Hi, I'm Evy and I'd like to tell you about my trip to Hawaii as a solo traveller to give you the input for your journey to paradise 🙂
My Hawaii trip
As a backpacker, I have seen many dreamy and beautiful places in the world. I've marvelled at the wonders of the world in Mexico and Italy, dived with whale sharks in the Philippines and taken road trips across America. Hawaii, however, was always a dream. The dream of aloha flower chains, white sandy beaches, colorful rainbows and the uncredible volcanic landscape.
Spontaneously to Hawaii is not possible? It is!
During one of the road trips across America, the dream of Hawaii suddenly became real and one day later I was already sitting on the plane to the island of Oahu or more precisely to Honolulu. Spontaneously to Hawaii, I would call it. It was a fascinating sight to view the lush green nature, the turquoise blue sea and the long sandy beaches from the plane. Surely there was also some nervousness, after all, I was now alone as a woman on the other side of the world.
Island lifestyle meets American way of life
In contrast to what some may think, Honolulu is a modern big city. A mixture of Aloha island lifestyle with flower chains and rainbows as well as the American way of life with modern architecture and a very well developed infrastructure. On the island of Oahu, you can get almost everywhere by bus and if there is no bus, there is the typical American UBER service.
I'm a person who loves risk, I often put myself in situations where I love and hate myself at the same time and Uber has gotten me out of many remote locations safely. In the end, I found Hawaii so fascinating, that it was one of the few destinations that I travelled to twice. But what exactly is so fascinating? I have summarized my best impressions of the country, the nature and the people in this article.
Honolulu - Waikiki Beach
I attract the risk, explore everything on my own and want to get to know as much of the country and its people as possible. But let me start from the beginning. The first thought that comes to mind when I think of Hawaii is the incredibly beautiful wide sandy beaches. There are plenty of them on Oahu. One or two are voted among the top ten most beautiful beaches in the world every year. Rightly so.
The beaches in Hawaii have everything to offer, some are well visited, some are protected and some are those lonely spots that are postcard pictures. The first beach that I, and probably most other travelers, first visited was Waikiki Beach.
Waikiki is one of the popular tourist areas and the beach is very frequently visited. If you walk on the beach to the right, you don't get very far. After a short time begins the hotel zone and many of the beaches are property of the hotels. If you walk to the left, however, it does not take long until you have the beautiful beach almost to yourself and only meet a few locals.
At the end of the day, on Waikiki beach can be watched beautiful sunsets no matter from which place.
Every evening anew, you can observe how the sun dips in the most beautiful violet and orange-red colours with the silhouettes of the sailboats in deep black and how the glowing fireball slowly sinks into the sea. I have watched this beautiful spectacle every day on the beach in Waikiki, however, I have only visited it for sunbathing or cooling down in between. After all, there is still so much more to marvel at on Oahu than just Waikiki Beach.
Located directly in Waikiki, not far from the beach, is the famous Diamond Head, Honolulu's landmark or, more precisely, a huge volcanic crater in the middle of a nature reserve. To get to know much of the country and its people, I often choose to walk instead of taking a bus. I did the same to Diamond Head. Past the park of Waikiki Beach, the path led me along the coast towards the east. From the cliffs, countless surfers can be observed who paddle full of joy into the cool waves. Hawaii is Surfer's paradise par excellence. If you can surf, you should use the gorgeous beaches for it. I tried it and failed miserably.
After several more steps, we eventually reached the entrance to Diamond Head. Depending on your fitness level, Diamond Head is a quick workout or a more challenging half-day tour. It was a quick workout for me, as fast as the other tourists would allow. The path took me up the narrow stairs to the top of the crater. Whether workout or excursion, the view offers a fascinating panoramic view over Waikiki, Honolulu and the coast of Oahu. But I wasn't satisfied with that yet. Hawaii has countless hiking and climbing spots to offer which I would love to explore.
In search of humpback whales
Before I got to any more risky climbing and hiking, I searched for humpback whales.
Hawaii is known for its humpback whale watching spots.
According to the statements of others, whales can be observed from many locations on the island. I chose the cliffs in the east and did not regret this decision. On the bus during the small talk with the bus driver, he suddenly pointed to the sea and said quite calmly that there would have been a whale. For him probably the most normal thing in the world. I still saw a glimpse of a massive tail of a humpback whale, gliding back into the sea.
Trails with signs make it easy for travellers not to miss the paths along the cliffs and natural viewing platforms keep coming up to watch the giant humpback whales. Many people are travelling with the same intention, however, there are plenty of opportunities to linger between the trails and the cliff to find a secluded spot all to yourself. I sat there for hours, watching the giants of the oceans and I was lucky enough to see even some young humpback whales eagerly swimming next to their mothers.
In the east of the island is quite a lot to see, if I think about it. There is also the famous Hanauma Bay. I took the bus there since it is located a good distance from Waikiki. You already have a dreamlike view over the shimmering bay with turquoise water from the street. To enter Hanauma Bay to use the beach for sunbathing or marvelling at the underwater world, visitors have to listen to an instruction, agree to prescribed rules of conduct and pay an entrance fee.
The beach consists of fine white sand and the water is the gateway to a dazzling underwater world. The bay is one of the most beautiful snorkelling spots on the whole island. Since very few vacationers have their own snorkelling equipment with them, the Hanauma Bay team offers snorkels, fins and goggles for rent. Lockers are also available on site. An awesome thing I believe.
Over railroad tracks without dizziness
I can't say what exactly I was looking for in the middle of nowhere in the east of the island. Something made me get off the bus and follow a Trail . It was supposed to be a particularly beautiful path along the coast. The start of the path did not make the best impression on me. A small hole between bushes next to the road led me on the said trail and so I stood between tall grasses in a muddy landscape.
The sun was shining down mercilessly from above, my water supplies were slowly running out and the beautiful coastal landscape was not even close to being in sight. This was one of the moments when I was glad to have internet because I was able to order an Uber which got me out of this mess. But where should it go next? I still had a little water and time left.
On to the Koko Crater Railway Trailhead. From hearsay a popular destination among fitness enthusiasts. I did not want to miss that in any case. My Uber driver could not for the life of me understand what is great about a 30 degrees elevation over 1000 steps to climb a crater, but still dropped me off there in no time at all. There I stood, at the foot of the crater and the 1050 steps are impressively visible from below. They form a long straight line climbing up the mountain. For families and children, the Koko Crater Railway Trailhead is in no way recommended.
The steps are out of natural stones with different height profiles or simply wooden boards. Further up, old railroad tracks are integrated into the ground.
Those who are afraid of heights might reach their first limits here. Neither a railing nor other assistance is available. It goes downhill to the left and right and only every second step offers the safety of the railroad.
Once the over 1000 steps have been mastered, the view is spectacular. There is a wide view over the lush green landscape towards the east of the island, towards the west the view reaches over villages and the famous Hanauma Bay.
Alone is never alone
Travelling as a woman, or alone in general, does not mean that you are always alone. If you want to be alone, that is possible without any problems. If you want to have company, that is also possible without any problems.
Like everywhere else in the world, there are many tourists in Hawaii. As a backpacker, you will quickly connect with people in hostels and occasionally, you even meet people from Germany. You quickly find entertainment, form a fun group to go on tours during the day or go for dinner together in the evening. In Waikiki, there are food courts or street food markets on some days. This is where you can get relatively inexpensive food of great quality. The food in supermarkets, on the other hand, has typical American prices and restaurants usually charge upscale prices.
Kailua Beach and Hiking
Together with the new people I met, we spontaneously decided to rent a car for one day. Depending on the provider and the number of people, it's not that expensive, you are much more flexible than with the bus and do not have to order an Uber to rescue you from dicey situations. This time, we will visit Kailua. Kailua is supposed to have insanely beautiful beaches and it doesn't take long to see for yourself. White beaches for miles, a palm tree here and an exotic plant there, and nothing for miles. You can take in the gentle sound of the sea and consider yourself lucky. During my first visit to Kailua, I indeed experienced lonely beaches, no tourists, just a few local kids splashing in the sea and a few fishermen trying their luck.
While my new friends were relaxing in the sun all morning, I pursued my curiosity. Hawaiians are fun-loving, open and totally helpful people. If you approach them the same way, it is not difficult to get to know the real, authentic Hawaii. So I approached them without further ado, talked to the fishermen, got to put on their straw hat without being asked and was even allowed to cast the fishing rod once or twice. Talking to locals is the best way to get to know a country and its people. I learned many exciting details about the life of the fisherman, his wife, the children and also about the general life in Hawaii. During my second visit to Kailua only 2 years later, I saw that these beautiful beaches have attracted more and more tourists. I guess that's the downside to beautiful places in this world - everyone wants to see them.
Relaxing on the beach and hiking can be combined well in Kailua to take full advantage of the day. We also decided to add a short hike. This time without steps and partly even without a proper trail. We were still on gravel in the beginning, followed by bare stone uphill and everyone had more or less sought his own trail.
There were some ropes anchored in the stone for support but if you are reasonably athletic, you can do it easily without ropes. Again and again, you reach small ledges from which you have a fantastic view over Kailua and with every step, the view just gets even better. At the top, the view rewards the effort. A breathtaking panoramic view over the whole of Kailua. Green nature and housing estates inland, white beaches and turquoise water on the coastal strip.
A place where you would like to stay forever.
Photos (c) Evelyn Eck