Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

22 03 2011

19th March 2011

Polynesian settlers first arrived in the area around 500 AD, in double hulled canoes complete with pigs, chickens and dogs.    Modern history began when Captain Cook landed on Kauai in 1778 and was initially received like a god, but when he returned some eight months later was killed during a skirmish.  In less than a quarter of a century the native population decreased from 250,000 to just 50,000 due to western disease and the corrosive influence of western culture.  Traditional Hawaiian society collapsed.  Oahu today is home to around 800,000 people.  The city of Honolulu is a real buzzy place, thanks to the diverse ethnic backgrounds of its inhabitants – Hawaiians, Americans, Europeans, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans Filipinos and more.

Before any passengers were allowed on shore, we all had to go through Immigration. Once alongside, four USA Immigration Officers came on board to see each passenger and stamp their passport.  As can be imagined this took sometime; through fair means and foul we managed to get ashore after a mere one hour of queuing by 9.30am, not bad as we heard others did not get ashore until after 12.30! 

With our friends we took a taxi out to Pearl Harbour and deposited our bags at the depository (since 9.11 no bags are allowed on to the site) At the ticket office we were allocated a 12.00 slot for the 75 minute programme of film and boat trip to the Memorial over the USS Arizona.   The whole Pearl Harbour Memorial is vast and has recently been renovated.  Typically American and very well run, entrance is free to the new museums and film shows.  Tony paid to go into a submarine, while I toured the various exhibits which explained the background to the war and what happened on 7th December 1941, when around 2,500 were killed and the US fleet was decimated when the Japanese attacked without warning.  This, of course, brought American into the Second World War.  The visit was both interesting and very sobering.

 

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We returned into by local bus – a bendy type bus which travelled extremely fast along the dual carriageway.  Back in town we had hoped to catch one of the trolley buses for a look at Honolulu, but it didn’t arrive, so instead we took an open topped bus.  This was one of the less interesting trips we had taken and slightly disappointing, so after a quick beer we cut our losses and took a taxi to the Ala Moana beach, as recommended by Holiday Which?.  This turned out to be a good decision.

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It was a Saturday afternoon and the park area behind the beach was busy with lots of family gatherings, all with awnings, barbeques, seats and very large amounts of food and drink.  Lots of atmosphere in the sunshine and breeze Walking along the sea shore, we came across a very large lively party of youngsters from the nearby college,  celebrating holiday week, with police and lifeguards keeping a watchful eye.  We even came across a wedding group who were having their reception here on the beach!  Out on the sea we did see a few surfers and  SUP,stand-up-paddles ,(the latest craze of sea sports)

Having enjoyed our wander round this area (used by locals and not tourists), we walked back to the road and the huge shopping-mall full of very interesting shops on the other side.  Unfortunately for Chris we had less than an hour, so there wasn’t much opportunity to bend the plastic.  Then it was back to the ship via a shuttle bus, and the end to our day in Honolulu. 

Overall impressions of Honolulu, a very American seaside city set in the Pacific.  There are we realised areas of natural beauty, volcanoes, empty beaches but time did not allow us to explore – maybe next time…?


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