When it came down to it, beautiful beaches and incredible sunsets won out over altitudes of more than 9,000 feet and typhoid vaccinations. In case you’re wondering the destinations I’m referring to, the battle for big trip of the year was between Hawaii and Peru. Not that other destinations weren’t briefly considered (Ecuador, Colombia, an Alaskan cruise). But the serious contenders were always America’s 50th state and the country that is home to one of the modern world’s greatest wonders.
I really wanted to go to Peru. I can’t emphasize this enough. Through careful planning and grinding teeth on some pretty craptastic United Airlines flights, I remained loyal to them to rack up enough miles. Now I’m not someone who flies all the time in which a feat like that is pretty easy to do. But I had enough miles for a round trip ticket to Lima, Peru and lest anyone think tickets to Lima are on the cheaper side, they’re not…especially when coming from Pittsburgh. I priced out total costs and contacted hotels en espanol for additional information. I had what I deemed to be the perfect (albeit probably too short) itinerary. But two things kept me from ultimately redeeming my miles for that ticket-first, knowing that it would be the farthest thing from a relaxing vacation (you go to Peru to tour, you don’t go to relax necessarily) and second, if you don’t want your Peruvian adventure to be a total backpacker $10 a day style (I don’t), costs can really add up between the high domestic airfares (i.e. flying between Lima and Cusco, gateway to Machu Picchu) to more luxurious style accommodations, many other services have a price tag attached to them (i.e. it’s about $50 USD for entrance into Machu Picchu). Not that it wouldn’t have been possible, but Peru is such a dream destination of mine, I want to do it right and dreams must adhere to the said set budget. So even though my Lonely Planet Peru guidebook becomes more outdated with each passing year, I’m hoping that 2014 will be the year of Peru (provided I get over my fear of being struck down with debilitating altitude sickness symptoms).
So we’re going to Hawaii…but to be geographically correct, we’re going to the island of Oahu. The best part about this is not only was my round trip ticket there free but I also have a decent amount of miles left over (redeeming them for a ticket to Peru would have wiped me clean). On my first trip to the Hawaiian islands I ended up eschewing Oahu as I didn’t want a “city beach” vacation. However, I’ve since come to realize that Oahu is a pretty big island and while certain areas are incredibly developed (i.e. Honolulu and the famous Waikiki beach area), others are not, like the North Shore. So my plan is to spend the bulk of the trip on the North Shore.
For anyone in need of some Oahu 101, the North Shore was the filming location of the comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall (it was shot on the grounds of the Turtle Bay Resort), as well as the popular television series Lost. From what I’ve read It’s about the farthest thing from developed compared to Waikiki. It’s extremely popular with surfers (waves during the winter months are considered death defying) and just has a rural, laid back air to it. This time around I hope to take more advantage of local farmers’ markets and especially small shave ice stands.
The main reasons in wanting to go to Oahu is for the history found there, namely Pearl Harbor. You see Hollywood’s depiction of the events that took place there on that fateful day and you see pictures of it today, yet I would think that being there, seeing the sunken remains of the USS Arizona is incomparable.
I’m also immensely excited for the other historical sites found on Oahu-Iolani Palace, today a museum but at one time home to the Hawaiian royal family; Chinatown (I’ve heard that this is the best place to buy leis); and stepping inside Waikiki’s two great dame hotels-the Royal Hawaiian and the Moana Surfrider. The latter offers a high tea which I am hoping to make a reservation for-I read a blog review of it and it sounds like an utterly memorable experience.
From a wishful standpoint I hope to go on a day trip to Moloka’i, the island that is considered to be the most Hawaiian. Although guided day trips from Oahu are incredibly expensive, they are doable. It’s one of those things I wouldn’t want to pass up, literally being so close. It also would bode well with my mild obsession of wanting to visit all of the inhabited Hawaiian islands (there are more than the main six).
There are a lot of months to muddle through before October (and hopefully some trips to take before then), but Hawaii is definitely a destination where the eagerly anticipated buildup is worth it.