Tag Archives: Oahu

A Hawaiian Style Send-Off At The Paradise Cove Luau

paradise cove luau oahu

Two more events are left. The seventh event is one I looked forward to the most because it’s something that I’ve done in other countries before. Still I wasn’t sure if Veronica and Katelin would like the event because of the preparation it requires. I withheld that preparation from them because a big part of the League of Eight Extraordinary Events is the surprise aspect. To expect the unexpected. With that, I told everyone to wear their bathing suits and get ready for the seventh event. We woke up early Thursday morning and drove back up to Sharks Cove on the North Shore.

Event #7 of 8 – Scuba Diving Sharks Cove

First I have to say, don’t let the name Sharks Cove deceive you. There aren’t any big sharks here. Just lil’ baby ones the size of your arm. Secondly, I should have told Veronica and Katelin that we were scuba diving because the looks on their faces when they saw the scuba gear I pulled up next to was a look of uncertainty. Chris, as usual, was game. Scuba diving is a whole lot of fun but it’s also a serious endeavor. Freak out underwater and you’re in deep trouble (pun intended). Proper training and skills are required and today, my three amigos would get a quick introductory course. Sean sat out on the sidelines because this was an absolute ‘hell no’ for him.

We met up with Devin, our dive master, near the shoreline as he prepped us and explained to us what we would be doing today. Since this was an introductory/refresher course, we would only be diving a depth of about 12 meters, not too far from the shore. As Devin explained to us basic diving procedures, Katelin began to doubt whether she’d be able to do this or not. Breathing underwater is not a natural feeling so if there are any doubts, its understandably so. The instructors eased her and told her not to worry and give it a try.


We put on our equipment and walked down into the coves. In addition to the four of us there were four other first time divers in our group as well. Once we entered the water, just a couple of feet deep, we practiced the basics like clearing our mask from water leaks and readjusting our regulators. It was a quick and dirty tutorial compared to the half day instruction I received back in Zanzibar, but hopefully it was just enough to get everyone by. Soon enough, we put on our flippers and swam out to the buoy in the deeper part of the cove.

Devin called for two of us to swim towards the buoy and practice the skills once more. Chris and I volunteered first and just a couple minutes later, we were 12 meters underwater, sitting on the ocean floor. Now we just had to wait for the others. We waited…and waited…and waited…

“What the heck are they doing up there?” I thought as I began to regret the decision of volunteering myself to go down first. The longer I was down there waiting, the more my oxygen tank depleted which meant less time to explore the coves.

I could see Veronica and Katelin up there practicing their skills, but dangling at the surface. Eventually three divers from the other group came down and then finally Veronica. But once Veronica touched the floor, she gave me a look of absolute terror from her mask and pointed up to the surface. If I could read her mind, she would have said said…


scuba dive oahu

One of the dive masters saw it in her face too and knew he wasn’t going to be able to convince her to stay down. So he escorted her safely to the surface where Katelin waded. Katelin was having ear issues and couldn’t manage the descent either so the two of them stayed at the surface but were free to snorkel while we dove. And so we went!

scuba dive oahu

This was one of the easier dives I’ve been on. The water was warmish, the currents were smooth, and there was an abundance of wildlife. The best part was the lone sea turtle that slowly glided by, entirely composed as can be and not afraid of us humans one bit. We could have touched it but that would have been illegal.

scuba dive oahu

scuba dive oahu

The dive itself lasted for about 40 minutes before our tanks entered the red zone. We swam back to the cove shore and rose to the surface to join the others. It was a successful dive! On to the eight and final event which also happens to fall on Chris’ birthday.

Event #8 of 8 – Paradise Cove Luau

We couldn’t go to Hawaii without having a proper Luau and with Chris’ birthday also on the same day, I thought it would be a fitting send off for my travel companions before they fly back to the mainland U.S. The night before the luau, we had dinner with one of Chris’ college buddies who was stationed here in Oahu. The local musicians in Waikiki at the restaurant we ate in serenaded Chris with a Hawaiian birthday medley.

The luau I reserved for our final event is well known on Oahu. It’s called the Paradise Cove Luau and it’s one of the more popular ones on the island, but also one of the most touristy. I came to this specific luau 12 years ago and loved it so much that I thought I’d give my friends a taste of it. Since this was the last event and a send-off, I told them prior that we’d be attending a luau and to wear something bright and on the colorful side.


Once we entered the site, we were treat with a complimentary Mai Tai and cards loaded with $16 worth of credit to use towards beverages and souvenirs. Of course, we used them for the beverages as we walked around paradise cove beach. A stroll through the cove took us through festivities like arts and crafts and Hawaiian games. Periodically, different spectacles were put on for the guests such as the Shower of Flowers, the underground oven cooking at the Imu Ceremony and the Hukilau on the Beach. Merely casual entertainment as we waited for the main event: a buffet style feast served up by the locals of Paradise Cove.

paradise cove luau hawaii oahu

paradise cove luau oahu

paradise cove luau oahu

paradise cove luau oahu

The food was absolutely amazing! Roast, chicken, seafood, pastas, salads, and a few Hawaiian specialties thrown into the mix created the best dinner we’ve had on the League of Eight Extraordinary Events. And also the perfect meal to celebrate Chris’ birthday in Oahu.

paradise cove luau

paradise cove luau oahu

paradise cove luau

We spent the last couple of hours watching the incomparable Paradise Cove Extravaganza. Award-winning entertainers and performers put on an unforgettable display of songs and dances of Hawaii and Polynesian cultural as the sunset in the distance. That’s taken straight from their website and it is 100% true! This is the second time I was able to witness it with my own eyes.

paradise cove luau

paradise cove luau hawaii oahu

paradise cove luau hawaii oahu

paradise cove luau hawaii oahu
Courtesy of Chris O’Sullivan

The End of The League of Eight Extraordinary Events?

And with that, completes the league of events that took place over the course of two weeks. One week in Alaska and one week in Hawaii. Here’s the rundown of events:

  1. White Water Rafting Denali National Park (Alaska)
  2. Ace ATV Denali (Alaska)
  3. Glacier Bay Kayaking (Alaska)
  4. Shark Cage Diving (Hawaii)
  5. Lunar Legends SUP (Hawaii)
  6. Peddle Bar Honolulu (Hawaii)
  7. Scuba Diving Sharks Cove (Hawaii)
  8. Paradise Cove Luau (Hawaii)

Oddly, I loved planning the whole thing. It took months to execute but I found it to be truly exciting as I could have gone wherever I wanted and made any event I could have thought of. Alaska and Hawaii were the perfect hosts and the people we met there have but nothing but nice. We didn’t have a single issue with the locals we met in each community we visited.

Even though the League is over, that doesn’t mean it’s gone for good. I definitely plan on creating another one sometime in the near future, but I’ll be cranking the notch up a bit and taking this party international. I’ll keep everyone posted on that!

As for Veronica, Chris, and Katelin–my traveling companions for the last couple weeks–it’s that time where they head back home to the States. Veronica, Katelin, and Sean flew back to Michigan the morning after the Luau. Chris hung around for a couple extra days to kick back and relax before he headed back to Philadelphia to resume his teaching duties. Thanks for joining me guys. You’ve all been great!

scuba dive oahu

As for me? I’m continuing onto my Quest to the Seven Continents and flying to Auckland, New Zealand to spend a couple weeks there with a few friends from home as we road trip through the North Island.

The Quest to the Seven Continents continues in New Zealand!

The Crouching Lion, Hidden Hike

Crouching Lion Hike Oahu

There aren’t any sign posts that point towards it.

You wouldn’t even know the name for it unless you looked it up. The unofficial start of the trail was hidden somewhere near a “Do Not Pass” road post on the eastern coast of Oahu. I’ve read about it and I’ve seen some amazing pictures from the top and I wanted to see it for myself. Crouching Lion is its name and it was my mission to find it.

We have just completed Event #6 (which I’ll talk about in moment) and now we have a full unplanned day to do whatever we wanted in Oahu. I mentioned to the others that there was a special hike I wanted to find that we all should consider doing. They were all down. It’s called Crouching Lion and it earned that name for the “crouching lion” shape the mountain resembles. I didn’t see it. There aren’t any road marks or sign posts for this hike, you just have to find it. But thanks to other bloggers who have found the trail and left a comprehensive guide for others to follow suit, most of the hard work was already done for us. We just had to find a place to park and luckily there was access to a small parking structure on the side of the road to where we needed to be.

Twelve years ago, I came to Oahu. We parked our minivan on the side of the road for a jungle trek and came back a couple hours later to find our van’s windows busted and several of our valuables stolen. I’ve been cautious ever since. This time, I had full coverage on our SUV and no valuables inside, just in case bandits were to try again. At the least, none of our valuables would be taken. We kept them in our day bag for the trek up Crouching Lion, which began just after the “Do Not Pass” sign, just as I have read about prior.

Crouching Lion Oahu
The trail begins just after the “Do Not Pass” sign on the east side of the road.

After finding the sign and entering the trail, we immediately came to a few battered trees to our left which we had to climb over and under to continue.

Crouching Lion Hike Oahu

The ascent up itself was steep, but not difficult. It also wasn’t very long. Probably took about 30-40 minutes to get to the trail that lined the top of the mountain. Even so, we were already rewarded with a spectacular view of a large lake that barely reaches the east shore.

Crouching Lion Hike Oahu

Crouching Lion Hike Oahu

Once on the mountain top trail, the path splits into a fork: left or right. We chose left as it was the easiest. I’ve read that the other trail leads to some dangerous ventures that I wasn’t ready to risk with a few friends who rarely hike at my side. But the left path still took us to another apex where we could see a part of residential Oahu meet the Pacific.

Crouching Lion Hike Oahu

Crouching Lion Hike Oahu

Crouching Lion Hike Oahu

Processed with Snapseed.

Crouching Lion Hike Oahu

If you’re keen on doing a hike that only lasts a few hours round trip, but not looking for anything too strenuous, I highly recommend Crouching Lion. Relatively easy to find, requires a low level of physical assertion, and is super rewarding. And if you have any questions about how to find the trail exactly and where to park, just shoot me a message!


Now let’s backtrack a bit into Event #6…

Now the reason I began talking about Crouching Lion instead of Event #6, which happened the night before Crouching Lion, is purely personal reasoning. Basically, I’m not a fan of leading a post about drinking and drunken antics unless it’s something like a wine tour in a new country, Oktoberfest, or something purely unavoidable that I MUST blog about like a completely unexpected Sunday Funday pool crawl in Nicaragua. I don’t personally like opening a post about a semi-sloppy drunken mess, case in point, like what Event #6 turned into…

Event #6 of 8 – Honolulu Peddle Bar

I typically have control over the turnouts of each of the events, but not this one. It comes with the territory though. Getting hammered on a giant cart powered by 12 bike peddlers comes with just rewards and drunken consequences if one isn’t careful. Regardless of the fact, we all had a great time!

This event was catered specifically for Veronica. After torturing her with physical outdoorsy events, I thought she’d appreciate something a little more up her alley. Thus, a peddle bike bar crawl though Honolulu was born!

Honolulu peddle bike oahu

The idea was intriguing. About twelve ready-to-get-their-drink-on strangers get together and power peddle a large cart to three bars in Honolulu, guided by a man who steered as we all gladly slaved away. We weren’t allowed to have any actual drinks on the cart but were prompted to drink up at each of the bars we stopped at, which came very easy to all five of us.

By the end of the third bar, we were all feeling it. We had a pretty good group on our cart and wanted to keep the action going, so we decided (or actually one of the ladies in our group suggested) we all go to a bar about a kilometer away called Duck Butt. We graciously straggled our way there and suddenly entered Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. Duck Butt was a Vietnamese karaoke bar! The staff, the atmosphere, the k-pop music videos on the tv screens, the waitresses who pretended to understand what we were trying to order; I felt like I was back in Ho Chi Minh again!


We all squeezed into a small room with a couch that wrapped along the walls. We all made cozy, ordered drinks, and sang some songs. Well I didn’t. I was busy wondering what the heck was happening. Veronica became Vanessa who couldn’t read Chinese. Drinks were spilled all over the table, we thought we were eating chicken but it turned out to be goose or something, and lots of talk of the difference between queefs and fanny farts among the Americans and the Australians in our group. Before anyone forgot, I paid for the tab before the waitress told me that someone from our group ordered another round!

“Who the heck ordered more beer??” I thought. We certainly didn’t need anymore, but hey… we were at a place called Duck Butt!

We took a couple of ubers back to our house later that evening and on the way I mentally decided that if I were to ever do another League of Eight Extraordinary Events (which I definitely plan on doing), I won’t make any of the events based on getting drunk, unless it’s something iconic like an Oktoberfest for example. Bottom line, we all enjoyed ourselves and that’s what mattered the most.

On to Event# 7! My favorite event thus far!

Exploration: North Shore Oahu, Hawaii!

The island of Oahu, part of The Hawaiian Island archipelago, is home to one of the most popular surfing hot spots in the world: The North Shore. It’s here where you’ll find crisp turquoise waves in the summer, practically made for surfing, that attracts surfers from all over the globe. The pristine coastline introduces the tropics of the island north, where jungles climb mountains and food trucks rally along Kamehameha Highway that steers along the island coast. We had all day to explore the northern stretch of Oahu that would eventually lead us to the mysterious Event #5. I know what Event#5 is but I’m not exactly sure what it is.

After a wild morning with Galapagos Sharks, our plan was to coast the North Shore, visiting as many beaches and food trucks as possible. We didn’t know which beaches or places to hit, so we just stopped at whichever one caught our eyes. This was ‘winging it’ in every sense of the word and it was exactly what we wanted. We drove by a site called Waimea Valley where a short and easy stroll through a heritage jungle will lead you to a waterfall you could freely swim in. We went there first.

Waimea Waterfalls

Waimea Waterfalls

I was at this spot 12 years ago and before we weren’t required to wear life jackets (I could be mistaken though, my memory is horrible). Fast forward to the present, life jackets were required by everyone. I didn’t understand why until we tried to swim towards the waterfall. The force was strong!

Waimea Waterfalls
Katelin, Chris, Veronica, and Sean.

The beaches on the North Shore were the best. We went to about three or four different ones and spent a good chunk of time at each of them. The first one was at Sharks Cove where I tried out a travel hammock I received as a gift from a friend, just before I left on this worldly conquest. While the others went to explore the coves, I took a much-needed nap in that super comfortable hammock.

Sharks Cove Beach

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The next beach? Turtle Bay. In order to get there, we drove through a hotel resort and walked right up to the waters filled with tourists, but still oh so nice.

Turtle Bay

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Another beach? Why not? This time we drove just a few kilometers east to Sunset Beach. The name was fitting as we did not a single thing but rest our eyes and relax on the sand and hammock. It was absolutely perfect.

Sunset Beach

The majority of the day was spent beach side and searching for food trucks. My favorite beach of the bunch? Shark’s Cove. I didn’t even get into the water for that one. The hammock sold me. Truly being lazy. But, the laziness was about to end–we still had Event #5 which took place during the night hours. What could we possibly be doing at night? I knew the answer (for the most part) but I kept the others in the dark until we arrived at our destination.

Event #5 of 8 – Lunar Legends SUP

Stand up paddle boarding? I never tried it, let alone in the dark. I found a place that has standup paddle boards with colorful lights attached underneath where you can cruise through a Polynesian jungle using the moon as your guide. Sounds amazing right? It takes place at the Polynesian Cultural Center, just a few kilometers east of the beaches we visited.

Courtesy of Google Maps
Courtesy of Google Maps

As neat as it sounded, I wasn’t sure exactly how it would turn out. Would there be a lot of people doing it? Was standup paddle boarding going to be easy or difficult? What’s the actual jungle like? The website said there was some surprise at the end of the tour. What was the surprise?! I had many questions that were answered that night, thanks to our humble guide that would lead the four of us along with about six others along a man-made river through the Polynesian Cultural Center. The river was only three feet deep. So if you fall in, it wouldn’t be so horrendous.

We each were given a life vest and chose a board to stand on. We first had to kneel on it and then use the single paddle we had to hoist ourselves up. It wasn’t as difficult as I’ve heard it could be but then again, this river was the calmest imaginable.



By the way, night shots are difficult for me, especially while trying to keep my balance on a wobbly board so sorry for the grainy images. This is what I’m working with!

Lunar Legends SUP

The lights under our board complimented an already unique environment as we peacefully coasted (and purposely rammed into each other) along the river. Once I got the hang of things, my new goal was to knock the others into the water by bashing my board into theirs. We paddled towards small waterfalls we could go under by choice. No one wanted to get wet, but it was my mission to shove someone’s board underneath a fall and with success I was able to get Katelin. Karma hit me instantly when Sean shoved my board and instead of keeping balance, I fell into the river. Thankfully it was on the warmer side.



The tour lasted for about an hour. As for that “special surprise” at the end…there wasn’t one. It was probably those waterfalls. The tour ended with another woman falling into the river when she couldn’t find her balance on the board. I wasn’t the only one to fall!

The Lunar Legends was nice, but I would have enjoyed it more if it was just my group. A few of the other paddlers in our group slowed us down and hampered the whole “Polynesian” part of the experience because one of the ladies had difficulty even standing in the beginning. This also was my first time with a stand up paddle board and personally for me it was meh…

The others enjoyed it though and that’s what really mattered. Five of the Eight Extraordinary Events down, three more to go!


Close Encounters of the Shark Kind: Shark Cage Diving In Oahu

Shark Cage Dving Oahu

What better way to kick off a trip in Hawaii than going shark cage diving in Oahu?

Everyone’s all settled in and still not over the fact that less than 24 hours ago, we were just in Alaska. But no time for rest. I made it known to them that bright and early tomorrow morning, we have to head towards the North Shore for Event #4. I didn’t tell them anything about the event, except to wear swim gear and bring waterproof cameras if they had them. We packed the rental car and took off early in the morning to the North Shore of Oahu. Our destination? Haleiwa, HI.

Haleiwa, Hawaii, the location of Event #4.
Haleiwa, Hawaii, the location of Event #4.

Event #4 of 5 – Shark Cage Diving Oahu

Before we left, I woke up Veronica around 6am to take a couple motion sickness tablets. She gets as sick as I do so we both took them early in preparation. She didn’t know yet why she needed them, but she didn’t hesitate to take them. Once we pulled into the Haleiwa park and saw the sign for “Hawaii Shark Encounters” she then knew exactly why she needed the tablets. “We’re going shark cage diving!”

Courtesy of Chris O'Sullivan
Courtesy of Chris O’Sullivan
The boat for our dive came about 15 minutes after we arrived and we got on board with seven other divers along with two instructors. One of the instructors let us know that the type of sharks we would be seeing were Galapagos sharks, which can grow up to 3.3 meters (11 feet) in length.



We rode the boat about 20 minutes out into the sea where we found our cage attached to a buoy. Thankfully, the weather was especially welcoming and the waters were of a comfortable temperature, unlike my previous shark cage diving experience in South Africa. Already we could see sharks swimming below our boat, much to the elation of everyone. Once anchored, we put on our wet suits and snorkels masks and climbed down into the cage which was now securely attached to the boat.

Galapagos Sharks

I was feeling a tad sick from the boat ride–just a tad, but going underwater made it feel a little better. Just in time, as I was able to concentrate and focus on capturing awesome footage with my GoPro.

Shark Cage Diving Oahu

Shark Cage Diving Oahu

The Galapagos sharks look vicious, but are actually mild in comparison to Great Whites. These sharks aren’t fond of humans as a meal, but instead will let you swim freely around them once they grow comfortable and realize that you are not a threat. If I’d known that this was a thing, I would of had all of us free dive with them instead of cage dive, but baby steps. I wasn’t sure how Veronica, Katelin, and Sean would fare but they ended up loving it! As far as Chris goes, per usual, he is game for literally anything at anytime.


The cage was big enough to fit six people comfortably, but still we would bump into each other. No one paid mind though. The sharks captured all of our attention as the crew members baited them and we watched them chomp all around us. They swam so close to our cage that you could touch them. In fact, I think my GoPro caressed one as it swam by with little reaction from the shark. Without notice, my camera-free arm and feet would dangle outside of the cage at times. That’s how comfortable I was in that cage and how comfortable I was with those sharks, to not mind my limbs dangling freely (sometimes). Now if these were Great Whites, that would be another story.

Oahu Shark Cage Diving

Galapagos Sharks

After awhile of nonstop shark action, I began to feel nauseous again. I felt like I could vomit in the coming moments, so I exited the cage early. But just a couple minutes after I climbed out, the crew decided that we were in long enough anyways and they had everyone climb out.

“Look out into the horizon,” said one of the crew members to me, knowing that I was feeling sick. “You’ll start to feel better.”

And so I did. I’m not sure if it was just a mind game or what but I actually did begin to feel better by just staring out into the distant shore of Haleiwa. Veronica was feeling sick to so I told her to look out into the horizon as well.

On the way back to the dock, a pod of dolphins swam in sync to the waves our boats’ engine created behind us. This is the first time I’ve seen dolphins in the wild and so many of them at the same time! The cherry on top of this neat excursion.

Dolphins in Oahu

That’s half of The League of Eight Extraordinary Events down, another four to go!

What next could I possibly have in store for my crew of clueless globetrotters?

Shark Cage Diving Oahu