Oahu in a (coco)nut shell

Honolulu Travel Blog

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Hanamah Bay, where you can do the best snorkling and also where Elvis Presley filmed the movie "Blue Hawaii".

“I feel like a greaseball,” 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.

  “So, you’re putting on some sunscreen,” 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 sun’s unmerciful rays.

After a careful perusal of too many colorful and enticing brochures, we chose “ The Tour & Trolley People - E Noa Tours”, as the providers of our <Royal Circle Island Tour>.

Formations of coral at Hanama Bay.
Normally, we are not <tour group> folk but the surrender of our rental car the day before forced us to consider commercial tourist transport for our day’s entertainment. 

 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 small section of beach where Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr filmed, "From Here to Eternity"

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 “Mecca” by Elvis Presley fans, as several of his 60’s beach films were made here, the most notable being, “Blue Hawaii”.

Yours truly obstructing the view.
  As tempting as it may be to walk on the coral for a better view of the fish, tourists are asked to refrain, as much of the coral has already been killed due to damage from the carelessness of the crowds.

As we continued our drive along the unspoiled windward coast, we stopped to admire the Halona “Blow Hole” 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, “From Here to Eternity”. 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.

The Buddist Temple at the cemetery.
  By telling us that all vowels have a “short” sound and that two vowels together are pronounced separately, we were able to “pass” the frequent verbal tests conducted throughout the day.  None of our sixteen tour participants was exempt from these friendly quizzes except perhaps the robust Italian lady who carried on a loud, nonstop monologue in her mother tongue, directed toward her young daughter, for the entire eight hours of the tour. At one point in the tour when everyone had boarded the van except our Italian family, I suggested, under my breath, that we might just leave them behind. Little did I know there were others in agreement as I heard quiet laughter from several of the other passengers.

Another highlight of our day included a tour of the Byodo-In Temple and accompanying memorial park.

The Buddah statue in the temple at the cemetery.
  The temple was built in 1968 to commemorate the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii and is a scale replica of a temple at Uji, Japan that was constructed over 900 years ago.  Byodo-In translates to “Temple of equality - not to discriminate” and is home to Amida, a giant golden Buddha.  The Temple, as well as the backdrop of towering pines and soft, mellow ringing of the three ton brass bell, work together to create an atmosphere of peace and meditative calm that touches all who venture within its confines. 

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.

Mark, reflecting on peace and tranquility.
It didn’t take me long to find a can of Bud Lite resting on one of the gravesites, along with a small orange or tangerine as a chaser.  It would have made more sense to have a vodka mini bottle instead.  At least they could have made a “screwdriver”.

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 “The Crouching Tiger Inn”.  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.

  We had an hour and a quarter allocated for our midday break and our meal was finally delivered to our table twenty minutes before our scheduled departure.  Even at this point, I held my ground as I discovered I had been given the wrong meal.  Minutes later, my grilled mahi mahi salad (with an extra portion of mahi) was delivered and I had ten minutes to eat my meal.  I will give credit though for the succulent flavor of the tuna as well as the unique entertainment of wild chickens roaming on the lanai  under the tables.

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.

A beer and an orange to help you into your next life.
As they gorged themselves on the alge in the pond they soon grew too large to swim back into the ocean through the slats and were therefore trapped in the pond as an easy catch.  We enjoyed the chance to take a leisurely water tour on the bargelike craft in the beauty of the tropical surroundings.

We also learned some cinemagraphic trivia as this was the filming location of , “You, Me and Dupree”, with Owen Wilson and Kate Hudson, as well as setting for, “50 First Dates”, with Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler.  Jurrasic Park and the TV series “Lost” were also filmed in this same general vicinity.

As we reached the island’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.

Hundreds of koi enjoying their dinner at the Buddist temple.
  As this wasn’t the season for the “big waves”, there was nary a thread bikini or well filled Speedo in sight…… 

While we sang a medley of Beachboys’ 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 Beachboys’ 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, Rocky’s response was, "ah well, young blood”.

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.

Playing hide and seek near the koi pond.
  The rest of us headed for the lavatories since this would be the last chance before the drive back to Waikiki.  

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 couldn’t tolerate anything remotely connected to a pineapple.  After hearing his story of the “battle gear” 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 “ohana” or family, (as he had referred to us) goodbye, until we meet again, we left the bus with thanks.

One of the wild chickens that begged at our table during lunch.
.....that we would never have to see that Italian woman again.

olsalty says:
Perhaps you should get your agent to forward your blog to the E Noa Tours company, so they can use it as advertising, or perhaps their brochure. Nice writing and descriptions. I felt like I was there with you, white legs and all.
Posted on: Jul 25, 2008
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Hanamah Bay, where you can do the …
Hanamah Bay, where you can do the…
Formations of coral at Hanama Bay.
Formations of coral at Hanama Bay.
The small section of beach where B…
The small section of beach where …
Yours truly obstructing the view.
Yours truly obstructing the view.
The Buddist Temple at the cemetery.
The Buddist Temple at the cemetery.
The Buddah statue in the temple at…
The Buddah statue in the temple a…
Mark, reflecting on peace and tran…
Mark, reflecting on peace and tra…
A beer and an orange to help you i…
A beer and an orange to help you …
Hundreds of koi enjoying their din…
Hundreds of koi enjoying their di…
Playing hide and seek near the koi…
Playing hide and seek near the ko…
One of the wild chickens that begg…
One of the wild chickens that beg…
The back of Rocky, our tour guide.
The back of Rocky, our tour guide.
One of the gates at the fish pond.
One of the gates at the fish pond.
Here Mark enjoys the view and the …
Here Mark enjoys the view and the…
Trying to tan those white legs dur…
Trying to tan those white legs du…
The backdrop for the movie, Jurass…
The backdrop for the movie, Juras…
The multitudes swarming the rock a…
The multitudes swarming the rock …
Checking out the colorful bark on …
Checking out the colorful bark on…
Munching on some candied pineapple…
Munching on some candied pineappl…
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photo by: crystalware