Only four days left on our Hawaii trip! We chose to spend our last days in the USA on the Island of Oahu. On purpose we decided to spend less time here than on the other islands because we assumed it might fit our taste less, being the island with the biggest population and about 9 million (!) tourists a year.
As we arrived early in the morning we decided to head straight to the best-known part, Waikiki beach. This part of Honolulu was pretty much how we expected it to be: nice but very touristy and therefore not really authentic. Still, we had a stroll along the beach and took a glimpse at the fancy hotels known from movies. Fun to see them in real life!
As we arranged the check-in with our Airbnb host only for 5.30pm we had plenty of time to explore more of the island. We headed south on the coast and planned to go snorkeling at Hamauna Bay (Gordon’s recommendation) unfortunately the parking spot was already full and we couldn’t get to the bay. We continued on the coast and just after the next turn, we had an amazing view of the ocean and the cliffs there.
Hawaii just never fails to surprise us! It looked completely different than on the other islands but was just as beautiful. Instead of Hamauna Bay, we spent some time at a sandy beach close by. We had a lot of fun there swimming/jumping in the big waves. So we had a great start to our stay on Oahu. In the evening, we met with our Airbnb host so that he could lead us to the cabin we would sleep in. It was located on a farm a little up the hill and we had just the best view over Honolulu. Two times we even saw the sun rise behind the mountain on the other side of the valley just after tumbling out of bed.
O’ahu’s North Shore
After this amazing start, we couldn’t wait to see more of this island. So, we drove up the west coast until the north shore. Just before the north shore beaches start, there are a few shrimp places who offer shrimps from their farm. Of course, we had to stop to have a plate. The shrimps were really tasty and fresh. Unfortunately, it was with 15$ for half a pound of shrimps with rice rather expensive, so we shared a plate. We passed by North Shore but on this day there was no swell at all. We were told that there were big waves every other day. So we decided to come back the next day for sunset. In the village of Haleiwa, we had one of the famous Açai Bowls. It was indeed delicious but with 8$ for a frozen smoothie like bowl also way overpriced. As we couldn’t see the surfers at north shore we needed an alternate plan and decided to head to the east coast for sunset instead. Unfortunately, you cannot drive around Oahu there is one small part that is blocked by a mountain without a road around or tunnel through it. But we are in Oahu to discover the island, right? So, we drove all the way south to turn westwards and drive almost all the way up north again. There we reached a beautiful beach where we enjoyed our Poke we got at Foodland on the way there and enjoyed the really good Hanalei Beer (IPA with passion fruit!).
As we had a lot of good experiences with sunrises we decided to also to get up for one on O’ahu. We left for the east coast at about 6 am. As we were getting closer to the coast, we realized that it was really cloudy and raining over there. Damn it. Well, we had no other choice than waiting in the car with our 7eleven coffee for the day to start. Much to our surprise, this sunrise suddenly turned out to be amazing. We couldn’t actually see the sunrise but the clouds changing the color every other minute was even more beautiful. Not to mention the rainbow that was visible after a while! So we had a great start to the day after all.
After the sunrise, we headed further south to go snorkeling at Hamauna Bay – this time we definitely were early enough. Once there, you pay $1 for parking and the enter the park area another $7.50 per person. Also, you get a mandatory briefing about how to treat the marine wildlife before they let you down to the bay. The bay is really nice and a great spot to hang out. For snorkelers, there are a lot of fish (some of the huge for their kind) to see but fewer corals close to the shore. We weren‘t able to get further out because of the strong current but presumably, the reef is even better out there and you will definitely see fewer snorkelers out there.
USS Arizona Memorial Pearl Harbor
For the afternoon we planned to go to USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. They offer three options to get tickets for the visit. There is a certain amount of tickets offered in advance. There is only the reservation fee of $1.50 per person and no actual ticket fee. We got our reservation about a month prior to our stay and had only one timeslot left. So it’s good to do this early enough. However, each day there are tickets offered for the same day online starting at 7am. If you purchase the ticket right away at 7am it probably won‘t be a problem to get one. And a third option you might also get one of the few walk-in tickets. These tickets are only for the boat ride to the actual USS Arizona Memorial and back. There is also an exhibition to see which you don‘t need a ticket for. The Pearl Harbor Memorial is not designed as a Museum where people just have a look and take selfies. The guides there keep reminding the visitors to pay respect to the memorial and actually think of those who lost their lives during this attack. The actual tragedy that happened at Pearl Harbor over 70 years ago really got to us. During our visit we didn’t only think about the people who had to suffer at pearl harbor, but also about the many tragedies that did happen, are happening right now and might happen in the future all over the world. The visit at the memorial was really impressive as you could see a big part of the Harbor where the attack actually happened, The USS Arizona below the memorial and other Ships that had been recovered and are ready to use again today. Also, you can see little drops of oil escaping from the USS Arizona below the memorial. When the ship was attacked, burned and finally sank no one thought that there was anything left in there. Luckily this oil popping to the surface ever since and for about another 540 years (there are still about 500 000 gallons in there!) is not harming the environment. To us, these droplets are a perfect reminder of the happenings and just show how real such a historical occasion actually is.
Sunset at the Banzai Pipeline
We started our day with seeing the sunrise and we were about to end it by watching it set again. We headed up to the north shore where there were bigger waves today. We sat down at the beach at Banzai Pipeline and watched the surfers while the sun was setting behind them. At the beach, there were the houses of all the famous surf brands like Volcom and RipCurl and there seemed to be some famous surfers there, as two teenaged girls were giggling around and tried to get a picture with this guy. I guess this is the place to be (and get seen) if you are a serious surfer. We just enjoyed our time there and returned back to our beautiful garden shed AirBnB.