Hawai’i Travelogue, Part 1 – Oahu

For forty years, my beloved and I talked about going to Hawaii.  Finally, we were able to go last Fall.  We figured we would treat ourselves to this big vacation while we were both working,

Hawaii is probably one of the most photogenic places we have ever been. We spent the first leg of our trip on Oahu, and saw all the touristy things we’d always heard about. (On the second leg we went to the “big island” and saw a very different place – which is a whole separate post. Here, I’ll focus on our week on Oahu.)

While there, we were total tourists and took full advantage of our splurge.  We stayed in Waikiki, and did both group bus tours and separate day trips in a rental car.  These photos barely scratch the surface of what we saw, but give a sense of the variety of lovely and interesting places packed onto this relatively small island.

One of our first stops was Pearl Harbor.  There are museum displays and outdoor exhibits explaining what happened on the day of the attack.  Undoubtedly for us, the most moving part of the park was the Arizona Memorial, built across the hull of the sunken ship. Alongside, you can see the USS Missouri, where the treaty with the Japanese was signed.

Looking over the side of the memorial at the deck below, you can see droplets of oil that have been gradually seeping up from the ship, called the “tears of the Arizona.”  The legend is that they will stop once the last of the survivors has passed away.  Scientists have estimated that’s likely – the oil will run out in a few years.

We went to the North Shore of Oahu, famous for surfing and the “banzai pipeline.” While there, we briefly stopped at Sunset Beach and watched the surfers for a bit…

The coast of the island presents some gorgeous spots….

Twice we took the Pali Highway between Honolulu and the opposite coast.  This shot was taken at the approach to the Nu‘uanu Pali Lookout over the Waimea Valley.

We had fabulous views of the beach and Diamond Head from our hotel…. the beach was part of every day while we were there. I have always loved the ocean, and staying right on the water gave us so many opportunities to enjoy the surf.

We spent almost a full day at the Kualoa Ranch, where we saw TV/movie filming sites (Lost, Godzilla, Jurassic Park, etc.), took a jungle ride, and sailed on a catamaran out to “Chinaman’s Hat” island. The views from the hills above the ranch are just spectacular.

We enjoyed a day driving to all the remaining things we wanted to see, which started at Diamond Head (which we climbed enjoying views of Waikiki and several rainbows), Punchbowl cemetery, a Round Top Drive overlook, and a stop at the Polynesian Cultural Center, which was interesting, but sort of a disappointment – it felt a little Disneylandish to us.

We took in a luau one night, walked the beach from one end of Waikiki to the other, and shopped at the International Market Place and the ABC stores (a chain of cheap little souvenir shops – so fun!)

In Honolulu proper, we took in the Bishop Museum, beautiful Iolani Palace, and the court building across the street from the palace, famous as the home of Hawaii 5-0 on TV.

We were fascinated to learn that there are no predatory animals in Hawaii, other than birds. As a results, chickens brought to the islands by Europeans have flourished in the wild – and we saw them everywhere. Someone also had the brilliant idea of bringing the mongoose over to reduce the population of some snakes (also not indigenous) – and learned once the mongoose population took hold that one species was nocturnal and the other wasn’t – so now both species are still thriving there!

For a glorious week, we toured, relaxed, ate at restaurants overlooking the beach watching the sunsets, and in general we just totally enjoyed being tourists! Traffic is as bad around Honolulu as in any other US city, and it’s not a very economical vacation venue, but Oahu was fabulous fun, and an indulgence we will always remember.

(To see the photos enlarged, click on them or see the slideshow below. A description comes up if you hover your mouse over the photos in the post.)

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30 Responses to Hawai’i Travelogue, Part 1 – Oahu

  1. Lala says:

    Hi or shall I say Aloha! I live on the island of Oahu and I love how you have captured the beauty of Hawaii in your pictures. I’m glad that you have enjoyed your vacation here on the island 🙂


  2. eof737 says:

    What an awesome time away… And lots of great photos too.. TY for sharing them 😉


  3. Catherine says:

    Thank you for sharing Hawaii with us! I would love to go there someday. For now, I can live vicariously through your blog. 🙂


  4. adinparadise says:

    Lovely trip.I adored Oahu. What a relaxing place. I could definitely live there. 🙂 Super pics.


  5. Amy says:

    Love, love Hawaii! Thank you for the tour, TRS!


  6. Miljo Anne says:

    My mom is lucky she spent 6 months there in Hawaii..she stayed at my aunt’s place… Really pretty place!


    • It is – your mom is lucky. Each island has its own character, and we only got to two, but for a tiny place it has so much. I was really struck by the plants everywhere – so lovely! Thanks for stopping in to comment! 😉


  7. sharechair says:

    Just beautiful! I’d love to go there, but it is just so far away from the east coast!! It is easier for me to fly to Europe, and there is still so much that I want to see, there. But I would love to see Pearl Harbor. Some day…… 🙂 Hoping … 🙂 My son lives on the West coast and goes to Hawaii as regularly as folks on the East coast use the Caribbean. I’d be everywhere if it wasn’t for the pesky need for $$$$$$. 🙂


    • I hear you! We saved up and waited for a deal on flights, and booked and paid for as many other things in advance as we could. Gotta love Hilton Honors and American Express points! (and other franchises like them). The other issue was getting enough time off work to make the trip worthwhile, since we were both working. I’ve got to do on post on getting the most from your travel dollars! Thanks for your visit – hope you’ll find your way there someday! 😉


  8. lexiesnana says:

    I loved the pictures and maybe someday I can go.


  9. friendlytm says:


    Your pix are beautiful! We went to Hawaii many years ago, and it was before I started to appreciate Asian and East Asian art. More recently I learned about the Doris Duke Islamic art museum. I recommended to a friend who went there not too long ago. She said it is a must for me next time. I hope I will be able to visit this place soon. If you are interested, take a look too.
    We also went to the Polynesian Cultural Center. It was nice at that time,but it probably became more commercialized nowadays. Thanks for sharing.


    • Thanks for the museum recommendation and nice comment. We did enjoy quite a bit of Polynesian culture and artwork also. The Bishop Museum was fascinating. I didn’t mean to sound so negative about the Polynesian Culture Center. It was interesting, just not what we expected. It is largely staffed by college students from the local campus of Brigham Young who demonstrate and act out cultural aspects of their respective islands in costume and perform at a luau. We had expected historic artifacts, etc…


  10. bulldogsturf says:

    This sounds such a lovely place to visit… when my kids were in the USA they wanted to go there but just found it a bit beyond their pockets… so I have to assume it’s quite expensive…


  11. Marianne says:

    I really enjoyed your photos of Hawaii – this is somewhere I have always fancied visiting, but which is a place difficult to get to from where I live in Spain. Hopefully one day 🙂


  12. Wonderful memories and scenery! I think the Polynesian Cultural Center is best enjoyed with children in tow. 🙂 I remember the wind at the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout about blew us away! Your Iolani photo is like a postcard! ~ Kat


    • Thanks, Kat! I agree about the Polynesian Culture Center… and the wind up at the Pali lookout was daunting! I don’t think you can take a bad photo of that palace… it’s gorgeous! Thanks for stopping by and taking time to comment! 🙂


  13. how nice of you to give us a cyber tour to hawaii! i enjoyed the trip! z


  14. Beautiful photos! Mmm…maybe someday. 🙂


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