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Amanda’s Trip to Oahu with the Oahu Visitors Bureau

On October 16th, 2015 I was so nervous, yet so excited to finally be able to go to Hawaii. I had always wanted to go, but never had the time. So when this opportunity came at me, I pretty much ran with excitement. I woke up so early on Friday, with anticipation and a ton of nervousness since I had never flown before by myself.

I always had friends and or family with me when I traveled. So from the moment I left my house and was driving to the airport I kept thinking to myself, “Oh Wow! I am actually doing this!”, “And there is no turning back now!” When I arrived at the airport, I stood in line at the American Airlines counter shaking I checked into my flight and checked my bag and was now on my way to TSA! When I got to the TSA representative, he knew I was a little nervous so he calmed down and was very nice and pretty much put me at ease. Now it was a waiting period, to sit and wait for your plane to arrive and to finally hear the loud speaker say “Now Boarding!”

When I arrived, in Hawaii at the Honolulu International Airport, I had no idea what to expect. I was met at my gate by Janea, who worked for Speedi Shuttle. She had a sign with my name on it waiting patiently for me to arrive. I was greeted with a hug and beautiful hot pink and white flower lei. It absolutely smelled amazing I probably could have eaten it. She told me where to go so I was able to get my bag and she would meet me there and take me to my hotel.

I arrived at the Aqua Oasis Hotel, and was greeted very warmly at the front desk. I loved the fact that when you checked into your hotel, the front desk counter was located outside. The atmosphere was beautiful; it was very tranquil and peaceful. I was given my keys and escorted to my room where I would be staying the next 5 days! I was able to relax a bit and unpack all of my things and get situated and get ready for my meet with my group later on that evening.

 Friday evening, I went down to the lobby and sat and waited to be picked up by our leader Kainoa Daines. As I sat there I was thinking to myself how am I going to figure out who is in my group since a few of us were staying at the same hotel location. So about 5 minutes before we were going to be picked up a lady sat next to me and I happened to ask her if she was with the Oahu Visitors Bureau and sure enough she was! I was thrilled and immediately introduced myself to her and asked where she was from and if she had met anyone else in our group. So while we were both chatting away, we were greeted with a huge hug by our group leader Kainoa Daines, who was amazingly funny. Now to our first destination which was to the Wharf to experience “Makers and Tasters”. Before we arrived, we were able to mingle with the group and get to know each other a little bit. Thankfully our group was small, since I am so bad with names HA!

 

When we arrived at the Makers and Tasters I felt like I was at home. All I saw was Food Trucks everywhere and I kept thinking to myself. Well this is interesting I never thought Hawaii would have a taco truck! It was a very casual night and we had our own tables that were reserved for us which were right in the heart of the scene! Makers and Tasters is the latest market platform from Street Grindz, Hawaii’s big – impact small business incubator. They are open daily with rotating food trucks, plenty of parking with public restrooms. The atmosphere where they host the event every night is pretty incredible. The views are superb; you have ocean front views with views of the firework shows at night. While we sat in our own private area we were able to get a few different items from the local trucks and let me say this, the food was incredible! And I will definitely recommend to anyone that goes to Oahu.

Waking up the next day I wanted to pinch myself since I still couldn’t believe that I was actually in Waikiki and it wasn’t just a dream. Kainoa had our day ahead of us jammed packed with activities. Since my hotel was right in the heart of Waikiki everything was so convenient and you could walk to the destinations. I absolutely loved the location of the hotel since I am a huge shopaholic and being next to high end designers I was heaven. My credit cards on the other hand were not very happy with me LOL!

Our day started with touring the Bishop Museum. It was a beautiful museum. A lot of people do not even know that it’s there and if they do they always forget to visit it. It is filled with so much information in regards to Hawaii and about the culture. I was pretty sad that we didn’t have a full day there since I literally could have walked around that place a few times and I knew I wouldn’t even grasp all the information that they had there. Our group was introduced to the planetarium, and I haven’t ever been in one of those. It was very peaceful and relaxing. While looking up and being able to learn about the constellations was pretty neat. Even though from the music that they were playing and the air conditioning blasting, it would be a great place to sneak in a nap. The rest of the day consisted of a lot of eating. Thankfully we did a ton of walking because I don’t really know what I would have done when I got back home. But with all the food that I ate I actually really enjoyed it all. I had to try new things that I normally would never try, like POI. Never in a million years would I order it but trying it wasn’t too bad after all. It was definitely different but when you ate the pork and poi together they actually went together.

Since we were on a pretty busy schedule and there really wasn’t much time for “me time”. But Kainoa actually put in a day at the beach so we were able to put our toes in the sand and catch some rays. He also scheduled us to learn to surf and or canoe. Me on the other hand I wanted some tan lines so I could come back home and make all my friends jealous. The Hawaiian beaches were gorgeous. I had never seen actual white sandy beaches in person, unless I was watching a movie. It was crazy not to see seaweed all over the beach, like when you go to Pismo or any beach that’s on the West Coast. Also, being able to enjoy the ocean without a wetsuit was the best part. I cannot even explain how enjoyable the water actually was, it was just like being in a bathtub.

My trip with the Oahu Visitors Bureau was fantastic, I was able to do a lot of hands on cultural activities from making headpieces to floral leis and being taught how to play Hawaiian checkers, which in fact that game was very strategic and made you think! And I am very competitive when I play board games, so this gave me a little taste of my own medicine.

I was introduced to my first Luau and was able to walk through the Waikiki Aquarium. I grew up on the Pacific Coast in Monterey, and going to the Aquarium when I was little was always my favorite thing to do. So being able to see all the colorful fish and different exhibits that they had to offer was awesome. Their aquarium wasn’t big but being able to see something like that was incredible. The aquarium led you outside where you were met with a delicious Mai Tai! You were able to do hands on cultural activities or just sit back and relax and watch the sunset fall behind the horizon of the ocean. The luau itself was great, I couldn’t believe the men could shake it just as good as the women!

I was able to get in some time to check out a few of the hotels that we are affiliated with. Being able to tour some properties really helped me out in the long run. A few of the properties that I was able to see were: Aston Waikiki Beach Tower, Park Shore Waikiki, Luana Waikiki Hotel & Suites, and the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel. Since I am more of a visual person, I actually was able to see things on my own and take my own notes instead of having to do research online and try to get as much information from Google. I mean you can only search so much. So having the opportunity to go around and look at the different rooms and categories as to what they offered was a ton of fun.

And it also gave me the chance to get our agency out there and especially my name since I am very new to the travel industry. My favorite (2) properties would have been the Aston Waikiki Beach Tower, the views were unbelievable and the space of the room was huge. It reminded me of a 2 bedroom apartment, it would be great for people with families as well as just going to get away and relax. And also, Luana Waikiki Hotel and suites was another hotel that stuck out to me. I loved that the rooms were spacious and you didn’t seem to feel crowded. And the overall feel of the property was great, they offered wine nights and the property overlooked the serene Fort DeRussy Park. The property offers spacious rooms with word-class shopping and international dining all around you.

My final day in Oahu finally was coming to an end. I was not very happy about it either. But our last day in paradise was planned out to make sure we would have an experience to last a lifetime. Let me tell you 6am comes early! We were shuttled to the Pearl Harbor Memorial. I was very excited about being able to really learn about what exactly happened that day when America took a huge hit. Being able to sit through a video blog and get the true information, not the rated G version that they tell you in school really answered all my questions that I always had. The memorial was absolutely breath taking. You are taken out to the memorial by boat and when you step onto the plank your heart just stops. It is a site to see. The feeling you get when you walk through and look over the edge is silence. You actually can see the ship. Since the waters are crystal clear it amazed me as to how big that ship really was. And to learn about that ship will always be more than just be a tourist site. It will be a place to pay your respects to all the 1,077 people that lost their lives that day on December 7th, 1941. When you looked over the sides of the memorial, you can actually see all the oil still leaking from the ship. They have had many people dive down to inspect the ship and try to estimate how much oil was really in there to begin with. But they still don’t really know to this day how much was left. They said about 6 quarts a day still leak up to the surface. But I see why they wouldn’t want to tamper with anything since it’s our veteran’s resting spot.

After leaving Pearl Harbor were once again put on a bus and taken to the navy base where we were face to face with the USS Missouri and she was HUGE! She was as long as 3 American football fields and 2 stories tall. Being able to walk around and inside the ship was incredible. I still don’t know how they managed to bunk 3 people high in small confined spaces. I know for me, if I had to do that I wouldn’t be able to since I have a thing with being claustrophobic. Some of the parts of the ship were a little tight so I had to just look through the port holes instead of actually going in and seeing first hand. Throughout the day it rained, so the skies were pretty gloomy and it was very humid outside. So we were hoping that everything would clear up for our helicopter tour that we had scheduled that day, sure enough everything cleared up right when we pulled into Blue Hawaiian Helicopter tours. And let me tell you I was feeling pretty nauseous. I am terrified of heights and a few of the guys in our group were psyching me out. So I was on the verge of backing out and or crying. From the moment you walk into the place your heart is racing so I immediately grabbed water and chugged! As soon as they called my name I was like “Great!” here we go! So I stood on the scale and I kind of chuckled and said did I gain anything and the guy just smiled. So we all sat down and had to watch a video on safety and then my nerves really started to kick in, because now I knew It was that time to finally go outside and stand in line by the number they assigned you and wait for your helicopter. As we were standing outside they started to call all the numbers and I was #3 and they didn’t call me and I was like,”umm are they leaving me? Did they forget about me?” and then they said #3 so I walked over and jumped in the front seat. And from the moment that they strap you in and help you put all the gear on you, you literally forget about what you’re actually doing. All my nerves finally were set at ease and I forgot all about being scared.

When we finally took off, man oh man were the views incredible. To be able to have a tour up in the air for 40 minutes was unbelievable. I really couldn’t believe that I was actually sitting up front with the pilot, and a few from my group and we were getting to experience such a thrilling adventure. There are definitely no words as to what you expect.

From all you see. Our pilot was in the military and he flew Black Hawks so I was pretty much at ease after he told me that. He pointed out parts of the island where Godzilla, Jurassic World, 50 First Dates were filmed, since I thought they always used a green screen. If you take a trip to Hawaii you must book a helicopter tour. I will always recommend this to my friends and family and especially to clients. You will not be disappointed from what you learn and see.

It is my time to finally say Goodbye to the beautiful Island of Oahu. I cannot thank the Oahu Business Bureau for this amazing opportunity. This will only be the first of many trips back to the islands. Until we meet again, Mahalo!