Close, but it was the 25th floor!
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Room 2500 of the Hilton Hawaiian Village‘s Rainbow Tower in Waikiki was my home base during my Oahu vacation last week. It’s a fabulous corner room with spectacular views from two balconies.
Still, GPC’s answer to yesterday’s clue is close enough to make him the winner of the “Where am I?” game and all appropriate bragging rights.
The picture in yesterday’s hint was taken from the room’s harbor-side lanai. Here’s the view from the ocean-side balcony:
The beachfront resort is enormous, with a spa, five pools, and even resident wildlife including macaws, flamingoes, and tropical penguins.
The Hilton Hawaiian Village also boasts lots of restaurants. The premier is Bali Oceanfront, which serves upscale American standards like steaks and seafood and offers fabulous views of Waikiki Beach. The Blue Hawaiian cocktail was created at the resort’s Tapa Bar, according to legend.
My companion and I especially enjoyed two of the resort’s casual places: Hatsuhana, where I had delicious teriyaki atop the best rice I’ve ever tasted, and Round Table Pizza, where we liked the Maui Zaui so much that we ordered it twice. We also enjoyed the daily breakfast buffet, which was complimentary thanks to my Hilton HHonors gold status.
Waikiki is an oceanfront neighborhood in Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii. It’s also the main resort area on Oahu, so if you’re visiting the island, it’s most likely where you’ll be staying. Other good hotels include:
My companion and I travelled around via TheBus, Oahu’s public transportation system; it worked, but in retrospect I’d recommend renting a car. The island’s small discrete areas are pleasantly walkable.
Oahu’s nickname is “the Gathering Place”. The climate is nearly perfect, with warm temperatures and ocean breezes. It’s beautifully colorful, with bright flowers, tropical birds, and frequent rainbows from quick cooling rain showers under the sun.
Oahu is filled with unique history. According to legend, it was the first Hawaiian island sighted by Captain James Cook’s crew in 1778. He charted Pacific islands and surveyed their topographical features. He died in 1779 while attempting to kidnap the king of the island of Hawaii in order to ransom him for the return of one of his ships’ longboats, which had been stolen by native Hawaiians.
In 1783, King Kahekili II of Maui conquered Oahu, overthrew the island’s reigning family, and replaced the monarch with his son Kalanikūpule.
In 1795, Kamehameha I conquered Oahu and founded the kingdom of Hawaii after defeating Kalanikūpule at the Battle of Nuuanu, forcing 800 of the latter’s warriors off a 1,000-foot cliff.
In 1845, his son Kamehameha III moved Hawaii’s capital from Lāhainā, Maui, to Honolulu.
In 1878, the United States annexed the Hawaiian islands and deposed reigning Queen Liliuokalani.
In 1898, construction workers found the likely remains of the Nuuanu warriors below the cliff.
Hawaii became the 50th state in 1959.
There are lots of things to do on Oahu; here’s how we spent our days:
Day One: Waikiki
Our first full day was take-it-easy time after the long journey from northern Virginia, through Chicago. We spent most of the day at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, roaming the beach with its soft porous sand, reading by a pool, exploring the enormous grounds and enjoying the unusual (to us) wildlife.
In the evening, we strolled along the beach to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel for its oceanfront Royal Luau. The celebration featured Hawaiian music and dancing, fabulous kalua pig with lots of side dishes, and cocktails including Mai Tais, which legend says were created at the hotel.
Day Two: Downtown Honolulu
The next day, we headed downtown to walk around and explore Hawaii’s unique history.
The building in Friday’s post is part of the Mission Houses Museum, which shows what life was like for Christian missionaries, who first arrived in Hawaii in 1820. Despite sometimes heart-breaking Providences,
they shared the gospel, provided written language, and established printing in Hawaii.
Other stops included:
- Kawaiaha’o Church
- ‘Iolani Palace
- the State Capitol building
- the statues of Queen Liliuokalani, King Kamehameha, and Father Damien, a Belgian priest who served people quarantined at the leper colony on the island of Molokai before succumbing to the disease himself
Day Three: Pearl Harbor
One of the main reasons we chose Oahu for our vacation was to pay our respects at the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, which honors the lives lost during the Japanese sneak attack.
We also explored the U.S.S. Missouri, the battleship where Japan would ultimately surrender.
Unfortunately, we didn’t leave enough time to visit the U.S.S. Bowfin, a WWII patrol submarine, or the Pacific Aviation Museum, which exhibits military aircraft, with a strong focus on Pearl Harbor and World War II.
We filled our penultimate day with a visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu’s North Shore. The PCC is like a big theme park. It recreates “villages” representing different Pacific island cultures. You can enjoy music and dancing, sample foods, and learn about traditions ranging from hunting and gathering to care for the elderly. There’s also an evening luau, but without alcohol, as the PCC is owned and operated by the LDS organization.
On the way back to Waikiki, we stopped at Kokololio Beach Park in Windward — the most undisturbed beach I’ve ever seen, where trees take the place of hotels and picnic tables quietly sit instead of snack shacks. The picture in Saturday’s clue was shot there.
Day Five: Waikiki
Our last day began with a shoreline stroll, followed by our customary delicious breakfast at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, and then one last dip in the Pacific waters of Waikiki Beach, before reluctantly heading to the airport.
Do you enjoy island travel? You might like:
I fell in love with travel on a trip to Mexico when I was nine years old. Since then, I’ve travelled the globe from Israel to El Salvador. I’ve skied the Swiss Alps and hiked national parks like Acadia, Zion, Shenandoah, and Virgin Islands. I’ve marvelled at masterpieces in the Prado, the Uffizi, the Huntington, and the National Gallery of Art. I’ve stayed in a cabin on a mountaintop in Norway and on a kibbutz along the Sea of Galilee, and been kicked out of the Ritz at the Place Vendôme. I’ve taken cooking classes from New England to the Caribbean, and watched a chef prepare traditional shakshuka in the kitchen of his restaurant in Tel Aviv. I weave historical research and my personal experiences together in writing this blog. I hope you find it helpful. Read more …