Before any of you invite me to be a house-guest or alongside for a vacation, let me first tell you that I am one of those annoying early bird specials that can’t sleep pass 6am. So what does a person with this type of programming do on vacation in Hawai’i? Well, wake her husband up at 5A.M. to go see the sunrise of course. We drove to Diamond Head Beach for a glorious sunrise, an almost deserted beach besides a few local surfers catching the first waves before work.
Seeing as this was our first full day in Hawaii, we wanted to make the most of it and see as much as possible. Oahu isn’t a large island but there is a lot to see and do in just one week. In our travel book, “Oahu Revealed” we read that one has to get to Pearl Harbor early so as to get tickets before being sold out. Our idea was to get there around 7am to assure we received early enough tickets so we didn’t have to wait the whole day. We managed to arrive, get a parking spot in the main lot and then receive tickets without issues. The tickets are free to go see the USS Arizona Memorial so they are on a first come, first serve basis. There is a limited amount of tickets available so if you plan on a trip. We noticed there were tour guides coming and getting 30 tickets at a time, so definitely a must to get there early. Our tickets were for around 9AM but it left us enough time to look around at the rockets on display, go into two different souvenir shops and then the USS Arizona memorial museum (free to public).
Pearl Harbor was very important to me since it was a complete circle in the WWII Japan/USA bombings. On previous trips I had been to Hiroshima Ground Zero and also Nagasaki Ground Zero. Living in both countries, I have a deep connection to peace among the nations so connecting the three places together really was moving to me. While I liked the bit of serenity above the USS Arizona in the Memorial, I felt that the Japanese have really made the bombed areas a place of deep tranquility and not one for profit gain. We didn’t purchase tickets to the other memorials because I have a problem with connecting money with a memorial of peace and unity. That’s just my opinion though, so take it as you want. Pearl Harbor was pleasant and I would suggest to everyone to visit at least once and remind oneself the reason why these lost men have forever found their resting place.
Our morning was spent at Pearl Harbor and once we left we were hungry for something fresh and healthy. We found a lovely co-op store complete with a deli inside, open to all members and non-members, called Down to Earth. The café was unfortunately out of avocado but we were able to get a wrap from the deli, fresh pineapple, vegan sushi and even some freshly squeezed guava juice. The meal was amazing and if you are in the area, we highly suggest going there for a meal or two. Options are also available for raw vegans.
Next we took our pineapple and traveled to the western tip of Oahu, literally until the end of the road. We ventured to Ko’Olina, Nanakuli, Wai’anae, Makaha and to Makua valley. Many of you might remember hearing of Wai’anae as being a rough part of the island. For us, we found it was a bit of an old reputation since we felt very comfortable driving around the more natural part of the island. There are a lot less tourist traps up in this area than near Waikiki which is rather confusing since the beaches are about 100x better. We found it was much more calm and relaxing too. In fact, so much so that the husband and I said if we were ever to come back to Oahu we would prefer to stay up in this area. There are some grand hotels up in this area that are more or less forgotten by tourists but appear nicer than the ones down south.
When we got to the tip, we found the beaches were amazing so we stopped in at this lovely island store and purchased new swimming suits (and a few souvenir shirts for family) and jetted off to the beach. We also saw the Makua Beach, Yokohama Bay and the Makua Cave. This route took us about 1.5 hours in our Jeep but it is well worth the drive due to the sights and beaches. Makua cave is an old cave that has been carved out by the ocean.
Once we finally tore ourselves away from the amazing mountain/ocean views of the Ka’ena tip, we returned to the busy tourist spot we called home for the week. Right below our hotel is the ever busy International Marketplace. We decided to run down and get some food to take back up to our rooms since we were exhausted. I wanted something that contained raw veggies so ate at this supposedly organic, fresh restaurant. I found the sandwich was just okay but nothing worth eating twice in a row. The husband had not eaten falafels for about three days so he wanted the international restaurant next to mine that served “falafel pitas”. It took about 5-10 minutes to make something that resembled instant falafels and was totally gross. Even if my best enemy was starving, I wouldn’t make them eat this pita. It’s neither fresh nor suggested. We washed it down with water and Trader Joe’s PB filled pretzels, our staple. Our night ended fast after this….