As I made my itinerary for Hawaii, I knew that I had to include some time on Oahu. Even though it had the least allure of the islands, it is the location for Pearl Harbor. I also wanted to see the beach view of Waikiki that is so famous. This meant I needed to spend a couple days on Oahu.
The flight from Maui to Oahu was very easy. I will advise any traveller that you should get TSA PreCheck or Global Entry before taking these inter-island flights. The lines are PACKED with tourists. I would guess I saved 45 minutes on every trip by skipping the line. Another recommendation is to set up some transportation ahead of time. The airport is easily a 45 minute drive which equates to an $80+ Uber ride.
After reviewing all the hotel options, I decided to move some points to my SPG account and stay at the Waikiki Sheraton. It may be a center for all tourists, but the views from the balcony are well worth it. The central location is pretty great as well. The biggest complaint I have with the hotel is the elevator situation. In the 48 hours I was in Oahu, I spent over 4 hours waiting on elevators. That is a huge waste. Walking into the hotel I was greeted by a group that was singing Disney songs. They were singing Moana as I arrived. I was in a happy place.
My first stop was to pick up a shirt for my niece, so I dropped by the Hard Rock. I am not a big fan of chains, so I left promptly and made my way to Waikiki Brewing Company. I always love trying local beers when I travel. My friend, Stephen, recommended a couple restaurants very strongly. I decided to check out Lucky Belly. I am glad I went here. This food was amazing. I sat at the communal table with a family. So I got to learn about how the locals live. My next stop was Honolulu BeerWorks which had a chill vibe. The beer was tasty, and the staff were awesome. I finished the night at Village Bottle Shop.
Overall it was a solid day. I made my way back to the hotel and got ready for sleep.
My alarm rang out early in the morning. I booked the first tour to see Pearl Harbor. I am not a fan of group tours, but this tour allowed for a lot of stress relief. Booking tickets for Pearl Harbor can be stressful. I recommend planning it in advance and booking with a group. For the most part, the day is spent with just your small group, so the annoyance of big groups is non-existent. I used Robert’s Hawaii. They were easy to use, and the price was worth it.
We started the day by consolidating our buses, then heading to the memorial area. The lines were absolutely crazy. It was the Fourth of July, so everyone was in full patriotic mode. After checking in and getting the map, we started our self-guided tour. I ended up making friends with some Australians, so I had a little crew with me. Seeing the exhibits and the museum pieces was harrowing, I knew I would get emotional, but I had no clue how intense it would be.
We boarded the ferry and headed out to the USS Arizona memorial. Going through the harbor, you could almost hear the emotions filling the air. It is difficult to even put into words how I felt walking off the boat. I can only share photos.
Back on the land, we walked around a little more then headed out for the rest of the tour.
Bring your passport. They have a commemorative stamp.
After this we took the bus up to the National Memorial Cemetery, The Punch Bowl. This continued the somber emotions for the tour. It was remarkable to hear about those who served and lost. From there we headed to see the only palace on American soil. Turns out there were protesters and reenactors on the steps. There is a movement to free Hawaii. The palace and surrounding areas were beautiful.
We finally made it back to the hotel, and I was exhausted. I tried to relax by the pool, but it was so packed with children, I was unable. So I grabbed some Zzz’s in my room. As night had fallen, I went out so I could grab a spot to watch the fireworks.
They were pretty, but it was a smaller display than I expected. There were thousands of us, and after that, everyone made their way to the bars. Naturally, I joined them. I met some locals and enjoyed some good Hawaiian beers.
Once again, I will strongly recommend pre-arranging your shuttle to and from the airport. My shuttle ended up a No Show. So I ended up getting a $90 Uber ride. Back at the airport, I skipped the line and got ready for my next island.
Oahu was busy and loud. I would go back for short periods as it seems like the most fun and eventful. But I would go to the other islands first, for sure.