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Only two more days on the island so we wanted to assure we got everything in today. We had a list before leaving the mainland but we didn’t really make out an agenda since we knew it was a vacation and wanted a more relaxed method of seeing things. So, today we chose to go to the Northern Section of the island for some natural sightseeing.

We had heard about a gorgeous drive on the H3 through the Ko’olau Mountains which actually has a tunnel right through the mountain. We wanted to make sure we drove this route so that we could see the sights, plus it just happened to work out for us that we needed to reach the other side of the mountain. We drove this route to get to the island previously owned by the Fleishman’s Yeast heir called Kane’ohe Bay. This is the island used for the Gilligan’s Island television shows. Another interesting fact of this area is that it was actually first bombed before Pearly Harbor but it wasn’t as widely known. We found this interesting fact in our travel books and also our tour guide at the USS Arizona Memorial.

Next we drove to see the Valley of the Temples so we could see Byodo-In. We got there a bit early so we chose to drive down the road for our hike first before going to the Buddhist temple. Thankfully we had planned a hike at Kapa’ele’ele Ko’a trail that was used by Japanese fisherman many years ago to give thanks to the gods for the food supply they just caught. It’s strange going up to this trail though because although there are signed, one must drive through residential houses before reaching the trail office. The gentleman working the trail though was more than kind with answering questions and helping us find the perfect trail for our time frame available. He gave us more non-traditional tourist areas too. Tourist traps are not our thing, so he was the perfect guide for us.

We hiked up the trail that was supposed to take about an hour, but really it only took us about 30 minutes. We do hike often, so that’s why it wasn’t that long. The trail we chose took us up the mountainside and to a wonderful lookout point that overlooks the ocean bay where fishermen still today have their boats. We were the only people on the trail the entire time there. It was a gorgeous hike and really got us into the real Hawaiian terrain and foliage. We had a great hike but my bug spray seemed to beckon the mosquitoes while my husband was left untouched even though he had none on before leaving.

As we drove back to the temple we found a wonderful Macademia Nut Farm that wasn’t on our list but was a great side attraction. They had something like 8 different types of flavored macadamia nuts to try and all were simply amazing. We actually got to see a real coffee and macadamia trees. There is even a area outside that tourists can go and crack open macadamia nuts for free and see what the real thing in its natural surroundings. After a little gift shopping for my mother in law and Aussie Friend, Pinkinoz.wordpress.com, we were off again in our Jeep. Next we went to the Lion Statue that looked amazingly like a lion thanks to nature. The statue was located right at an inn but there is also a chocolate store right below too. There are dark chocolate options which are amazing in taste and well worth the stop in for a free sample and purchase to take home.

The Byodo-In Temple costs around $2 per adult and is easy to find from the main road. This temple is actually located right in an international cemetery that is still used today, so please remember to be respectful when you get there. Also, the temple is still used today by the attending Monks so it’s not just a place to run around. It was interesting for me since I have previously gone to the original temple that this one is mimicking in Japan. They did a wonderful job but one can definitely tell the differences but I would rather not spoil the experience for those of you that want to go so, I’ll keep them to myself. In my opinion the only exciting thing available here was the cute cat in the gift shop. We actually spent about five minutes petting the cat while it took about one minute to go through the entire temple. If you have experienced another temple, I might suggest not going to this one. I have lived in Japan but the hubby has not and he wasn’t impressed. He said his favorite part was the cat and the bamboo garden to the side of the temple.

By the time we were finished with the morning activities we were ready for a good sized meal. We had planned on getting Z-Pizza to deliver to our hotel but unfortunately they only deliver less than one mile away from their establishment- considering they are located near a mall, that means they don’t deliver basically. We did chose this pizza place since they do offer a vegan pizza called Berkeley Vegan which claims to have “Marinara Sauce, vegan cheese, veggie burger crumbles, zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms, red onions, and bell peppers”. It was delicious but the prices are much higher than other locations on the island. A small is 12.95, lg 23.95, and xl is 26.95. We purchased the small because of the price but were a bit saddened to see the size was the same as a personal pizza. So, if you go there, you might want to get a small pizza per person since you will not get full sharing. We managed to eat some other energy bars on the road since we were still starving.

Next up was the Dole Pineapple Plantation, which is no longer really used to grow pineapple for export to the mainland. They do have a few tours but we found the free walk through tour of the plantation process was just what we were looking for to learn about the process. Neither of us had seen a pineapple plant in person so it was definitely interesting to walk through the entire outdoor display. Then we walked indoors which is like a medium-sized mall selling anything you have ever wanted to deal with pineapples. We both love fresh pineapple so we were dying to have something from there. We actually got a fresh pineapple smoothie. Yum! It was supposed to be vegan but it did taste a little like cow’s milk so who knows. There is a large amount of pineapple menu items available, just not vegan. Strangely enough, we didn’t see any fresh pineapple on a stick or anything like that but the smoothie was worth it on a hot day. Then we walked to the side of Dole Plantation and there was another outdoor plantation that had photo cutouts and a little garden that was well worth the nice short walk.

Finally after a full day of adventure we were more than tired and couldn’t think of driving once again to go get a meal. We are more into tourist sights instead of making sure we eat out at fancy restaurants. So we chose to get a free gift shops down for the last few people and also to purchase a handmade lava sand art piece and carry-on luggage for me from the International Marketplace. Just above the marketplace is a great indoor mall that has a food court in the basement level. It has a few hidden gems called the Organic Café (vegan and raw vegan) which I purchased a vegan burger, a ramen shop that the husband tried out which was not all vegan but he loved, and finally a bento shop that sells vegan onigiri and noodles. Mmmm we ate so much food we couldn’t move. Everything was delicious!!! It is well worth looking for this destination which is only about one block away from the entrance of the International Marketplace. We walked everything off by shopping and getting back to our hotel room at a reasonable hour for our last day of adventure.

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