Updated: Jan 30
Bob Marley's Three Little Birds will never have more meaning to me! The large TV in the communal area, if not on a specific channel, would often be playing Bob Marley YouTube videos, so apt for a totally chilled place.
My British tourist visa for Australia requires that I only stay there for a maximum of three months per visit. I can exit Australian borders, then return for another three months. Due to having another trip booked, outside Australia at the end of March requiring I leave from Australia, it kind of clashed with getting out after three months, so I exited Australia after two months to enable me to return for a comfortable period before my next adventure, which is going to need additional planning and shopping!
My first choice for a visa break was Bali, because my best mate Ruth is going to be there in March, and it is a relatively short flight, but the dates didn’t fit with my plans. The next best was New Zealand. I’d only been to Rotorua before, so there was much more of the North Island to see, and also the south Island, and I'd love to return to see Celia and John.
But a Qantas ad for cheap flights to Hawaii caught my eye! $400 each way and only a 10 hour flight. The baggage allowance was good also, two bags 23kgs, which meant I could take Stumpy (my bike) with me as one piece of luggage, in his bike bag he weight 23kgs.
I did some research, the choice was to go to the Big Island's Hilo airport or O’ahu island’s Honolulu airport. Being on a bucket list binge, going to the Big Island was attractive as I could see an active volcano and tick that off, but something was drawing me toward O’ahu, in particular Waikiki.
It took me a couple of weeks to firm up my plans; how long, where to stay etc. I investigated camping but was put off by all the mozzie stories, and so glad I didn’t as it rained. A lot! And I still got mozzie bites, when out hiking and cycling, again a lot!
I also looked at HelpXing, I read up on a couple of places but they were all a bit arty farty dippy hippy. I didn’t fancy treading on egg shells worrying whether I was being ecologically safe enough. Not that I don’t agree with looking after our planet, more I didn’t want to feel like I was being watched! And I wanted more of a complete rest, so started looking at cheap hotels, then found the Polynesian Hostel on Lemon Road, Waikiki.
It took a bit of email ping pong with the Poly Hostel to organise a dorm where I could keep Stumpy with me. Shelley the manager, must have thought she had some right weirdo turning up, but she was most patient and accommodating, and organised a dorm that I could keep Stumpy in.
The last quandary I had was regarding a car, should I hire or not, I was planning to, it would be $1000 for a month. I couldn’t decide so I held off booking. Which was good because I needed to buy a new laptop just before I left as my old one died, so the money was gone.
So all booked, Poly Hostel in Waikiki from the 4th February to 4th March, flights booked, transfer booked, no hire car.
From Albury NSW, I needed to fly to Sydney then take another flight from Sydney to Honolulu.
The flight out was great as the bike and bag would be transferred by the airline, so no rushing between domestic and International terminals with the bike, which is such a pain as there’s never enough time between flights not to get flustered! I love having Stumpy with me, but it is a right kerfuffle at the airport.
I left Albury at lunchtime on Sunday, was flying/stop-over for around 15 hours and arrived in Honolulu at around 8am on Sunday, which was weird having my Sunday morning again! The time difference between Australia and Hawaii is Australia is 21 hours ahead of Hawaii.
I was surprised just how busy Honolulu airport was, I hadn’t realised two things, one is that all Hawaiians don’t speak English, and secondly that Hawaii was a popular tourist destination with the Japanese and Koreans. They even have their own buses! The airport was pretty damn crazy, with people rushing in all directions. I can’t work out if the aireport is a new build in a retro stylie, or whether it’s old. It's a whole lot bigger an airport than I thought it would be for such a small island.
Stumpy took his time coming through over-size baggage, I was starting to get worried, eventually he arrived, coming up in an elevator.
My transfer bus driver was a bit grumpy, he was moaning that I had a bike and hadn’t told them.
I tried to explain that there wasn’t anywhere on the booking site to enter over-size luggage but couldn’t get a word in, miserable sod. Aloha to you too! In fact now I’m wondering if perhaps Hawaiian men are domineering, and aren’t interested in women’s opinions at all, just a thought,
I shall investigate!
Anyway the guy dropped me at the hostel and I checked in without a hitch. The Polynesian Hostel Beach Club, to give it it’s full name, is well positioned, just a five minute walk to the beach. The area it’s in isn’t rough or run down at all, but it’s not the posh end of town. The more you go towards Honolulu the more expensive the hotels, restaurants and shops are.
Two things I didn’t do whilst on O’ahu; one was eat out, and two was go on organised tours. Both would have eaten my money far too fast. There was one trip I was planning to take, a helicopter ride to the Big Island, on a lava spotting tour, alas I spent all my money on surfing lessons!
I took a few hikes, alone. Rode Stumpy a few times. And had surfing lessons. I have blogged on all of these mini-adventures, so please take a look. Also I made several films of my trips out, so please take a look at my YouTube…….give us a thumbs up and subscribe, pretty please, even if you didn't like them, just for my effort hey!
The rest of the time I was chilling in the communal area, writing blogs, editing YouTube films or sleeping! At times, a mixture of all!
Even though O'ahu is a small island, there are literally hundreds of organised tours, ranging from Hiking a Ridge to Snorkelling with Turtles, Sky Diving over Pearl Harbour to Swimming with Sharks, Whale watching to Sunset Helicopter rides, Polynesian Culture events to Zip-Lining Ridge to Ridge. It’s endless, I’m so glad I couldn’t afford to do these activities, as I’d never have been able to decide which to do!
I don’t feel as though I missed out, I saw so much, and enjoyed myself, I don’t have any complaints at all. I only wish I'd had a 'proper' camera, as it was impossible to capture the awesome views on my phone camera.
I saw most areas of the island, covering a lot of it on a road trip with Marcy, which was a loop North-West to the North Shore, and back down the East coast. I also went to the UFC Gym in Honolulu, seeing quite a lot of street art on the walk up. I took a look around the huge and rather fancy shopping mall at Ala Moana, it's kind of outdoor, so isn't as plastic as other shopping malls.....I didn't buy anything btw. I saw lots of chickens roaming around! and sadly in Waikiki I saw many homeless people, who in many cases looked in poor health.
Call me a palestine (joke), but I didn’t make any effort to learn about Polynesian culture, just not my bag. Not that I don’t respect their culture, I’m more into doing than watching.
When it comes to the hostel, I have no complaints either, I have a blog on the hostel, so you could take a look at that if I don’t cover something you want to know, it may be there.
The workers at the hostel played hard, and worked hard. They were all characters, all fun to be with, and I’ll think of them often. I think some of them probably got pist with me, because I kept tidying the kitchen, I'm sure some appreciated it! I did this for many reasons; it was something to do instead of look at my phone or computer, I wanted to be able to cook and wash-up without it being like playing jenga, I’m a freak with an OCD, you name it. It just wanted to do it, get over it!
The reception is manned 24/7 so there are around 10 guys that work there; Billy and Nicole, on the night shift, JR, Robert, Tanya, Brian, Sara, Ann, the Professor, Jon, Jesse and Shelley….and a guy that did the early shift who I didn’t get to know.
Being socially inept, I’m not good in groups, but loved hanging-out with these guys. There's free pancakes for breakfast at the hostel btw, I only indulged in them on my last day, and two other occasions, as I'm trying to get rid of my jelly belly! The pancakes were usually made by the Professor, and sometimes Jesse, and were so goooooood!
I only got to know a few of the other guests; Marcy, Aisling, Steve, Pedro, Lena. Which was a conscious thing, I didn’t want to get into drinking, and I didn’t want to compromise what I wanted to do. It’s all about me time! I did have quick chats with many others, which is where you learned about what was going on and where to go etc. Again some interesting characters, I loved listening to their stories and exploits.
I remained in the same dorm for my four week stay, which was so good. People come and people go, I think there must have a been around 100 different people in my dorm over the four week period, some I got to know, most I didn’t. All nationalities; American, Venezuelan, Argentinian, Canadian, Norwegian, Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese, Hawaiian, French………and Germans, loads and loads of Germans!
It can be tiresome, with all the late night arrivals, getting woken at midnight with a new arrival, only to get back to sleep and get woken again by another new arrival at two in the morning.
Some people are considerate, some aren’t. You’ve just gotta suck it up, and call them arseholes under your breath, oh and huff and puff a bit! I found that if friends joined the dorm, they tended to be noisy, but if individuals joined the dorm they were generally respectful and quiet.
The bus network on O’ahu is on point, I could get everywhere I wanted to go, with Stumpy, no problem at all. It’s just $5.50 for a day pass to ride as much as you want, so pretty cheap, and most days that is all I spent. Google maps tells you which bus to get, where to get it, where to change etc, so easy!
Food-wise, I shopped at the Kings Village farmers market or the ABC store, but mostly at the Food Pantry, eating as healthy and fresh as possible. I only ate out once and that was a plate of cheesy nachos, that was it. Same with drinks, all in the hostel.
The hostel provides a very good, free WiFi, and for data on the move you can get a T-Mobile SIM, with unlimited data, texts and calls, that only lasts one month, for $50. It was a really good service once the lady set it up correctly, after initially finding it useless and returned to the shop after two days to complain!
The weather, February is mid-winter in Hawaii. At a guess I'd say around half the time I was there it was sunny, the rest over-cast. It was never really cold, even when it’s raining. And when over-cast, it can still be hot on the beach strangely. A couple of times the rain was prolonged and torrential. Being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the weather forecasts can’t be relied upon, except for the hour or two ahead when using the Doppler forecast. So sometimes you just have to get on with things, as often the rain predicted doesn’t materialise.
I rode some fab trails; St Louis downhill, I’d love to get there again to learn the trails and ride it well. Also the Ohana Trail, which I’d like to ride again and not get lost!
The hikes were good; Diamond Head, Koko Crater, Manoa Falls and Wa'ahila Ridge. You could hike every day for four weeks and still not do them all, there really is so much to do.
For my MTB mates, I’m not sure how the Poly hostel would cope with a whole sprocket of bikers.
They’re not particularly well equipped for groups of bikers, there is a bike rack, but I wasn’t going to risk leaving Stumpy out in a common area to get damaged or nicked. You would need to contact Shelley and find out what could be done, should you want to go.
When it came to leave I was sad, and also sad on the plane. The Honolulu to Sydney leg was uneventful but I missed my connecting flight from Sydney to Albury. Qantas arranged for an overnight hotel and put me on another flight the next morning. I left the hostel at 6am Sunday, and arrived in Albury at 2pm Tuesday....I'm totally confused as to where Monday went! As I type this I am so tired, I just need to get to bed! It's good to be back in Albury, to 30 degrees C and blue skies.
As for Waikiki, it's a place I'll never forget, and it will hold a special place in my heart.