I just returned from an eight-day stay in Hawai'i - my first trip - and wow, was it amazing. The warm, humid, salty air transported me just like the plane did over the Pacific. I learned about the history, Pearl Harbor (the USS Arizona Memorial), the best beaches and the coastal towns that hug the island I was on: O'ahu. On this Friday, I post Part I of a two-part series with the next one in a week. Just like the salt in the air, courage is all around in O'ahu (pronounced Oh-WAH-hoo). Whether it was reacting from the bomb dropped in 1941 or the current Hawaiian movement gaining ground to reclaim her nationality, language, identity, and oh-so-gorgeous ancient land, here are glimpses from my experiences. Enjoy. - Jessie
P.S. I did go in the water - which also required so much surrendering of all of my fears...
Things to See
So much could be said about this memorial and the history surrounding the attack on Pearl Harbor. For now, I will share two things: (1) I was shocked to learn that the Japanese were the first to invent the aircraft carrier (the boats that carry loads of planes on them) - this is what enabled Japan to sneak up on the Americans (who never could have anticipated an attack by air and which forever changed war from battleships to airplanes) and (2) the space inside the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial (the name of the ship that was sunk by the air raid) is sacred, holy, and serene. I could really sense this and because of that, I refrained from taking pictures inside the space - to remind myself that space, place, and physicality matter (it holds things) and cannot be boiled down and distilled into a flat "photograph." Over 1,000 men went down with the ship. They lie in rest with the U.S.S. Arizona which is underneath the Memorial on the bottom of the shallow ocean floor. I recommend going to this Pacific Historic Park.
I am grateful I spent some time at this palace - the last palace to exist on U.S. soil. I was so surprised to learn about my own government and nation overthrowing a kingdom with which they had peaceful relations. I also found it quite interesting that within two years after the king passed, the queen was forced to surrender or fight.
Haleiwa was one of the first stops I made after arriving in Hawai'i. I met up with some friends for dinner on this "North Shore" town. I hear it's one of the last remaining Bohemian villages on O'ahu and that it is a huge surfer town with waves as high as 50 feet. Winter is the season to catch waves; summer is the season for beach bumming.
Places to Go (Read 'Beaches to Go')
Out of all the beaches I could find (and there were plenty I didn't come across), my favorite was Waimanalo Beach. There was hardly anyone around, it was the greenest water, and it had the softest sand. It was here that the beauty captured me so much that it wooed me into the water. I discovered this beach while driving (and forgoing any Google maps), and it caught my eye. Surprisingly, it is part of a campsite and a little hidden from view, perhaps two reasons as to why it was significantly less crowded and tranquil. Highly recommend.
While the wedding I went to was in Honolulu, I made the drive over to the Windward side quite a few times, and these highways - H3 and Pali Highway (Route 62) - are the two ways to get there. The latter is more direct, passing through the ancient volcanic mountains, and the former is scenic and stunningly gorgeous. You can't go wrong with either.
Next week: Part II