Hawaii doesn't have to be just a pipe-dream for students. Peter Stears recounts his trip of a lifetime and argues that it can be done on a student budget.
The Hawaiian Islands are some of the most famous island destinations known around the world. For most people, the closest they'll ever get to the islands is through movies, TV shows, magazines or on a honeymoon, but it shouldn't be this way. We only have one life to live and we should see as much of the world as we can.
My brother and his fiancée tied the knot in October gone by on the Island of Oahu at Papa‘Iloa Beach. Flowers on the sand, the sound of the wave crashing and the warmth of the setting sun on our backs together as family and friends; it was a moment that I'll never forget and the scenery is something that no one should go without seeing.
The island of Oahu, with Honolulu as its capital and being home to Waikiki Beach as well as Pearl Harbour WW2 memorial sights, is the busiest of the islands. There are plenty of activities to do for all the family, from water sports on the beaches to going horse riding on the majestic Kualua Ranch; home to an awe-inspiring spring valley where the likes of Jurassic Park and Jurassic World have been filmed, along with a plethora of other blockbuster titles.
If you don't like beaches or swimming in the ocean, then Hawaii is not a destination for you. Sure, you can spend your money at a hotel resort and spend your time at the pool and nobody would stop you, but that's like going to Disneyland and only going to a gift shop.
For those of you who are half fish and love the ocean, I cannot understate the beauty and joy of swimming in the ocean surrounding Hawaii. Crystal clear water, an active sea life, and warm waters combine to create an experience of total and utter peace on earth.
Scuba diving, jet skiing, surfing, the list goes on; these are all available for the thrill seekers, while cheap beach chairs and loungers are available for those who wish to take a more relaxed approach to their day.
The island of Oahu has a rich tropical landscape built on and around sheer mountain and volcano drops. The rugged landscape transports you back in time to when the first settlers arrived and it is remarkable to see a land that is left so untouched and genuinely looks how it was thousands of years ago.
Hidden waterfalls, caves and crevices are there for you to explore and find. Plunge pools, dense forest and scenic views await the explorer within you. As previously mentioned, the Kualua Ranch has had many attempts by wealthy hotel developers to buy the land but the owners have refused any offer and preserved the area out of respect for the heritage of the island and the graves of those who lie deep within the rock face.
Hawaii is not just beaches however, there is a lot of history embedded in the islands. The Polynesian centre near the north shore is where visitors are given an insight into the culture, food, and dance of the original Polynesian settlers of the island.
The Pearl Harbour memorial sight is a must-see attraction. Take a trip to Pearl Harbour memorial sight, which includes a boat ride out to the sunken USS Arizona Battleship, the final resting place for 1,102 souls. The whole experience is free except a museum and submarine tour which costs only $12 and is well worth it. The harbour is a saddening reminder of how in a place so beautiful, war can forever create a rift of sadness and destruction. The memorial is a powerful reminder of the needless loss of life, as encompassing a giant American flag are the names of each person who died, their rank, and their branch of the military.
The food in Hawaii is out of this world, especially their fish. The best thing about travelling to an island is that you are surrounded by water and lurking in that water is potentially your next dinner. If fish isn't your thing, then don't fret, because their steak, and in particular their prime ribs, are some of the best I've ever tasted. There are a range of restaurants to meet all budgets and occasions whether you're there to sit down for a family meal or just a quick bite, you won't be lost.
As you travel into the more rural areas such as the north shore on the island of Oahu, where I stayed, you will see a lot of food trucks. Do not shy away from these vendors. They provide hearty, healthy, authentic Hawaiian food which focuses a lot around shrimp and pulled pork. They say pulled pork comes from Australia but I can guarantee you the Hawaiians have been doing it extremely well for a long time.
Yes, Hawaii isn’t cheap but don't think it's just a pipe dream. It took me two years to plan and save, my flights were $900 and my accommodation was $600, everything after that was spending money. Get a group of friends, rent a condominium and go explore. It is do-able so don't think for a second that it's not. You can do it.