December 14, 2018 – Honolulu, Hawaii
We’ve been at sea for a few days and welcome our next port. Many of you have visited Honolulu before, but for those who haven’t or those that are thinking about it, here’s some background information.
Sometimes called “The Gathering Place,” Oahu certainly lives up to its name. The third largest Hawaiian island is home to the majority of Hawaii’s diverse population, a fusion of East and West cultures rooted in the values and traditions of the Native Hawaiian people. It’s this fundamental contrast between the ancient and the modern that makes discovering Oahu — from bustling city life to laid back surf towns — so enjoyable. You’ll find plenty of different options for exploring Oahu.
Spam, surfing, hula, ukulele – these are some of the touchstones of everyday life on O’ahu, an island out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. People are easygoing, low key and casual, with genuine aloha and fun. O’ahu proudly maintains its own identity apart from the US mainland.
If you like outdoor adventures, Oʻahu has so much going on, especially if you like sun, sand and adventure. Playing in or on the water could keep you happy for months. Learn to surf, and if you’re already good, hit the big waves on the North Shore; dive into Hanauma Bay’s giant fishbowl, or windsurf or kayak in Kailua Bay. On the land, hike up Diamond Head or atop knife-edged pali (cliffs). Circle the island in a helicopter. It’s all there waiting.
Oʻahu, like the rest of the Hawaiian islands, is a melting pot and proud of its multicultural heritage. Mix in the descendants of European explorers, American missionaries and Asian plantation-worker immigrants with the Polynesian ancestors, plus recent arrivals from all over the Pacific, and you have one of the most multicultural communities on the globe.
While on O’ahu, there are plenty of things to see and do. We have been here several times before and done many of the sightseeing attractions. We would have liked to rent a car and drive up to the North Shore but as I lost my driver’s license somewhere in Australia, I can’t legally drive without the card and Karen would rather not drive, so this time we opted to walk from the pier to Waikiki Beach.
Located on the south shore of Honolulu, the world-famous neighborhood of Waikiki was once a playground for Hawaiian royalty. Known in Hawaiian as “spouting waters”, Waikiki was introduced to the world when its first hotel, the Moana Surfrider, was built on its shores in 1901. Today, Waikiki is Oahu’s main hotel and resort area and a vibrant gathering place for visitors from around the world. Along the main strip of Kalalaua Avenue you’ll find world-class shopping, dining, entertainment and resorts.
Waikiki is most famous for its beaches. With Leahi (Diamond Head) as your backdrop, the calm waters of Waikiki are perfect for a surfing lesson. In fact, legendary Hawaiian waterman Duke Kahanamoku grew up surfing the waves of Waikiki. This Olympic gold medalist in swimming taught visitors how to surf at the turn of the century and was later known as “the father of modern surfing.”
Walking along Ala Moana Beach, this beach is mostly made up of locals wanting to get away from the crowds and bustle of Waikiki Beach. The sand is not as nice, but you certainly can enjoy the surf and soak up some sun. It seems like it is a popular place for wedding photos as we saw 3 separate wedding couples having pictures taken.
Across the way is the Ala Moana Shopping Mall, once the largest shopping mall in the world and while it lost that title several years ago, it is a well-known shoppers paradise with all the main high-end stores catering to O’ahu’s many tourists and residents.
As we continue our walk to Waikiki, we finally arrive at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, a property that we have stayed at for a convention. It has a beautiful, sheltered lagoon as well as all the amenities you would expect a Hilton Hotel to have, including a great little outdoor, poolside, ocean view restaurant.
Time for lunch! Fish tacos and a massive plate of nachos complete with Kalua pork fit the bill.
We continued (dare I say waddled) down Waikiki beach stopping for some beach time to soak up the sun, surf and sand. It truly is a spectacular beach albeit it very busy but you can rent chairs and an umbrella, water sports such as kayaks, surfboards, boogieboards, snorkel gear and the like so there is something for everyone. There were lots of kids of all ages building sandcastles or splashing around in the water. It was a fun atmosphere and everyone was enjoying their time. I think that’s why it is so popular, everyone is relaxed with so much to do, with so many restaurants and bars, catering to every budget.
To finally get out of the sun and the heat, we walked up to the “Westin Moana Surfrider”. As mentioned above, this was one of the first hotels on Waikiki. It also happened to be the very first hotel we stayed at in Hawaii and the hotel we brought our kids to on their first trip here. The beach side bar/restaurant had some live music and we could overlook not only the ocean but also Diamond Head, so it was a natural place to sit and have a cocktail. I can highly recommend their 1944 MaiTai as being one of the best MaiTai’s I’ve had.
Unfortunately, it is time to make our way back to the ship. We walked all the way back to the Ala Moana Shopping Mall but by that time we were very hot and weary, so after a stroll through the mall, we opted for a taxi back to the ship.
There are many, many sights and activities to do while on O’ahu, so if you are interested in going, don’t hesitate to let us know and we can steer you in the right direction!
So, Aloha from Hawaii and Mahalo for reading along. Next stop…Maui!