Waikiki and more O'ahu
Waikiki Travel Blog› entry 55 of 93 › view all entries
If there's one place on this trip that instantly struck us as somewhere that we might be able to one day live, it was Hawai'i. Admittedly, we didn't ever really get under it's skin and find out the real Hawai'i, but the sun, sand, surf, palm trees and laid-back atmosphere created the perfect ambience for a ten-day beach break.
We were pretty lucky to be there at all. As we were dropping the hire car back to LAX an earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale hit LA (first in 5 years!) and shook the building. Em was sat outside waiting for me and she was adamant that the shuttle buses were about to topple over. Luckily no more followed.
We booked a cheap hotel, two blocks from the beach, in Waikiki on the main island of O'ahu.
We'd resigned ourselves to the fact that time and money limitations meant we wouldn't get off O'ahu, which is ok, as it's just an excuse to go back. Anyway, we were enjoying Waikiki. There are lots of hotels, and quite a few tourists, but it's such a relaxed atmosphere that it doesn't matter. So, we tried to see as much of the island as we could. We got a great deal on a package of tours, the first of which took us to Hanauma bay, about 30 minutes west of Waikiki.
Hanauma bay is an old volcanic cone that collapsed in on itself, and a subsequent rise in sea-levels mean waters which make for fantastic snorkelling. We got a quick briefing on using the gear before queueing for 45 minutes to watch the compulsory presentation about what not to do in Hanauma bay as it's a very delicate natural reserve.
We soaked up a bit more of Hawai'i's volcanic past by hiking up Honolulu's landmark, Diamond Head. Formed by a volcanic eruption, it's so big that the army used it as a base and it was completely sealed-off at one point and hidden from view. It was a great day for it, and there were spectacular views over Honolulu, Waikiki and the valleys from the top, as well as old army gun stations and lookouts.
The next day we did a tour of the island that whisked us around the island in a big loop. It was hard to get away from the 'touristy' feel of it, as we were herded on and off the coach at prime photo opportunities, but the guide, Pablo, was entertaining.
After an early night we had another early morning, this time to visit Pearl Harbour. I didn't really know alot about what happened there, except that the Japanese attacked and after heavy losses the Americans were catapulted into WWII. The whole experience is a very sombre one, but one that's very well-done too. We looked around the museum and grounds with the aid of the informative audio guide.
After 45 minutes we were called to watch the 20 minute video presentation about the attack and subsequent panic and devastation it caused. We then clambered aboard a ferry for the short trip across to the memorial. The memorial itself is a large white walkway that spans the hull of the sunken USS Arizona, and is lower in the middle than at the ends to symbolise the lowest point in American naval history. The vision of the sunken ship below is quite harrowing, even more so when you learn that none of those who lost their lives were removed from the ship have been removed, so the USS Arizona is a tomb and final resting place for over 900 people. On top of that, some of the survivors from that day have since been buried in the ship along side thieir former colleagues.
So, after a sombre and reflective morning, we headed back to the coach for a quick tour of the city. Luckily, the coach driver (22stone of pure Hawaiian) was on hand to lighten the mood, and after a 'cousin check' (everyone in Hawai'i is Ohana - family) he whisked us up to the site of a famous battle that shaped the future of Hawai'i, around the city's palaces and up to Punchbowl National Cemetary.
Next on our cultural extravaganza was the 'Luau', a feast and dancing show centred around eating a pig cooked in an underground oven.
We rounded the end of our trip to Hawai'i off with another couple of days on the beach and a really nice dinner and drinks with Matt and Gemma in our favourite bar, Dukes. I had another surfing lesson and then much more fun out on my own and Em spent the time doing very little but reading and suning herself.