We made a group decision to abandon the bone-chilling cold of an Albertan winter for sunnier climes and opted to take our Reading Week in Hawaii. We decided on O’ahu, the most populous island in Hawaii, and we stayed in a backpackers hostel in Honolulu. It was great fun exchanging stories with other travelers and spending time with pals I’d made on exchange.

We took full advantage of the good weather by hitting the beach and basking in sunshine and turquoise waters. An elderly couple even bequeathed us their beach gear as they were flying home that day!

We took a sobering trip to the Pearl Harbour memorial, which was fascinating if somewhat historically biased. I must admit my knowledge of the incident was pedestrian prior to the Memorial but I’m glad we went: the entrance and museum are free and visitors can watch a short film on the history and take a short boat ride to the USS Arizona memorial, which lies atop the sunken ship.

We had a leisurely hike up to Manoa Falls, a beautiful waterfall in the midst of a rainforest. In the city we explored the Iolani Palace and several monuments around Chinatown. That evening we went out for cocktails and had a hilarious evening at a karaoke bar. The bar was tiny and well hidden, but the regulars were friendly and every song was belted out by the entire room with gusto, no matter who was holding the microphone!

One of the trip’s highlights was Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. It was absolutely gorgeous; we spent the day on the beach reading between snorkeling sessions. It was my first time snorkeling along with one of my pals, so we had an introductory lesson from the rest of the group. At first it was counter-intuitive, but after mastering it we saw vibrant schools of fish without even leaving the shallow of the bay.

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