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As we arrive on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, I can’t help but think of all the usual descriptive words that are associated with these well known Pacific Islands. Sunny, laid back, tropical, casual, touristy, surf….such terms used endlessly to portray a paradise in another part of the world. Today however, the most used word..sunny..was nowhere to be found. We arrived to heavy cloud and light rain, but in true Hawaiian form, even they don’t let themselves be brought down by poor weather, labelling the rain they get as “liquid sunshine”.
Well, if the Hawaiians can look so positively at something that would normally be annoying to a new comer to the island, determined to get the most out of their beautiful weather, then who am I to be bothered about it. Today is the day for embracing their very own liquid sunshine.
The hospitality and friendliness of the locals was on display from the moment we walked into the airport, with not one but at least half a dozen people smiling and calling out Aloha as we passed them by.
Arriving at Honolulu International Airport
I felt right at home going through passport control, as being a standalone island, they put you through the same process as Australia, particularly when it comes to bringing in food and plants. As an habitual buyer of food and kitchenware when I travel, I’ve become very accustomed to declaring long lists of food items for them to cast their eyes over. It was also proof that you can be a passport control officer AND smile at the same time.
The baggage claim area could be seen as another example of the locals living a much more respectful and laid back life. No throwing around of luggage onto carousels here. Instead, by the time we got to our bags, they had all been taken off the carousel and neatly placed all together according to flight. How delightful these people are!
We were picked up by our pre-arranged Paradise Transport shuttle, frangipani flowers behind the ear of the lady who came in to get us , and driven by a man from Southern California who came to Hawai’i 13 years ago for the sunshine. Both were eager to point out to us the Kapiolani Hospital where Barack Obama was born. (apparently…there are many conspiracy theories about this fact)
Don’t spend heaps on a hotel….rent a condo
Our condo at the Seashore is great. It’s nothing flash, but it’s a great example of how many of the locals live here, in small, all-in-one self contained apartments. I booked this through Ali’l Beach Rentals and honestly cannot complain about one bit of their service from start to finish. Unlike the difficulties I had with Air BNB when I first started looking for accommodation in Waikiki. I particularly loved getting our key from a security lock box on a chain wire fence. Original concept I thought, and very effective. (Check out the photo to see what I mean )
Our condo is one block back from Waikiki and central to everything here in this bustling area. It’s low season so they say, but there are people everywhere, which is great as it makes for a wonderful atmosphere around the town, especially at night.
The condo has a fabulous lanai (balcony) with views across to the East and the famous Diamond Head and we can also see the ocean in three different areas. Many of the higher priced hotels that we are looking at that line the water would not have the views we have, so I’m pretty happy with what we’ve got. That’s not to say of course that it wouldn’t be great in some of the luxury hotels right on Waikiki.
Time for Waikiki Beach
The liquid sunshine didn’t take too long to turn into the real thing, and so we thought it was incumbent upon us to have our lunch by the beach. Settling into Duke’s Barefoot Bar at the Outrigger Waikiki, a couple of local beers in hand, the 9.5 hour flight now seemed long ago. Now the only thing to remember is that the Americans like to eat their food BIG and Hawai’i keeps to the American tradition perfectly. Maybe my mission could be to uncover somewhere that serves small meals. I might have to just seek out the tapas bars for that as I don’t know if I like my chances.
The water was abuzz with ‘learner’ surfers far out off the shore waiting to catch their first real wave and attempt to stand up on their board. Alongside are the outrigger canoes racing in and out as the crew do training sessions, and the catamarans that herald their return to shallow waters with the traditional blowing into a large seashell horn. Kids on floating rings, swimmers and boogie boarders make up the rest of the water loving crowd.
The beach is also busy with much sun bathing and general lolling about going on. This is surprisingly a narrow beach. I was expecting something a lot wider, not sure why, but Waikiki is extremely narrow. As such, it’s not the place where you will see the “Olympic-esque” games of soccer and volleyball going on like those that happen on Copacabana Beach. This is a calm beach, a place for relaxation, leaving the clear blue waters for those who crave more adrenalin inspired activities.
The beautiful luxury hotels with the beautiful people line the foreshores. I may not be staying there but I have plans to visit the bars of many, if only for that sunset drink each evening. There are plenty to choose from and I will need to choose wisely for each day’s selection. I’ve already got a few picked out, so stay tuned.
We’ve also got our head back around tipping, the American tradition, and the price has escalated since we were last in the states, which isn’t that long ago. I long ago understood the reasoning behind it all, but I have to admit, I still find it hard to get used to adding tips onto absolutely everything you do here. It’s just the complete opposite of our normal practices.
Plenty to do here, so we’ll spend some time around Waikiki and downtown Honolulu before we start getting into the surrounding areas of the island. O’ahu is also just one of the islands in Hawaii. If you’ve got the time, it’s worth checking the others out.