Thursday, September 18 –
In the morning, we had breakfast before leaving for the Kona Airport, which is completely open air! I bought me a 2003 Ironman World Championship T-shirt at the airport before our Aloha flight left around 11:30 a.m. We arrived in the state capital of Honolulu around noon. It is both the westernmost and the southernmost city in the U.S.
Home to about one million people and approximately 75 percent of the state’s inhabitants, Oahu is the center of the islands. Despite the large population, the island is only the third largest of the Hawaiian islands. It was the first Hawaiian Island seen by the crew of Captain Cook’s HMS Resolution in 1776.
Honolulu boasts one of America’s best beachfront neighborhoods – Waikiki – famous for its white sand shoreline looking down to the famous Diamond Head peak. The main thoroughfare is Kalakaua Avenue, named after King Kalakaua. After picking up our rental car, we drove the avenue and checked into the Marriott Waikiki Beach. The Hawaii 5-0 song immediately came to my head.
After checking in, we decided to drive to the north side of the island in a clockwise loop. We arrived at the North Shore, a coastal area between Kaʻena Point and Kahuku Point. At Sunset Beach, we saw massive waves with surfers from around the globe giving them a go.
The northern hemisphere winter months on the North Shore see a concentration of surfing activity, taking advantage of swells originating in the stormy North Pacific. Notable surfing spots include Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach. We also walked out to the Banzai Pipeline, an infamous surf reef break off Ehukai Beach Park in Pupukea. It is considered the Mecca for surfing and every December hosts three competitions, which make up the Triple Crown of Surfing. These guys and ladies out there were crazy!
We also stopped at Matsumoto’s Shaved Ice to have the original concoction. My grape was fantastic, while Jeff tried lemon. We then drove on Highway 83 south to the Marine town of Kane Ohe. From there we took the H3 – not interstates with I-abbreviations – back west to Honolulu.
That evening we walked on the beach before going to dinner on the Waikiki Strip. We ate at a steakhouse, which was amazing. We couldn’t believe all of the Japanese tourists, but it was a great sign for Hawaii’s economy! We saw the Ala Moana Center, once the largest shopping center in the United States and currently the largest open-air shopping center in the world. The shops along Ala Moana boulevard were booming.
After going back to the hotel, we admired the views and city lights from our highrise.