Friday, July 11, 2008

Aloha: Hawaii stop-over

On the way back from our 10 weeks working in Sydney, we had to fly through Honolulu. On our last visit to Honolulu in December, we spent the night in the airport - this trip, we thought we'd spend 4 days seeing Oahu.

On advice from some Hawaii residents that we know from Regent, we stayed well clear of Honolulu city and Waikiki beach, and instead spent most of our stay on Oahu's beautiful North Shore at Shark's Cove - Waimea Bay was only a 10 minute walk to the east, to the west Sunset beach and Pipeline were very close by, and across the road we had access to some great snorkeling with abundant fish life in one of HI's top shore Scuba diving spots.

We ate most of our meals at the local 'shrimp vans' that operate out of camper vans that are parked in nice locations around the North Shore. The food was tasty and cheap and served local produce cooked in typical HI style, our favorite being the shrimp and vegetable shish-kebabs. One van served it's food using exciting new 'disposable' plates, cups, straws and cutlery... made from corn or potato starch, with no petroleum and 100% compostable (visit The use of these products over wasteful plastic was representative of our experience of North Shore locals, who all seemed very concerned to look after their beautiful corner of the world.

It was nice to visit a place outside of Australia with truly magnificent beaches! Waimea Bay beach was our favorite - the water lapped the shore in an amazing array of tropical blues and greens, the sand was bright and clean, and you could stay in the water and feel refreshed, but not cold, all day long. During the summer, the North Shore beaches are calm, which is hard to reconcile with the winter swells that bring some of the largest waves crashing down on their shores.

On our last day, we hired a car and drove around the islands. Lunch in Waikiki was enough time there, see the 'zoo' photo. We climbed the extinct volcano crater, Diamond Head, and took in some amazing views of southern Oahu and were refreshed by some 'shaved ice,' a local treat, at the bottom. The mountains on the west side of the island were also spectacular - these scenes have been used in many movie and television settings, because of their lush green coverings, and their long and steep descents that seem to plunge from the sky into the sea - quite spectacular!

Just before we flew out for California, we were able to visit the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. 1177 young men died there on 7 Dec 1941 - the memorial was a moving tribute to a horrific tragedy. The museum and a 20 minute video were quite informative, revealing, in hindsight, a series of errors that left the American forces fatally exposed.

Mahalo Hawaii!