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Published: September 14th 2016
After an 8 hour flight from Las Vegas, we arrived at Honolulu airport, Hawaii. We had booked a transfer to the hotel from the airport, so we kept an eye out for our driver. We found our driver, Tony, pretty promptly, and he took us to his car... a stretch limo! He brought us through Honolulu to our hotel, on the way telling us where to go, what to do and where to eat. He was full of great advice. The Hilton was a very nice hotel, not as nice as the Bellagio but still very plush! We got to our room and completely flaked. We ordered food to the room and watched Jurassic Park on the TV. When we mustered up some energy we went down to Waikiki Beach and sat in the sun for about an hour, until the sun set. We went to Keo's asian restaurant that night but faded around 11pm. The jet lag was definitely catching up on us!
The next morning we made no plans except to go to the beach. We went to Eggs 'n' Things, a pancake shop on the Waikiki front. The queue was ridiculously long and we were too hungry
so we went further down to a coffee shop and picked up a quick breakfast. We chilled out all day at the beach and went to Dukes for dinner. Tony, our driver, had recommended Dukes to us and it did not disappoint! We had Huli Huli chicken and kebabs, as well as Hula pie for dessert. We chilled out and listened to the live music in the bar after dinner before strolling back to the hotel.
The next day, we decided to brave the queue at Eggs 'n' Things and see what all the fuss was about. Well we got pancakes. They were ridiculous. Mine came with what can only be described as a whipped cream "tower" on top. We felt so sick afterwards! We sat beside a couple, Tim and Leah from Canada and got chatting to them. They were very friendly and definitely beat us in the pancake eating stakes. We told them we were booked for Pearl Harbour the following day, and they were too.
We walked up to Ala Moana shopping centre and spent the rest of the day shopping. Dave had a few clothes and shoes to pick up, and we also needed
to buy some souvenirs. The shopping centre was HUGE and covered about 6 blocks. We also spotted a very yummy Bubba Gumps and vowed to visit it before we left the island. We got the bus back to Waikiki after all our shopping and went to the hotel pool which was on a roof. We ordered some cocktails and sipped them until the sun went down. We headed out to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner (its not exactly gourmet, but when we're in the US we like to do things properly). We had to wait 50 minutes for a table but it was worth it! I had mac and cheese in breadcrumbs (the old reliable). The next day was to be an early start so we headed off to bed early enough.
Next morning, we headed out at 7 am to catch our bus to Pearl Harbour. Our guide, Kimo, was great craic and knew loads of information about Pearl Harbour. He kept us interested as we sat in rush hour traffic. He pointed out lots of sights of Honolulu including the neighbourhood Barack Obama grew up in! We got to the military base around 8 and had time
to walk around. Before we could do anything though, the national anthem sounded and everyone had to stop what they were doing. Once the military shouted "Carry on!" we were permitted to stroll around the visitor centre. There was a brilliant museum and a great view of the harbour. The museum told the story of Pearl Harbour from many different points of view. It showed the build up to the attack and how tensions mounted between the Americans and the Japanese; as well as America's involvement in World War II. Kimo had said one of his tourists was around when the Japanese attacked and told him about the day. He was a little boy playing in the garden and the Japanese planes were flying so low overhead he could see their faces. The pilots were waving at him. At the time he just waved back, but later he realised that they were telling him to get inside.
We were ushered to a theatre where we watched a movie mainly about the USS Arizona. The soldiers that day had opened the hatches to let in some fresh air, and one of the Japanese torpedos went into one of the hatches
in to the magazine which caused the Arizona to explode. We then got a boat out to the wreck of the Arizona, it's not very far underwater so you can see the deck, the turrets, everything. There are even some parts still sticking out of the water. There is a memorial straddling the wreck,and you can still see the oil leaking from the battleship. There are still the remains of 900 men entombed in the ship. Survivors who have died since have requested their ashes be dropped back into the wreck so they can be with their fellow soldiers. The dive team of Pearl Harbour facilitate these requests. The whole experience was a bit grim but worth the trip all the same.
After that, we got back on the bus and Kimo drove us to the USS Missouri, the last USA battleship in service. After Pearl Harbour, the USA mainly used aircraft carriers in their fleet. The Missouri was in Japanese waters when the Japanese surrendered at the end of World War II. Representatives from all countries involved gathered on what is now called the "Surrender Deck" of the Missouri to sign the "Instrument of Surrender" which effectively ended
World War II. We went below deck and saw the mess and bunk areas. The ship was in use until 1992. It took part in the Gulf War and the Korean War. We saw the Captain's Room where the Captain had dinner and entertained guests. After the ship we left Pearl Harbour and took a drive through downtown Honolulu to the Punchbowl Cemetery which is like Arlington Cemetery in Washington DC (see our previous blogs!). It's a military cemetery situated in an old volcanic crater. We saw the statue of the Mother of Columbia who watches over soldiers how are missing in action. We had to take photos from inside the bus because it's illegal for tour buses to stop in the cemetery. On the way back we had great views of Honolulu and Diamond Head (another crater).
We got back to the hotel around 3 pm with major plans to go to the beach, but we ended up conking out after our busy day. That night we got the bus back to Ala Moana and hit Bubba Gumps for some shrimp and fresh fish, as well as picking up our bit of merchandise. We got a cab back
to Waikiki and strolled home after a drink or two.
The next day we got up late so we decided to go to Honolulu Zoo in the afternoon. The zoo was quiet so we strolled around at ease, picked up some shaved ice (a Hawaiian must-have) and took loads of photos of the animals. Was saw lots of wild birds, as well as giraffes, zebra, ostriches, fennick foxes, a komodo dragon, gharials, chimps, orangutans, lions and loads more. We looked around the zoo for about 3 hours, reading all the information on the signs which were really good. There was also lots of information about native and invasive species. The most invasive species is a type of rat, which was supposed to be controlled by a population of introduced mongoose. But that didn't work because the rats are nocturnal and the mongoose are diurnal. So now there are loads of mongoose around Hawaii and they're everywhere.
After the zoo we headed back to the beach to watch the sunset and then checked out how to get to the North Shore the following day. We ended up booking a tour with "The Surf Bus". We went to the Cheesecake
Information about the Arizona
You can see how the memorial straddles the sunken ship
Factory again and got a takeout. We brought it back to the hotel, had a few beers (Longboard) and played Battleship (inspired by our trip to Pearl Harbour!). The cheesecake was amazing...and baked!
Next morning we were up early to go on the Surf Bus Tour. The bus was really late but we didn't mind in the end as it was such a good trip! Our guide was a bit mental but good craic all the same. We drove for an hour right through the centre of the island with the two mountain ranges on each side. We stopped in the village of Haletua for a break and then went on to Pipeline Beach to get some photos. The surf was very high, 10-20 feet waves, so lots of the beaches were roped off. We stopped to take a look at some brave surfers on the waves before hopping back on the bus. We got to Waimea Valley in about 10 minutes and hiked up to the waterfall. It was really warm so we took our time. There were loads of botanical gardens on the trail so we stopped to take a look at the plants growing. There were
On our way over to the Arizona memorial by boat, we had a great view of the Missouri as well.
lots of signs to tell you all about the plants. We saw lots of birds as well.
After the hike we grabbed a hot dog before getting back on the surf bus. We headed back to Waimea Beach to go paddle boarding. We took our boards to the small paddle area and then paddled up the river. The sea was really rough that day so the sea turtles had made their way up the river where it was calmer. They were slowly popping their heads up out of the murky water which, if I'm honest, was a bit creepy. Some were sunbathing on the banks. Paddle boarding was very relaxing and we took in the sights along the river. We paddled back to the sea and lay on the boards and caught a few waves. We walked back to the town of Haletua and had ice coffees outside the coffee shop while we waited on our bus to take us back to Honolulu. Our guide then drove us to a remote beach where the sea turtles like to sunbathe. There were about 5 or 6 turtles lying on the beach. We took a few photos and had a stroll
along the beach, though a few people ignored our guides advice petted the turtles and stood too near them. We got back to the hotel and then headed out to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. There was a live band playing so we hung around after dinner for a few drinks.
Next day was our last day so we decided to head down to Waikiki and relax on the beach for the day. We soaked up the sun on the beach, watched the sunset and then went back to the hotel to pack our bags. We had bought a lot of stuff so our suitcase was now too small. We headed out to buy another bag, and then headed to California Pizza kitchen (we like to hit all the big chains!) for dinner which was above the shops. We sat at the edge looking down at the street and watched the world go by.
The next morning we were up early to get our lift back to the airport. Tony was already at the hotel lobby when we went down to check out, and he took us to the airport in his limo. He gave us lots
We could see the ship below the water from the memorial, and some gun turrets stuck out above the surface.
of advice and information about Maui. Our flight to Maui was shorter than the trip to the airport!
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