48 Hours On Oahu

So first I have to say I’m not a stranger to the Hawaiian island of Oahu. I have been there more times than I can count so my experience there is not the same as most other visitors to the island.  Oahu is not the biggest island but it is home to the state capital of Honolulu, a city of roughly a million people and also home to Waikiki – Hawaii’s biggest tourist centre where most of the island’s five million visitors come every year.   If you like the big city vacation, with lots to see and do, then Waikiki is it.  Some visitors though complain about the ‘commercialization’ of Hawaii, having spent their entire vacation in Honolulu.  If you get out of the city, you will have a completely different experience. 

On my stop on Oahu, I had just 2 full days to cram in as much as possible.  I wanted to revisit some of my favourite places while spending quality time with my cousin and her husband who lives there.  She lives out in Ko Olina, a growing surburban community near Ewa, on the Leeward side of the island.  It was nice to stay outside of the hustle and bustle of Waikiki this time, and it sure helped to have a car to make our way around the island, I’d definitely recommend renting a car for a couple of days and getting a good map of the island.  On our first day we drove up to the westernmost tip of Oahu at Ka’Ena Point.  There was a deserted beach park, and the end of the road, if you want to continue onto the tip, you have to hike about 1.7 miles.   We continued up the road to Laniakea Beach  aka Turtle Beach.  It’s your best chance to spot turtles on the island.  They come in and feed along the surf, and we saw several large turtles, but they were too shy to pose for pictures.   It was time to hit a beach, and my favourite is always Waimea Beach Park.  It can be extremely calm in the summer, and is often too rough in the winter for anyone to go near.  The north shore is where all the big Hawaiian surfing championships are held.  This time it was relatively calm but there was a big surf that rolled in suddenly and those floating near the shore were slammed back up onto the beach.   If you are on the north side of the island, you have to stop for fresh shrimp from one of the shrimp stands set up around Sunset Beach.   The shrimp farms are all around the area so you are getting fresh and juicy shrimp or prawns.   The area all around Sunset and a local surfing competition, was packed with traffic parked on both sides of the road, so some locals were letting people park on their lawns for 5 bucks.  Before we left the north shore we had to stop for one more local treat – Shave Ice.  Just what you would expect… shaved ice (snow cone) with different tropical flavoured syrups.  Delicious!!! (and by the way my trick to get rid of an ice cream headache is to stick your tongue to the roof of your mouth – I’ve been doing it for years, and converted my cousin to the idea while we ate our shave ice – it really works!)

On our way home in Ko Olino we stopped at the local marina where a huge ancient looking ship lurked along one end.  Apparently the ship was The Queen Anne’s Revenge, the one recently used in the filming of the new Pirates Of The Caribbean with Johnny Depp!  They were keeping it under wraps somewhat until the release of the film, so it was cool to see some of the great details on it, like the skeletons at the bow.   

On day two we decided to take a different route around the island, starting at Kahala Mall, a great community shopping mall in the east end of Honolulu. A drive around the area is great for gazing at some amazing homes.   I went for a quick coffee with my friend Barbara and to get a chance to check out the mall after being away for several years.  We made up a couple of salads at the Whole Foods and took our picnic lunch to Hanauma Bay but were turned back because the parking lot was full, so we headed up the road a bit further to the Halona Blowhole, and wandered down to the beach.  Set in a small cove, cut into the side of lava rocks, it’s beautiful, and in fact is also known as the beach in the movie From Here To Eternity, where Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster roll around in the surf.  It was the first day of Christmas vacation so it was packed with students.  We ate our lunch and then headed to Sandy Beach, my favourite beach to play at.  The surf is amazing… first of all it’s is all sand, no coral or rocks, and second the waves are huge and very close to shore.  It was always a busy place but again since it was the first day of the holidays, it was packed with students.  We also got a bonus surprise when we witnessed a rescue helicopter dropping a stretcher to some hikers apparently stranded on the nearby Cliffside.  Everyone on the beach had their attention away from the surf as we all watched the airlift.  I approached the rescuers later and found out it was only a training mission, but still a worthwhile thrill.

A stop at the Pali Lookout is always a nice break from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki and the beaches.  You get a perfect view of the entire coast from Chinaman’s Hat to Kaneohe (naval station and small city) and across the valley.  It was lush and green and despite a bit of haze was a breathtaking view. 

I decided I wanted to end my time on Oahu with a visit to Waikiki and felt right at home again.  No matter what anyone says I love Waikiki.  It is the most energetic of anywhere else on the islands and while a lot of people wouldn’t want to spend their vacation in that, you can’t beat it for a good time.  We went to the historic Royal Hawaiian Hotel (the pink palace on the beach), and the beachside bar for a couple of traditional Mai Tais and then decided to stay for dinner.  A great choice… not only was the food good, but we had a beachside seat as the sun worshippers packed up their gear just as the sun was disappearing over the horizon. Since it was Friday night we were treated to the weekly Friday Night Sailing Regatta past Waikiki.  A fitting end to my 48 hours on Oahu.

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One Response to “48 Hours On Oahu”

  1. Nubia Granado
    April 22 at 1:16 pm #

    Found this site by browsing the internet and just want to say great post! I’ll be sure to come back again to read on other articles you created here. Thanks again!!

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