Words and Images by April Rose Manalo–
My brother was graduating summa cum laude and wished to celebrate with his family, so I fought my way to getting a week of vacation to attend the ceremony and spend some time with them. Five days turned out to be too short to be in that island, especially with loved ones, but I was able to get almost the most out of it. So to those who equally would have to haggle with their work schedules to come to this place, here are a few recommendations that would make your quick stay worthwhile:
- Immerse in Poly Culture
Go to the Polynesian Cultural Center, where you will likely find a tour guide who is a native speaker of your language. Visit originals and replicas of revered sites, be awed and entertained by musical and fire performances of young Polys, dance hula and Tahitian, have a crab and macadamia ice cream dinner at Prime Dining, all the while with a plumeria in your hair (adorn over the right ear for single ladies and the left for married women).
2. Observe Graduation Rites
If you go to Brigham Young University Hawaii, take photos with graduates representing over 30 countries covered to their noses with heaps of the most creative leis!
3.) Visit a Latter-Day Saints’ Temple
Adjacent to the Brigham Young University is the paradisiacal garden of the Temple Visitors’ Center for a little peaceful break.
Go to the nearest bus stop, hop on and get off at any other stop to stroll, swim, eat, shop, or take photos. Rent a car for a road trip and take in the blues, greens, flowers, windmills, and mountains.
Join locals for a homemade dinner of poi (soft, mashed taro root) and savory kalua pork. Find a place to nibble on some garlic shrimps. Cool down with a bowl of colorful shave ice (do NOT forget to add condensed milk). Whenever craving for something familiar, there are sumptuous burgers from Seven Brothers in Laie; eat-till-you-drop lunch in the BYUH cafeteria; mini truck-delivered Japanese from Genki Sushi in Kaneohe; and THE dessert from Cheesecake Factory in Honolulu.
6.) Have something pineapple
Get lost in the 2008 World’s Largest Maze shaped like – yes – a pineapple and not break a sweat even at noonday. If you go with a kid and it’s near harvest season, get on the train to see the plantation. Then follow your nose to the snack bar and grab your favorite pastry with a cup of pineapple sundae.
7.) See and Shop
Explore Polynesian originals (carvings, wares, accessories) in PCC. Visit the subdued vintage shop in Hale’iwa. Let your eyes feast on the wide variety of items and treats at the large cheery Dole store. Take home a book or all the cute stuff you fancy from the university bookstore. Get the best deals for floral outfits and bags (just scan well to find that print) from Ross or gifts for family and friends back home from Walmart.
Dive off the rock in Waimeya if you dare. Watch the sunset in Waikiki. If you feel for a break from the waves, take a dip in the Ko Olina lagoon. Warning: At about ten in the morning, you may be shivering in the water but you will feel the sun scorching your skin; that’s time to find shade.
(About the author: April Rose Manalo is currently taking her Masters in Nursing in the University of the Philippines-Manila. She has been a Latter-Day Saint missionary in the Dominican Republic prior Graduate School)