We arrived in Honolulu, Hawaii in the morning of April 12th, after a red eye flight from Hong Kong via Tokyo. Our timeshare place in Waikiki was really nice and was only a short five-minute walk to the beach. The weather was great, but unfortunately, we were all suffering badly from jet lag and the kids crashed all day. Lyane and I tufted it out for a while and went for groceries and for a short walk along the boardwalk, but we soon found ourselves slipping into unconsciousness as well. The next day the weather was a bit cool and cloudy, but we opted to go to the beach anyway. Strangely, when we arrived at Waikiki Beach, the temperature actually was warmer. Usually, lake and ocean front make the temperature cooler, but in Hawaii the opposite is true. We got settled on the beach and luckily, the kids were offered free floatation devices from some tourists who were on their last day and did not need them anymore. They both floated out into the clear aqua Hawaiian Ocean and almost immediately spotted a large Green Turtle surfacing for air right beside them. Drew and Jessica were very excited to see it, especially since we had scuba dived in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, snorkeled in Fiji and Thailand and did not see one stink’en turtle! The kids yelled back at us on shore and we were also offered floaties by this couple we were talking to, and we all experienced more sightings turtles together. It almost brings a tear to your eye, to fly half way around the world in search of sea turtles, only to finally find them at one of the busiest beaches in the world! For free! The turtle we saw was a biggy, and was probably four feet round, followed by a couple other smaller turtles that were two to three footers. We were all amazed at how close and carefree they were, as they surfaced right beside us for a few seconds and then leisurely drift back underwater. It is actually illegal to touch or disturb them, but they were certainly close enough to touch. I think maybe the kids and Lyane did touch one or two.
The next couple of days were not so good. The weather was really quite cool and Lyane’s cold she had caught, got the worst of her and forced her to bed rest for two days. Her coughing was so bad, I took her to the doctor on the second day and she was prescribed antibiotics to fight the virus. While she was resting, the kids and I took it easy, watching TV, reading books and listening to music. It was a good time to rest for all of us, because I don’t think the kids really recovered from their overnight flight and jetlag. On the fourth day, the weather was still sub-par, but Lyane felt well enough to go out and do something, so we took the city bus to good old Wal-Mart. The kids were in their glory, picking up foods and candy that they hadn’t seen in nine months. That night we walked around and watched a few street performers and got propositioned by the dreaded timeshare dudes. This time, we willingly accepted their timeshare invitation with the motive of acquiring a free Jeep for two days. So the plan was… with our meeting experience, we would cut the timeshare meeting time in half and be driving our free Jeep by 10:30 the same morning. Didn’t work! The company was called Shell Vacations. They were ruthless! They start off the meeting with a seemingly very nice Shell representative who pretended he was interested in who we were and what we did. But, after about twenty minutes he starts to make his pitch and when he realized that we probably will not going to buy, he started being rude and condescending. Finally, he slammed his book shut and verbally calls the meeting to an end. Good! The next thing we knew, his sales manger is sitting in front of us shaking his head in disbelief that we were to stupid to understand how great of a deal they were offering us. So, for another thirty minutes we tolerated this over confident, pampas ass, as he continuously belittled us and insulted us. Finally, he left in a huff and we were soon sent to another room, for what we were told was an exist interview and customer survey. We sat in the quite room and couldn’t wait to tell their superiors what jerks the rep and the manager was, but of course it was not a survey or interview at all, but yet another “senior” guy giving you a better deal and one last chance to change our foolish minds. We said thanks but no thanks again and we finally got out of there with our jeep rental certificate. Unfortunately, the day was now half gone and we were both stressed out from our timeshare experience. What a bunch of slim buckets! We got back to our room and hustled the kids out the door, and took the city bus to a beautiful beach called Hanauma Bay. The beach was awesome and the water was crystal clear, but the best part about it was the reefs and the snorkeling. The water was nice and shallow and had decent reefs to explore. The tropical fish were plentiful and colorful, but the weather was still cool and the kids wimped out after an hour or so.
The next day, we were finally rewarded with our big red Jeep and our nightmare meeting seemed like a distant memory. We peeled the rag back and speeded off to explore some beaches, and settled at nice beach called Kailua Beach. The weather had finally smartened up and we enjoyed the sunshine filled beach for several hours, tanning and boogie boarding. Then we headed farther up north to the famous Sunset Beach and the Banzai Pipeline. Both places are world renowed for their largest waves in the world and its world-class surfing. It was incredible to watch the massive waves crash right in front of us. We watched the surfers for several hours and could not believe their high skill levels and their resilience to the punishing massive waves. On our way back, we stopped at the town of Haleiwa that is recognized as the original surf town in the world. It was really a cool little town that took you back in time to the 1960’s.
We drove through the residential part of town and we saw several real old surf hippies that still make their home there.
The following day, we still had our Jeep, so we ventures off to nearby Pearl Harbor to see and hear the history of the naval base and to learn more about that fateful day in June 1941. The best part and most educational for the kids, was the short movie shown before you enter the exhibits. It briefly explains the pre-war circumstances that led to the Pearl Harbor attack and subsequently the declaration of war against Japan. Statistically, the Americans lost almost 3,000 military personal and civilians combined, and the Japanese lost only about 50 military men. Despite early warnings from the radar station, the Japan flew into Honolulu airspace unabated with over 320 aircraft. Most of the US naval fleet was in port and were sank were they sat. The famous battle ship Arizona suffered the most loss of life, and so a new modern memorial has been erected right over top of the massive sunken warship. The nearby US Air Force Base had over 170 fighter planes parked wing to wing out in the open, creating an easy target for the Japanese bombers and virtually all of them were destroyed. Only 14 planes and pilots were able to get air born to defend. They did manage to shoot down a few enemy aircraft and some antiaircraft fire from the ground knocked down a few as well, but the overall battle was in effect a massacre. The majority of the Japanese warplanes flew safely back to their close by Japanese aircraft carriers and sailed home from there. Some of the more interesting artifacts that we saw was the War Memorial, a WW2 battleship, a submarine control room, several types of navel artillery including a one man operated Japanese torpedo that was designed to be launched from a battle ship, then piloted into the enemy’s ship. Apparently, only a few were ever used, but still, what a way to go! They probably were not used much because they couldn’t find any recruits! At the end of the tour, it was really nice that the kids and us got to shake hands with one of the three naval veteran survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack. He was really a nice old man who took a shine to the kids and he autographed and gave them an informal military document. We got back to the jeep and drove to the Dole Pineapple factory. There we learned about the history of Hawaiian pineapple, their growth cycle, and how to select a good one. We surprised when they told us that pineapples were not native to Hawaii and were in fact imported to the Hawaiian Islands from South America, most likely Brazil. Other than that, the tour was really poor. The plantation factory portion actually shut down and moved to another island in 1996, and so all that is left on site is the pineapple crops themselves, a few junky old harvesting machine, and a giant store to buy pineapple products. There was also this expensive little tourist train we took that looped around the plantation grounds for about twenty minutes and virtually showed tourists nothing. We actually saw more interesting stuff when we finally left and drove through several large pineapple plantations and through a very pretty mountainous part of the island.
Lastly, we stopped near the north shore to a spot that is well known for its
Turtle population. When we arrived, there were tourists standing on the beach peering into the water, trying to catch a glimpse of a turtle. We walked down closer to the water and we did see a couple of small turtles, but they were hard to see and it was certainly not nearly the same experience as we had with the ones at Waikiki Beach. The weather that day was again rainy and cold all day and so after the turtle visit, we drove back to Waikiki and returned our beloved red jeep.
The next day, the weather finally turned warm and sunny and so for the next three days, we just beached it while the kids surfed. The time went by quickly and we all tried to excel our Hawaiian suntans. Then our last day crept up on us and with hot weather and blue sky we left the beach to board a plan for Vancouver. It is always hard to leave a beautiful place like Hawaii, but it was a little easier this time because we were all excited to get back to Canada. Farwell Hawaii.