On our second morning in Hawaii, we drove to Pearl Harbor and took the tour. The museum is excellent and extensive, with eye witness accounts, photos and recordings of the Japanese attack, and many mementos on display. Then we ferried over to the USS Arizona Memorial. It’s a solemn place, where you simply want to stand and contemplate what happened that morning in 1941.

Photo from the web

Part of the sunken ship

Oil Slick (the seeping oil represents the tears of the Arizona)

The names of the 1,177 sailors and marines who died on that day

Our Go Oahu Card included several museums and palaces on the island. We spent one afternoon at the Bishop Museum, learning about the Kings Kamehameha (five of them!) and the history of the royal families and their influence on the island people, and changes over the centuries. Bernice Bishop was an adopted descendant of Kamehameha II.

We visited the Iolani Palace and Queen Emma’s (wife to Kamehameha IV) Summer Palace. It was interesting to see the beautiful pieces of artwork, china, furniture and jewelry, some more than two centuries old. We arrived at Iolani too late to join the guided tour, but wandered through the basement museum. We did take the guided tour of Queen Emma’s Summer Palace, and even were asked to remove our shoes in one room with beautiful red carpeting.

Sperm Whale (On display in the Bishop Museum)

Hawaiian village model (Bishop Museum)

Feather Capes (Bishop Museum)

Thatch Hut (Bishop Museum)

China Hutch (Queen Emma’s)

Royal Crib (Queen Emma’s)

Feather Kahili

Here’s some information on the Kahili

All in all, we did learn a lot about the history of Hawaii, but please don’t quiz us on any of it!

I did lots of research on Pinterest before we went, looking for the best places to eat, and we found many. I only took a few pictures, but suffice it to say, we ate well.

We sampled Mike’s Huli Huli Chicken, which is from a food truck that is permanently parked on the North Shore, and has been featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive Ins & Dives”. To say the chicken was spicy is an understatement!¬† We wolfed down the rice and macaroni salad just to cool our mouths, but we are glad we can say we ate there.

Mike’s HuluHuli Chicken

Mike’s Truck in the background

We both had gift cards from a mutual friend for Outback Restaurant, so we stopped there one evening and had the glazed pork chops.

¬†Hankering for coconut shrimp, we walked down to Tiki’s Grill on Waikiki Beach and had a yummy plate of crispy prawns.

Coconut Shrimp at Tiki’s Grill in Waikiki

Pina Colada

We also tried out several other local diners, filling our tummies with pork, chicken, fish, burgers and shave ice. Before we even arrived, I told Glenda that we were going to get a cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory to nibble on in the evenings on our condo lanai. Sadly, I don’t have any pictures of that, but it was decadent!

On Wednesday, we went to the humongous Swap Meet at Aloha Stadium where we were divested of some of our hard earned cash in exchange for baubles and trinkets we could not go home without. Prices on goods beat the souvenir shops in town by about 25%, making them even more tempting. We also spent a couple of hours on two different days walking through the outdoor Ala Moana Mall in Honolulu, but we didn’t buy much there except some delectable Honolulu Cookies. We walked around some of the beautiful hotels, which have changed a lot in the last 30 years.

At the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki

By our last day, we were both eager to go home. We had seen all we wanted to see and were pretty worn out. We puttered around in the morning packing up and checking out of our condo, then wandered the beach front, the shops and the swap meet one more time. In the evening, we drove up into the Punchbowl area, where we saw the only rainbow that appeared in the whole week we were there. It was a beautiful goodbye gift from Oahu before boarding our plane for our overnight flight home.

The Polynesian Cultural Center is one of the most popular attractions in the Hawaiian islands. It is run by the Mormons and has a subtle mission feel. Not everyone who works there is Mormon, but many of them are, and they extended invitations to us to visit the Oahu campus of BYU and the Temple. The PCC is a beautiful theme park where you can get a sample experience of Polynesian village life. Glenda and I took a canoe ride through the different “nations” of Polynesia. It reminded me a bit of Epcot, but on a much smaller scale. We floated through Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and Tahiti to name a few.

We wandered around a bit, then made our way to the dinner buffet, where we enjoyed many delightful dishes (and some not so delightful) and sweet desserts. Following dinner, we made our way into the large theater to watch “HA – Breath of Life“. This was one of the highlights of our entire week. It was a spectacular show highlighted by Polynesian music, dance and twirling fire knives. We had great seats and it was cool in the open air theater, and then we enjoyed our pretty evening drive back down to Honolulu. (Photography is not allowed in the theater, so I have no pictures of that, but you can check their website for a few photos.)

On Thursday, we drove up to Kualoa Ranch, and took the Movie Tour. This two hour bus ride through a portion of the 2000 acre ranch produced dozens of photo ops and reminiscing about the many movies and television shows filmed there. The two that I remembered most were Jurassic Park and Lost. We stopped at the meadow where dinosaurs grazed, and saw Hurley’s golf course. Then we walked through the Lost Hatch which is actually an old WWII bunker. There were dozens of movie posters and memorabilia still scattered around. Our tour guide, Cowboy, was a native Hawaiian, and told us many stories about the Ranch and history of the area, as well as anecdotes about movie and TV productions.

Our chariot

Hurley’s golf course, up on the hill

The Hatch

WWII Bunker

On one of our drives to the North Shore, we found our way to a coffee plantation. It was a little out-of-the-way place, and they were glad to see us. We got a short (private) tour and a sample of coffee and chocolate that were made from the beans off their trees. Delicious!

Cacao beans

Coffee beans

I am home from Hawaii and back to work. I thought I’d post our adventures in separate parts and grouped by similarities rather than a day by day diary. Some days we did a few activities, and others we just walked or drove around enjoying the views.

One of my favorite things was the Makani Catamaran sail. We used our Go Oahu Card for this 2 hour sail out of Waikiki. There were about 30 people on the boat, and the crew of 3 were fun, but capable. We sailed out to sea from the harbor for an hour, looped around and sailed back in. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any special marine life; the crew said it was not the best season for it. But we sure enjoyed the wind in our faces, the bluest sea and sky you can imagine, and several para-sailers nearby. And of course, the Mai Tais!

Captain Donna

The First Mate

Wind in our faces

The ocean was about the bluest blue I’ve ever seen

On Monday, we drove up the coast to the North Shore, stopping at several beaches along the way to watch the wildlife, waves and surfers. We pulled into Turtle Bay Resort and just walked around the beautiful grounds and window shopped in the mall area. We had heard about Laniakea Beach, a little (not so secret) hidden beach where giant green sea turtles come in to bask (warm their bodies in the sun). There are 28 endangered “honu” living in the waters off Oahu, which is one of only three places in the world where they exist. There happened to be two lazy beauties there when we stopped. A team of marine biologists stand guard whenever turtles make their way to the beach, roping off an 8 foot perimeter in the sand, and answering questions from the tourists.

Near Diamond Head

Little birdie with a red head

Along the North Shore

Near Turtle Bay Resort

One afternoon, we put on our swimsuits and walked down to Waikiki beach. Both of us waded a little bit in the ocean, but neither of us are big fans of sand or salt, so we walked back up to our condo for a dip in the pool.

On our last full day on the island, we drove up the west coast. I remembered the two coast roads do not completely circle the island, and we wanted to see how different the other side looked. It is more rugged and the waves (at least the day we were there) were much higher than on the east and north shores. We happened to arrive at the Kaena Point State Park just before sunset. With a clear view and very few people, we watched a spectacular show, as waves crashed upon the shore and the sun dropped into the ocean.


Since this is the “water” entry, I must mention the water show we missed: the one hundred year flood back home. Chandler (which my house borders) got 5.47 inches of rain in less than 24 hours! I received frequent updates from my neighbor that our street remained clear and the canal did not overflow, so I figured my house was high and dry. My only slight concern was my roof, but it held strong, and all was fine when I arrived back home, with only a wild mushroom as evidence of the earlier moisture.

Rainfall in the Valley.

Glenda and I are jetting off to Hawaii tomorrow morning. We are spending a week on Oahu, renting this condo, which incidentally is a cheaper option than a hotel. We both bought a Go Oahu card and have plans to use it for the Polynesian Cultural Center Luau Dinner Show, a catamaran sail, touring Pearl Harbor, the Arizona and Missouri memorials, the Dole Plantation and renting mopeds. We also want to drive up to the North Shore at least one day and see Turtle Beach and a coffee plantation. Then we’ll see how much energy we have left to do anything else. But I have a feeling we will spend quite a bit of time sitting on the lanai of our condo, gazing at Diamond Head and sipping MaiTai’s.

I’ve lined up someone to look after the house and the dog, and friends to give us a ride to the airport, so the only thing left is to ensure I’ve packed my swimsuit! Aloha!!

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