they seriously had the BEST fist tacos ever!  They were amazing.  After lunch, we headed back to the hotel to rest a bit and then headed back out to do some more sightseeing.  We started out at the Pali overlook, which is basically at the top of a huge cliff where many soldiers lost their lives in the battles to unite the Hawaiian islands.  We proceeded east to go on a hike to the Moana Falls.  Now, this hike was a little more interesting than the Diamond Head one.  The Moana Falls are deep into a more rain forest environment and the walk isn’t nearly as much of a climb.  Personally, I preferred this hike because of the scenery– there are some amazing examples of Hawaiian flora along the way.  That said, one should definitely wear hiking boots here (at the very least, old tennis shoes).  The trail is extremely muddy and can be a little slippery and treacherous in a couple of areas.  The hike itself ends at the falls, which are lovely, and then sends you back the way you came to return to your car.  After getting back to the hotel, we headed down the beach to cool off for a bit before dinner.  The ocean water was a little rough and pretty darn cold, but we enjoyed a sunset on the beach anyway.  For dinner after such a long day, we decided to just order in room service and enjoy a bottle of wine that one of the husband’s coworkers had graciously sent up.  (BTW I highly recommend the Hyatt’s room-service pizza.  It’s actually quite good!)

the trail to Moana Falls

the falls

Day 3:  Up early again for breakfast at the hotel.  The buffet at the Hyatt is pretty decent, but it should be for $30 per person.  After breakfast, we headed out to Hanauma Bay for some snorkeling.  We spent several hours at this gorgeous bay swimming with fishes and turtles and laying out by the water.  I know the hubs had a lot of fun, and I think I did pretty well on my first “real” attempt at snorkeling.  We did see a ton of amazing fish– all sizes and colors.  It’s pretty cool just how close some of them will get to you!  After leaving Hanauma Bay, we grabbed a quick lunch and then drove around visiting some overlooks and scenery spots.   This night, we enjoyed a lovely dinner at House Without a Key.  It’s a Waikiki tourist standard with great service, live music, ocean views, and delicious food.  The blackened Mahi that we both had that night was fantastic!

time for snorkeling!

 

Day 4:  Up and at ’em early again with some more breakfast buffet.  Then it was off on a leisurely drive around the island to get to the North Shore.  We had a lovely drive with some fantastic roadside scenery, but honestly I was a little underwhelmed by the time we got to Hale’iwa.  My mistake, I guess, was thinking we heading to see a quaint little town when it’s really anything but.  There were hundreds of cars rolling thru and people everywhere.  Needless to say, we continued on our merry way enjoying the drive back down to Waikiki.  We stopped for lunch at Big City Diner near the hotel and I had a pretty decent Ahi sandwich.  It’s a large Hawaiian-chain diner so that’s what one should expect, but the food was pretty decent (as were the prices).  Though, the hubs does not recommend the garlic fries, ha.   After a late afternoon nap back at the hotel, we had a fantastic dinner at Hula Grill.  I ordered the special which featured two local fish– the Ono (yes, I ate a wahoo!) and the Opah.  Both were amazing.  We asked for a seat on the lanai and had a great table right at the railing (the restaurant is 2nd floor) overlooking the beach. 

Day 5:  LOST! This was probably my favorite day of the trip.  Both husband and I were/are huge fans of the T.V. series, LOST.  Seriously, we LOVED that show.  So, of course we had to plan to do one of the LOST tours of the island since pretty much the entire series was filmed on Oahu.  Since we had a late flight, we decided to dedicate the whole day to the tour and scheduled a ten-hour Hummer tour through KOS tours.  Now, I know that ten hours seems like a lot, but honestly, it wasn’t that bad.  It never really felt that long (well, at least not until we were stuck in traffic on the way back to the hotel, lol).  We were able to see so many awesome sites where they filmed the show and had such a great time.  We got to visit the Orchid station, the bear cages, the beach where the plane crashed, the beach where the survivors’ camp was, the temple where Jin and Sun got married, the field they used for Eko’s village in Nigeria, the rocks where Desmond killed Kelvin, Dogen’s temple, the waterfall where Kate and Sawyer found the guns, and, of course, the Others’ camp, aka Dharmaville!  Plus a few other places inbetween.  For any fan of the show, I highly recommend it.  The whole tour was seriously awesome.  Our guide was a lot of fun and actually seemed genuinely interested in the show as well.  We had lunch at a shrimp shack that now stands in the place of the shrimp truck where Sawyer killed the wrong “Sawyer.”  Pure awesomeness!  After enjoying the day touring the island thru the eyes of LOST, it was time to head to the airport to begin the long flight home!

what's left of the Orchid

the bridge where Jin proposed and the temple where Jin and Sun were married

Dharma barracks

Ben's porch

Roanoke Restaurant: Alejandro’s

Alejandro’s

  • Dress:  casual
  • Food:  Mexican
  • Price:  $
  • Hours:  11 am – 10pm M-Th, 11 am – 11 pm F-Sat, noon- 9 pm Sun
  • Alcohol:  yes
  • Outdoor dining:  yes
  • Good for:  friends evening out, happy hour, couples looking for a casual meal, families
  • Overall Rating: ****
  • website:  http://alejandrosmexicangrill.com/
  •     Alejandro’s is a smaller Mexican restaurant that opened downtown back in 2007.  They opened a second location in North Roanoke a year later, and I believe have now opened one in the New River Valley.

        This experience is from the Hollins location in North Roanoke.  I prefer this location because of the size of the restaurant and it is closer to where I live.  The downtown one is easily overcrowded some nights and this makes it difficult to get to the salsa bar.  Salsa bar, you say?  Yup.  This is one of the distinguishing features of Alejandro’s making it a little different from some of the area’s other Mexican eateries.  There are 12 different salsas on the salsa bar that you can choose from to accompany your chips– which are of course obligatory for any Mexican restaurant.  This visit I went with a combo mixture of the Hot and Mild regular tomato-based salsa and tried the cold cucumber salsa, which was yummy!    I’m a fan of most of the salsas that I’ve tried but I do find that other than the one Hot sauce, many lack heat, so I always try to mix a little of that in to what whichever type I’m getting. 

       Often when I eat here with friends, I’ve seen them get several different entrees, some of which look great, some not so much.  But I pretty much always go with the grilled chicken quesadilla.   Sometimes I do feel like this is a copout- but you have to understand, this place makes the BEST quesadillas!  Seriously, they are just so yummy I can almost never bring myself to get anything else!  I did decide to accompany tonight’s quesadilla with a strawberry margarita (which was huge btw) and quite good as well.  My dining companion also had a quesadilla (cheese) and I don’t believe that I heard any complaints!

        The overall atmosphere at the restaurant is pretty laid back and festive.  The decor isn’t too cheesy or anything, there are always TVs showing the latest soccer games, and service is almost always on the ball.  I’d definitely recommend Alejandro’s for a casual night out with family or friends!