Oahu, Hawaii

Waikiki for beginners

Almost overnight summer disappeared and winter arrived in Sydney.  It was cold, grey and there had been a couple of spectacularly fierce winter storms.  So swanning off to Waikiki Beach in Hawaii for a few days sounded like a really fabulous idea.

There is so much to see and do in Hawaii.  For the first few days I stayed in Waikiki, probably one of the most famous beaches in the world and most certainly the best known in Hawaii. Flying straight into Honolulu it was a short trip to my hotel, which was right on Waikiki beach.  I figured if I was in Waikiki I wanted to be on the beach, so I had sold a limb to stay in a lovely hotel on the beach front with an ocean view and a balcony.  Well who really needs both arms….. and I didn’t regret the decision for a moment!  The views were simply stunning and each night I went to sleep with the sound of waves crashing on the shore.  It was pretty magical.

Oahu, Hawaii

Laneway to the beach

Oahu, Hawaii

Beautiful Waikiki

This might sound quite stupid but I couldn’t believe how beautiful the beach was, and equally how busy it was. The beach itself is simply spectacular.  The water was a clear turquoise blue and the sand was golden.  I loved sitting on my gold-plated balcony (surely at that price!) watching the waves, the surfers, the sun-worshippers and taking it all in.   Admittedly in part the crowd was because it was a holiday weekend in Hawaii, celebrating King Kamehameha’s birthday.  The place was packed but it was so much fun.  Later that evening the streets were blocked off, there was a parade and a “block party” with market stalls, music and about a gazillion people – but atmosphere in spades.

Oahu, Hawaii

Waikiki Beach

Oahu, Hawaii

Waikiki Beach

For my first full day I visited Pearl Harbor.  This is one of the most popular attractions on the island and for good reason.  I’ve blogged about this experience separately, so read all about it here.  What a memorable and worthwhile trip.

Oahu, Hawaii

Waikiki Beach

It wasn’t all about the beach, well that particular beach anyway.  There is so much to do and see in Oahu. One of the reasons I had picked Hawaii was for the hiking, however due to not one but two unfortunate injuries I didn’t get to fully appreciate all that was on offer (more on that in the next blog).  I did however hike to the summit of Diamond Head.  Somewhat naively because I had planned to be there as soon as the gates opened (6.00am) I thought it might be just me and a few other keen beans at that time of day.  Clearly however, every other tourist in Oahu had read the same information as I had, because it was super crowded even at that time of day.  The walk itself isn’t too difficult, albeit it’s uphill for 30 minutes.  However by the time I got to the summit and to the stunning views there was a massive bottleneck of people.  In spite of the crowds, the views were definitely all worth while, and given the piercing sun even at the early hour of 7.00am, it would have been a much sweatier climb later in the day. The 360 degree views over the island made everything all worthwhile, it was easy to fade out all the people and just take in the magic of the morning views.

I had a somewhat leisurely walk down the hill and saw the multitude of tour busses that had arrived and I was even more grateful for the early start.

Oahu, Hawaii

Views from Diamond Head

Oahu, Hawaii

Views from Diamond Head in the early morning.

Oahu, Hawaii

Queues of people wait to get to the top of Diamond Head….6.40am

The other not to be missed experience I would recommend to anyone visiting Oahu for the first time is Hanauma Bay.  About a half hour drive from Waikiki, this is a stunningly beautiful marine reserve known for its reef and snorkelling opportunities.  The beach is also one of the most popular on the island, and while I confess to rolling my eyes at being forced to watch a video about the reef and the marine eco-system on the way down to the beach, I have to admit that I concluded that this short educational video was a really positive thing given the huge number of visitors to the Bay.

Oahu, Hawaii

Hanauma Bay – simply gorgeous

Oahu, Hawaii

Hanauma Bay

Oahu, Hawaii

Hanauma Bay

I absolutely loved Hanauma Bay!  Like a true waterbaby (that I’m not!) I spent nearly the entire three hours in the water, snorkelling on the reef and in thrall of the gorgeous underwater world. There were a huge number and variety of fish, and it was so exciting to be swimming and exploring the reef with them. The afternoon went in a flash, and soon it was back in the car and returning to Waikiki.

Oahu, Hawaii

Underwater at Hanauma Bay

Oahu, Hawaii

Just minding my own business…

Oahu, Hawaii

Underwater at Hanauma Bay

Wandering along the beach or the main street, you could have spent hours soaking in the views.  It seemed to me that a Maitai from the famous Royal Hawaiian Hotel was just what I needed to fully experience all that was on offer….and I was definitely not disappointed.

Next stop Kauai!

Oahu, Hawaii

A Royal Maitai from the Royal Hawaiian – it packed a punch and was delicious!

 

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