Filed under: Hawaii, rain, travel | Tags: garden, Hawaii, Honolulu, memorial, Oahu, rain, water
OK, so after three trips to the island of O’ahu, and several people asking me what they thought should be seen, I decided to put together a top picks list. All of these are on any major tourist map of the island, but few of these are “commercial” tourist stops. Most require a fee to enter or at least park, but not all. Note, finding places in Hawaii is not always easy. Roads are narrow, traffic is a mess, and many really good sites are on the end of dead end roads.
Since many of these are from past trips I did not include photos. Check back to earlier posts. I did not feel I needed to cover all of them again.
Many place names seem the same. Wai, in any name means fresh water, Kai, means salt water. With water being such a large part of Hawaiian culture it is no wonder that it figures into so many place names.
Yes, I have ranked them according to the ones you MUST see and those you should see. There are many other wonderful places to visit, not all of them famous, spend some time and explore. Get off of the beach.
10) Makapu’u Point – On the eastern end of the Island of O’ahu, this overlook could be a place to see whales in season. When the weather is nice you can see several of the islands to the east of O’ahu. There is a parking lot and a paved trail to the overlook. I’ve been past here, but not to the top. It’s a reason I need to go back.
9) Lanikai and Kailua Beaches – On the north east side of the island, this is a really great beach. It has none of the hype of Waikiki, and is not easy to get to, but worth the trip. This is where the locals go.
Take a jacket and hang on to your hat. When the ocean breeze meets the mountains you can have a real wind here. The over look can be reached from the Pali Highway as you cross the island from Honolulu to Kailua and Lanikai. I’ve visited this site every trip to the island.
The site of a famous battle for the union of the Kingdom of Hawaii under one ruler, the cliff face looks north towards the side of O’ahu that many tourists never see.
7) Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. If you want to snorkel with the fishes, this is the place. Sorry, I’ve never been here, I’m just going on reports of those who have been here. Another reason I need to make another trip.
6) Iolani Palace -
The only royal palace in the United States, come here to find out how this noble Victorian Era Kingdom was run and prospered until some of the influential Anglos decided to take over. At one time this palace looked out over the harbor, now buildings and fill have moved it far inland and hide the sea from its windows. After the death of the queen it was used for government offices, but it has now been restored and has many of the original furnishings and artwork. Check out some of the other buildings in the area, you may see some you recognize from movies and TV shows.
5) The National Cemetery of the Pacific, aka The Punch Bowl
You’ve seen this statue if you ever saw a commercial for the TV series Hawaii 5-0. Situated in an old volcanic crater, this memorial to the dead of WWII and the Korean Conflict is a place that needs some time.
The stunning mosaics of the major battles of the Pacific are worth the trip alone. Do wander around and see all of the sights. Don’t miss the walkway to the Honolulu overlook.
4) Diamond Head – The first travelers here saw the reflection of light off of this extinct volcano and thought it was covered in Diamonds. Do find your way around to the tunnel and parking lot inside. It’s a bit of a hike to the top, but the view of the city and the reefs out in the ocean are worth it. Don’t stop at the first view port, crawl through and continue the trail to the top.
3) The Bishop Museum – You’ll need time to explore this place. Just the museum of Polynesian artifacts can take the whole day. Displays include a whale hanging in the main hall, and displays of everything from flowers to clothing making. There are five buildings here, try to make at least two.
2) Waimea Valley – For flower lovers everywhere, you need to visit here. On the north west side of the island, this one is about as far from Honolulu as you can get. While Honolulu gets only inches of rainfall, this valley gets feet. Bring a raincoat, umbrella and perhaps a swimsuit to swim in the pool at the top of the valley. You will wander through an amazing amount of Pacific Island flora. There is a wide variety of birds flitting and walking around the grounds. You’ll need hours to get just an overview of the place. The restaurant has an interesting menu, enjoy.
1) Pearl Harbor Historic Sites – Everyone knows about the USS Arizona Memorial. It’s a free tour out to the memorial for which you need to pick up your tickets in advance. If you are not on a guided tour, you should be there early in the morning to be sure of a shuttle time. While you wait for your shuttle you can visit the memorial to submarines, look at old rockets and torpedoes or visit the USS Bowfin, a WWII sub. There is also a new visitors center where you can learn all about the attack on Pearl Harbor. On nearby Ford Island you can visit the USS Missouri where the war with Japan ended.
Well, there you have it, my top ten. This is by no means a complete list of places to visit on the island. I did not include Calvary by the Sea Lutheran Church where my daughter acquired her Hawaiian family, or Waikiki beach, where the tourists usually outnumber the locals at all hours of the day. There are any number of commercial enterprises that want to take your money for “once in a lifetime” events. I could have told you about the convention center or the shopping malls or any of a number of parks, the aquarium or the zoo. I did not include such eating places as the north shore shrimp and seafood shacks, the mac nut farm, or the ranch. I could have told you about the highest grossing restaurant in the islands, Duke’s, or the neighborhood BBQ’s where most Hawaiians go for a quick meal. There are hiking trails and climbing areas, mountains and forests, hunting and farming. There is so much more here than Waikiki. I hope you get out and see some of it.
Filed under: Farm Bureau, Hawaii, travel | Tags: american farm bureau federation, beach, beaches, Farm Bureau, hike, Oahu, oahu hawaii, overlook, travel
My recent trip to Honolulu for the American Farm Bureau Federation Convention was my third trip in the last three years. With a daughter living there I have a local tour guide to show me around. Although I have seen some of the usual sights, I’ve also been able to visit some out-of-the-way places too. You see, the locals do not spend their time at Waikiki beach. It is far from the best beach on the island of Oahu, much less the whole state, and yet many come to Hawaii and never see anything more than Waikiki. A beach in Hawaii cannot be owned, it is public property. Even in the most expensive housing areas, openings must be left so that anyone can walk down to the Pacific to surf, fish or sit in the sun. If you have a multi-million dollar home, you will usually have a fence between you and the beach. I’m going to show you a few of the places I visited this last trip, some beaches, some not, some famous, some not, but all Oahu, Hawaii.
First of all you have to realize that Honolulu is squeezed between the mountains and the sea. There is not a lot of place to put the city. It has a good harbor which is what helped the city grow in this place. The Kings of Hawaii had their favorite spot here, but it is now so overfilled that there is no sign of the wonderful beaches that kings and their families once played on.
All of these hotels are built on fill. Even the sand is hauled in, they were bringing in more when I was there. Waikiki is almost all artificial these days. The waves are gentle and the temperatures are great, hotels and marinas crowd the edge of the Pacific.
This is a sight many come to Waikiki for, sundown on the beach, this one is from the terrace of one of the more famous watering holes, Duke’s. The beach was crowded, the music was loud and the wait for a table was about an hour and a half.
The next night we snapped this one from a eatery in the marina area called the Shorelander. Again a beautiful tropical sunset. Fewer people because there was no sand.
Here’s a small neighborhood park that is hard to find. It’s on a dead-end street, there is no parking, it’s difficult to walk to, but it is no less spectacular. Getting to the ocean is not the plan here. Spending time surf side is the reason, and when the waves are right….
The waves this day were mere three footers. It would be interesting to be here when the surf was really up.
Here’s my guide at another out-of-the-way park. There are hiking trailheads all over the place. Most are way back in the neighborhoods with no parking. This popular hiking trail was busy with families and young singles. The views were excellent.
Here’s the beginning of the hike. It’s not very promising is it. It’s steep, it’s rough, and it is not well maintained, but look at what comes once you get above the trees.
Stop and catch your breath, this is the first pillbox, it is not our destination. It’s straight down if you go left, and a long tumble if you go right. This is considered an easy hike by the young ladies who were showing me the path.
Rare flowers can be hiding where you least expect them.
Do you blame these young ladies for making the hike, the view is wonderful, and a breeze takes away the sweat from your hike. It only took about 20 minutes to get here. That’s Lanikai down on the beach, and Kaneohe off in the distance.
Here’s a nice little beach that doesn’t get much traffic. It is a favorite of ours since you access it from Calvary by the Sea Lutheran Church.
The view towards the mountains from the beach here is not as well known as the one the other way.
Most of the beaches on the windward (northeast) side have a long ways out to the reef. The area from Chinaman’s Hat to Kaneohe is a large bay that is a local playground.
This picture from the Pali Overlook shows much more open land on the Windward side (north) than you see near Honolulu (south). There are even larger areas of open space on the west side of the island where all of the pineapple and sugarcane fields used to be.
On the right side of the picture you can see the island where they filmed the TV series Gilligan’s Island. It’s easy to walk to the island, not at all a remote place.
There are many more beaches on Oahu than the kiddie pool that is Waikiki. Next time you are in the islands check out a few. Most have a lot more sand and a lot fewer people than Waikiki. Do look for notices of danger spots. There are beaches here that only daredevils use. Stop awhile to appreciate the natural beauty. Ask about local eating spots and seafood shacks. Check out Shave Ice. Perhaps you can even get your Shave Ice at President Obama’s favorite spot. Perhaps one of the locals will show you the real Hawaii that is so near yet so far from Waikiki.