Oahu in a (coco)nut shell
Honolulu Travel Blog› entry 3 of 4 › view all entries
â€śI feel like a greaseball,â€ť Mark complained as he lathered the thick, white goo over equally pale legs protruding from his kahki shorts. I observed this unusual activity through squinty eyes not yet accustomed to the early morning light.
â€śSo, youâ€™re putting on some sunscreen,â€ť I volunteered, noting that living in the Arizona desert for the past six years had not yet prompted a similar action. He handed over the tube and I smeared a similar amount of SPF 50 over every square inch of skin that was likely to encounter even a brief exposure to the sunâ€™s unmerciful rays.
After a careful perusal of too many colorful and enticing brochures, we chose â€ś The Tour & Trolley People - E Noa Toursâ€ť, as the providers of our <Royal Circle Island Tour>.
Our little yellow bus picked us up promptly at 0830 across the street from our hotel. We made several more stops for passengers at the resorts we had briefly encountered the previous day and were quickly on our way to our first place of interest.
With thirty years of tour guidance under his belt, our leader, Rocky, provided an entertaining and well researched commentary as he drove us along the route. His explanation of ancient Hawaiian traditions and history, peppered with facts on economics, real estate, insight into WWII, personal experiences growing up on the islands and fun facts on the filming industry brought a relevance to each site he introduced.
The bus began its ear popping climb to Diamond Head, possibly the best known image of the volcanic crater which was located within. We drove through Kahala, the ritzy <Beverly Hills> of Hawaii, where houses on the left side of the street had a price tag in the modest two million dollar range and those on the right side of the street, overlooking the ocean, commanded up to thirty million.
As we marked this neighborhood off our list for possible home choices, we began our descent to the best scuba diving location on Oahu, Hanauma Bay.
This stunning display of shallow coral and brightly colored fish could be considered â€śMeccaâ€ť by Elvis Presley fans, as several of his 60â€™s beach films were made here, the most notable being, â€śBlue Hawaiiâ€ť.
As we continued our drive along the unspoiled windward coast, we stopped to admire the Halona â€śBlow Holeâ€ť Lookout, where the incoming waves force water up through a natural hole in the rocks causing a geyser like spray of ocean mist. Also located here is the small stretch of beach where Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr sprawled on the sand in the film, â€śFrom Here to Eternityâ€ť. One can almost see the waves lapping against body doubles, who no doubt kept the main stars from getting sand in their suits or seawater in their hair.
In addition to the physical exercise we encountered by climbing off and on the bus at each stop, our guide, Rocky, also accomplished a surprising feat of mental stimulation by teaching us the rules of Hawaiian language pronunciation.
Another highlight of our day included a tour of the Byodo-In Temple and accompanying memorial park.
Rocky pointed out that is was a Japanese tradition to leave food and drink offerings on the gravesites of family members and that we should not be surprised to see cans of beer as the drink of choice, even though it was discouraged by the caretakers of the park.
We paused briefly at a tourist stand, The Macadamia Nut Hut, to take advantage of free samples of coffee and macadamia nuts. As the vultures circled their prey, one would never have guessed that the next stop on the tour would be lunch at â€śThe Crouching Tiger Innâ€ť. People do strange things when faced with anything free. Mmmm, those nuts were good.
Only a quick word or two can be said about our luncheon venue. Even though the restaurant was a local landmark, it had been taken over by new management just two weeks prior.
With our bellies sufficiently full, our next port of call was a boat ride on the Fish Pond at Kualoa Ranch. This area had been used for many centuries as the personal fishing pond of the Hawaiian Kings. The three gates on the ocean side of the inlet allowed small hatchlings and fish to swim through the narrow slats of the gates, into the shallow, protected area.
We also learned some cinemagraphic trivia as this was the filming location of , â€śYou, Me and Dupreeâ€ť, with Owen Wilson and Kate Hudson, as well as setting for, â€ś50 First Datesâ€ť, with Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler. Jurrasic Park and the TV series â€śLostâ€ť were also filmed in this same general vicinity.
As we reached the islandâ€™s North Shore, we wiggled our toes in the famous sands of Sunset Beach and Bonzai Pipeline Beach, where the World Surfing Championships are held each year.
While we sang a medley of Beachboysâ€™ surf tunes, our guide pointed out that the next point of interest on our agenda was the only Hawaiian beach mentioned in any of the Beachboysâ€™ surfing songs. This was the beach at Waimea Bay. The divers looked like ants as they stood on the enormous boulder just offshore of the beach, waiting their turn to dive into the relatively shallow waters below. Asked why they take such a risk, Rockyâ€™s response was, "ah well, young bloodâ€ť.
We had now reached the most northern point of our tour and made time for a quick stop at the Dole Pineapple Plantation in order for the hard core shoppers to load their bags with overpriced fresh pineapple and anything displaying a Dole trademark.
When I offered a chunk of candied pineapple to our guide, he nearly gagged in response, saying that as he had spent two summers working the pineapple harvest he couldnâ€™t tolerate anything remotely connected to a pineapple. After hearing his story of the â€śbattle gearâ€ť the cutters wore for protection during the 90 degree days in the fields, I could understand his aversion.
The city of Waikiki was a welcome sight as the long but enjoyable day wound to a close. As Rocky wished his â€śohanaâ€ť or family, (as he had referred to us) goodbye, until we meet again, we left the bus with thanks.