My Ultimate Hawaiian Experience

Honolulu

Life on the Big Island, Oahu is a little bit slower… and locals like it that way. The natural beauty and ecological features of the island are a draw for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Hawaii in Brief

Hawaii, comprised of group of islands collectively known as The Hawaiian Islands is filled with exotic and romantic getaways. It is part of U.S. state and is an isolated volcanic archipelago in the Central Pacific. It is the only U.S. State located in Oceania and outside North America. Hawaii is the only one composed entirely of islands and is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean. Of the six main islands, Oahu is Hawaii’s biggest city and capital, Honolulu and home to the international airport.

Why Go?

The Hawaiin archipelago is a tropical paradise waiting to be explored. Oahu The “Heart of Hawaii” is home to Honolulu and much more. A calming oasis can be found as there are many resorts located outside of Waikiki that offer less crowded surroundings. Natural beauty can be found in the two mountain ranges, the Koolau and Waianae ranges. Some great hikes are just a short drive into the mountains from Waikiki. Secluded white sand beaches, funky beach towns, pounding winter surf on the North Shore. All of which can be found in other parts of Oahu. This makes Hawaii, a popular destination for millions of visitors throughout the world. It is filled epic surf, lush rainforest, pristine white sandy beaches, culture and history. This island is one of the only few places in the world that share the rare untamed beauty of Hawaii. To explore and experience the stunning views of the big waves and history of Oahu, Honolulu, has long been on my travel bucket list for many years. Reading so much about this great holiday destination on magazines and seen on televisions, purely attracted me to visit this beautiful island again to fully explore what lies ahead. Honolulu, home to crescent Waikiki Beach and Pearl Harbour’s WW11 memorials and the Hawaiian islands renowned for their rugged landscapes of cliffs, waterfalls, diverse natural scenery, warm tropical foliage and climate, pristine beaches, oceanic surroundings and active volcanoes makes it a population destination, not only for tourists but surfers, biologists and volcanologists. With such abundance of Hawaii’s endless list of natural attractions has lured me to this most popular island destination in the world. 

Where to stay?

Honolulu, like many other major capitals cities in the world has no shortages of high-rise buildings. The city is full of high-rise buildings and is often packed with tourists. That’s not to say it isn’t a great place to explore. Many high-rise buildings are lined within metres away from the beach. Staying on the 70th floor at Waikiki Marriott hotel on the south shore of Honolulu was just a step away from the World-famous Waikiki Beach. This hotel is located in the heart of Waikiki on premier Kalakaua Avenue which is well-known for its waterside bars, fine dining, shopping centres and the newly-revitalised International Market Place, an ideal introduction to idyllic Honolulu.

What to see and do?

Aloha! Welcome to the USA’s island state of Hawaii. As there are great deal to do in Honolulu and on the island of Oahu and in order to see as much as possible in Hawaii, I had to cover a lot of ground and there are lots of flights to take as I had to explore other Hawaiian islands. My adventure in Honolulu began with an easy stroll along the famous Waikiki Beach. Since, I was there in Honolulu for few days, I decided to take some surf lessons on the world-renowned Waikiki beach and go snorkelling at picturesque Hanauma Bay. I visited Pearl Harbor’s historic sites and the USS Arizona Memorial as well as drive through the National Memorail Cemetery of the Pacific. Also, in downtown Honolulu, I visited the lolani Palace, the King Kamehameha 1 Statue and State Capital Building. There was plenty to do in the neighbourhood of Waikiki, from soaking up the sun on its famous beach to checking out the restaurants and outlet malls along the esplanade. Following the hectic part of the day, I had an evening walk to catch the sunset from Waikiki Beach. The mere mention of Hawaii prompts visions of surfboards and colorful cocktails. I found, Hawaii’s biggest city of Honolulu delivers both top-shelf surf spots, tropical drinks and plenty more here as well. Think art museums, bike trails, and some of the world’s most beautiful scenery. Famous Waikiki Beach entices with soft sands and great surf. Diamond Head’s 350-acre volcanic crater promises majestic Oahu views. And historic sites like Iolani Palace and Ali’iolani Hale enliven my non-beach day. At the end of the day, there is nothing more refreshing than a quivering plate of fresh poke, followed by a fruity shave ice. Yes, this is Aloha!!

My Highlights

Honolulu, is the place where you wake up with so many things on your mind that you wanted to do. I wanted to see many places as possible and my list of things to see and do was endless and unachievable. Honolulu is home to many iconic buildings, historical and memorial sites and pristine beaches. It was possible to visit most of the popular attractions, but I didn’t have the time to see more of the area on my visit. For me to fully enjoy my stay in this destination and to make the most of the city’s major attractions, I’d stayed right in the main centre of the city. This way, I didn’t have to fight the traffic from locals on their daily commute and I get to sample inner city’s main attractions within walking distance. Also, it is only half an hour away from O’ahu’s main attractions including famous Pearl Harbour, Lolani Palacem Nuuanu Pali Lookout and Hanauma Bay. 

Waikiki Beach

Without a doubt, Waikiki Beach is definitely a beach-goers paradise. As I marvel at this idyllic golden beach, I can see why many visitors throughout the world come to this place, simply to relax at the beach from surfing to rolling on shores. Most of the accommodation places are lined within metres from the beach and you can see why it is a popular destination for sea, sun and sand in this island located in the middle of the Central Pacific Ocean. To make the most of this location, my trip to Honolulu will be incomplete without a visit to this world-renowned famous beach – Waikiki Beach. I began my day strolling along the beach relaxing as I listen to the waves splashing on the shores and the joy of seeing everyone enjoying their undisturbed quality time at the beach. It was pleasantly peaceful and a perfect day at the beach without a sign of storm and for beach goers and surfers. Here I embrace laid back island living. What a great place to be. 

Pearl Harbour

It was time to discover the rich history of this island at Pearl Harbour. Taking on a private limousine guided tour alone, I found it to be very convenient, personal and private. My personal guide was a local Hawaiian who spent most of his entire life on the island. He was very knowledgeable about the area. Certainly, I was having an authentic Hawaiian experience from the past, present and future from their own cultural perspective. 

This visit to Pearl Harbour historical site was on my top of my priority to-do list before arriving in Hawaii. Having very little knowledge about this historical site and taking a tour to this place profoundly gave me a better understanding of the past history. The effects of the past can be currently felt today when I visited the site. It is one of the defining moments in US and world history. The USS Arizona Memorial, at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii, marks the resting place of 1,102 of the 1,177 sailors and Marines killed on USS Arizona during the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and commemorates the events of that day. The attack on Pearl Harbor and the island of Oahu led to the United States’ direct involvement in World War II.

We then continued to USS Arizona Memorial where embarked on a US Navy shuttle boat ride to the site. This place truly brings you back in time of what happened years back and imagine the experience of that tragic day. One of the most poignant experiences of the Valor in the Pacific National Monument, is the wreckage of the Arizona which can be seen from the serene white structure from above. From the broken hull of the mighty vessel, drops of oil continue to trickle to the surface. Known as the “Black Tears of the Arizona” the oil symbolises the ship’s grief over the 1,177 sailors lost as she sank to the bottom of the harbour. As I stepped onto that place, I could feel the shivers running down my spine, knowing that below is the graveyard for thousands of dead bodies which haven’t been touched since the day it sunk, until today and will never be recovered.

With a deeper understanding on this gave me the emotions of Pearl Harbour attacks. This is something that all visitors to Honolulu should come and see. This tour truly visitors a clear look into the history of the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbour. I came to understand and feel that this place certainly not only defines the dark history but it is very significant and sensitive to American people and probably the world. It is a very cruel reminder of what happened in the past but it can be felt in that moment as you step onto the site and learn about the history. This unique feeling will certainly stay with me for sometime.

Missouri Battleship

From the devastating tragedy of the Pearl Harbour tour, this time to a more softer side of history – Missouri Battleship Memorial Site.  Missouri was the last battleship commissioned by the U.S. It is best remembered as the site of the surrender of the Empire of Japan which ended the World War 11. Missouri was ordered in 1940 and commissioned in June 1944, after serving a total of 16 years of active service. She was donated to the USS Missouri Memorial Association and became a museum ship at this location.

Greeted by a smart young girl, doing her internship as a volunteer, happens to be my private tour guide. As I traverse the five-decks, she informs me about the thrilling captivating stories of life aboard the last battle ship ever built by the U.S. over-looking the massive gun turrets, I had a spectacular view of the Arizona Memorial. While on the Surrender Deck, I could imagine the USS Missouri docked in Tokyo Bay as General Douglas MacArthur and the Japanese delegates signed the treaty that ended WW11. The guided-tour lasting for an hour, still gave me detail history information about the ship, what life was like on board the ship and the structure and the layout of the ship. After the tour, I had the opportunity to explore various part of the ship at my own leisure. Exploring this battleship, gave me a profound imagination of how it must been tough for many young sailors battling it out as they have isolated from their families. It is a reminder, how they have lived in this conditions in tiny cabins in enclosed environment. Highly recommended.

Honolulu Landmarks

I have a great interest in visiting and learning about various landmarks and War Memorial sites, as they’re our heroes of the past. I was chauffeured to the military cemetery built in the crater of an extinct volcano, Hawaii State Capitol Building, Kawaiaha’o Church, Lolani Palace (the official residence of Hawaii’s monarchy, is a marvel of opulence, innovation and political intrigue) and King Kamehameha Statue. In visiting, some of this landmarks and iconic buildings and statues gives you detail information about the history of the place and how things have changed over the years in the making of where things are now.

Chief Luau

My final day in Honolulu ended with an explosive, thrilling and unforgettable end to a cultural treat – A trip to experience the Hawaiian traditional performance show, known as Luau. The road leading to this location was absolutely breathtaking. The views along the coastline were incredibly amazing that led to a secluded beachside park, located in Kapolei, to the traditional Hawaiian feast. Treated like a chief, upon arrival, I was greeted by very friendly staff as I receive a puke shell lei and a refreshing mai tai as well as other drinks. The evening started off with an authentic interactive demonstrations of traditional headband weaving and other traditional craft activities before the first part of the show begins. During the interval, we were treated to a Polynesian specialised cuisine including lomi-lomi salmon. What a treat it was. For pig lovers, a barbecued pig is cooked to perfection in the traditional Hawaiian underground oven – whole pig wrapped in banana leaves placed on the hollow ground with hot rocks over it for few hours. New Zealand Maori’s call it Tangi. The food was truly a traditional Hawaiian feast. As we enjoyed our meal while been entertained with thrilling and vibrant Hawaiian and Polynesian dancers from all over the Pacific – including fire-knife dancing. As I brace myself for the spectacular as I part-take in an experience that has touched my heart, spark romances and exceeded my expectations. My time at this place has been a wonderful experience and one to remember long after I leave this beautiful island. With Hawaiian’s stunning scenery provides the backdrop of my unforgettable experience. 

Honolulu is a place that you have to adjust to the hive of activity. The energy is palpable and entertainment is aplenty. But for the shopping… I shopped my life away. It was time to unwind from the whole Hawaiian experience. There was never enough time to explore everything that Honolulu has to offer but it was entirely possible to relax. There is so much to see and do, so to explore the area, I have to have enough time discover some of the hidden treasures of the island. Aloha!!

Categories: NORTH AMERICA

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