This year thanksgiving went a little differently for the Dark Warrior. I was unable to spend the holiday enjoying the elders and eating turkey. For me thanksgiving was spent in NY being thankful that I have a great friend with an awesome apartment. Black Friday was spent flying 11 hours back in time to a Hawaiian getaway. The flight to Hawaii had me going nuts because it was so long and I didn’t even have my vodka to keep me calm. It was a place that presented itself as somewhere similar to home at first glance, but very quickly you see it’s drastically different. The island of Honolulu is one of the most spectacular places I’ve seen on Earth. From the clean air scented with the sweetness of endangered flowers, to the breath taking view of the mountains, this place is a definite must see. When we arrived, warm humid air greeted us. This humidity, thankfully, does not hug your skin like it does in Charleston. After grabbing our bags and car and some essentials: cash, booze and extra toiletries, we made our way to our hotel. The “interstate” known as the H1 was our corridor to Waikiki. Once in the beautiful oasis it was clear, we weren’t in East Cooper anymore.

The lavish lodging area featured skyscrapers reminiscent of Miami’s with a cross of Vegas. The architectural style was both eclectic and muted where needed. Our hotel, Miramar Waikiki, sported a Chinese styled facade with an open marble floor-plan. Our particular room wasn’t anything to write home about, but our view wasn’t half bad.

Once drunk and fed, it was time to see the city. One thing I like about driving in other cities is you get to experience the “what the fuck moments” in city planning. I was convinced that all roads were shaped like H’s. We arrived to a place called The Study located in The Modern Hotel Resort. The music was ba’zonkballs. Anyone who loves hip-hop as I do would be totally at home here. This place had a modern lounge design. The drinks were a little watered down so you need to order them without ice but overall it was a great experience. The people were friendly, the vibe was nice. We finished our drinks and headed to our next stop, The M.

This spot was located further up on Ala Moana Blvd. It features multiple bars and a nice spacious layout. Definitely more club, with lots of room on the dance floor. I wasn’t really feeling the music as they were playing that watered down extra pop version of every song. I was having nightmares of the clubs of Las Vegas again. We stayed for about 3o minutes and then headed back to The Modern to check out it’s other spot Addiction. Addiction is touted as one of the most amazing clubs in the city. We didn’t feel the need to go in as there was a large gathering of people outside having fun already so we joined. Here we encountered two Japanese women on vacation, both of whom professed their love for black men. The language barrier unfortunately prevented us from getting anywhere. Still the night ended well.

When we awoke the next day it was time to see the island. The driving situation was crazy the night we arrived due to a parade going on, but the day drive went much smoother. Hawaii is such a beautiful place during the day. It was nice to enjoy a nice April day in the middle of December. We left our hotel and headed in the direction of the lights we saw in the mountains the night before. We knew if anything worth happening was happening where those lights were. To our dismay, we just ended up in a neighborhood, but it looked like no neighborhood we’d been in before.

The houses were compact and stacked upon and intricately woven into one another. It was a quiet community, hardly anyone was walking around. While penetrating its depths we got to see the Manoa Chinese Cemetery. This beautiful testament to the lives of those who have passed on sat on acres of lush green grass. There were a number of breath taking memorials around the island.

We got to cover a great deal of the island and even got to stop at a local restaurant and try some poi. Poi is a staple food made from the root of some plant I forgot. Tasted like unsweetened applesauce. We left and headed ate at place called Keneke’s Grill in Punaluu. The short ribs were absolutely delicious. Once our bellies were full we continued our trek to the northern part of the island to see the beach.

All of the beaches we visited were simply amazing. Curiously, most of the beaches we visited didn’t have many people playing in the water. The one north shore beach I saw people in had signs warning of rip-tides and sharp coral, but that didn’t stop the 9-year-old I saw from surfing. Her folks didn’t seem to mind either. I unfortunately cut my foot, go figure. We left the beach relaxed and back to Waikiki for more fun and debauchary. We had the pleasure of staying in a location were vice was easy to come by. It wasn’t until the 4th day that I noticed the hookers. Buy why pay when it’s free?

In good Donovan fashion I abandoned my travelmates when in search of adventure. If it’s one thing I hate when I go out of town it staying in one section the entire time, or worse, staying in the hotel. I can do that shit at home. “We in Hawai’i bitches!” I left the confines of The Miramar in search of lush tropical scenery. The Beatrice H. Krauss Hawaiian Ethnobotanical Gardens and The Manoa Falls Trail were the perfect destinations. While exploring the botanical garden I saw just how lush and diverse it’s ecology was.

After frolicking in for about an hour. I made my way to the Manoa falls, a popular spot for tourist and locals. Fortunately for me, I started my hike the same time as some high school started their field trip. Talk about great timing. The trail starts of simple but gets pretty rugged as you continue along. When I actually got to the waterfall, I was a little disappointed but I was expecting Niagara falls like conditions.

The Manoa fall was small and modest at the end of which was a pool of crystal clear water. Our “tour guide” told us to be sure not to drink the water since it may contain potentially harmful bacteria. If you plan on visiting the falls I suggest shoes with a nice rugged sole. I slipped and busted my ass twice on the way back. But that’s just the price you pay for looking fabulous on a waterfall hike.

The nightlife on the island is pretty nice. Clubs don’t close until about 4am, and with the military bases close by, there wasn’t a shortage of party goers. We spent most of our nights at a place called Playbar located on Kuhio Avenue. We came here for a few reasons, first and foremost it had great music; the other was the people. It just had a more welcoming feel to it. Ironically we met a few people from Charleston, one person even knew a friend of ours. All of this just goes to show, the world is super small. Of all the spots we visited I would say Playbar was our favorite. It even had a disco floor!

What I enjoyed most about the entire experience was the breath taking views and the warmth of the people. Next, to Charleston, O’ahu has some of the nicest people. I met a Tahitian that offered his home as for lodging whenever I get there. It’ll be a few more years before I head that far but I accepted the offer nonetheless. I mean, he did introduce me to a beautiful French woman who was later seen twerking on a cops car. How awesome is that?

My last few days were spent exploring the North Shore, walking down the streets of Waikiki, as well as enjoying the island in general. The island was replete with small pleasures. It’s the kind of place that makes you remember to stop and smell the flowers and just take the world in. I got to pray at sunrise with a Hawaiian holyman. And on one of my walks I ran into a couple dancing in the street. Their exuberance was a true delight. It reminded me to take life in and enjoy it while you still had breath. Waikiki is a place everyone should visit should they have the opportunity. I’m planning my next trip for next year so that I can see the other Hawaiian islands. For now it’s aloha Waikiki, you’ll be missed.

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