If you think that taking a bicycle food tour in Honolulu when you have been feasting on a cruise ship for three weeks is a mistake, you would be wrong. We have seen most of the major tourist sights in this metropolis and riding around with a local to see where the locals eat and go was a blast. The tour leader was a man nearly as old as we, who admitted that he had enjoyed his retirement between the ages of 20 - 40 and now was working multiple jobs in an effort to save enough money to be able to retire for real. He had the persona of an aging surfer dude and left us with the impression that his recreational activities must have included recreational drugs as he traveled around the world, dated women on every continent, raced in Ironman-type athletic pursuits and had an all-around great time.
The day began with us gleefully turning on our cell phones, able at last to be able to use them to navigate and order an Über to take us to Waikiki, where the tour began. It felt good to be on solid ground again and use familiar money. Our guide said that Honolulu has suffered from incessant rain for the last six months, but you couldn’t guess it today. The air was clear, the air a perfect temperature and the sun bright. Just what you expect when you come to Hawaii. Waikiki Beach was teeming with tourists. Some were riding the gentle waves that made their first foray into surfing a joy.
Some things have changed since we were here last. We have fond memories of the International Marketplace, a funky collection of little stalls huddled beneath a banyan tree selling everything from high quality jewelry to bobble head dolls of Don Ho. The tree is still there, but all the little shacks are gone and have been replaced by the sorts of stores you can find at every high end mall in the US. Except for the palm trees, we could have been at home. Our guide said that Waikiki is catering more and more to the superrich and ordinary tourists will have little there that they can afford. But the ubiquitous and affordable ABC stores that sell everything a beach goer needs from sun tan lotion to coolers to sun umbrellas are still on every block.
We rode our bikes about ten miles, much of it on bike paths or lanes on the road designated for bikes. We stopped often at noteworthy local sights like Obama's high school or the largest Hawaiian shirt store in the world as well as eateries. We rode through some neighborhoods that looked low end at best, areas where I would never consider living and it was shocking to hear that those homes sell for $1 - 2 million. Living here is so very expensive!
Our guide's goal was to provide us with great food at reasonable prices and he ended the tour by distributing the names and address of each stop, so we could go back for more. This was wasted on us since we will sail on after overnighting here, but we encountered riders from his previous tours who were doing just that. Most of the shops were very small and we often sat outside to eat or stood around surrounded by locals who were enjoying great food made on the spot. I especially enjoyed the poke, tuna marinated with garlic and miso and the shaved ice. The malasadas, Portuguese doughnuts filled with coconut cream and dusted with something best described as sour sugar were also a new taste treat. Our four hour tour ended up taking about six; it seemed like our guide had nothing more to do and enjoyed shooting the breeze with us over a final iced coffee. We got back to the ship just before the buffet line closed, but eating more was the farthest thing from my mind.