ED’S 82 DAY GRAND ASIA & PACIFIC SAILING WITH HOLLAND AMERICA – PART 32

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!

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Amanda’s Trip to Hawaii – Final Blog

Well I’m sad to say that it’s time to say goodbye to Waikiki.  I’ve had a great last few days here.

We went to the Chief’s Luau and it was great. The chief is really a chief and the luau is very traditional showing various dances from the various Polynesian countries.  We were picked up at our hotel and had a short 25min ride or so to where we needed to be.  Our host on the bus was very entertaining and kept us laughing while debriefing us about the night.  We arrived at Sea Life Park, where the luau takes place in a big outdoor area. They bring people in by wristband color as each represents a different package that people paid for.  They had some fun activities to do while waiting to eat such as, temporary henna tattoos, stick dance, hula dancing lesson, headbands woven out of palm leaves and spear throwing.  Then we got to eat, and when we were finished eating the luau began.  It was very intriguing and had lots of audience involvement.  Even called up all those celebrating special occasions and had a little something special for them all.  It was a great experience and would definitely recommend it to everyone. Just a heads up that we were picked up at 420pm, got into the luau area with the activities about 530 and was eating at 630pm. The luau started about 7pm and lasted at hour.  We were very hungry by the time we ate so would recommend preparing for a late supper.

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We took a short 5 min walk to Kings Village where there were a bunch of little shops.  Very cute and good prices.

The fireworks tonight were good but we were under the impression that they would be about 15mins long…they were 5mins.  They were at the Hilton Hawaiian Village hotel.  They are supposed start at 745 but was about 8pm. There were a lot of fireworks shot off all at once.  It was about a half hour walk back to our hotel.  The main street is very pretty to walk at night as they has torches and lights up everywhere for lighting.

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Our last day we started at the International Marketplace, then popped in at Duke’s Lane for last minute shopping as well as Kings Village which we found had better prices.

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Then we went to the zoo as it was only a 10min walk from my hotel.  It is a 40 acre zoo with a lot of birds and African animals.  We were there 2.5hrs or so and that included having lunch there.  The food is reasonably priced which was a nice surprise, around $8. Admission to the zoo was $14USD for an adult.

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Tips for travelers:

-Bring good walking shoes
-Make reservations for Duke’s restaurant ahead of time.
-Friday night fireworks at Hilton Village if you’re interested.  Their restaurant called Tropics was packed and a long line up, so prepare for that if you want to eat there.
-Book Friday night dinner cruise ahead of time as they stop to watch the fireworks too.
-There is no free WiFi at the Honolulu airport, but you can buy WiFi time.
-Most of the shops don’t open til 10am.
-If you want to surf, shop around for pricing if you have the chance as they do vary.
-The Chiefs Luau and Magic of Polynesia shows are great to see.

I really enjoyed my time in Waikiki, Oahu. I highly recommend visiting this lovely destination and I would love to help you with this fabulous vacation.

Thanks and Mahalo.

Amanda’s Trip to Hawaii – Blog 2

Aloha again from Waikiki, Oahu. Today was a great day as I got to do a tour around the island called “Grand Circle Island Tour.” We were picked up at our hotel and rode in a coach bus. We only had a couple of other pickups before we were on our way. The driver was our guide as well. He gave us a lot of interesting information about not only Oahu but all of Hawaii when we were driving between stops. He made jokes and was pretty entertaining.

Our first stop was Hanauma Bay which is a great place to snorkel. Lots of coral there. It was raining pretty hard when we were there so didn’t stay long. There is limited bus parking there so could only stay for 15 mins.

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Hanauma Bay

It looked like scuba divers go there as well as there was a group of them and separate booth for them. They also had a tram that brought them from the top down to the beach.

Saw lots of beaches where the pros come to surf and do other water sports.  Lots of golf courses here that are used for big championships. We stopped a macadamia nut store and I tried them for the first time! There were many assorted flavors and I think one of my favorites were the cinnamon covered macadamia nuts.

We went along the East Coast past many beaches, we stopped at a Buddhist Temple  and also went through the Dole plantation.  Who knew you could make such many things with pineapple?  The pineapple whipped ice cream was very yummy.

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A neat stop was at Kualoa Ranch where I found out lots of movies were filmed here like Jurassic Park, Karate Kid, and many others.

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Kuaola Ranch

There were a few other stops on this tour and I’d be happy to share about them sometime if you’re going to Oahu and think you’d be interested in this tour.

After we got back from our tour we walked 20mins from our hotel to the Hard Rock Cafe.  The food was delicious and our server was great. He was very efficient and attentive.  The guitar covered wall was the neatest thing to see. (Fourth pic)

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As I said there are a lot of shops and open air shopping centers.  We walked through some on the way back to the hotel.  Also stopped in a very nice park that was lit with torches.  You would miss it if you weren’t looking for it.

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The International Market Place has been closed for two years and has its grand opening on the 25th so want to check that out sometime before we leave.

You definitely need really good walking shoes when you come here. There is also a cute trolley and city bus to help you get around as well.

Stay tuned as my adventure continues. Luau, International Marketplace, fireworks, and maybe the zoo, still to come.

Mahalo.  😊

Jamie’s Hawaii and Australia Adventure Part Two – A Little Slice of Paradise

We have spent the last 4 days on the Island of Oahu in Hawaii and we both still agree that if we were to buy property in a tropical destination, Hawaii would be it. It’s safe, it’s clean, you can drink and eat anything without worrying about the consequences, there is good health care and it’s the only Island I have been to where I feel comfortable driving around. I love the freedom of being able to come and go as we want without being on a tour guide’s schedule.

We spent the first couple of days exploring the hotel and getting some R&R – lots of pool time, beach time and nap time. The Marriott Ko Olina Beach club is full of families and kids of all ages. There are lots of multi-generational families and because they offer lots of different sizes of suites – up to a 3 bedroom villa, it’s great for families of all sizes.  It is also wheelchair accessible including lifts/chairs in the pools and hot tubs.  They have a schedule of daily activities that comes out every morning (similar to being on a cruise ship for you cruisers out there). They have things like fish feeding, hula lessons and lei making for kids and yoga, golf lessons and ukulele lessons for adults.  They have a market and gift shop on site for all of your forgotten or last minute necessities the staff is very friendly and helpful with any questions or needs you might have.

There is a little shopping center a few blocks from the hotel that has some restaurants (sushi, Mexican, pizza, a coffee shop, a trendy restaurant called the Monkey Pod with live music in the evenings) a few gift shops and the necessary ABC shop. Once my 5 year old discovered the magical world of the ABC shop, I didn’t think I would ever get her out of there…I did eventually, but we had $40 worth of treasures (junk) with us.

This afternoon we did something I had wanted to do on our last trip to Oahu, but never did; we took a drive up to the famous Oahu North Shore to see the surfers. It’s about an hour (or a bit more depending on traffic) drive from Ko Olina or Honolulu  You head North through the middle of the Island and come out at the ocean in a town called Hale’iwa. It is a historic beach resort town with lots of gift shops and restaurants – we spent a good couple of hours poking around and had a really good (surprisingly) meal at a place called Breakers Bar and Grill.  The best coconut shrimp I have ever had – I didn’t think I would ever top Las Palapas!

Just North of Hale’iwa is Sunset Beach – where the Bonzai Pipeline is. This is the end of the Surf Season in Hawaii and the Surf Season ends in Oahu. There are three big competitions on at this time of year. We hit the middle one the “Vans world cup of surfing” and it was on a Sunset Beach. Lots of the professional surfers are in Oahu now for the competitions and we saw some really great surfing displays.  It was a very entertaining afternoon on the beach watching!

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The one thing I can’t get over in Oahu is the traffic – 4-6 lanes of cars driving too fast and too close together… That’s the one thing that makes me miss Maui and would make me pick a different island next time. It just doesn’t feel like “island time” when you’re in the middle of rush hour traffic.

 The next couple of days will be more pool and beach time, then we head off to Sydney, Australia on Thursday morning.  Stay tuned for the next up date when we arrive Down Under!