April 17, 2006 – Monday – Honolulu, Hawaii (Oahu)

Today was the warmest day yet with pure sun and mid-80s. We purposely did not book any excursions. We wanted a quiet day to explore and relax. We debated on Pearl Harbor but waited too long. We were glad we had not booked it after we learned members of our group spent the whole day there waiting their turn to see the Arizona Memorial.

We started the day with a visit to the Aloha Tower and shopping complex that adjoined the harbor. It was pleasant strolling through the many open air stalls. I found a super nice Aloha shirt. We again succumbed to the Hilo Hattie free shuttle. How could we resist? It was going to their super-store. It was quite nice and larger then any we have seen so far.

We then took the Hilo Hattie shuttle up to Waikiki Beach and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and shopping complex. Waikiki is not our idea of a vacation spot. Tall hotels are lined bumper to bumper 2-3 blocks deep for several miles. The beach was so crowded. It did have a great view of Diamond Head. We had lunch at the Cheesecake Factory and strolled through the International Marketplace, a many block long assortment of flea market-like stalls hawking t-shirts, cheap Hawaiian souvenirs and some nicer items. This beach is pure mayhem with people and cars everywhere.

We are now cruising along Waikiki Beach as I write today’s entry on the veranda. The skyline is so beautiful at night. I would say that you should visit Oahu on your first trip to Hawaii. I see no reason to return after that. The other islands have this one beat in terms of lush scenery and a more interesting Hawaiian experience.

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