It’s been a whirlwind of an adventure, with many different emotions and experiences. Although the Big Island had overall disappointed, Maui had been everything we were promised. So what would Oahu deliver?
As you know I am an avid film fan, and had watched many series and films set in Hawaii, such as Hawaii 5-O, Jurassic Park, The Descendants and of course Pearl Harbor. So I was very excited to see this island as it was the actual set.
We had booked into the Hilton Waikiki, getting slightly confused with the bigger iconic Hilton Village built right on the beach. However the cheaper alternative was not to be scoffed at, it was a few blocks from the beach, clean, comfortable and a pretty decent size. It was also home to the Man Vs Food Pancake challenge, that we attempted and failed miserably.
The beach in question was none other than the infamous Waikiki, and that was our first port of call. The beach itself was ok, but VERY busy. It reminded me a lot of places like Bondi, where the sand is smooth and inviting, but due to such acclaim, it attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists daily. The sea itself was warm and welcoming, but the break could be slightly daunting. I really wanted to take another stab at Surfing, but the mass of bodies already in the water was just too daunting.
The Waikiki strip really reminded us of being in any major American city, glitz and glamour of high-end shops littering both sides of the commercialized street. It’s a complete contrast from the Big Island and Maui. I understand that Hawaii is part of the USA and one of the islands had to have the commercialism synonymous with the mass capitalist country. In all honesty it kind of reminded me of Miami, which I didn’t really like that much the first time I visited (mainly due to circumstance).
So after the glitz and the glamour of Waikiki and Honolulu as a whole, we decided to make our way out to the city to Pearl City. Anyone familiar with world history will know the story of Pearl Harbor, when the Japanese attacked and virtually crippled the American Pacific fleet. The attack on Pearl Harbor nearly crippled the American Navy, killing thousands and bringing the brutality of World War to its shores. The attack is renowned as one of the most brutal and unprovoked during the war, and the location, that is still a working naval base, is now considered a military graveyard.
Be warned when visiting, you really do need a good 6 hours plus to see the whole site (memorial and museums). Plus if you get there late in the day, you can wait for hours to get a ticket to visit the main sites. We were very lucky and were given the opportunity to visit the Arizona memorial, only accessible via boat. The memorial is built directly on top of the Arizona, which was never fully salvaged, and is the graveyard to over a thousand sailors who died on that ship alone. The inclusion of a historical documentary before visiting the memorial was very scene setting, and the boat ride over was a quiet and somber experience.
Upon approaching the memorial, you can see the hull of the gigantic battleship less than a few feet below where you stand. It’s a very strange experience, standing atop of such an infamous ship. Memorials are usually very haunting places, examples of that feeling I have had in Hiroshima, Concentration Camps in Europe, and even death camps in Cambodia, but this didn’t feel like that. It felt a bit too touristy, and SO busy! I couldn’t get the feel of the sheer horror that had occurred here, upon reflection I think this was because that the site is still active.
I definitely would recommend visiting from a historical stance, and to learn more and understand first-hand the stories and location of this horrific event in human history. But for me unfortunately I just couldn’t connect as much as I wanted to.
The rest of our days were spend exploring Oahu, from the farms based in the interior to the North Shore, which reminded me more of the tranquil beauty of the island. Beautiful less populated beaches, hundreds of shrimp vans, good snorkeling and miles of crystal Blue Ocean.
We did visit the Kualoa Ranch which boasts the locations of film sets from Jurassic Park, Pearl Harbor, King Kong and even the TV show Lost. It was a bit of silly fun, but I loved it and Megan put up with it… Ha! The set tour lasted no longer than an hour but was an incredible way of seeing not only an active Hawaiian ranch, but also a close up of the mountain valleys. Absolutely beautiful. The last location on our list was that of Hanauma Bay, in my opinion the most beautiful beach on the island and the best snorkeling (a dedicated marine park).
Our finale to Hawaii was a very fitting, the premiere of the new Hawaii 5-O series on Waikiki beach with all of the stars in attendance. Extremely geeky but fun nonetheless.
What a conclusion to a whirlwind trip to the Hawaiian Islands, 3 islands in 2 weeks. We saw a huge amount of contrasting landscapes and experienced some wondrous sights.
- Climbing an Active Volcano
- Witnessing the red glow of the Cauldron at dusk
- Watching the Sunrise from a dormant Volcano
- A dramatic roller-coaster drive to Hana
- A traditional Hawaiian Luau
- Attempted a Man Vs Food challenge
- A movie set tour
- Watching the premier of Hawaii 5-O on Waikiki beach
I wish we had more time to explore the other islands of the chain, including Kauai, Molikini, Midway and maybe some of the lesser known islands. However in all honesty I didn’t find the islands as idyllic as I imagined. I think it may have been the bad start, the long journey, and the amount of sway popular culture has over me. Nevertheless Hawaii would be last on my list of Pacific Islands to visit, with such exquisite alternatives such as French Polynesia, Fiji, Solomon Islands, the Cook Islands, Tonga, just a few extra hours away.