Andy Chiang, DVM
Hawaii is synonymous with the ultimate relaxation. Soft white sand and clear turquoise water, what's there not to like?
I had a chance to visit Hawaii for a wedding. The timing was perfect as a few of my vet schools friends had just moved to the beautiful island of Oahu.
My preferred traveling destinations are always places where my friends reside. It’s not always about the place when it comes to traveling, more often than not, it’s about the people. I enjoy an insight into how the locals live. I stayed with my good friend Adrien (check out our ) in Aeia, away from the crazy crowd in Honolulu.
The hikes in Oahu are absolutely stunning. Just like every other tourist, I paid a visit to the ever so popular Diamond Head State Monument. It was a relatively easy and beautiful hike that captures the breathtaking view of Honolulu and the pacific coast.
Other hikes that I did include Manoa Falls, Ka’ena Point State Park, and Koko Head Crater. Each hiking experience delivers a unique experience. Hiking Manoa Falls felt like cruising through the Jurassic Park jungle. Ka’ena Point graced us with precious monk seal and albatross sightings. On the other hand, Koko Head trail is a beast of its own as it is a straight, continuous, 1,048-stair climb. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, but the 360-degrees view of the entire island atop made the sweat and pain somewhat tolerable.
As amazing as the hikes were, it was actually the ocean that captured my heart. I visited a number of beaches, from tourist packed Waikiki Beach to quiet and remote beaches in North Shore. Of all the beaches, I have to say that Lanikai Beach is easily my favorite. It’s busy but not overcrowded, and it has a pleasant, relaxing vibe. In addition, the soft, white sand provides a unique fluff sensation to your feet. Beyond the sand, the true beauty of Lanikai Beach lies in the crystal, turquoise lukewarm water. We had planned to spend 2-3 hours there, but ended up relaxing on the beach for the entire afternoon.
Another visually stunning ocean activity was snorkeling at Hanauma Bay. We arrived shortly after sunrise, and was taken aback by the dazzling view of the bay. We snorkeled for several hours and came across countless magnificent oceanic wildlife. We probably could have snorkeled longer, but we called it a day as hunger eventually set in.
As if this trip couldn't get better, I was thrilled to have unlocked a new skillset in surfing. While I had little faith in my ability to surf initially, Adrien’s patient coaching helped me stand on the board successfully. It was an incredible feeling to glide on water, now I know why Adrien decided to move to Hawaii to become a veterinarian surfer. Not only is surfing physically and mentally fulfilling, but it also makes the food experience exponentially better afterwords, it sure is a workout. My favorite pre-surf meal is a refreshing açai bowl, and I replenish my body post-surfing with a mouthwatering combo of poké bowl and garlic shrimp.
As much fun as I had relaxing at the beaches, snorkeling, and surfing, my favorite ocean activity was perhaps the opportunity to swim with wild spinner dolphins. As a veterinarian, any wild life encounter sparks an instant emotional frenzy. Needless to say, my encounter with wild dolphins took those emotions to a whole new level. The most incredible part was that it felt like the pod of dolphins were observing us as much as we were observing them. They could have very easily swam away from us, but a few dolphins from the pod swam towards us and gave us a look before carrying on with their days.
Prior to leaving the island, I made sure to embrace the tourist side of me and attended Germaine’s Luau. The evening was filled with delicious food (especially the savory underground roasted pig), music, and dancing. More importantly, it was a great way for us to learn about the Polynesian culture.
I was impressed by how limber the hula dancers were. Not to brag, but I participated in the hula dancing contest and won the title of Mr. Hawaii. The evening reached its climax when the fire dancer was introduced. The speed and precision of the fire dancer left me utterly speechless.
During my time in Oahu, I tried to capture the sunset whenever possible. On my last day, we took a cruise out in Waikiki to fully immerse in the beauty of Hawaiian sunset. It was the perfect moment to reflect on a perfect trip. I appreciated everything the island has to offer. I enjoyed all the people and animals that I had the chance of meeting. I especially embraced the relaxing nature of island life. This Hawaiian vacation serves as a reminder to relax and enjoy the little things in life.
Dr. Chiang is a relief veterinarian, web developer, and entrepreneur who believes that the mental wellbeing crisis within the veterinary industry can be drastically improved through exploration and collaboration. In his free time, he is a fitness enthusiast who also enjoys traveling and trying out new food. Oh, he is also a corgi fanatic!