Some trips are just meant to be fabulous, right from the very start. I felt myself relaxing even as we were landing in Honolulu. The deep blue sea on both sides of the runway. Now how often do you get to see airports like that? And our trip was just beginning!
We stayed at Hawaii Prince hotel on Waikiki Beach with a wonderful view of the marina.
That evening, we decided to go out for a walk and get some dinner and we chanced upon Ala Moana Beach Park, which was just around the corner. It is a 76 acre park, just excellent for walking and for picnics. We took a long leisurely walk. We were at the beach just in time for sunset, it was bliss. The Prince hotel is also quite close to the Ala Moana shopping center. Lots of great stores and a nice food court. We ended up eating there almost everyday 🙂
The next morning we took a guided tour of Pearl Harbor and a city tour of Honolulu. The USS Arizona memorial is a treat for history lovers like me. Every visitor is given a flower to pay homage to all those who lie buried under the remains of the battleship. Many years after the bombing, some soldiers who survived the attack, wished to be buried with their comrades at Pearl Harbor after they died.That touched me somehow. The magnanimity of the attack and its effects awes you and saddens you at the same time.
|The remains of the USS Arizona underwater|
The city tour was fun with Roberts Hawaii. Our tour guide, Wes, was a great guy with the right amount of humor and interesting facts. He explained why people refer to each other as ‘cousins’ in Hawaii. It’s because they all have the same uncle…Uncle Sam!
Must see places in Honolulu are the statue of King Kamehameha I,
the Iolani palace – which was closed the day we went (womp womp!) and Queen Emma’s summer palace. My suggestion? Don’t take a guided tour, go around and see these places on your own. All these landmarks in Honolulu are really close to each other so it shouldn’t take you more than half a day to cover it all. So yeah, we were back to the hotel by 3 PM. We hit Waikiki beach in the evening. Waikiki beach is so colorful and lively! I tried boogie-boarding, really bad at it, but I had fun 🙂
We had originally planned to go for a canoe ride in the morning, but just couldn’t wake up. So we decided to hang loose,that’s what you do when you’re on vacation! Went to IHOP for a relaxed breakfast of pancakes and belgian waffles and later, we just walked around the neighborhood. If you’re a shopaholic, don’t miss the International Market place. This is an open-air market built around a 100 year old banyan tree. Another tip for shoppers, try and make it to the Aloha Stadium for the flea market on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. We couldn’t make it but I’ve heard it’s really good.
Well anyway, that evening, we had planned a catamaran ride. It set sail around 6 PM with food and drink, a covered seating area, sunbathing nets and if you’re lucky, you get to see dolphins,flying fish and sea turtles. We caught a few sea turtles and the most beautiful sunset! The fiery orange sun going down against the inky-blue waters.
We had booked the whole day for the Polynesian Cultural Centre. The idea behind this 42-acre park is to showcase the traditions and customs of the seven islands of French Polynesia. We got a taste of Samoan culture, where the men do all the cooking and the housework to keep the women happy, no wonder Samoa is called the happiest island in the world. We heard Tongan drumbeats, tried the poi-ball dance of New Zealand, saw the monuments and carvings of Easter island, experienced hula dancing and much more. The best part of this experience was the Horizons Night Show. Don’t miss this for anything in the world. This show features around 100 performers doing their traditional dances, hula dancers, fire eaters and the works. This place takes the entire day so make sure you plan your trip accordingly and most importantly, wear comfortable shoes.
|A float depicting King Kamehameha|
|A replica of the monuments of Easter Island, Rapa Nui|
I will never forget this day in my life! I experienced ultimate fear and ultimate thrill, at once! We went on a shark adventure tour. We were crazy to do this, considering we both cannot swim, but I’m really glad we did it. We went in for the 8 AM tour since the waters are less choppy in the mornings. The first three miles were covered by boat and then and they put us into a large cage. They usually put in 3-4 people in at one time so people can swim around in the cage to get a better view of sharks. I hung on to the cage for dear life, wore my snorkel mask and took my first look underwater and there they were!! The mighty sharks, a whole pack of them. We saw galapagos sharks, nearly 13 feet long and jaws so huge they could just swallow a person whole! and just inches away from us. It was amazing to see these mammoths emerging from the deep blue towards the cage. We thankfully got some good pictures with our underwater camera. As an added bonus, we got to see lots of dolphins while we were on our way back to the harbor.
Our last day in beautiful Hawaii 🙁 We woke up really early and set out to hike up the Diamond Head crater. Sailors often mistook the calcite crystals on this inactive volcano to be diamonds and hence the name. The hike was a bit exhausting but the view from atop was breathtaking! My suggestion – go early in the morning..it starts getting really hot later in the day.
On the way back, we stopped at Leonard’s and got the famous local snack – Malasadas for breakfast. I have only one word for Malasadas – Divine! A malasada is a kind of fried bread stuffed with different yummy fillings. We had one with Mango custard and one with coconut cream..Yeah, I could eat them every day for the rest of my life.
We then checked out, had lunch, shopped for gifts at Hilo Hattie and ABC stores. We then headed to the Byodo-In Japanese temple. This is another must-see. It’s nestled behind the Punchbowl cemetery and it’s wonderfully serene. The idol of the Buddha is nearly 18 feet tall.There are wild peacocks walking around and the whole place is extremely beautiful against a backdrop of fog capped mountains.
I still miss Hawaii. I miss the clear blue sea, the kind, smiling locals. I had the post-Hawaii blues for a while 🙂 That’s what Hawaii does to you! What did you think of this post? Do comment!