Waikiki – Homeward bound

Our initial plan was to spend only a week in Hawaii but due to lack of flights to New Zealand we had to extend to two weeks.  One week would have been a perfect finish to a wonderful adventure.  The second week though was tinted by a spell of average to poor weather, which really hinders any quality beach/pool time.  We did consider heading over to Maui for a week but the cost of flights and accommodation over there coupled with the luggage we have now acquired made this option not viable.

We made a couple of trips to the North Shore to see the fabled Banzai Pipeline and Waimea Bay and were rewarded with some monster waves to view from a very safe distance.  The trip north also allowed Dominic a couple of surf opportunities with the added bonus of another lesson.  His instructor this time was a lady named Karen who is a seasoned professional.  She used to run a junior pro surf team, which boasted in its ranks Jack Johnston who has since focused his attention to a new career as a singer/songwriter.  She also knows Kelly Slater, which Dominic was very impressed with.  Her father still coaches top professionals and her mother stills surfs even with a disability of only having one leg.  The lesson was held in a nice, secluded bay, away from the crashing waves that the North Shore is famous for.  Dominic’s second venture into the water was out in open seas and was his first time out without either a parent or instructor close by.  He coped very well and was totally oblivious to his anxious parents shore-side.  We actually wanted to base ourselves on the North Shore but accommodation is hard to find and what is available is very expensive.

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While the weather was good we spent some quality time on Waikiki beach.  It was jammed, a far cry from the beaches we experienced in Costa Rica.  We had a breakthrough with Callum on Waikiki.  It was at this beach that he finally put his head underwater and surprise, surprise, loved it.

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A straightforward public bus ride out to Hanauma Bay for some snorkeling was well received by the boys.  Callum didn’t get the snorkel or mask on but he waded out to waist deep and saw plenty of brightly coloured fish.  Dominic was out exploring the coral and the marine life and returned to the sand with stories of what he’d seen.  Hanauma Bay is a fantastic spot for a day trip.  It’s easy to get to from Waikiki, free for the kids and has plenty of snorkeling gear to rent for the day.  The water is a brilliant, clear blue and warm but there was a jellyfish warning on the day we were there.  Luckily there were no incidents to report.

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After our shopping extravaganza in LA, Trina had the spending bug and dragged us all off to the Ala Moana Centre for another day of ringing the cash register.  She managed to assist the state of Hawaii with the use of some of our tourist dollar but nothing on the scale of LA.  The outlet stores in California are a much better option for shopping and bargain hunting.

Kailua Beach is noted for being one of the most beautiful beaches in America and it certainly lived up to its reputation.  The beach is well worth the 45-minute drive from Waikiki and has a very gradual entry into the calm, warm water so it’s perfect for kids.  The sand is golden and although busy you didn’t feel overly crowded.

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I don’t pretend to understand American Football but have always been keen to see a game live.  The NFL ProBowl game is the annual end of season game made up of NFL stars (apart from the ones playing in the following weeks SuperBowl).  Tickets were averagely priced at USD55 each so we thought we’d go along and watch.  What a disappointment.  Firstly it rained then the main event turned into a non-event.  The game was a stop/start affair that never got going.  The actual game time is one hour but can run into nearer three hours with all the mucking about.  We found that the game failed to hold our attention and as we switched off we would miss the next play.  There was very little in the way of big hits or any excitement.  The nature of the match-up was one of game of tag, perhaps due to the fact that none of the players wanted to risk injury and damage their highly lucrative club contracts on a game that meant nothing.  After following rugby and rugby league there is no contest as far as a spectator sport in my mind.  Any sport that stops so dancing can take place will struggle to win any affection in my heart.  We couldn’t even drink to dull the pain.  At USD11 a beer it would have been a very expensive hangover (it was strange seeing Speights on tap there though – good on ya mate).  We left after the third quarter, despondent and wet.  It wasn’t just us that couldn’t appreciate the game.  I was sitting beside a guy from Melbourne who kept shaking his head saying “give me AFL anyday”.

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Our final day on the island involved a trip to Pearl Harbour.  My pre-depature research (this time and for the first time on this trip was 100% bang-on – redemption!) had informed us that to see the actual USS Arizona memorial (the memorial right over the sunken ship) involved either taking an organized tour (pricey and a very long day) or booking your free tickets on-line and making your own way out there by public bus.  We took option two however once on-line we found that the first available tickets were for mid-February.  We decided to head out there anyway as you can still visit and climb on-board the submarine, USS Bowfin and the battleship USS Missouri.  The Missouri was the ship that Japan signed their surrender of World War Two.  On deck that day of surrender was General Douglas MacArthur so we were standing in the shadows of history.  The boys loved exploring both the battleship and the submarine, seeing all the weaponry, the sleeping quarters and how the sailors lived.  We also had a lucky outcome for the USS Arizona.  We approached the ticket office and managed to secure tickets easily.  We saw a movie about the attack, how it happened and why Japan wanted to bring the US into the war, followed by a boat ride out to the monument.   Parts of the ship are clearly visible and the oil is still very slowly leaking out (in fact at the slow rate it is coming out it will continue to leak for the next 75 years).  You can see why Pearl Harbour is Hawaii’s number one tourist attraction.  It’s fascinating, informative and very well run by both the national parks service and the military.

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Waikiki was a pretty good option for the final stage of our adventure.  Two weeks was too long and towards the end we were looking forward to leaving.  This may have been a factor of the weather, a mindset that we were almost home, comparing Waikiki to the amazing beach towns of Costa Rica (which it can never compete with), our aversion to mass tourism or a combination of them all.

Time to go home – happy or sad to finish our great adventure?  We’ll see.

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