The flight I was booked on from Osaka Japan to Honolulu with Air Asia should have been No Trouble, however, due to the fact I had renewed my passport since I completed the ESTA Visa form for USA on line and wasn't aware you needed to do a new one if you updated your passport I was not allowed to board as I would have been refused entry to The USA so I had to stay overnight and catch the next flight, same time next day and as Air Asia were so helpful they only charged me 50% of the air fare for the two of us.
Upon arrival in Honolulu we should have been met by the shuttle service I booked on line "Click Shuttle" but no sign when we got there and after speaking to another car service outside the airport they called the one we had booked and arranged something between them that resulted in our sharing the limo and being dropped off after a very nice Japanese couple had been dropped at their hotel.
For our time in Honolulu we had booked an AirBnB Apartment in The Royal Garden Waikiki which turned out to be a good choice, very good value for money with a large room with twin comfortable beds on the 16th floor with views along the canal and a 10 minute walk to downtown and the beach.
Honolulu is on the island of Oahu’s south shore and is the capital of Hawaii. The Waikiki neighbourhood is its centre for dining, nightlife and shopping, famed for its iconic crescent beach backed by palms and high-rise hotels, with volcanic Diamond Head crater looming in the distance and we had 5 days to relax and enjoy all it had to offer. On the Island there are also sites relating to the World War II attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbour which includes the USS Arizona Memorial which we were determined to visit.
The first day we arrived it was overcast and yes we got rain as we have everywhere we travelled this trip but we still ventured out to take in the local area and Waikiki beach. on our way back we decided to shelter from the rain and have our first food in the 50th state of the USA and what better than Burgers in Hard Rock Cafe. Ok, so the burgers with all the trimmings came to $25 each but there was a charity concert going on and at least we were out of the rain. Welcome to The US of A and western prices. Tip - The meals are big enough to share between two.
When the rain stopped we hotfooted it back to our hotel stopping off in one of the many ABC Stores to pick up some provisions for our breakfast before taking taking advantage of the free laundry facilities to do some overdue washing and grab a well deserved sleep in readiness for Tomorrow.
Next day I slept in and mouched about the apartment having breakfast and looking up things to do until lunch time when we went for a stroll along Kalakaua Avenue which is the main road of Waikiki Beach where all the major hotels and eateries can be found as well as the shopping Plazas. The High end Hotels such as Sheraton Waikiki, Royal Hawaiian, Outrigger and Sheraton Princess Kaiulani along the way openly encourage non-residents to enter and enjoy all that their hotel has to offer with shops, beach-side restaurants and coffee bars all with different themes to enjoy.
Amongst all this you will come to The Moana surfrider"The first Lady" of Waikiki situated at the start of Waikiki Beach look inside at the amazing decor and it is just a stones throw to the statue of Duke Kahanamoku - The father of surfing. Despite winning 5 Olympic medals, three of which were gold between 1912 - 1924 he will always be remembered for introducing the world to surfing during his visit to Australia in 1914 after which the sport just took off. The Duke was the first person to be inducted to both the swimming and surfing Hall of Fame.
Needless to say all along the beach are boards for hire and schools who give lessons in ideal water for beginners. The beach can become crowded but at this time of year the was no problem in finding a space to enjoy a few rays.
In the evening we again walked around downtown until we found "Sams Kitchen" a small outside space to eat food served up in large polystyrene boxes and plastic utensils which was packed with a long queue outside, we joined the queue and enjoyed a fabulous meal at a ridiculously cheap cost and made a note of making sure we returned.
The next day we bought a two day ticket for all lines on "Waikiki Trolley" for $45.00. There are six lines Red (Cultural Honolulu), Blue (Panoramic Coastline), Green (Scenic Diamond Head), Purple (Historic Pearl Harbour), Pink (Waikiki - Ala Moana Shopping Shuttle) & Yellow (Honolulu Dining Experience) with single and Double Deckers that cover nearly all of the southern part of the Island.
We decided that the first day we would do the scenic routes and did the Blue route first that runs 3 times a day and takes 2.5 hours to cover from Waikiki via Diamond Head to Sealife Park at Waimanola, East O'ahu and then return taking in some breathtaking coastal scenery including a stop at The Halona Blowhole where sea water shoots up through a hole in a cave roof from the pressure of the waves .
After a short break we then hopped aboard the Green Line which is more frequent running every 30 minutes and taking a route that covered the south east part of the coastline via Diamond Head surf lookout and into Diamond Head Crater before heading Inland where there were other interesting sights including the studios where Hawaii Five 0 has been filmed for many years and crowds still gather at the entrance autograph hunting every Saturday Morning then returning over the same ground covered by the Blue Line route but only taking 1 hour 10 minutes
At the end of the our tour we were dropped off, fortuitously, opposite Sams and so we joined the queue outside that was not so long this time and enjoyed a shrimp meal before taking a stroll by the breach and back to the apartment.
Next day we decided to start the day at The Ihop (International House of Pancakes) and pig out on one of their enormous breakfasts before hopping on The Double Decker Trolley for the Red Route which although it runs every hour and takes two hours to go around we were going to hop on and off for the day taking in all the cultural sights along the route.
After visiting The National Memorial Cemetery of The Pacific, known as Punch bowl Cemetery we bypassed The Museum of Art to stay in the rare sunshine we were enjoying and alighted at The State Capital "Lolani Palace" where we walked around the grounds and were rather disappointed at the number of vagrants that were sprawled on the benches and on the grass with large numbers of empty bottles and cans which dissuaded us from continuing.
The guided tour of the Palace costs $27.00 and takes up to 90 minutes but we decided against this and instead walked through the grounds to view the Iconic King Kamehameha Statue in front of the Court House that anyone who has ever watched Hawaii Five 0 will recognises from the opening credits.
The court House behind is free to enter and there is a lot of history of the Islands on show within.
Boarding the bus again we were informed that there was a big traffic jam going through China Town which was being caused by the filming of an Hawaiii five 0 episode and we would probably have to be diverted, however, fortunately we were the last tour bus allowed through which resulted in me being able to get a couple of shots of Alex O' Loughlin (Steve McGarrett) and Daniel Dae Kim ( Chin Ho Kelly) through the window as we crawled past.
We took a late lunch at Ohana Hale Marketplace where we had been reliably informed by an Hawaiian we had met that this was where Hawaiians came to shop to avoid the high prices where the tourists shopped. We sat and listened to a musician while enjoying a snack and a drink after which despite having little room in our luggage I could not resist buying Six, yes 6 T-shirts for $20.
Near the end of the tour we got off the bus at Ala Moana Centre which is a very large shopping Mall but not the reason we got off.
Opposite the Mall is Ala Moana Beach Park where the locals go to avoid Waikiki Beach and so we decided to spend the rest of the day having a dip in the Pacific Ocean and soaking up the rays watching Beach life and even a bride and groom having wedding pictures taken on the beach.
Later we used up the last hours of our ticket on the Pink Line that took us back into Waikiki and dropped us off near our apartment.
After a shower and change of clothes we went to The Hawaiian Village where we watched a band with a lady doing an Hawaiian dance after which we ate in their food Hall and then had a walk back watching the many street acts performing along the main road.
For our penultimate day we had booked a Pearl Harbour & USS Arizona Tour via Pearl Harbour.org for $47 which included being picked up and dropped off at our hotel. Be aware there are many different companies offering a lot of different tours, some at ridiculously high prices. I have included a link I found very helpful when deciding on which tour to take in our situation and I have no other reason to post.
The taxi pick up takes you to a meeting point where all passengers join a bus which takes you out to the site whilst being given a commentary and information you will need at the site. On arrival you wait in a group while the driver gets the tickets and then you enter the memorial site and have a look around until your given time to enter the cinema where there is a very interesting film that gives you the history of the bombing of pearl harbour. After leaving the cinema you are taken to a boat crewed by the navy and taken out to the memorial that is floating over the top of the USS Arizona that was sunk at the time of the attack where you can view the names of victims of the attack and stay as long as you like and catch a following boat if you want.
On returning back to the shore there is an area to view other memorabilia and even a submarine museum to enter if you wish as well as the obligatory souvenir shop. The Whole tour takes five hours from pick up to drop off and we found that to be just about right although if the weather had been better (Rain again) it would have been more enjoyable if that is the right word but a very informative trip and a must if you visit the Islands.
Our last afternoon was spent chilling at the beach side cafes along Waikiki beach out of the rain until we decided to have our last meal at Hard Rock Cafe and again listened to a local band and then headed back to the apartment to pack in readiness for departure tomorrow to the mainland and San Jose.
Next morning we checked out of our apartment at 12 noon and were pleased to see that "Click shuttle"turned up on time and transported us to the airport for our overnight flight to San Jose (California) with a short stop over in Los Angeles.