Oahu, Hawaii, 2011

Mrs J gave us a Hawaiian welcome, hanging leis around our necks. B and I were here to visit, but we would spend just a night on Mr and Mrs J's supersize air bed before heading off to Big Island and Maui.

We had another four days to spare when we returned to Oahu from these other islands. Mrs J drove us around Oahu, from Honolulu to the North Shore, Waimanalo and Waikiki, among other areas of interest, hunting down lookouts, beaches, wildlife and 'onolicious' local food. We continued to see at least one rainbow every day, but we had got so used to that by then and it was only on our last day, when we did not see one, that we found it unusual.

Local food

Kahuku Shrimp was a dodgy-looking van parked on a hill overlooking a motorway selling shrimp in three flavours - spicy, garlic and coconut. They're served with rice and macaroni salad. If you're not put off by the level of hygiene, it's a cheap and delicious meal. For what it's worth, none of us had any stomach complaints.

At Ono Hawaiian Food, in Kapahulu, we had some fantastic kalua pork, taro leaf pork and salt beef stew. Toyo, the owner, was a small, chatty man of Okinawan descent. He had run the restaurant for many years in "exactly the way my mother taught me". He had no plans to expand and was a self-confessed computer dummy.

Toyo: I don't need to learn computer. My wife uses computer at work. One day, she told me about spam in her computer. I said, "I thought Spam was something you eat..." I think computers are like humans. They eat Spam, get sick with virus and have children with names like Twitter, Gogol and Yelp.

We also sampled shaved ice from Matsumoto's general store. Someone had told B that it was a must-try. I came away disappointed. It couldn't hold a candle to Ululani's in Maui. "It's coarser," I announced, "and the flavours go straight to the bottom." B and Mrs J laughed at me, saying I'd become a shaved ice connoisseur after just four ices.

Beaches, turtles and seals

Mrs J took us to several viewing points, or 'lookouts' as they were called (eg the popular Nu'uanu Pali Lookout), as well as the Byodo-In temple and Pearl Harbor, but it was at the beaches that we spent most of our time.

The beaches ranged from rough and rocky to serene and pristine, depending on where you were. There was a particularly pretty beach that was relatively quiet, near the Waimanalo area. I've been asked to keep its name a secret to keep it that way.

Also around the Waimanalo area, we saw some beaching turtles. At another beach, Mrs J was going to take us looking for hermit crabs, but as we were walking, a lady said to us, "I don't know which way you're going, but there's a seal over there, so try to keep away from it."

We hadn't even seen it, but there she was, a young female Hawaiian monk seal asleep on the sand. The lady told us that there were only 1,100 wild Hawaiian monk seals in the world, so we were quite lucky to see one. They are an extremely endangered species, and it was good to know that recent conservation efforts have helped the population to recover.

We did visit Waikiki as well, but although the sunset was quite spectacular, there were too many people about for my liking.

Jumping off at 20,000 feet

Mr and Mrs J was going to celebrate their wedding anniversary with their first ever skydive. B and I went along for the experience. We had to watch a safety video and sign the indemnity forms together. On every page, in bold, were the words, "YOU COULD DIE."

The actual jump was nowhere as scary. You couldn't even back out of it: the instructor to whom you're attached via a harness would force you out of the plane before you even know it. You don't even get the sense that you're falling because all the time you're free-falling, you are looking straight ahead into sky and cloud and the camera.

Then all of a sudden you feel like you're floating upwards as the parachute is released and your descent suddenly slows. From there it's a leisurely ride down. Once you've landed, you feel like you want to do it again, and in every place you visit.

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