Getting to travel is always a privilege, especially if that trip is for leisure. Possibly one of the best vacations I’ve ever had was this past winter break, when I had the chance to visit my aunt and uncle in Kaneohe, Hawaii, on the island of Oahu. I had been there with my family before, for Christmas in 2012. But this time, my brother and I saw and did things we never knew were there the first time.

Hawaii Group

For being such a heavy tourist location, Oahu has a surprising amount of native land that has been left untouched. Normally, when a location becomes popular for people to visit, it gets ”modernized” with restaurants and shopping plazas. However, in both of my trips, I’ve only ever seen one shopping plaza on the island, and it’s located right in the center of Kaneohe. The only other really modern spot on the island was downtown Honolulu, which I still have yet to visit. Over the course of this trip, I relaxed a lot while learning more about the island.

Hawaii Flags

We started out our trip by staying in a cabin on the Bellows Air Force Squadron base in Kaneohe, a branch of the military used for training and drills. Our cabin was right on the beach with a wonderful view. The beaches were never very crowded, as the air force base was private, admitting only members of the military and their families. (It is worth mentioning at this point that my aunt does, in fact, work for the US military, which has its perks.) More than anything else, staying in this cabin taught me to make the most of my free time.

There was no Wi-Fi, and very limited cell phone service in the cabins, so often my brother and I were left to our own devices. We ending up spending a few days on the beach swimming, some other days were spent playing disc golf, and Christmas Day we stayed inside and opened presents. It was really a lot of fun, which I found surprising, because normally I am glued to my phone.

After staying in the cabin for four nights, we moved into my aunt and uncle’s house. We spent the rest of the trip being tourists, hitting all of the famous spots on the island: Ted’s Bakery, famous for their Garlic Shrimp, Atlantis Submarines, where you take a tour of artificial coral reefs and World War II plane crashes and other things of that nature.

Probably my favorite of all those events was taking an ATV tour through Kualoa Ranch. The ranch is hundreds of acres, and is very famous for some of the movies and TV shows that have been shot there. Of over 100 total productions made in the Kualoa Valley, some are rather big names: Lost, which used the valley for Hurley’s Golf Course, Pearl Harbor, which made bunkers in the side of the mountain that borders the valley, Godzilla, which dug footprints into the ground and 50 First Dates, where the scenes with the gate were shot. Finally, my personal favorite, “Wind Talkers,” used one of the hillsides for a battle scene. They also had the exact branch used in Jurrasic Park, where two kids and the doctor hid from dinosaurs behind this fallen branch. It was incredible to see all of these spots in person, especially knowing everything behind them before we got there.

Hawaii Island

Moral of the Story: If you ever get a chance to travel to Hawaii, do it. The weather is gorgeous, and even the rain is so scenic and peaceful that it’s hard not to have an amazing time. Just be mindful of the roosters; they’re evil little buggers.