Our visit to the Island of O’ahu was the location of the 2015 Stampin’ Up Grand Vacation awarded to top achieving demonstrators and their plus one. I was luck enough to be a plus one. This leg of our trip was about kicking back and relaxing and due to the way we configured our time here we gave ourselves less opportunities of getting too far away from Waikiki and exploring more of the Island of O’ahu.
On first stepping out onto the balcony of our hotel and looking down on Waikiki it was immediately apparent that this was an exceptionally beautiful location and a stark contrast to that of the Big Island. It was interesting to note that one of the big differences between here and Australia’s Gold Coast is that the road runs behind the hotels allowing the hotels with direct access to the beach, which has a much more relaxed feel rather than traffic and car parks right on the coastline.
This was the view from our room.
Behind the hotel strip is shopping with an amazing array of shops from souvenir shops (including ABC shops which were everywhere including on one street corner you could see 3 separate ABC shops), restaurants, art galleries, and many high-end shops which would not be out of place on Rodeo Dr.
The trip included a number of Stampin’ Up activities and a number of optional activities that we were able to participate in. Here are a few of our highlights.
Polynesian Cultural Centre – on the first day we were taken across the island to the north west side to the Polynesian Cultural Centre. The centre has separate areas for each of the different Polynesian islands demonstrating their typical buildings, dress, tools, dance and other things specific to their culture. This was very nicely setup and gave a great perspective of the similar but different cultures. It was good to see that in Hawaii there is a specific college setup for preserving these cultures for selected students from each of the Polynesian Islands.
Returning to Waikiki gave us an interesting look into some of the island and the issues they struggle with including high cost of living, high house prices (with the median price in the mid $700,000’s) and low minimum wages ($7.70/hour) necessitating in multi-family dwellings in order to get by.
We also passed many movie locations such as this one used in the various Jurassic Park movies.
Sail and Snorkel – Catamarans launch directly from the Waikiki beach taking customers out for a sail and to snorkel in the ocean off the beach to see the sea turtles. While we did see sea turtles the water was a bit murky due to the wind that day and the photos didn’t turn out real well.
However the wind made for some great sailing. Generally I’m not a fan of boats as they don’t agree with me … but this was very enjoyable.
Pearl Harbor – one of the must do’s on this Island is visiting Pearl Harbor to better understand what happened on 7 December 1941. Until recently the site was primarily commemoration however in the last few years the site was redeveloped to incorporate an extensive education centre. The history presented went beyond just what happened on 7 December 1941 to incorporate the circumstances and politics on both sides that put into play why what happened happened and then what transpired in and over Pearl Harbor on that day and days to follow.
The USS Arizona Memorial is a very solemn place built over the sunken wreck of the USS Arizona. This site includes both the USS Arizona Memorial, representing the start of America’s involvement in the Second World War, and the USS Missouri on who’s deck the Japanese surrender was signed, representing the end of the Second World War.
On our last night of our trip we were luck enough to have our final dinner at the USS Missouri with limited access to the ship to wander around and explore.
This was certainly a very memorable way of ending our trip to this place called Hawaii.
Would I go back to Hawaii. Absolutely. But next time I would like to have some more time on O’ahu and a vehicle of some description to explore the island further, to strip away the touristy stuff and to discovery the places away from the bright lights that typically attract mainstream tourists. And then there are the other Islands that we haven’t seen yet…
And finally there is no story on Hawaii complete without a nice sunset photo.