As you will have known if you follow me on Instagram, I spent close to 2 weeks on the lovely islands of Hawai’i. It was a welcome break after my exams, and truly a gorgeous place. Here is my quick review of the island of O’ahu (Big Island to follow).
The whole island is full of things to do, and I could have quite happily spent another week there. For this, I would advice doing your research beforehand and deciding which are the bits you don’t want to miss. There are many guided tours on the island, but we hired a car and drove around for the convenience. We downloaded and made good use of the GyPSy apps so that we didn’t miss out on any of the commentary we would have had with a guide.
One of our first stops was the Iolani Palace. Before being annexed into the United States, it was the Kingdom (and later the Republic) of Hawai’i after the islands were unified under Kamehameha I. The Iolani palace was the Royal Residence. There is a self guided audio tour of the palace which tells you about the palace as well as the history of the Kingdom of Hawai’i.
There are also a bunch of sights fairly near each other such as the Diamond Head Crater, Hanauma Bay and the Halona Blowhole. My favourite was Hanauma Bay, just look at the amazing views!
Another thing about the beaches is the sea turtles. The Laniakea Beach has in fact been nicknamed Turtle Beach because quite often the turtles come onto the sand to sunbathe. They don’t really mind humans pottering about, so you can get quite close. However, in order to protect them, volunteers place ropes around the area, marking how close you can get; so please respect the boundaries.
While the beaches are all gorgeous, one of my favourite things to do on the Island is a stop at the Pali Lookout. This is not only for the gorgeous views from the lookout, but also for the very high speed winds. On the windiest days, you can lean forwards into the wind and not fall over. Also the drive to the lookout feels like Jurassic Park.
Keeping in with the whole nature theme, another place that is worth a visit is the Waimea Valley. The Valley is described as a historical nature park, and that is exactly what it is. A gorgeous botanical garden that also preserves and protects native Hawaiian plants from going extinct.
You can also hike for about half an hour to come to the Waimea Falls. The waterfall also has a 30ft deep plunge pool that you can swim in.
Of course there are a lot of places you can go to learn about the history and culture of Hawaii. Three of the most famous ones are the Dole plantations, Pearl Harbour and the Polynesian Cultural Centre. Each of these places offer something different and are definitely worth a visit.
A visit to the Dole plantations only takes a few hours, but not only do you get to see pineapples, bananas, sugarcane and various other fruits being grown, you also learn all about the history of the plantations and the people who work there. There is also a large maze for those who wish to literally get lost among the plants. You can walk around the gardens on your own, or take a narrated tour on the train aptly named the Pineapple Express.
At Pearl Harbour, there is plenty of information presented really well so that even someone like me, who isn’t really into history, can appreciate the wider context of what led to, happened during and followed the attack on Pearl Harbour. There are two small museums : one about the road to war, and one about the day of the attack. There is also a short movie presentation before you get the boat to the USS Arizona memorial, built over the sunken hull of the battleship USS Arizona.
The Polynesian Cultural Centre is a great place to spend a day learning about the various Polynesian cultures (duh!). The cultural centre has different sections for Samoa, Tahiti, Fiji, Hawaii, Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Tonga. At each village, you get to see traditional buildings, have a hands on experience of native culture such as spear throwing or Hula dancing, and (if you are at the village at the right time) a short half an hour presentation on various aspects of the islands culture. For example, we got to see the Haka, learn about the history of Hula and see a re-enactment of a Tahitian wedding ceremony. If you miss any of the shows, no worries because the river pageant in the afternoon gives you a snapshot of each island. There is also the option to see the evening show (Ha: The Breath of Life) which we did. To be honest, it felt like a bit of a re hash of what we had already seen throughout the day, but it was really enjoyable nonetheless.
Finally a building that may seem a bit out of place in Hawaii, but is lovely for a quick visit is the Byodo In Temple. This is a replica temple of a 1000 year old temple in Japan, built to commemorate 100 years of Japanese plantation workers living in Hawaii. Not only is the building beautiful, but it is complete with a large bell you ring for good luck, and ponds full of Koi.
And there you have it, the highlights of my time in O’ahu. 🙂
Have you been to Hawaii? What were your favourite bits?
Until next time, Love, Me 🙂