Aloha! Sunny days in O’ahu, Hawaii

Today in Toronto we are expecting up to 15 centimetres of snow and it has yet to stop snowing since I got up early this morning. In honour of this horrific winter weather, I decided to take a look back at my trip to beautiful, warm, un-snowy Hawaii.

I went on a fairly short trip a couple years ago around early spring. My work schedule was a bit inflexible at the time, so I only managed to fit in a 5 day trip which is really not long enough considering the duration of travel to get to Hawaii from Toronto. We made the most of it, though.

We based ourselves in Honolulu, O’ahu and stayed at Queen Kapiolani in the Waikiki beach area. The rooms are a little dated but it’s otherwise a well-located and reasonably priced hotel. We had a view of the water from our room and the beach was just across the street. Be aware of the resort fees that they charge at most hotels in Honolulu; I think I had to pay an extra $15 USD per day upon check-in.

A temple for Instagram

We spent our first morning in Honolulu on a visit to Byodo-In Temple, which is actually a replica of a 900 year old Buddhist temple in Uji, Japan. It is not a truly functioning temple, as it does not host a resident monastic community nor active congregation. It is very picturesque, at least. It took us about an hour to take the bus there from Waikiki beach and we paid an admission fee of $3 USD.

I lava you a lot, Honolulu

Our hotel was conveniently located within walking distance to the Diamond Head, a volcanic tuff cone that you can hike up. The trek is fairly easy, with constructed stairs and well-paved paths. It took us somewhere around 45 minutes to get up, including stops for photos breaks.

Around the island and to a luau

We wanted to attend a luau and found a very popular option via the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie, located along the northern shore of O’ahu. This place is basically a theme park, also advertised as a ‘living museum’ of Polynesian culture. Interestingly, it is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and occupies land from Brigham Young University.

The package we purchased included pick-up from our hotel for a circle island tour of O’ahu.

On arrival at the cultural center, we had a guided tour around the six ‘Island Villages’ they had set up at the park. These are basically exhibits representing various cultural groups in Polynesia. In the evening we attended the luau, which included a huge buffet dinner and some performances. I don’t have many photos of this, so here are some Hawaiian flowers instead.

A ‘fin’ time at Hanauma Bay

We spent our final afternoon at Hanauma Bay, a marine embayment formed within a tuff ring located at the east end of Honolulu. Hanauma has protected status as a nature preserve, and is home to some 400 species of fish within the bay itself. I am not a huge fan of snorkelling so the aquatic biodiversity was lost on me. Still had a great time lounging on the beach and having a dip in the water, although it was rough on the feet due to the coral reef.

Wish list for future trips to Hawaii

  • A few more days (or even weeks)
  • More active excursions
  • A foodie travel companion and no Burger King!
  • Chance to explore other islands, especially Big Island and Maui