Hawaii Travelogue 8 – Oahu Round Two: Pearl Harbor

Our final half day in Kauai and the return trip to Oahu don’t rate their own post, so I will include my few remaining comments about that part of our trip with our first day back in Oahu.

For our last meal on Kauai we decided to “pop over” to Waimea to check out the highly rated Island Taco.  We’d been to Waimea twice already, so I am not sure why we forgot what a loooooong drive it is from Poipu.  I’m sure I’ve already said this, but even if things look close on the map it will take you forever to get there.  Oahu is exactly the opposite.  No clue why.  Anyway, Island Taco’s Cajun Ahi and Mahi Mahi tacos were great, so if you are in the Waimea area check them out.

Final thought on Kauai – glad we went, had a nice time, but I doubt I’d go back.  I enjoyed Oahu so much more and I would also like to see the Big Island and Maui.

Next, let me reiterate that Go! Airlines is to be avoided.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, they are the flakiest, chinziest airline I have ever been on.

Flying in to Honolulu - you can see Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial in the center of the pic.
Flying in to Honolulu – you can see Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial in the center of the pic.  The green area at the bottom is Hickam Air Base.  Let’s just say there’s a little foreshadowing going on here.

For our second time in Oahu, the boys (my man and his brothers) chose for us to stay at the Hilton Hawaiian Village (HHV), or as I called it, Disneyland Oahu.  Oh man, this place was waaaaaaay too much for me.  Too loud, too big, too confusing to get around, and way too many people.  Night and day from the sold-out yet still quiet Ilikai.  Normally when John and I travel we stay at a bed and breakfast if at all possible, so the HHV was way off the chart from the norm.  On the plus side, we had quite the view from the 30th floor of the Tapa Tower!

View of the Tower, the Ilikai, Duke's Lagoon and the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor
View of the Lagoon Tower, the Ilikai, Duke’s Lagoon and the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor

The six of us got up bright and early Sunday morning and headed out to Pearl Harbor.  My s-i-l Becky reserved our tour online and ordered us the audio tour headsets.  Highly recommend doing both those things.  Our tour time was 9:30 or so and we got out there around 8, which was perfect timing all around.  Here are a few tips about visiting Pearl Harbor:

  • It gets sold-out and crowded fast – book online and go early in the day.
  • Definitely go for the audio tour – it adds so much.  The audio tour covers the grounds, all through the museum, your time on the Memorial itself and the displays you walk through after your trip to the Memorial.  It’s all good!
  • If you enjoy going through museums or are a history buff, try to get there at least 90 minutes before your tour time. The museum is extremely well-done and informative, and it will greatly enhance your time at the Memorial to go through it beforehand.
  • They show you a movie before you take the boat over to the Memorial, but be sure to also see the other movie they show in the museum – they are different.
  • You are not allowed to bring a bag of any kind with you (your camera has to go in your hand), so plan to leave your bulky stuff at the hotel or bring some money for the bag check service.
  • After your time at the Memorial be sure to check out all the displays around the harbor – really cool maps, historical tidbits, memorials, etc.
The Arizona Memorial
The Arizona Memorial
From the Memorial, looking towards the Missouri.  You can see a section of the Arizona below the water, as well as a bit of the diesel oil that is still seeping out of the Arizona.
From the Memorial, looking towards the Missouri. You can see a section of the Arizona below the water, as well as a bit of the diesel oil that is still seeping out of her.

A visit to Pearl Harbor should be on every American’s “to do” list.  The complex provides a broad view of the situation before the war, the details of the island-wide attack (Pearl Harbor was by no means the only target that day) as well as some information about the war in the Pacific and several memorials.  Two little snippets particularly stood out to me:

  • Around the grounds were markers detailing little anecdotes of the day.  The one pictured below reads “few islanders went to bed that night…Outdoors there was silence…Shortly before midnight, the moon began to rise, and a vivid lunar rainbow, the Old Hawaiian omen for victory, arched over the dark city.”  I thought it was cool that even in (literally) their darkest hour, God sent a sign of hope to the people of Hawaii.
Anecdote from Pearl Harbor day
Anecdote from Pearl Harbor day
  • Another display (which I didn’t get a snap of as it was very long and involved) detailed the story of a Hawaiian priestess who was fishing in Pearl Harbor one day.  As she was fishing, a shark swam up and began exhibiting some odd behavior.  Hawaiians believe that Pearl Harbor is home to the shark goddess Ka’ahupahau, and the priestess understood that the shark had a message for her.  After praying, the message the priestess heard from the shark was that a great death was coming.  Three days later the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.  Make of that what you will!

I’m a history/museum buff, so I would have loved to have taken the other tours available (you can tour the Missouri and the Bowfin, a WWII sub), but that will have to wait for our next trip.

We headed over to Waimanalo to have lunch at Sweet Home Waimanalo and hit the beach, making the requisite stops again at the Halona Blow Hole and Makapuu Point – it was such a beautiful, sunny afternoon.

at Makapuu Point - I'm hanging on to my shirt for dear life, the winds were crazy!
at Makapuu Point – I’m hanging on to my shirt for dear life, the winds were crazy!
The gang at Sweet Home Waimanalo
The gang at Sweet Home Waimanalo

Alas, by the time we hit the beach the clouds started rolling in, the winds picked up and the rain was back on.   I just wasn’t meant to spend an afternoon on that beach!  No one felt like waiting out the weather, so we headed back to Waikiki, where it was much sunnier.

Sunday nite we had the best food of our trip at Side Street Inn on da Strip (what a name!), a great local joint our first cabbie Ray turned me on to.  Unfortunately three of our party had other plans for the evening, so only John, Bob and I got to enjoy this treat.  Make a resi if you can – we made our plans too late and had an hour+ wait.  They are located on the same street as Leonard’s Bakery (Kapahulu) so we strolled down there to kill time.  Lo and behold – they are open all nite!  So naturally we helped ourselves to some malasada “appetizers”.  I’m sure we burned off the calories on our walk.  At Side Street Inn food is served in leisurely courses on platters “family style”.   The three of us shared the Nalo green salad (excellent), seared Ahi (I didn’t try it), “Side Style” fried rice (best I have ever eaten in my life) and Lilikoi-sauced BBQ baby back ribs (ditto).  That Lilikoi (passionfruit) sauce was transcendent, and I have never eaten such tender, meaty ribs.  And the prices are really reasonable!

Next up, the most special day of our trip.  I hope I can do it justice…

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