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Ilona and Derek Take the World Part 5 – Aloha, Oahu!

The flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu is about a five and half hour flight. Chatting with the flight attendant I told her I had flown all the way from Poland, relating to extended time spend in the air and she began to bring us free drinks. With the alcoholic beverages flowing, this relaxing flight soon turned into a party. After great conversation and gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean time flew by and we had arrived.  Hawaii has 5 major islands, Hawaii (usually called The Big Island), Maui, Molokai, Oahu and Kauai. Of course the Hawaiian archipelago has more than a hundred islands, but who has time to visit all of them, let alone many are only a handful of feet in length! We only had two weeks to explore the islands, so we decided to spend the first few days on Oahu and the rest on The Big Island. 



Located in the center of Honolulu, we stayed in a nice hotel on Waikiki Beach overlooking the beach. We spend the first sunset strolling down Waikiki Beach where you can find a lot of bars, clubs, shops and restaurants. With a native kahu flower in my hair we walked around enjoying the incredibly warm weather in the dead of winter, December. Honolulu, the state capital is a big city and we needed more than one day to see all it has to offer. As for transportation we found the best way to commute is by taxi, a car or on foot (in your sandals of course!)

We are not a beach people so we weren’t interested in sunbathing on the famously beautiful beach or lounging poolside. Instead, we spent an hour or so wandered around the capital. Compared to NY or LA, Honolulu is much cleaner and its people are not in a rush. Almost as if everybody is always on vacation. In fact most of them are tourists! Honolulu is one of the top 10 destinations for honeymooners, we soon realized after questions emerged from taxi drivers and passersby on the street asking “Are you on a honeymoon?”After a half dozen inquires we started to look for a T-shirt that read “No, we are not on a honeymoon!”Later that day we found a nice place to sit down, relax, enjoy some cocktails with sea food and watch the waves on the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately 12 times zones difference between Poland and Hawaii kicks in (Hawaii doesn’t observe Daylight Saving Time), so we had to go to our hotel and had a nice, long sleep.

Although we ended the night early going to sleep earlier has some advantage. We woke up in the morning, full of energy and ready to explore more of the magnificent city. A day in Honolulu should begin by saying “Aloha” to Duke Kahanamoku, a Hawaiian, who won many Olympics medals in swimming. He is also known as the “Father of International Surfing”.  After he passed away in 1968 and was buried in the Ocean, his biggest love and his statue was erected on Waikiki beach where many place leis to honor him.

From Waikiki beach we took a walk by the coast to the Aloha Tower to find a wonderful view of both the City and the harbor. The Tower to Downtown is only a few minutes on foot. After a few blocks we were surprised to see the first and only Palace in the entire United States. It was called ‘Iolani Palace’, and was home to the official Hawaiian monarchy. This National Historic Landmark in downtown Honolulu represents a time of the past when Hawaiian Majesties, notably King Kalākaua, who built the grand structure in 1882. Walking through the palace one can feel King Kalākaua’s presence as well as his sister and successor, Queen Lili‘uokalani, who used to walk its celebrated halls. This Palace is not the only historic place worth to see, but surrounded by other attractions.

The next day we decided to rent a car and drive around the Island, which only takes about two hours straight, but there are so many places to stop take and admire the beauty of the island that it ended up talking the whole day! One of the places really worth to see is Old Pali Road which is a 3.1 mile trail located just outside of Honolulu. The hike is moderate but the view is amazing with lush vegetation and a waterfall. The drive is absolutely breathtaking and there are many scenic points. But what really surprised us and gave up a good laugh was when we parked our car deep into the volcanic forest. After opening the door we heard a strange yet familiar sound, a cock-a-doodle-doo. Yes, there were real, wild rooster walking around our car. So don’t be surprise when you go to any Hawaiian Island and see the roosters! Especially, on Kauai there are a plethora of them there.



If you want the see the famous surfers of Hawaii you should go to North Shore. This area is known as heaven to advanced surfers. We stopped there on our drive to admire how people can tackle such huge waves. Surfing would be great experience and give us such a thrill; however we didn’t try it….not this time.

At the end of our drive we took the road 930 to “Hidden Beach”. The last part of this path is off-road but it’s worth it! There were just us, waves, volcanic rocks and a lot of sea life which we had never seen before.

If you’re interested in the history of World War II in the Pacific the Pearl Harbor Memorial is a must see.  This is number one tourist destination on Oahu, however   prepare to spend a big portion of your day if not a full day as there is a lot to see. Try to be there early in the morning to avoid a huge crowd that filters in daily.

Diamond Head, our last but not least attraction, is said to be the best view from the top of the Volcano. And we agree! You have to take a small hike to the ridge of the crater’s rim but once you get there then just enjoy the view on the entire Honolulu Valley as well as the Pacific Ocean.

If the attractions and beautiful views are not enough there are a multitude of restaurants to choose from, and so many cuisines such as Hawaiian, Japanese, Korean, Thai, and American just to name a few. Our most notable dining experience was the sea food and drinks at Duke's. Not only do they have an outside terrace with a magnificent Pacific view but the exotic drink menu is endless! If you’re in the mood for Japanese try Tanaca of Tokyo. Here you will find good food (steaks and seafood) and chefs cooking everything in front of you live which is a show itself. Dinner can take longer time, but you are in Hawaiian time zone, so no hurry allowed!

Although we could only spend a couple of days on Oahu we already knew that we want to came back and explore more of the island’s diverse attractions and unique culture. But there were much more adventures waiting for us on Big Island on which we are about to take off.


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Morly Cowan

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