Charlotta's diary #5

HAWAII - One of my best experiences

Sunshine, warm weather, pretty beaches, enjoying the Aloha spirit, surfing at one of the best places in the world, snorkeling, eating local food, getting to know new cultures and making new friends from all over the world - all in one trip!

How did it come that I went to Hawaii?

I went with the organization BELO USA (Belousa), which is only for exchange students who are in the USA. They offer trips to Hawaii, New York, the East or West Coast.

I flew from Portland, Oregon, alone to Honolulu, Hawaii, where staff from Belousa waited to pick me and other students up. We went to our hotel and on our way I saw the green hills and palms of Hawaii for the first time. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't how I thought it would be. But that changed. On this day I got to know 80 other exchange students from all over the world who were going to spend one week with me and experience Hawaii. Usually, there are between 40 and 80 students on a trip.

At the next and real first day, the Hawaiian sun woke me up and we went to the beach. For the first time I saw one of the beautiful beaches of Hawaii. We had a surfing lesson and had a nice view of the shore from Waikiki Beach. It was my first time and it was so much fun. After that we had the chance to spend more time at the popular Waikiki Beach and enjoyed the warm water.

On our third day in paradise, we went on board of a catamaran and sailed around Waikiki. We got a glimpse of Diamond Head and were able to see the shore and Honolulu from the ocean. One of my favorite activities was to see whales at this tour. It was such an awesome moment to be so close to these huge animals. After lunch we headed up to the North Shore of O'ahu and we visited some beaches where the best surfing competitions of the world occur. After that we experienced the cultures of 7 different island nations at the Polynesian Culture Center. We learned about the languages, customs, lifestyle, arts and crafts, architecture, food and dress of Samoa, Tahiti, Fiji, Aotearoa (New Zealand), the Marquesas, Tonga and Hawaii. It was great to learn about all those things in an exciting way. We danced the Hula dance and saw typical performances (musical, handcrafts) of the cultures. 

Day four, half way in Hawaii, we got to know the capital city (Honolulu). We went by bus through the city and stopped at the State Capital Building and 'Iolani Palace, the building of former King Kalakaua and Queen Lili'uokalani. After that we went to the east side of the island and stopped at the Nuuani Pali Lookout. We had an amazing view of the green landscape, mountains and beaches from the 985 foot high cliff. In the afternoon, we swam and enjoyed Waimanalo Beach. It was the most beautiful beach that I have ever seen. The water was turquoise and the sand was perfect. We also had a nice view to the mountains and coast. We finished our day with some whale watching at Blowhole Lookout.

On day five, the bus brought us to the Pearl Harbor Monument. It was such an interesting experience because we learned about this horrible day and the history behind it (December 7th 1941). It was emotional to see the USS Arizona in the water and walking over it, knowing that there are graves of soldiers under you.

After this we headed up to shop some souvenirs at the Aloha Swap Meet and at the Ala Moana Shopping Mall which is super big. We found the typical leis, necklaces, aloha shirts, hula skirts and so much more. We ended our day with a delicious dinner at the Bubba Gump restaurant. The restaurant is inspired by the movie Forrest Gump and has neat decorations.

Day 6 was an athletic day. We started the day early in the morning with a yoga lesson at the beach of Waikiki. It was wonderful to do yoga while having a great view over the water and see the sunrise. After that we visited Diamond Head Trail and hiked on top of this famous volcanic crater. The view on top was breathtaking. The weather was super nice and we were able to see Honolulu, the turquoise water with corals and one of the other 7 islands. After this workout, some of us went to Lanikai Beach in Kailua where we kayaked from the beach to a really small island, Mokulua. We stopped there and had a picnic and right next to us at this tiny beach laid a sea lion family with their baby. After this unexpected surprise our tour guide showed us the island. There was a tide pool with corals and fishes. It was so much fun to jump in it. After our short break, we head up to kayak back to the main island. The waves were pretty high and it was really tough to go back. Seeing turtles and the amazing view of the landscape, let us forget all the effort. 

The next day was kind of our last day. In the morning we were supposed to go to Hanauma Bay to snorkel but this beach was closed at this time because of bacteria in the water. So instead we went close by the Waikiki Beach. Unfortunately, the water was not super clear and we could not see many species of fish or other underwater animals. Nevertheless I saw some colorful fish, a puffer fish and a turtle. It was amazing to see them in their natural environment. In the afternoon, we went by bus to Kapolei for Oahu's famous Paradise Cove Luau. The trip was so much fun because we all became friends and we were singing our national anthems and had a little party in the bus. When we arrived at the Paradise Cove they welcomed us with a typical Hawaiian seashell necklace and guava juice. We saw the culture and typical rituals (like the pig in the sand). Furthermore we made our own fresh leis and got a temporary Tattoo. Then we had Hawaiian dinner next to the coast where the sun went down and we watched the Hula dancer on stage. Later during the program we all danced hula on the stage and over us the stars were sparkling. 

On the next day we had to say goodbye to everyone and to Hawaii. They brought us to the airport and then 6 hours later I arrived full of new experiences and memories, souvenirs, and sun tanned in Portland.

I will never forget this trip. It was an awesome experience and I had so much fun!



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