We went to Hawaii because it was cheap.
This is a sentence that I never thought I’d say, and it made no sense at all to me when I realised it.
Nevertheless, it was true. The plan was to fly to Vancouver; having realised we weren’t going to be able to afford our planned American/Canadian road trip, we decided to visit a new friend in Vancouver before heading to the other side of B.C. to see my aunt, uncle and their family.
So I looked up flights and found them to be astronomically expensive. I would have to reconsider our plans.
Then I got a delightful email from Australian slash Asian budget airline Jetstar, advertising flights to Hawaii for as little as $229 AUD. On further research, we could then get a sale flight with WestJet for around $200 AUD on to Vancouver.
I then discovered that there are such things as HOSTELS in Honolulu. This came as a great surprise to me as, certainly in the UK at least, Hawaii is revered as a luxury holiday destination reserved often for honeymoons. It’s like saying you can stop over in the Maldives and save money.
I figured that inkeeping with the hotels’ prime pricing, even a hostel would be pretty unjustifiable. Instead, I found one with great reviews for just $35 USD a night each. $70 for a bed for both of us, and it included free pancake breakfasts, tea & coffee, hammocks and free snorkels and beach toys! All one block away from Waikiki beach – I mean, who cares if you’re sleeping in a bunk bed in a dorm?!
In the end, the flight to Hawaii cost just shy of $300 (about $350 USD) including luggage, and the onward flight was a mere $175. I managed to save $350 just by staying in Hawaii for five nights instead of flying to Vancouver direct. How ridiculous is that?! Not that I’m complaining.
To make matters even better, a very good friend of mine is living on Oahu as an au pair (half the reason we were actually considering visiting) and she couldn’t wait to show us around!
And so came our final day in Australia after fourteen months. After our road trip, we had spent our last two weeks doing volunteer work – Ash on a farm animal sanctuary, while I helped a guy on the Sunshine Coast renovate his house, among odd jobs… like washing, moving and delivering corrugated iron. Of course, we planned to stay at Blue Tongue, the hostel where we had lived in Brisbane, for our very last night.
It was going to be an emotional day, saying goodbye to the city we had started to call home, to the strangers from all over the world who had become friends, and to the country that had given us so many memories.
We met a friend in the city centre in the morning while we rushed around doing last minute bits and getting some final gifts, before saying a very emotional goodbye to our hostel (the manager and I almost had a cry but we held it together!) and heading towards the airport.
A few friends joined us as we were swinging by the outlet shopping centre next to the airport. Unfortunately that was a bit of a waste of time because I couldn’t find what I wanted and ended up rushing, and the afternoon turned out to be a little more stressful than anticipated when we arrived at check-in and there appeared to be a strike going on. Two people were checking in for the entire airline. By the time we were through, our flight’s check in should have been closed for ten minutes.
And so it was a very quick goodbye to friends, including one who had even come to the airport just to see us off. I felt so bad when we spent most of it in a bloody queue!
Quite aptly, our final view of Australia was the Brisbane skyline; a nice touch to the goodbye to our second home, even if it was wet.
I’ll probably do a full review of Jetstar’s flight to Honolulu at a later date because needless to say, it is 100% worth being half the price of the next cheapest flight to Hawaii. But for now, basically: the plane is brilliant because it’s a Dreamliner, and the service is bloody shit.
The strangest thing about the flight? WE WENT BACK IN TIME.
Because we crossed over the international date line, we took off at 6pm on Thursday, and landed nine hours later at 6am… on Thursday.
That has got to be one of the coolest things to do, right?! And we got a full day in both countries!
Luckily, I even slept for most of the flight so I wasn’t feeling too bad, but by the time we had checked in to our hostel, I was already waning. After a quick walk along Waikiki beach, I had a message from my friend to say she was taking her boys to the zoo that afternoon, which was actually right next to us, and only cost $14. So we agreed to meet her there – the zoo wasn’t on our list of planned activities, but we hadn’t expected to see her on our first day so that was a nice bonus!
Honolulu Zoo is a pretty bog-standard zoo, but it was a really fun afternoon and I convinced the boys that I’m a pirate when they found an eye patch in my camera bag – probably best not to even ask!? Because my guess is as good as yours. Apparently they talked about me for days!! (as an aside, I showed them the picture of me driving the boat in the Whitsundays as proof, and realised I should have worn the eye patch in the picture!! What a missed opportunity!)
We also found a VERY angry chimpanzee who kicked the enclosure glass (literally one second after this picture) next to my head and made me wonder what prompted him to be so unhappy. This was the only strange sign I saw, though – along with a giraffe who kept his head up really high, waiting for the wind to blow leaves that he couldn’t reach into his mouth!! Sorry Mr Giraffe, but it was pretty funny to watch.
I pretty much wrote off the rest of the day with a nap, but we did decide to indulge in our only meal out in Hawaii (yes, really, thank you Walmart) with a dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. We’ve been talking about going there for years, and even with a 45 minute wait (it seems we were lucky, too; my friend was told she’d have to wait for two hours! She didn’t bother, and neither would we have!) it was definitely worth it.
So that was the beginning of our Hawaii adventure – or should I say detour. The zoo, friends, a nap and Cheesecake Factory. Not exactly the most exciting day in the history of travel, but technically it was all in the past anyway.
Have you ever had a really weird timezone change?!