We were alongside in Honolulu by about 5am and our alarm went off at 0630. We hadn’t slept very well so we were awake anyway. The reason for the early start was that we had to clear US Customs and Immigration this morning before we could go ashore and that meant a face to face meet with the inspectors. The meetings were by ticketed number and P&O had said that they would start issuing tickets at 0720. Last year, there was a different system where we were supposed to go deck by deck at an alloted time and that turned into an absolute bunfight as people competely disregarded the instructions and turned up when they liked. So, we arrived at the allotted lounge for our tickets at just before 7 and it was lucky we did because there was already about 60 people in the queue. They started giving out the tickets at 710 and we got 62 and 63. We scampered off up to breakfast and just managed to gulp some down before we were called back for our meetings. It took about 5 minutes and we were stamped in.
Collected out stuff and went ashore to walk the 5 minutes to the Enterprise car hire office. Last year when we were in Honolulu we stayed in town all day and we were a bit underwhelmed with the place to say the least. Not very charming, beaches not very nice, lots of homeless people…. So this year we decided we wanted to get out and see the island of Oahu especially having read great things about it. We packed beach stuff and had a route all planned out.
We headed out across the island to the east, to the Windward side. First stop was a Nuuani Pali viewpoint high on the ridge of mountains that runs down the middle of the island. It was a different world. Ridged mountains so jagged and green, so lush with vegetation that it looked like Tahiti. Old wooden houses with decks up in the hills… the blue sea beyond, every colour of turquise. Little islets offshore. A fantastic view.
On down to Kailua and to the beach at Lanakai. Fantastic unspoiled beach with islets just off shore. We dropped our towels and stuff and just about fell into the water. It was so warm and clear. Could have stayed there all day. Got chatting to a young Japanese couple on honeymoon who were pitched next to us. They were so pleased to see our pictures of Japan and they showed us their wedding pictures – all in traditional dress.
After our swimming we headed north, hugging the coast all the way, admiring the many white sand beaches, mostly sheltered by offshore barrier reefs. Lots of stands selling fruit, vegetables, shrimps. Lots of shrimp stalls. It was about 35 miles to the north coast at which point we turned west and passed by some of the most famous big surf beaches in Hawaii . The places in the winter where the really big rollers come in and only the fearless dare go – Waimea, Banzai Pipeline, Sunset Beach. And some made famous by the Beach Boys – Waimea Bay for example.
Finally we came to Haleiwa and picturesque gingerbread style town with a nice little harbour and a run of shops. We stopped here for lunch and had some amazing burgers topped with avocado and bacon. Proper homemade ones, nothing pre-packaged about them. And amazing different fries which i only sampled.
We then turned south and travelled down through the agricultural centre of the island. Mile after mile of sugar cane, pineapples, macadamia nuts, mangoes. After a while we came to the Dole Pineapple Plantation. This had sounded like it was worth a look but in all honesty it was just the worst kind of tourist trap, selling a range of all things Pineapple but very naffly. The gardens were the only nice thing, beautifully landscaped.
Time to head back to Honolulu as we had to get the car back by 6pm or face a penalty. There were horrific traffic jams as we approached Honolulu so lucky we’d left plenty of time. Bob dropped Me, Mick and Maureen at the ship and took the car back, luckily well in time. Then he came back to the ship and he and I got the shuttle bus to the Ala Moana shopping centre for a bit of a shopping dash. His IPad is 5 years old and a bit ropey so he wanted a new one and Hawaii is very low tax so a good place to buy one. So he went off to the Apple store and I hit the girly shops for a bit of early Xmas present buying. It’s not a cheap mall but its a nice one to look around. A lot of designer shops, but so much cheaper than Hong Kong.
Got back to the ship at about 820 and grabbed a bit of buffet food before we sailed at around 10pm.
A very very nice day ashore in Oahu and so much better than when we were here last. Could definitely envisage a holiday here now. Managed to get hold of both girls while we were ashore too and had great facetime calls. Daisy starts work at Vodaphone tomorrow so fingers crossed that all goes well. It’s not longterm but still who knows and the money’s good and more experience. Rainbow stuck to their word and gave her a good reference. Lucy has a lot on with a difficult neighbour but she seems to have sorted it after a few tricky days.
So, tomorrow we visit Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii. We are having another hire car and taking off to explore. Looking forward to that a lot.