Posts Tagged With: Oahu

Aloha ‘Oe, Hawaii

One of the challenges faced by cruise passengers is what to do with luggage while sightseeing before or after a cruise. Most airports no longer offer lockers due to security issues. If you have a hotel reserved, they’ll usually keep your bags until check-in but if not, what’s a tourist to do? We decided to rent a car to store our luggage while we toured Oahu upon our return to Honolulu. For around $50, we had wheels for the day and storage for our bags while we waited for our evening flight.

As soon as our cruise ship, the Pride of America, docked, we took a taxi from the port to the Honolulu Airport to pick up our car. Happy to have the protection of our own vehicle due to intermittent rain showers throughout the day, we headed across the lush Koolau Mountains to the Kamehameha Highway on the windward side of the island.

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Koolau Mountains

The Kamehameha Highway follows the coastline with plenty of stopping points to capture the incredibly beautiful views.

 

 

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Water view along Kamehameha Highway

We stopped at the ruins of the Kualoa Sugar Mill in the Kaaawa Valley of the Koolau Mountains where the scenery looked like Jurassic Park, probably because the movie was filmed in this area. The first sugar mill on Oahu, Kualoa Sugar Mill was built in the early 1860’s and abandoned in the 1870’s because there wasn’t enough rain in the area to grow sugar. Who’d have thought?

 

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Koolau Mountains with ruins of the Kualoa Sugar Mill

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Ruins of Kualoa Sugar Mill

We stopped next at the Polynesian Cultural Center but alas, it wasn’t open yet. The “cultural” part of the name attracted us but honestly, it was more of a theme park. We read some of the cultural and historical signs and left before they opened.

After meandering up the eastern coast, we finally arrived at the famous North Shore, home of the perfect wave for surfers. The Van’s Triple Crown of Surfing, a three event men’s professional competition has been held on the North Shore each year since 1983 and in 2015, the dates of the competition were November 12 through December 20. We happened to be there on November 21 toward the end of the second crown, the Van’s Cup of World Surfing, which took place on Sunset Beach. Too bad we didn’t see any action that morning.

 

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Sunset Beach

 

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Sunset Beach, home of Van’s World Cup of Surfing

 

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View from Kamehameha Highway

Waimea Valley Park with a hike to the famous Waimea Falls was on our to-do list but untimely showers made the 1.5 mile hike unappealing. We walked around the botanical garden a bit and then stopped at Waimea Bay Beach in time to see blue skies briefly.

 

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Hawaiian vegetation at Waiamea Gardens 

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Waimea Bay Beach

The rock at Waimea Bay Beach in the photo below provides a popular albeit dangerous attractive hazard that locals climb then jump into the water. We didn’t see anyone up there that morning so maybe the tide was too low.

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The rain returned as we drove through the North Shore town of Haleiwa. Further exploration including a shaved ice would have to wait for next time.

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Haleiwa

We skipped the Dole Pineapple Plantation  this trip but it’s wildly popular among families, entertaining and educating one million visitors each year. Jim and I were there in 2003 with our teenagers and enjoyed the experience. We did, however, see lots of pineapple fields and snapped a few photos. We also ate every bit of fresh pineapple offered to us while in Hawaii. Yum.

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Pineapple Fields

After our drive to the North Shore, we headed to the Dole Cannery in Honolulu, once the largest pineapple cannery in the world, now a retail space containing a movie theater with 18 screens. Our friend, Rick, discovered a film festival that he was keen to check out.

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The restored Dole Cannery

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Rick ready to see a film at the Hawaii International Film Festival

While Rick attended a more artistic film, Lori, Jim, and I watched the last movie in the Hunger Games series, Mockingjay Part 2. Afterward, we stopped by Max’s for an outstanding Filipino dinner prior to our long foodless flight home.

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Outside a Filipino restaurant, Max’s

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Inside Max’s

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Tasty Filipino chicken adobo

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Filipino veggies

The tradition of throwing lei into the water dates back to the early 1900’s. Upon leaving Hawaii by boat, visitors threw their lei into the water to return it to Hawaii as they hoped one day, they, too, would return. Leaving by plane and not knowing whether it’s allowable to toss our lei from the Pride of America, we simply left them behind to signal our intention to return one day.

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The remains of our beautiful lei

Aloha ‘oe (farewell to you), Hawaii. A hui hou (until we meet again). (🤘🏽🤘🏽🤘🏽shaka, shaka)

Listen to Elvis sing Aloha Oe from the movie, Blue Hawaii,  here.

 

Based on events from November 2015.

Categories: cruise, History, Travel, Uncategorized, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Oahu Wrap Up

Finding cheap eats in Hawaii is definitely a challenge but we thought we did pretty well when we found Waikiki Beachside Bistro. Open from 9:30 am to 5 pm, this is breakfast and lunch fare rather than dinner (unless you’re a senior who eats at 4 pm like some people I know…) If you eat a hearty meal at noon, however, you can make do with cocktails and pupus for dinner, but more about that later.

With a beachside location, I expected a high-priced burger stand and they do serve burgers and other sandwiches but so much more. They feature plate lunches, the classic Hawaiian lunch that was designed to be cheap and filling. The typical plate lunch features lots of rice, a choice of meat, and usually a macaroni salad. I was especially grateful that our plate lunch replaced the macaroni with a more healthy salad. We chose Teriyaki Chicken for $10.95 and shared it. With all that rice under the chicken, there was plenty for both of us.

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Patio at Waikiki Beachside Bistro

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Jim orders our lunch

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Teriyaki Chicken Plate Lunch

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Our table with a view of the beach

While we ate, we observed a couple of guys in wetsuits arrive with fish they’d obviously just caught. With that level of freshness, I wished I had ordered the “catch of the day” plate lunch. While I didn’t get to eat it, I did photograph it. The fish was kala, also called unicorn fish, for the horn-like protuberance on its head. I wasn’t familiar with this fish, but the guys at the restaurant assured me it was tasty.

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Kala, or unicorn fish

Trip Advisor shows mixed reviews for Waikiki Beachside Bistro but we thought our plate lunch was pretty good and it definitely filled us up. We also caught a glimpse of the $10 Loco Moco which is a well-known Hawaiian original consisting of a mountain of rice covered by hamburger, gravy, and egg(s). I like to buy local so this place suited us on that score, too.

Before our trip, I researched restaurants on Oahu and found the Mai Tai Bar at the Ala Moana Mall in Honolulu where they claim to serve the best pupus (appetizers) and cocktails. We stopped there on our way back from Pearl Harbor on the local bus. Since we’d eaten that ample plate lunch earlier in the day, pupus seemed to be a good lighter option for dinner.

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Mai Tai Bar at Ala Moana Mall, Honolulu

The 3 blackened fish tacos at a happy hour price of $8 weren’t bad but, honestly, they had me at the $6 glass of wine. The sweet potato fries were pretty good, too. This is a chain but their website claimed to win awards year after year for their happy hour so we figured it was worth a try. The place was packed. In this beautiful tropical paradise, I’d rather have had a beach or water view with my pupus and cocktails but the bar was open air, the price was right, and we got to see the Ala Moana Mall.

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Blackened fish tacos at Mai Tai Bar

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Sweet potato fries at the Mai Tai Bar

We spent two full days and three nights on Oahu before our 7-day cruise on the Pride of America.  Here are a few more scenes from Waikiki before our ship sailed.

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Beach at Waikiki

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Waikiki

Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaianaole was the last reigning prince in Hawaii until the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown in 1893 by American businessmen. He was later elected to Congress to represent Hawaii for 10 consecutive terms until his death in 1922. Revered in Hawaii as a champion of the rights of native Hawaiians, he is honored  with a statue in Kuhio Park in Waikiki.

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Statue of Prince Kuhio in Kuhio Park

And here’s my favorite view from our lanai at our hotel, the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort and Spa. Aaah…

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The view from our lanai

Check back next week as we set sail on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America.

 

Based on events in November 2015.

 

Categories: Food, Travel, Uncategorized, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Aloha from Oahu

I’m a morning person. I enjoy rising early and walking on the beach before all the bodies are packed blanket to blanket in the hot sun. If I can find a cup of coffee to accompany my exploration, all the better. This is my reflection time. My meditation.

Our first morning on Waikiki, I was greeted with this pink-tinged sky over my water view.

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Morning has broken on Waikiki

We had only a “partial” ocean view from our room and the sunrise was actually behind us so I wanted to get down to the beach to see more.

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Waikiki morning

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Early morning view of Diamond Head from Waikiki

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Here comes the sun on Waikiki

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Early morning view of Outrigger Waikiki

We checked out of the Outrigger Waikiki well before the noon deadline in hopes that we could check in early at the Marriott but we had no luck in that regard. We stored our bags at the hotel and headed to the bus stop to go to Diamond Head. While we waited for the bus, a taxi came by and offered us the same rate as bus fare so, needless to say, we hopped in. I noticed the meter wasn’t running for our ride, however, so I can’t guarantee the rates.

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Entrance to Diamond Head

Diamond Head is a state monument with a 560 feet climb on a .8 mile trail from the bottom of the crater to the summit. Go early to beat the crowds and the heat.

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Before our climb, we found a stand near the entrance selling shave ice, the iconic Hawaiian treat that everyone must experience while on the islands. We decided a cold sugar energy jolt was just what we needed before we hiked the trail to the summit.

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Rick and Jim posing with their shave ice

This is a strenuous climb according to signs posted to warn those with heart or respiratory conditions not to attempt it. It’s deceptive, however, because the trail begins on the crater floor where it’s flat and paved.

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The crater floor at Diamond Head

The ascent includes dirt paths, switchbacks, stairs, and tunnels.

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Hikers on the trail ahead of us at Diamond Head

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Tunnel along the trail

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Stairs along the trail

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Spiral stairs on the trail

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Low ceiling overhead in WW2 bunker

But the views were spectacular!

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View from the trail at Diamond Head

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View from the trail at Diamond Head

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View from the summit of Diamond Head

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View of Honolulu from Diamond Head

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Diamond Head Lighthouse

We worked up an appetite and we were ready for lunch after our hike. We’d planned to have a plate lunch of authentic Hawaiian food at a well-known local restaurant. Our taxi driver suggested we try Haili’s instead, a less well-known local place that he claimed served much better food at lower prices. He finally convinced us and we’re glad he did. This family-owned and operated restaurant deserves rave reviews. Mahalo (thank you) to our driver and Haili’s.

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Jim at the counter placing his order

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Traditional Hawaiian foods: poke is marinated ahi tuna, lau lau is pork cooked in taro leaves, and poi is mashed taro.

 

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top row is kalua pig, lau lau, rice; bottom row is lomi salmon, haupia (coconut milk dessert), and poke

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The same as above with poi instead of rice

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Purple sweet potatoes

 

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One of the family members who told us about each of the dishes and how to eat them with Jim, Lori, and Rick

We walked a little over a mile back to the Marriott and after an additional wait, we finally checked into our rooms. The view was definitely worth the wait.

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View from our room at the Marriott

As much as I enjoyed the early morning on Waikiki, it was nothing compared to sunset. Watching the sun sink into the Pacific is an unforgettable experience and one of the highlights of Waikiki for me.

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Sunset view from our hotel room at Waikiki

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Waikiki Sunset

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Last ride at sunset

An extra special addition was the free hula show offered on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday nights at Kuhio Park on Waikiki Beach. With authentic live musicians and dancers, this show is a must see. Beginning at 6 or 6:30 pm depending on sunset, the show lasts just an hour so get there early with a blanket to sit on and your camera.

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Hula show at Kuhio Beach Hula Mound at sunset on Waikiki

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Audience at hula show at Kuhio Park

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Hula dancers at Kuhio Park

Here’s a bit of video from the show to whet your appetite.

Check back next week for another highlight: Pearl Harbor.

Based on events in November 2015.

Categories: cruise, Food, natural history, Travel, Uncategorized, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cruising Hawaii

I’ve been looking at Hawaiian cruises for years. In 2003 we travelled to Oahu with our children for spring break and I’ve wanted to return ever since but I wanted to visit more islands than just Oahu. Hawaii is expensive and island hopping takes the price up quickly. I was looking at Hawaiian cruises in 2014 when I found a trip to a safari lodge in South Africa for less money so we went to South Africa instead. When a South African safari costs less than a Hawaiian cruise, you know it’s expensive. Read about it in my first blog posts in February 2014.

So, when my friend Lori and I happened to see a 7 night Norwegian cruise of the Hawaiian Islands on the internet for a mere $1299 per guest, we jumped on it. By the time fees and port charges were added, the total was $1445 each but that’s still way cheaper than I’ve ever  seen. And get this!!! The price included 2 additional nights at the Marriot Waikiki before the cruise and transportation to the cruise port. Incredible!

Norwegian is the only cruise line that stays overnight in ports in Hawaii. They spend a week just cruising the islands rather than sailing from the mainland to Hawaii like other cruise lines.  Then the other cruise lines spend just part of each day in a port of call and sail to the next port overnight. NCL’s itinerary especially appealed to us so we could explore each island a bit more than the typical cruise allows.

This was our itinerary:

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Always one to arrive well ahead of schedule to allow for unforseen delays, I wanted to arrive a day early for our stay in Honolulu. The rates at the Marriot were over $300 per night so I checked the Outrigger Wakiki where we stayed in 2005. As luck would have it, I found a rate for a partial ocean view for $212 so I booked it. We would have to change hotels after the first night but that wasn’t a deal breaker for us. The Marriot is just down the street so we’d walk our luggage over in the morning.

Finallly, we booked airfare at $777, not bad considering the distance from Iowa to Hawaii. Our flight arrived at 6:30 pm and after a taxi ride to the Outrigger Waikiki and a quick and efficient check-in, we settled into our room with this view.

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Partial ocean view from the Outrigger Waikiki

This hotel was as welcoming and luxurious as I remembered. The rooms are beautifully decorated and they even provide a welcome insulated gift bag filled with goodies.

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Our room at the Outrigger Waikiki

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Bathroom at the Outrigger Waikiki

We were soon off in search of food. My pre-trip restaurant research revealed that some of the best food in Waikiki was actually to be found at Duke’s, the restaurant on-site at our hotel. That was easy.

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Mai Tai at Duke’s

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Our friends Lori and Rick at Duke’s

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Duke’s patio seating

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Jim and Laura relaxing at Duke’s

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Palms at night on Waikiki

Drinks and food were both expensive, but that’s expected in Hawaii. After a day of travel with no meals served on our flights, our meal hit the spot.

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I was thrilled to be back in Oahu. I’ll never forget our first visit and I loved it as much or more the second time around. Check back next week for more coverage of Waikiki, Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, and so much more.

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Based on events from November 2015.

Categories: cruise, Food, Travel, Uncategorized, USA | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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