On our way back from Seattle to Auckland, we had a 21-hour layover in Honolulu, landing at noon and departing at 9 a.m. on the next day. We’d flown through there to get to Maui but hadn’t left the airport, so we were keen to do some exploring.
After flying in over Pearl Harbor, spotting a nuclear submarine on its way out to sea, we caught a taxi to our hotel on the southerly end of Waikiki. Since we couldn’t check into our room until 3 p.m., we dropped off our luggage and headed into the downtown area.
Maui has sprawling resorts along the beach but not much else; in contrast, Honolulu has high-rise hotels along the beach with high-end shopping and dining behind. It definitely had a big-city vibe, but we managed to find a small Vietnamese place off the main streets for lunch. On our way back, we spotted an unusual sight:
It even made the evening news that night!
We walked along the famous Waikiki Beach, envying all the swimmers and sunbathers. Along the beach, people were shaded by large, gnarled banyan trees which were also favorites of the local birds.
All the concrete made it seem hotter than it was in Maui, and we were happy to reach the hotel, check in, and then immediately head back out to the beach.
The water was so warm it felt like swimming in a warm bath. Reefs kept the waves mild (though the surfers still had nice swells beyond the reef) and the water was not very deep, even far from the beach. The only downside was the sharp rocks and coral underfoot, but we didn’t care as we floated along.
We had dinner with a friend from college who is studying at the University of Hawaii (lucky!) She took us to a nice Greek place quite far from the bustle of downtown Waikiki, and we went for a Hawaiian specialty, Japanese mochi filled with ice cream, afterwards. It was dark, but still very hot, during our walk back. Despite this, the center of Waikiki was busier than during the day, with people out shopping and going for dinner. We were happy to reach our hotel room and relax before our nine-hour flight the next day.
Because of our short stay we didn’t get out to many of Oahu’s main attractions: all the more reason to go back!