Happy Birthday Mom! Sightseeing on Oahu

Trip Start Apr 29, 2008
Trip End May 04, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Hawaii
Friday, May 2, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom!

Since today is Mom's birthday and tomorrow we are doing the Polynesian Cultural Center, we decided that today was going to be a lazy day! So it's relaxation around the hotel and a little bit of driving and sightseeing - anything but walking to give our poor feet and legs a break before tomorrow's activities.

There has been a "High Surf Advisory" here since we arrived for all south facing beaches, which Waikiki is, and it was particularly apparent today as we looked out our balcony to the ocean. These first photos are an attempt to show some of those waves in action. They may not look like much, but to put them into perspective, those whitecaps are the waves cresting at about 6-10 feet. When I took the pictures there weren't too many surfers out, since they mostly do their thing early in the morning, but the ones I did see were mostly wiping out.

We headed out from the hotel about 3pm, driving out towards Diamondhead and the eastern point of the island. In keeping with our "no walking" rule, we decided to skip the crater this time around, although it is absolutely beautiful up there, so we headed on past it to Hanauma Bay. One of the best parts of the trip there, however, was taking turns trying to figure out how to pronounce the names of the streets we came across on the way! There's names there that have more vowels in them than any proper name has a right to have in them!

Since it is May Day, and in Hawaii, "May Day is Lei Day" and a state holiday, we actually got a break and didn't have to pay the $1 parking fee at the parking lot for the Bay.   We walked over to the lookout point to get a good look down into the bay and it's just as beautiful and glorious as it always has been. The water is just perfectly crystal clear blue and the coral underneath is visible even from as high as we were above the water. 

It doesn't really look like it from these pictures, but I know from past experience that the water is actually about 6-10 feet deep around the coral, especially in the area where this one picture shows the guy snorkling above the reef.   Of course we can't see them from up here, but when you are down there in the water there are literally hundreds and hundreds of the most beautiful and colorful fish just swarming around everywhere. If you are lucky, you may even see some of the many giant sea turtles who make their home in the bay.

These days the entire bay is a nature preserve and protected rigorously by the park service. Back 15 years ago when I stayed here for 3 months while working at Pearl Harbor we used to come out to Hanauma Bay every weekend to go snorkling and it wasn't unusual for us to stop at the grocery store on the way in to pick up a package of hotdogs to feed the fish with. Now, of course, you can't do that but I think you can get some officially sanctioned food from the rangers that you can take out with you. You just float there in the water with your snorkle on and hold out the food and the fish come from all around to eat it right out of your hand.

If you ever do get the chance to come out here and visit Hanauma Bay and go snorkling, make sure you do yourself a favor and pick up a waterproof camera! Take it out with you while you are swimming above (not on!) the coral reef and get some of the most amazing photos of the endless varieties of tropical fish that make their home in this amazing bay.

Leaving Hanauma Bay and continuing on around the island's coast, we wanted to stop at the world famous Blowhole so Mom could see that, but alas it was not to be.   The entire parking lot and Blowhole vista area was shut down for construction so you couldn't even see it from the roadside. I had seen it before back in the 80's, but neither Chris nor Mom had, so I was a bit disappointed about that - it's truly a sight to see when the waves come crashing in and the water and mist comes shooting up throught that blowhole and into the air. Maybe I'll be able to find some of my old photos from that earlier visit and share it with them after we get home.

As we passed around the point of the island and start bearing north, we stopped at a view point to get a picture of Manana Island (Rabbit Island). We're not exactly sure why they call it that, but I guess with a bit of imagination it sort of looks like a rabbit. Kind of?

 After that there wasn't much more to see of the touristy variety. We continued on down the highway until we got to the first cross-island road, the Pali Highway, which takes a couple of tunnels through the mountains and heads back over to the Honolulu/Waikiki side of the island again. We did stop at another viewpoint off the road towards the top of the pass there and got a couple of photos there looking down to the ocean. The quality isn't very good because of the weather, but it gives you an idea of the height of the pass, which is pretty amazing considering the short distance we had to travel to get up there.

We got back to the hotel about 6:15pm to rest up a bit before dinner, so I took advantage of the first evening that wasn't completely cloudy and overcast to go down to the beach and get some sunset pictures. There were some small clouds just starting to roll in, which made the view that much more incredible. Even better, the sun was setting directly behind a palm tree as seen from our balcony, which provided a fantastic shot.

Tomorrow is our trip to the Polynesian Cultural Center, with a stop at the Dole Pineapple Plantation on the way there. Until then, enjoy the sunset!

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