I'm going to have to abandon this "On day X we did Y" format here pretty quickly. You know how it is when you're on vacation. You enter this weird liminal state where you no longer have any idea what day it is or how long you've been doing any of this, and it all just becomes even more of a blur when you try to look back on it afterward. So, this bit is what we did during the rest of our stay on Oahu, which was about another day and a half.
First, we went snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, a beautiful, reef-encrusted cove. It's actually a protected nature park; they make you watch a nine-minute video explaining how not to molest the coral or the wildlife before they even let you get in the water. It was very pleasant, and I remember being impressed at the time by the clear water and the number of fish, but I'm afraid it got rather badly eclipsed by the unbelievably awesome snorkeling trip we made on the last day of our vacation, so it's faded in my memory a bit. Sorry, Hanauma Bay! Really, you were lovely!
I think we spent most of the rest of that day in the car. My aunt, apparently, really likes driving, and she had this idea in mind that we were going to circumnavigate every island we visited so that she could see everything, OMG! There are a few problems with this, though, namely: 1) It's very time-consuming. These aren't exactly huge islands, but we're still talking hundreds of miles of coastline, often on roads where the speed limit isn't terribly high. 2) It's not in fact possible, as the roads don't generally go all the way around the coast. Little things like mountains and military bases tend to get in the way. And 3) You don't actually get to see very much from a car. So I'm afraid that by the time we were halfway around Oahu, there was a little bit of a rebellion brewing against this plan. (All's well that ends well, though, as we had a road trip experience later on Maui that left everybody feeling satisfied. More on that when we get there.)
We did at least get out of the car at various points to stop at scenic overlooks, pause briefly at beach parks, and make one rather sweaty hike out to look at some old Hawaiian petroglyphs -- rock carvings -- which were rather different from the ones we have here in the Southwest.
After that, I think there were drinks with little umbrellas in them. It's funny. I am generally never one to go for the more girly option on anything, and I am also not much of a drinker, to say the least. Usually, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of alcoholic beverages I consume in a year. But when I'm on vacation, suddenly I'm all about the slushy tropical umbrella drinks. Mmmm, mango and rum!
Then, at some point before we left the island, my mother and I walked down to the famous Waikiki Beach, which was only a few blocks from our hotel. Waikiki isn't really the place to go to admire Hawaii's natural beauty; it seems to be more the place for the hot young things to admire each other's tans and surfboards. Here's what it looks like, though, if you're curious:
It's actually not even a natural beach. They had to cart the sand in from a different island. Unfortunately, I seem to be lacking in pictures of Hawaii's real beaches, which is a shame because... Well, let me put it this way. You know that iconic, stereotypical image of an unspoiled tropical beach, with the warm white-gold sand and the perfectly placed palm trees, and the water so clear and blue that it sparkles? I used to think that image was kind of fake-y. Idealized, at the very least. But it's not. Those beaches exist, and they exist in Hawaii, and I swear, I could spend days at a time just staring at them. I think possibly I was just too awestruck to remember I had a camera.