In case I’ve not mentioned it anywhere else, I’ve been to Oahu twice now. The first time was years ago when I rented a condo on the north shore and basically hung out with a friend for a week or so. It was a great time, we rented a jeep from a place by the college stadium and drove down to Waikiki for the night to get a feel for the place. This was when it was first becoming commercialized and the place I stayed at was across from Don Ho’s place. It was all quite beautiful and since I’d never been to anything tropical up to that point I absolutely loved it. We basically drove around the island on a continuous sightseeing tour, meeting people and hanging out on the beach. I was young and it was a great time which is why I ended up returning this last time. I was working but since I had visited before and by this time I was an experienced traveler I managed to make more effective use of my time.
I again rented a car and the first place I stayed was at the Hilton complex down on Waikiki. Talk about luxury, the place is amazing. I rented a room near the top floor and after checking in and grabbing a place to park made my way to the room. The room was the most luxurious place I’d ever rented and still to this day I’ve not stayed in anything more plush. The beds were incredibly thick and comfortable, everything appeared new and I was on the ocean side so the views were magnificent. I did spend several hours at the complex as there are stores and restaurants, the beach is there as well as myriad activities you can engage in. A paradise in paradise I felt. Right on the main drag, you can easily head north or south to discover the island, that is if you can drag yourself away from the complex. It’s designed to keep you satisfied and remain there and I have to say, they do a great job.
It was however much more expensive than I am accustomed to so the next day I moved to the outskirts of Waikiki and rented something a little more my style. It was a mid-range hotel with a pool and since I normally spend most of my time outside the room traveling, it was suitable for me.
The first place I visited once I had my bearings and had unpacked was the USS Arizona memorial. This is one of a few places dedicated to veterans who died during World War II. I purchased a ticked and took the boat out to the memorial and although the trip is short I enjoyed it. There is a narrator that rides along and you hear a bit of a story and some facts as you make your way. We hopped out onto the site and looked around at the wreck, the surrounding area and read the plaques and short stories emblazoned on the walls. No doubt the people that survived the attack must’ve been through some hellish times. This event precipitated the war and after seeing the memorials and hearing from the historians on site, rightly so. Oh, before you depart on the boat to the memorial there is a store, small museum and a walk where you can learn about events surrounding the bombing and world war in general. A fascinating must see if I do say so myself.
I was on a memorial kick so after the tour I jumped in my car and headed to the Punch Bowl Memorial aka National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. It lies in the Punch Bowl crater and I must say it is astonishingly well maintained, immaculate even. I walked through it to learn a bit about the war in the Pacific and did indeed accomplish this end.
There’s a chapel which is a solemn place as you can appreciate that dedicates itself to those lost during the war. The walls of the memorial are etched with names of those who were never recovered from battle. I also learned there’s a memorial pathway with 56 memorials dedicated by various veterans organizations. Inside the building there are huge murals, maps and scripts inlaid on the walls that tell a story surrounding a few of the events from the war. It was a magnificent place and words can’t possible do it justice, especially my small command of the English language. If you ever have the chance, I suggest you visit.
I took loads of photos during my trips to Oahu and you can see them all here: