|Tee and are were lucky enough to call the city of Honolulu "home" for 3 1/2 years from 1992 to 1996, and came
to truly know and love it. The city of Honolulu is known throughout the world, but very few people actually "know"
this city. What people usually do know is the relatively small yet very consequential part of town known as
Waikiki (pictured above). Waikiki is the area of town where there is a concentration of hotels and shops that
attract the huge number of tourists that flock to the islands year round. It is also a famous beach area which
attracts both tourists and locals (although this area is originally a swamp, with it's sand imported from the island
of Moloka'i and Australia). Waikiki is a fun and exciting part of town, but it isn't "Honolulu." Honolulu is a
wonderfully diverse and expansive town that offers both those things you would expect from any substantial sized
American city, as well as many unique features one could only find in Hawai'i. The uniqueness of the
contemporary Hawaiian culture stems mainly from the special ethnic makeup of it's people. Most of the people of
Hawai'i have mixed blood, but there are dominant ethnic influences. To a greater or lesser degree these include
Polynesian (Hawaiian, Samoan, Tongan), Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Portuguese, and Caucasian. Each
of these cultures have made important contributions to the modern culture of Hawai'i, and all those who live or
visit are the beneficiaries. From it's food and drink to it's music, language, and art, the diversity and blending of
the various ethnic influences in Hawai'i is significant in helping define what it is that makes this place so special.
Honolulu is located on the island of Oahu and is the only large city in Hawai'i. It's boundaries are a bit hard to
define, but it basically lies from Kahala to the east to Pearl City to the west. While it contains the high rise
buildings and busy streets of a large town, like all of Hawai'i, it is a place full of natural beauty as well. The city is
set between the shores of the Pacific Ocean to the south and lush mountains to the north. As one might also
expect, the weather is almost consistently perfect, with daily high temperatures at about 80 degrees, and daily
trade winds at about 10 miles an hour appearing each afternoon. Believe it or not, I got sick of perfect weather
while living there, but it's hardly something to complain about. Yes, Honolulu has it's problems. It has an
incredibly high rate of property crime, and has a generally poor public education system. It also suffers from a
corrupt "old boy" government and police force, and is plagued by drugs. However, these are generally things that
only effect those who actually live there and shouldn't really concern those who are there to drink in the beauty
and the relaxed atmosphere.
There are so many things to see and do in Honolulu that it would be impossible to name them all, and the fact of
the matter is that most people on vacation wouldn't be blamed for merely wanting to find a quiet beach to relax
upon. However, if you find yourself with a few days on Oahu I do have suggestions on what you might want to see
and do. As with other destinations on this Travel Page, you can link to recommended restaurants, pubs, clubs,
museums, etc. at the bottom of this text, but I will mention a couple of "extras" for you here.
One of the best things one can do when in Honolulu for a couple of days is rent a moped one day and a car the
other. A moped is easily the best way to make your way around the central sections of Honolulu (Waikiki, Manoa,
Downtown), and a rental car is a cheap, flexible option for making the obligatory drive to the North Shore.
Unfortunately the mopeds currently for rent throughout Waikiki are the Yamaha Razz, which is a fairly small and
weak 50cc bike. There was a time when one could easily find the Honda Elite, the beefier 50cc moped option, but
they seem to be extremely rare now. If you can find a Honda Elite for rent, get it! One of the great things to do on
your Honda Elite (or even Yamaha Razz if you have some patience) is to make the drive up and around the loop
referred to as Tantalus/Roundtop Drive. Then make your way to the University of Hawaii campus in Manoa and
then perhaps through downtown, with a stopover at the Aloha Tower Market Place. Another great little stretch to
drive on your moped is around the front of Diamond Head to the Kahala Hilton (now the Kahala Mandarin
Oriental) and Waialae Country Club.
On the day you rent a car I would suggest a leisurely drive to the North Shore, with stops at Hanauma Bay,
Sandy Beach, The Polynesian Cultural Center, and Sunset Beach. Some people may also want to stop off at the
Dole Pineapple plantation on the way back to Honolulu, but I personally find nothing of interest there. The
Polynesian Cultural Center is the most visited attraction on the island other than the Pearl Harbor Memorial and
is a great way to experience an initiation into the native cultures of the South Pacific in a short time and in an
accessible space. There are music, dance, art, and crafts demonstrations throughout the day and the price is very
reasonable. There is also an IMAX theater and food stalls. Sunset Beach is the world famous surfing mecca, and
the nearby Ehukai Beach Park is home to the Banzai Pipeline. When the water is calm, this is a great spot for
swimming and snorkeling, but when there are swells (particularly during the winter months) there is a
dangerous riptide that all visitors should be aware of.
That is all I will write at the moment, but again check the recommendations I link to here. (Under Construction)
|I haven't been to every Hawaiian island, but I have been to a few. If you plan to go to Hawai'i, I would strongly
advise that you visit more than one island. Each is unique and different from the others, and knowing a bit
about the characteristics of each will help you find a spot that ensures you get the most from your time here.
My own personal knowledge of each island is admittedly limited, but here you will find a paragraph or two
about the islands I've visited, as well as additional links to information about the other islands.
|Known as "the valley isle," Maui is the most visited and well known island outside of Oahu. It is also the
largest island outside of the Big Island. Maui has everything one could want from an tropical island, from
high mountains, lush valleys, uncrowded beaches, and spectacular waterfalls, to world famous golf
courses, whale watching, windsurfing, and diving.
The island's most prominent feature is Mt. Haleakala, the world's largest inactive volcano. Rising to 10,000
feet and with a base large enough to cover Manhattan, Haleakala attracts a large number of tourists each
morning who make their way to it's summit in order to watch the sun rise. Often these people will make
their way back down the mountain on bicycle with one of the popular downhill bike tours. Warning: while
the temperature outside of your hotel may be a comfortable 70 or 80 something as you head out,
temperatures at the top of Haleakala will require a heavy jacket, long pants, and perhaps a hat!
The town of Lahaina is the focal point of Maui's culture and tourism, and is filled with a large number of
restaurants and entertainment options. Here you'll find some of the island's best snorkeling and scuba
venues, and be able to book all of your site seeing and watersport activities. Many of Maui's best golf
courses are also nearby including Kapalua (home to the Mercedes Championship).
Site seeing, whether by helicopter or overland is a very satisfying way to spend a day in Maui. If time
allows, you may even want to make the drive on the famous "road to Hana." But be forewarned that you
will want to have a 4-wheel drive vehicle and that many rental car companies forbid you to use their
vehicles on this road. Sunset dinner cruises are also a wonderful way to view the island. There are few
things you can do that will capture the romantic nature of the Hawaiian islands than watching the Maui
sunset from on of the luxurious yachts that sail out from Lahaina each evening.
|Other than the tiny "forbidden isle" of Niihau, Kauai is the westernmost island in the Hawaiian island chain,
as well as the oldest. Known as "the garden isle," Kauai is renowned for it's stunning views, lush greenery, and
golden beaches. Not only do visitors to this island come for the spectacular natural beauty, but also are
attracted to the peaceful atmosphere, diversity of people, and great shopping and dinning opportunities. Kauai
has a variety of natural wonders to experience, from the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, to the seemingly endless
white sand beaches of the western shore, and the famous views of the NaPali coastline (pictured above) and
Hanalei Bay. Kauai has been the backdrop for many popular movies including Jurassic Park, South Pacific,
Raiders of the Lost Ark, Blue Hawaii, Waterworld, and Six Days-Seven Nights to name only a few.
There are a huge variety of activities popular among visitors to Kauai. Sport fishing, scuba diving and
snorkeling, sailing, canoing, surfing, and motorcycle touring are just a few of the most popular things to do on
the island. The island is also a world famous golf destination, with well know courses such as the courses at
Princeville and Poipu Bay (home to the PGA Grand Slam of Golf). And no trip to Kauai would be complete
without a helicopter tour of the most inaccessible and overwhelmingly beautiful parts of the island. Even if you
don't take advantage of the many activities on Kauai, you are likely to be fully satisfied with merely taking in
the peaceful, romantic, friendly, and relaxed atmosphere that is at the heart of this special place.
|Anchored in the center of the 8 major islands, Molokai is 25 miles southeast of Oahu, and a 25-minute flight
from Maui. From the eastern end of the island, it's only 8 miles across the Pailolo Channel to Maui. Molokai
is also a smaller island with a length of 38 miles and width of only 10 miles, and contains no building higher
than a palm tree (the most conspicuous building on the island being the Mormon church building) and but
one traffic light.
The population is estimated at 8,000 residents, half of whom live in or near the principal town of Kaunakakai.
Nearly 40% are of Hawaiian descent, thus the nick name, "The Most Hawaiian Island." Legend tells that Laka,
goddess of the hula, gave birth to the dance on Molokai, at a very sacred place in Ka'ana. This is recognized
on Molokai every May, at a celebration of the birth of hula, called Ka Hula Piko. The hula provides a means
for looking back to the works of the ancient Hawaiians through its movements, motions and chants.
You'll find that many of the same activities available on the other Hawaiian islands are also available on
Molokai. Fishing, surfing, hiking, golf, diving, and snorkeling are all popular activities. However, Molokai also
provides some special experiences unique to the island. These include the famous mule rides down the
world's highest sea cliffs to the Kalaupapa National Historical Park. Perhaps the most stunningly beautiful
and inspirational place in Hawai'i. Another unique activity you may enjoy while on Molokai is spending a day
learning and experiencing the ways of a traditional Hawaiian ranch on the famous Molokai Ranch, the
longtime heart of the Molokai economy.