After the slightly confusing morning we spent on getting our rental car a day earlier and finding a hotel we went for a walk down to Ala Moana Beach Park. We had lunch at SubWay on the way down there but after a few bites Vitus decided that it was time for a nap (he only had 5-6 hours on the plane so we let him)
As we couldn’t find a real playground for the kids we found an outdoor training area which proved to be just as much fun. While the kids were playing we got into talk with a mother from Alaska who was there with her two boys age 3 and 1,5. She gave us some good advice about Oahu. So we ended up spending an hour at the training area before crossing the street to the Ala Moana Beach Park. The beach park is a beautiful and quiet area close to Waikiki beach. A lot of locals come here to swim and have barbecues in the park.
We had read that a small beach on Oahu provided an almost 100% guarantee to see sea turtles so we went there the next day. Unfortunately the waves were much bigger than normal due to a recent storm and too big for the turtles to land so though we even went back later in the day they did not appear.
We did however enjoy great views of the coast, had late lunch in the shade of a tree next to a playground and saw a beautiful sunset.
We also found a miniature blowhole by pure coincidence and had some fun testing how close we could get before it “blew up”
A big storm sent huge waves crashing on to the coast and looking at it you cannot help but think what happens when surfers have a bad day and get in contact with the rocks they are just meters away from when doing there crazy stunts. Unfortunately the coast of is packed with small crosses near the most dangerous places.
The day after we had planned to hike to the top of the Diamond Head Volcano right next to Honolulu. Unfortunately the parking lot was full so instead we opted for a trip to Hanauma Bay for excellent snorkeling and a beautiful beach. As luck would have it Hanauma Bay is always closed on Tuesdays so instead we continued around the east point of the island and to Kailua beach on the north coast. Truth be told both things were totally our own fault – 2 min. upfront research would have told us that Diamond Head gets really busy late morning and that Hanauma Bay is closed on Tuesdays. The drive along the east point of Oahu was however beautiful and a quick stop at a viewpoint provided several sightings of Humpback wales.
Kailua Beach delivered on Boogie Boarding, views and great weather and we had a great day there before turning back to Honolulu. Vitus and Line even had a nap together – does not happen very often with an energetic 3 year old, but both seemed to enjoy it 🙂
Since AirBnB had offered to pay for dinner we went to Uncle Bob’s restaurant which had fantastic reviews on TripAdvisor. Nice clothes for going out has not been a priority when packing but we made due with what we had (the one with the most ugly clothes got to be the one taking the picture)
It did NOT disappoint and we really enjoyed the evening out. Dinner was finished with warm chocolate cake topped with vanilla ice-cream and a Mai-Tai (of course we again realized that we would probably rather have had a good fruit shake, but a cocktail just sounds so good when you read it in the menu)
Since we had to pack our stuff to move to a hotel we got out of the door a bit later than planned and did not arrive at our rain-check for Hanauma Bay before 11 am. Big mistake as the parking lot was full and we could not get in with the car. Instead we found a park with a playground and had lunch there. Unfortunately the parking lot was still full when we returned but during lunch we had found out that you could walk there instead and that free parking was available in the residential area just 300 meters down the road back towards Honolulu. Of course by the time we had parked the car, walked the 300 meters back they had opened the parking lot but at least we saved the 1$ parking fee – wheeeeeha.
Hanauma Bay is really beautiful, but also quite crowded. It is mandatory to watch a 15 minute video before you enter to make sure that everybody understands how to protect the reef and themselves – that is great and we really wish more was done in general to make people understand how fragile coral reefs are and how easily they are damaged. Snorkeling there we did see some really big fish and a number of species we had never seen before but in terms of the actual coral reef it unfortunately did not even come close to what we have seen in Thailand and The Philippines. That is actually a problem when travelling. You cannot help comparing what you are seeing to previous experiences and what other people find beautiful and fantastic might seem grey and dull compared to other places we have seen.
Though we definitely enjoyed Oahu it ended up being a bit of a hit-and-miss experience for us. Much of it could have been avoided had we done a bit more research upfront but some of it was also just pure bad luck. Though a beautiful island it is probably not one we will return to again since Maui (where we are right now) has much more to offer. Also we were quite surprised to experience the amount of poverty and homeless people in the streets and parks on Oahu. Though they are trying to get them out of the more touristy and popular areas it seems they are seriously failing solving the underlying problem of so many people that are living in poverty.
Part of the problem is of course that Hawaii is far away from the mainland and prices are extremely high. The first time we visited a supermarket we almost could not believe how expensive everything was. E.g. a budget pack of sandwich bread costing around 5 USD and the more expensive bread easily 6-7 USD.