My First Look at Paradise, Oahu-HI

Trip Start Jun 19, 2012
Trip End Jun 26, 2012

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Where I stayed
Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel Honolulu
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of United States  , Hawaii
Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Anticipation was the only emotion I felt when boarding the plane for my first look at paradise. Myself, my daughter, and my mother climbed into the limo I decided to surprise them with on the morning of our flight and we all just looked at each other and cracked the biggest grins you could ever see in you life. You see, this was our first real vacation as a family and it was my first vacation anywhere outside of the continental U.S. Our first day was spent arriving, checking in, unpacking, and with me changing rooms after complaining about the fact that I sprang for an ocean view room and got a room with a view, of palm trees obstructing my view. Finally the rest of this afternoon was spent walking Waikiki Beach and the evening and night was spent watching our first spectacular Hawaii sunset.

Our second day in Oahu was wonderful. We woke up and enjoyed the pretty decent free breakfast buffet from our hotel on Waikiki beach and got ready for our first tour which consisted of a tour of Diamond Head and the windward side of the island. I learned while waiting for this first trip that Hawaiians run on a schedule, it's called "Island Time", which means just relax and wait for the bus because it is going to be 20 minutes late. It took my A-Type personality a few days to get used to this constant occurrence of running on Island Time. Our tour guide, she called herself Auntie, was great. Driving along we got to see Diamond Head and our first stop and was at Emelia Earhart Lookout, a beautiful lookout point over tall cliffs with a surrounding-posh neighborhood filled with houses that you dream about buying when you finally win the lottery (if only). Once we were back on the bus we headed to our next stop, Hanauma Bay. This bay is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. We only got to look down on the bay from the top of the crater, later in the week we spent the day on its beach and snorkeling. After loading up and leaving Hanauma Bay we headed to Halona Cove & Blow Hole. This stop included the famous Blow Hole as well as the famous cove where the kissing scene between Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr was filmed in the movie From Here to Eternity. Sandy beach was also visible from this vantage point, this beach is a place well known for claiming many surfers/body boarders' lives due to the way the waves crash on shore in a violent downward motion. Next stop on the tour was the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout, the scene of the very famous battle in 1795 where King Kamehameha won the battle that united Oahu under his rule. It was a beautiful view, but very cold and extremely windy. Once we left Pali Lookout we headed back towards Honolulu and got to see the Royal Palaces on the way back.

Day 3 was spent at Hanauma Bay swimming and (in my case) attempting to snorkel and finding out that I would then panic under the water and rip off my gear and make a spectacle of myself. My daughter on the other hand, took to it (forgive the pun) like a fish to water. I made due with swimming next to her and keeping on my mask only and when she gave the signal going under water for a minute and looking at what she spotted. We saw so many fish and got to swim next to a Sea Turtle. It was a wonderful day.

Day 4 was our tour of Oahu’s North Shore. This trip took us up the Likelike Highway, deep into the lush green mountains of the island where we made it to our first stop, my favorite of the tour, the Byodo-In Temple which was nestled at the foot of the Koolau Mountains. This temple is a small scaled replica of the 950 year old Byoto-In Temple in Uji, Japan. It was built in 1968 to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. My words can not begin to describe this place; you will have to see my pictures to understand. Our next stop was a quick photo op at Chinamen’s Hat. The legend of this island is that a young boy makes a deal with a god to become a giant, and he went into the water and hit his head and is asleep under the water with only his hat sticking out of the water, or so we were told by the driver. Next we worked our way up to Laie Point/Cliffs and got to see the wonderful panoramic views of ocean, beach, and emerald green mountains and Laie Point is also the spot of the famous “Sea Arch”. Next we made our way to Laniakea Beach, otherwise known as Turtle Beach, to see the only spot on the island where the giant green sea turtles come out to lay in sand, amazing is all I can say. Our last stop of the day was the Dole Plantation. Not much to see except a gift shop and some pretty flowers unless you have time to actually tour the plantation, which we did not. We did get to eat some pineapple ice cream and it was delicious. The drive back was full of scenic views of the Koolau Mountains Pearl City.

Day 5 was our Luau at Paradise Cove which was full of beautiful scenery, not so good food, and amazing dancers. It was nice to have a more relaxed day, and a few free Mai Tai’s also. Check out the pics & video of this day, they will explain it all.

Day 6 was MY day, the day I planned in the most selfish manner because I wanted to see a world famous beach that I have been dreaming of visiting for years, Lanikai Beach and the Molokai Islands. This beach, by far was the most beautiful beach on the island. Made famous by countless photo shoots of some bakini clad model, this beach has been rated as one of the top 10 beaches in the world, and I had to see it for myself. As you can see from the pictures I posted, it is breathtaking with its white powder sand and turquoise water. We also went a few miles down the road and stopped and Kailua Beach Park which was just as beautiful. After leaving the beach we drove further up the coast and toured the Waimea Falls Park to revel in all the native trees, plants, and flowers and finish the walk with swimming in the Waimea Falls (waterfall).

Day 7 was a tour that I saved for the last day, due to solemn feeling that overtakes when you go see this place. The place I speak of is Pearl Harbor. I can’t explain the feeling that takes over you in this place, all I can say is that when we left, my 16 year old daughter stated “I think I might decide to join the NAVY when I graduate”. I took many pictures, but there was one that was my favorite, you will see it in the pics I posted, it is of the memorial from the inside, with the American Flag flying high and visible through the openings in the roof of the memorial. What a day.

Day 8 – returned home tired and missing my bed, but wishing that I was rich and could buy a house in Lanikai Beach and spend my days lying on the white sands drinking Mai Tai's. What a trip, what a first “real” vacation. My recommendation to you is GO-GO-GO, see all these things for yourself and let them overtake you the way they overtook me.

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