Travel writer Laura Botia writes about Snowdonia National Park and the diverse range of activities and landscapes this corner of Wales has to offer.Written by Laura Botia on 16th March 2018
Travel Diary | Hawaii and LA
Travel writer Kiri Loizou writes about her jam-packed trip to Hawaii and LA
I have always been fortunate to travel far and wide on my family holidays or “gap summers” as we call them. We never stay in one city for longer than a few days, allowing my 55-year-old father to experience the thrill of being an 18-year-old backpacker for 2 and a half weeks.
This summer my mother decided we should return to Hawaii, a destination we visited nearly a decade ago. My mum believed Hawaii to be the one destination that my moody, unappreciative, 18-year-old brother would not moan with boredom the whole trip. Besides with blue seas and sandy beaches, what is not to love! Many arguments later a 2 and a half week stay in Hawaii and Los Angeles was confirmed and the next thing I knew I was unpacking my uni clothes into a suitcase ready to depart on my next adventure.
I hopped off the plane at L.A.X with a dream of sunbathing on the beach sipping on my non- alcoholic (sigh) pina colada listening to the sound of waves crashing on the shoreline. However, I was only halfway through my voyage to Hawaii and I was stuck in the airport lounge eating my guacamole and chips (crisps) for 3 hours, until the next 6-hour plane ride to Maui (fun fact: the new Disney movie Moana was based on this island).
When we arrived at our hotel we were greeted with shell necklaces and a fruit punch and already we were captivated by the beauty of Maui. The hotel and resort were situated on the side of a mountain so we had clear views of the beaches boarded with palm trees overlooking the deep blue ocean. After booking nearly every tour possible we spent the rest of our days exploring the small island, which we were informed (approximately 10 times) that Maui is the shape of a bust tilted on its side. We went on a hiking tour to visit and swim in the waterfalls which were a lot colder than I thought but worth the Instagram. We were taught about the flora and fauna which was more interesting than it sounds and told that you wear the flower on your left ear if “you’re looking and right ear if you’re tookin' or on the back of your head if you’re rather promiscuous”. Another day we embarked on a joyous 8- hour self- driven car journey on the infamous “Road to Hana” which was probably one of the scariest experiences of my life consisting of a never-ending narrow, winding road wrapped, around a mountain facing a 4000ft sheer drop. But the views were amazing, one moment we were in a thick forest and the next we driving through the volcanic formed land.
Nearer to the end of our week in Maui, my brother and I thought it was only right to attempt surfing. We were informed surfing consisted of 90% paddling and 10% surfing, but as I go gym once a month I thought I would be able to handle it. To me and my whole family’s surprise, I was actually amazing, I managed to stay on the board all the way to the beach! But this could be down to the very fit instructor willing me on and the next day my arms had never ached so much.
After a week in Maui, we were itching to travel to our next destination. Overall Maui was too peaceful for our liking, the laid-back atmosphere and isolated resort for most would be ideal, but we were eager to travel to O’hau. After a great 18 minute flight, we arrived in Honolulu, the capital of O’hau. Many locals labelled this city as the “concrete island” and it was clear to see why. Honolulu had an almost New York vibe with its streets lined with designer shops and hoards of shoppers. We spent our time re-living our past trip with the standard island tour; complete with the best coffee I have ever had and macadamia nuts covered in every ingredient possible, from wasabi to my personal favourite, cinnamon. However, the Jurassic Park tour was the highlight of my stay. The drive to the film set (which was actually a farm) was magical, the mountains on one side of the road looked like a pleated curtain and on the opposite side was an amazing view of the famous ‘China Man’s hat’- which actually really does look like a hat. Fortunately, the tour did not disappoint, the views were stunning, it felt as if dinosaurs were about to run through the trees. We found out many other films were also located there including 50 First Dates and King Kong.
Another highlight was Honolulu beaches which were incredibly busy, on one side of the beach were the surfers and on the other side was holidaymakers jumping in and out of the waves. The craziest thing about the Hawaiian beaches is how shallow the sea is, you can walk at least 100 metres out and the sea will still only come up to your chest! The best part though was one day, I was floating on my inflatable ring chatting to my dad about how last time we were in this exact spot a turtle popped up next to us, and at that exact moment my dad shouted at me to turn around and there was a turtle right next to me, it was amazing, especially as it was one of my goals to see one.
For those wondering what Hawaiian food is like, it is basically fish and lots of it, which most of the time was fresh and delicious. I particularly enjoyed one of their speciality dishes called poke which is basically tuna and I still crave it now. To conclude our holiday we flew back to L.A. Whilst there my poor father had to drive 7 hours so we can look at trees in the Sequoia National Park (a request by my mum). In all honesty, it was better than it sounds, apart from staying in what quite literally was the Cabin in the Woods. The trees were absolutely massive, so large in fact, a car can drive through it! The trees also made a great insta, which was, of course, the main priority.
After only a nights stay, my exhausted dad drove back to L.A. stopping off at In and Out burgers on the way, which was so so good and the best milkshake I have ever consumed. In the short trip in L.A. we of course went to Hollywood Boulevard which was as crazy as you can imagine stuffed full of tourists and strange people in costumes. But mostly we shopped till we dropped. We had a nice wander down Rodeo drive pretending we were part of the elite. My brother was keen on locating a shoe shop called “Flightclub” it was only one of two in the world (the other in New York), I, of course, had to purchase a pair of trainers I probably do not need however I deemed necessary. After only one night in L.A., we flew back to London.
Overall I must highly recommend Hawaii, it has something for everyone, whether that be golfing, surfing, shopping or even just to relax.