Saturday, October 8, 2016

Hawai'i - Another Conference-Vacation

Shortly after our August Denmark trip, Zack found out that a coworker had a talk accepted at an academic conference in Honolulu, Hawai'i but wouldn't be able to attend. He graciously offered to give the talk in her place ;)

Zack flew in on Saturday, gave his talk on Sunday, then spent Monday through Thursday learning science, networking, and doing some super-early-morning bike rides along the coast of Oahu. I had initially felt guilty about the amount of traveling I've done this summer and booked flights for Fri-Mon only, but then had a pretty crazy work-month in September so less-guiltily extended the flights for Thurs-Tues. It's not that cheap, but amazingly easy to get to Hawai'i from SF on ~5hr nonstop direct flights. 

We are staying in an airbnb 'apartment' overlooking Waikiki with a pretty nice view!
Thursday, I arrived around 11am (time difference in my favor!), and we walked around and tested out some snorkeling gear. The weather is pretty warm and humid; it would be uncomfortable if there wasn't always the option to jump in the ocean or eat shave ice. 

Shave ice has gotten much fancier than what I remember as a kid!


Honolulu is pretty city-like; lots of traffic, huge high-rises, and some crowded beaches. However, very close by it becomes more secluded and relaxing. The ocean itself is wonderful - warm enough that snorkeling without a wetsuit feels just perfect! 

Friday, we rented a car and drove up to the North Shore with another Stanford grad student. The snorkeling at 'Sharks Cove' was phenomenal and the highlight of the day; so many different fish and coral to swim near. 

Happy after snorkeling at Shark's Cove

Next, we looked for sea turtles at Laniakea Beach. We saw a bunch in the water right next to the shore, but it was hard to get a photo; you can sort of see one here.

After a lunch of garlic-shrimp and fresh pineapple, we visited Byodo-in Temple, a beautiful, serene Buddhist temple with the backdrop of incredibly steep jungle-mountains.
We drove down the east coast to the Byodo-in Temple, then did a paved walk out to a lighthouse, then wrapped up the day with a hike up Kuli'Ou'Ou Ridge

Lighthouse

Hiking through the rainforest

Top of the ridge!

The hike was moderately technical, with some branches/rocks/mud and steep stairs at the top up into the clouds. We loved the view from the top, though it was almost a sunset view which meant we had to hurry up/down...

Today, we are worn out from that big day, likely to do some more snorkeling at nearby Hanuama Bay in the afternoon and make plans for kayaking/watersports and more hiking Sunday/Monday! I didn't bring a bike, since the riding in the Bay Area is arguably better but the ocean is much much better here ;) Very nice vacation, then back to work for a while, until we go see family at Christmas.

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