After our 9.5 hour flight to Hawaii, we were greeted immediately by the heat and secondly by the aroma of coconut and frangipani – which was most welcome after leaving Australia at the onset of winter!
Oahu, the third largest of the Hawaiian Islands is a place of beautiful beaches, friendly people and remains the home of military stronghold and tourist drawcard, Pearl Harbour. Access into the Visitor Centre at Pearl Harbour is free allowing visitors the opportunity to explore the grounds and history museum. Pearl Harbour is also home to the USS Arizona Memorial, a sobering reminder of the battle that was fought here and remains the resting place for the ship’s 1,177 crewmen who lost their lives on December 7, 1941.
**2,000 free tickets are handed out daily for the 75 minute tour of the USS Arizona including the return boat ride to the memorial. Otherwise tickets are available for just USD $7.50. Tours are also available from here for the USS Bowfin & the Pacific Aviation Museum**
Across the harbour and accessible by shuttle, is the USS Missouri or as she is affectionately named; The Mighty Mo, an 887 foot battleship decommissioned on December 7, 1991 after 47 years of service. Self-guided audio or group tours are included in the entrance fee (USD $25 per person) and will help you to navigate the maze of rooms and corridors above and below the old teak deck where the documents ending World War II were signed on September 2, 1945.
Continuing with the military theme, head on up to the “Punchbowl” or the National Cemetery of the Pacific and final resting place for more than 50,000 military personnel and their dependants. Stroll along the memorial walk and take in the stunning views across Honolulu and Waikiki.
If cemeteries are your thing, take the time the visit the Valley of Temples. There are some impressive mausoleums and a more incredible view of the Ko’olau Mountains that are Oahu. At the foot of these mountains you will discover Byodo-In Temple; established to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. Entry into the Temple grounds is USD $3 per person. Keep in mind if you do decide to visit the Valley, public transport in this area is sparse. We spent almost 5 hours just in transit. Hiring a car may have been a more efficient use of our time to visit this area.
Back in town, be sure to check out Iolani Palace, Kawaiaha’o Church, China Town or one of the many museums before taking a day off from your busy tourist schedule and relaxing in the sunshine at the beautiful Hanauma Bay. Entry into the bay is USD $7.50 per person (locals are free) and includes a compulsory safety induction before you can head down to the water. Along the waterfront you can hire snorkel gear, lockers and purchase snacks. The bay, a Nature Preserve and a Marine Life Conservation District is home to around 400 species of marine life including Green Sea Turtles. We didn't see any on our visit but chasing fish close to the shoreline was definitely a highlight!
While in Hawaii, we did decide to spoil ourselves indulging in an Atlantis Submarine tour. Atlantis Submarines offer two choices of vessel in Oahu, the Standard 48 passenger submarine and the Premium 64 passenger submarine that we selected. Each person on board the submarine had a viewing window and was comfortably seated before submerging below the waves of the ocean.
Below the waves you will dive to a depth of up to 120 feet past artificial reefs, two MidPacific airlines, the US Navy vessel, YO-257 and the St. Pedro, a Korean fishing vessel before returning to the surface. If you are prone to motion sickness, it is recommended you take appropriate precautions prior to the tour commencing. Some medicine is sold on board the ferry however, if you forget.
And saving the best for last, a night out at the Polynesian Cultural Center is an absolute MUST when visiting the island of Oahu. Featuring 6 authentic and traditional Polynesian villages across 42 acres of parkland, the Center was founded by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and provides employment and education to the students who attend the Brigham Young University of Hawaii. The Center is dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of Polynesia.
Our day at the Center included return coach transfers, interactive activities and demonstrations such as hula dancing, drumming and coconut tree climbing, a buffet dinner with Lu’au and a front row seat at the evening performance; Ha – Breath of Life, featuring over 100 performers and depicting the tale of Mana and his beloved Lani.
We could not speak more highly of our experience, so to know more about our visit, please see our review on Trip Advisor; http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60656-d1083842-r217527422-Polynesian_Cultural_Center-Laie_Oahu_Hawaii.html
With so much to do and experience, Oahu is a place for anyone to visit. The locals are incredibly friendly and polite, and we could not have planned for a better start to this amazing adventure we have embarked on.
Hawaii, mahalo, and we hope to come back some day (soon).
The Budget (USD $)
Meals & Beverages: $242.13
Retail / Extras: $16.12__
Or $103.72 a day for 2 people and just over our $50 per day budget. Add a day trip to the Polynesian Cultural Center and an Atlantis Submarine tour and you are looking at a rough $71 per day extra.
#1 The Bus does not allow passengers to board with luggage to or from the airport. Carry-on bags only are accepted. The Speedi Shuttle service costs approximately USD $27 round trip
#2 Tickets for The Bus are $2.50 and expire after 2 trips or 4 hours – whichever comes first. If you are relying on public transport during your stay like we did, then buy a 4-Day Visitor Pass at the ABC store for USD $25.00
#3 Hanauma Bay is CLOSED every Tuesday.
#4 Pearl Harbour strictly prohibits bags of any description to be taken inside the Visitor Centre. A locker is available for a small fee just before you enter.
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