NOTE: These blog posts are written in three parts, approximately a week since I visited. I still have to figure out the travel-while-blogging balance.
One of the things I had wanted to do when visiting Oahu was to stop at Pearl Harbor. I have no connection to the site, as my grandfather fought in Europe during World War Two, but I felt it was necessary to remember the lives lost that fateful day on December 7th, 1941.
What I didn’t realize was that because it’s a memorial, tickets to the USS Arizona are free. They’re $1 if you reserve them online (highly recommended). I didn’t reserve them and got very lucky: we arrived at 8:30a after a quick breakfast at Island Coffee in Hale’iwa. Lucky because shortly after we arrived, I found out I got one of the last remaining seats on the 10a tour.
This gave me about an hour and a half to tour the land-based site, including a submarine (you have to pay $12 for a tour), but also detailed displays of the days leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor (from both Japanese and American perspectives), and remembering those who lost lives in submarines during World War Two. I didn’t realize that by the early 1940s, 37% of Hawaii’s population was Japanese: native Hawaiians only made up roughly 13%, the rest white. While I knew there was a high Japanese population on the island, the statistics were shocking at how quickly native Hawaiians lost their traditional lifestyle. I also learned that I didn’t realize the Japanese man who designed the attack on Pearl Harbor was against the war, and didn’t want to fight the Americans, but if he had to, he wanted to strike first, and hard.
Before we got on the boat to take us to the USS Arizona, we watched a well-produced documentary, voiced by Stockard Channing, of West Wing fame. I had to Google her name: I’ll admit I recognized the voice, but not her name, which did distract me from the film a bit. The film showed wartime footage of the attack, which I don’t believe I had seen before. The National Parks Service did a good job at preparing you for the short ride to the memorial by making sure you knew the history and the future of the USS Arizona.
The memorial site is small, but the officer inside the chapel area did a good job telling the stories of a few of the men who lost their lives on the Arizona: some brothers, twins, and even a father and son. He humanized the names so visitors were reminded that the hundreds of names on the wall weren’t just letters, but people with loved ones back at home. He also explained the process of survivors who when they die, would want to be buried with their shipmates: they get a full military funeral, interred underwater by divers.
Fuel is still leaking from the sunken, destroyed ship, now home to fishes, as well as the final resting place for so many servicemen.
I was glad I visited, as I realized how much I had forgotten from high school history class, even the location of Pearl Harbor. It is frustrating, however, that small purses, even diaper bags, cannot be carried onto the site property. While it’s likely for security reasons, it’s not easy to carry a water bottle, purse and camera. I can’t imagine what it would be like for families with young children.
It being our last day, we still had a few things on our list to do: one thing I had added was to eat a plate lunch, since I heard that’s a Hawaiian thing to do. Plate lunches consist of two scoops of rice, a scoop of pasta salad and meat. We did a google map search of restaurants nearby and settled on Wally Ho’s Garage and Grill. We got the teriyaki chicken plate lunch to share between us (both weren’t hungry enough for our own plate), and sipped our large (but smallest size they offered) sodas. To my surprise, the business also did really double as a working garage!
Onward we went: my friend wanted to tour the other coastline of the island, but we got a little lost and ended up not even close: on another roadway parallel to the highway leading to Waialua. On the way, I noticed a small farmer operating a stand near a grocery store, with pineapples. We quickly pulled over and I bought the fruit for $5. It was expensive, but I figured at least the money was going directly to a small farmer, not Dole.
We ended up to the point nature preserve at the far end of the island, complete with a YMCA camp. There were lots of homeless people there too in their vehicles or tents, but the views were stunning. We saw the polo club on the way there, and on the way out, a rider exercising two ponies! If we had stayed longer, I would’ve dragged my friend to a match!
The airfield was also nearby this point, hosting skydiving and other plane activities for tourists, but there wasn’t much activity.
We drove by the pipeline past Wimea bay park, but being no place to park, we turned around. The pipeline is a famous place for surfers, as it offers long, large waves.
The surf all around was definitely much calmer, so I was a tad jealous of the people swimming, though not of the crowds or the lack of parking options!
We stopped by Wimea Valley Center to see about the farmer’s market (the place where you can pay to walk to a waterfall), but I didn’t see anything outside. Assuming the market was inside, I opted to turn the car around: it was much too nice of a day to spend it inside looking at fruit.
Finally home, I eagerly sliced into the delicious, juicy pineapple. I had one day to eat it all!
I spent the rest of the day by the nearby beach, attempting to finish the book I was reading…but the sea turtles kept popping up to say hello, distracting me from the words.
We returned to the Beachhouse for dinner and said ‘Hello!’ to our waitress Ashley again. I wanted to try some sort of seafood again, this being Hawaii and all, but I wasn’t sure if I’d either like it or be able to stomach it, not having eaten seafood in decades. So I opted on the only safe thing I remembered liking: scallops.
Upon our return, I took a few more slices of pineapple in a bowl to the beach to watch the sun set on our final day in Hawaii.
With everything checked off on my list: pineapple, beach, Pearl Harbor, Dole plantation and more beach time! The added bonus of seeing turtles swim around was a cherry on top of the trip!
The next day, I got to the airport way earlier than I needed to, as the line at the best coffee shop in Hale’iwa (Coffee Market) was too long. I thought I’d be late if we waited, but it turns out, I was likely wrong. Instead, since I was there early, I figured there would be some local restaurants serving breakfast food past the security gates at HNL. Nope: I had to settle with Starbucks. I hope with the airport renovations they’re doing, they opt for expanding their food services, and not adding to their endless amount of high-end fashion stores.
In case you’re wondering: yes, I ate the entire pineapple. In a day. By myself. It was DELICIOUS!!!
Aloha, Oahu. Mahalo for the great trip! Hopefully, next time, my Hawaiian pronunciations will improve…