Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hawaii - The Island of O'ahu

In January of 2010, I spent four days visiting some friends on the island of O’ahu in Hawaii (http://www.gohawaii.com/oahu).  Hawaii is a 5-6 hour time change from the east coast of the United States where I live and they don’t observe Daylight Savings Time (hence why I say 5 or 6 hours).  In order to keep me awake when I arrived in the afternoon, my friends and I walked Waikiki Beach on the south part of the island where I watched my 1st Hawaiian sunset – BEAUTIFUL!  

As we walked the beach, we saw surfers, smelt all the delicious smells coming from the various beachfront restaurants, I stuck my feet in the water, and marveled at all the luxurious hotels on the beach.  We ate at a wonderful burger place (can’t remember the name) that had anything you could want on a burger and more.  I got pineapple on my burger and it was pretty good.

The next morning, my friends went to work.  They thought I’d just sleep in and take it easy by their pool.  Instead, I woke up early, jumped into my rental car and was off to explore as much of the island as possible. 
My Sweet Ride!
The island is fairly easy to get around even with the traffic in the city of Honolulu.  My friends live on the southwest part of the island, outside of the tourist area.  My route for the day was interstate H1 east to Rt. 99 north (Kamehameha Hwy).  I drove Kamehameha Hwy around the north part of the island and down the east coast.  Then, I turned back around at Rt. 61 (Paul Hwy) and took interstate H1 back to the house.  I covered a GOOD piece of the island that day. 

During the day, I drove through the quaint town of Hale’iwa (http://haleiwatown.com/), and stopped at various state parks along the north part of the island. 
One of the cute parks
The waves were huge and the surfers were everywhere.  At one park, I saw a small surfing competition so I sat for a while and watched.  It was really cool.

While I was gallivanting around the north part of the island, I saw this food truck with TONS of people flocking to it.  It smelt so good, so I knew I had to stop!  It was called Giovanni’s Original White Shrimp Truck (http://giovannisshrimptruck.com/ and someone’s blog post about their food - http://onokinegrindz.typepad.com/ono_kine_grindz/2004/05/giovannis_shrim.html).  Word of warning: they use a lot of yummy garlic and yummy butter!  It was so good.  Plus, the smells of the beach mixed with Giovanni’s food smell was so wonderful!
Picture from blog post (link above)
For the rest of the afternoon, I just drove along with my windows rolled down listening to the Hawaiian music on the radio.  I was in paradise!  Needing to get back for a luau, I decided to cut down Rt. 61 to get to the interstate.  Awesome decision!  On Rt. 61, I found the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout (http://www.aloha-hawaii.com/oahu/nuuanu-pali-state-park/), which has A-MAZING VIEWS!  It was really windy, but I’m so glad I stopped and checked it out.

That night, we went to the Paradise Cove Luau (http://paradisecovehawaii.com/) in the southwest part of the island.  It was a lot of fun.  We started off with drinks, taking pictures with the dancers, getting henna tattoos, paddling a canoe, and seeing a man climb up a coconut tree.  Then, it was time for dinner and watching the Hawaiian dancers.  I highly recommend Paradise Cove.

Over the weekend, we drove all over the island seeing other sites.  In Honolulu, we visited the grounds of the ‘Iolani Palace (http://www.iolanipalace.org/), which was the official residence of Hawaii’s monarchy and was built in 1882.  We also passed the state capital, which replaced the ‘Iolani Palace as the seat of state government 43 years ago last week (March 15th, 1969).
'Iolani Palace
State Capital
My friends and I visited Pearl Harbor, the USS Missouri Battleship Memorial (http://www.ussmissouri.org/), and the USS Arizona Memorial (http://www.pearl-harbor.com/arizona/arizona.html), which are all together.  Some of it was under construction at the time, but it was still a wonderful visit.  I thought it was such a well done memorial to the fallen, and amazingly enough it was really quiet.  I thought they provided a great tour with a great recap of all the events leading up to, what happened during, and what happened after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The USS Missouri (The Mighty Mo)
Inside the USS Arizona Memorial
The USS Arizona Memorial floating over the USS Arizona
Part of the USS Arizona under water

We also visited the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (http://www.fmschmitt.com/travels/Hawaii/punchbowl/index.html) where military and government leaders are buried.  It reminded me of Arlington Cemetery in the Washington, DC area.  It is known as the “Punchbowl” because it’s in the crater of an extinct volcano so it looks like a - punchbowl.  Amazingly enough, this was the only place I saw a rainbow – in the reflection of the sun in water that came from a sprinkler at the cemetery!  That’s horrible!  So many people have left Hawaii, which much cooler rainbow shots.

My friends and I hiked up Diamond Head (http://www.gohawaii.com/oahu/regions-neighborhoods/honolulu/leahi-diamond-head), which is another extinct volcano.  It was a lot of work to get to the top, but it had beautiful views and we had a lot of fun together along the way.
We were warned!
Basking at the top

One of my favorite places was the Polynesian Cultural Center (http://www.polynesia.com/), which is owned and operated by the Brigham-Young University – Hawaii Campus.  The center is on 42-acres, and is divided up into 7 Polynesian villages – Fiji, Hawai’i, Aotearoa, Marquesas, Samoa, Tahiti, and Tonga.  In each village, there are native Polynesians that teach you about the country they come from.  The center also has a canoe pageant daily at 2:30 p.m. where native Polynesians from each of the villages come and dance in traditional costumes on top of canoes out in the lagoon.  It was really neat to learn about the various Polynesian countries.
I got a lot of my souvenirs and gifts at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet (http://alohastadiumswapmeet.net/).  It’s only open Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays though.  My other souvenirs came from the Hawaii ABC stores we passed during the weekend.  In the southeast part of the United States, we have ABC stores that sell liquor.  These ABC stores however sold tourist souvenirs at a good price.  Hehehe.

On Sunday, I visited my friends’ church and afterwards, we went out for brunch but I can’t remember the name of that restaurant either.  However, I do remember having a bowl with spam, eggs, and rice in it.  It was great!  But, Hawaiians are obsessed with it and even McDonalds has it on their breakfast menu!  My friend Terry had some coconut syrup for something he was eating and asked if I wanted to try it.  It was DELICIOUS!  I decided to be a little creative and pour some into my coffee with a little milk.  WOW!  That was YUMMY!  I brought some back home and poured it into my coffee for awhile after that trip.

Right before my flight, I got to see the sunset from the north part of the island.  It was a perfect way to end my wonderful Hawaiian paradise vacation.

These are just the places I visited on the island of O’ahu and recommend you visit.  If you know of anywhere else on O’ahu we should check out, please leave a comment below.  Later this week, we’ll explore some places I’d like to visit on the other islands of Hawaii someday.  Then, next week, we’ll explore what’s just round the corner in Idaho.

** Photos taken by me or my friends unless otherwise noted**

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