Travel Hawaii: Oahu
Oahu was the first island that we visited on our Romantic Getaway to Hawaii, a four-island 12-day tour of the Hawaiian Islands in celebration of our 25th wedding anniversary.
In true Hawaiian tradition (and for only a small additional fee) we were greeted at the airport by a Hula girl who gave us each a lei, a garland of flowers draped around our neck as a symbol of affection.
Our hotel in Waikiki was the Pacific Beach Hotel with spectacular ocean views of the famous Waikiki Beach. It also boasts a three-story, 280,000-gallon indoor oceanarium – the only one of its kind. Diners in the hotel restaurant can enjoy watching over 70 different species of marine life including Stingrays and Longnose Butterflyfish while they dine. Hand-feedings by divers are done daily with guests as they enjoy Snuba, which is a combination of snorkeling and scuba inside of the tank.
Places of Interest in Honolulu, Oahu
Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial
December 7, 1941 - A Date That Will Live In Infamy
Our visit to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial was an emotional experience. One of our travel companions was returning to Pearl Harbor for the first time in over 60 years. He was first stationed there just one month after the Pearl Harbor attack. It is hard to imagine the feelings that he was experiencing when he stepped onto the Memorial, but I'm sure that it evoked some powerful memories.
The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in the early morning hours of "December 7, 1941, a date that will live in infamy" (excerpt from President Roosevelt's address to congress). The USS Arizona and her crew of 1,177 were among the first American casualties of the second World War. The USS Arizona Memorial stands above the graveyard of the sunken battleship which still contains the remains of 1,102 of the crewmen (only 75 bodies were recovered).
The USS Arizona is commemorated by a 184 foot-long memorial structure that spans the middle of the submerged wreck but does not touch it. Visitors to the memorial reach it by boat from the naval base at Pearl Harbor. The structure of the memorial was designed by Alfred Preis and was finally dedicated in 1962. The memorial has three sections: the entryroom, a central area to observe of the sunken battleship, and the shrine room. The shrine room contains the names of all those killed on the USS Arizona and their names are engraved on a marble wall.
If you're interested in learning more, visit The Platinum Anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day in America.
Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is one of the most spectacular locations on the Island of Oahu. Located on the east side of the island, just past Diamond Head, it is only a short drive or bus ride from Honolulu and Waikiki Beach.
All visitors to the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve have to watch a short introductory video that shows the diversity of marine life and explains the rules that are in place to protect the wildlife.
Hanauma Bay is famous for snorkeling because of the wide variety of marine species in the bay. Even the most inexperienced snorkeler (like me) can have a great time watching the fishes by swimming just over the rocks in about five feet of water. More experienced snorkellers can venture further out where they will likely see the one of the many turtles that inhabit the bay.
In addition to the turtles, Hanauma Bay snorkelers can see the Humuhumunukunukuapuaa (the Hawaiian state fish), trumpet fish, angel fish, and many more. Visitors can rent snorkeling equipment at the beach and beginners can arrange lessons.
By purchasing an underwater camera, you can take great pictures of the colorful fish and other sea creatures. It will make your trip to Hanauma Bay all the more memorable.
The 18-foot bronze statue of King Kamehameha, standing in front of the Hawaii State Supreme Court, is one of Oahu’s most photographed landmarks. If you look carefully, you'll see it in the opening credits of the new Hawaii Five-O TV series on CBS.
King Kamehameha was a great warrior, diplomat, and leader who, after years of conflict, united the Hawaiian Islands into one royal kingdom in 1810 . The statue was sculpted by Thomas Gould in Florence, and was actually the second statue created after the ship delivering the original statue from Europe was lost at sea near Cape Horn. The original statue was later found and now stands near King Kamehameha’s birthplace in North Kohala on Hawaii’s Big Island.
Hawaiian for "Sprouting Water", Waikiki Beach is one of the most famous beaches in the world. The two mile stretch of white sand beach is lined by hotels, restaurants, shops and bars. The area is excellent for swimming, surfing and traditional outrigger canoe rides.
Duke Kahanamoku, the legendary Hawaiian Olympic gold medalist in swimming, grew up surfing the waves of Waikiki. In the early 1900’s, Duke taught visitors how to surf and was later known as “The father of modern surfing”. Today the Duke Kahanamoku statue is an iconic symbol of Waikiki.
In the evening, after the spectacular sunset, Hawaiian tiki torches are lit on the beach creating a very romantic atmosphere. This creates the perfect background for the nightly free hula show. The Waikiki Hula Show features authentic Hawaiian music and hula shows by Hawaii's finest hula halau dance troupes and Hawaiian performers.
Honolulu and Waikiki provide the perfect introduction to the Hawaiian Islands, its people and culture. After our brief three-day visit we were ready to move on to the Big Island for the second leg of our four-island anniversary tour of Hawaii.
And for those of you with a wedding anniversary this year, here are some Wedding Anniversary Ideas that will help you to celebrate in style!