“Aloha is the unconditional desire to promote the true good of other people in a friendly spirit out of a sense of kinship”
Our Top Activities
2. Kualoa Ranch
If you are a Jurassic Park, Lost or Godzilla fan, Kualoa Ranch is an absolute must. You can explore the valley with a guide by horse back, by ATV or on a bus. We tried out both the 2 hour ATV tour and the Jungle Expedition.
During the Jungle Expedition, guests board one of the ranches jungle vehicles for a 90 minute tour that rumbles through a Hawaiian rain forest along jungle trails, through isolated stream beds and powers up steep, bumpy hills. On this tour you get the chance to see a several famous movie site locations and sets, including some from Jurassic World and a few other surprises! On the tour, guests experience secluded spots that overlook Oahu’s eastern coastline and see the ranch’s 800 year old ancient Hawaiian fishpond.
The ATV tour is an absolute must do in my eyes. There is both a 1 hour and 2 hour tour available. We did the 2 hour tour and I would imagine that the 1 hour tour would be far too short. The one and two-hour ATV rides take guests through scenic valleys and remote areas rarely visited by others. The guided ATV tours go out rain or shine – crossing streams and diggin’ through dirt are just part of the fun! The film set locations that you get to visit were absolutely incredible and included where the Gyrosphere ride started in Jurassic World, the valley of bones from King: Skull Island, Godzilla’s footprints and Hurley’s golf course from Lost.
3. Pearl Harbour
You can’t visit Oahu without spending the day at Pearl Harbor. This is where you can visit the spot where the US involvement in WWII began, and where it ended.Our morning started very early, arriving at Pearl Harbour at about 8.30. Our day began with a fully guided audio tour of the USS Missouri, the last battleship built by the United States. As you stand on Surrender Deck, envision General Douglas MacArthur’s signing of the treaty that ended WWII. Overlooking the massive guns of the “Mighty Mo,” you’ll have a spectacular view of the Arizona Memorial. Located just outside of the “Mighty Mo,” you’ll find the USS Oklahoma Memorial, a tribute to the 429 men who lost their lives when the ship capsized in Battleship Row.
After watching a short documentary movie (which unfortunatley wouldn’t play fully for us), a Navy vessel took us to the pristine USS Arizona Memorial, constructed directly above the mid-section of the sunken ship. You can still see the oil that continues to leak from the ship and dissipates at the surface, known as the “Black Tears of the Arizona.”
We finished our day with a look around the the USS Bowfin. This was launched exactly 1 year after the attack on Pearl Harbor and was aptly nicknamed the “Pearl Harbor Avenger.”
No visit to Hawaii is complete without visiting a Luau. 2 days before we left Oahu, we visited Paradise Cove for an evening of Polynesian culture.
A tropical Mai Tai greeting and traditional Hawaiian music set the festive mood of the evening when we arrived. You are given Lei made from either orchids or shells, which indicated which package you have purchased and where you are to sit.
The evening began with the opportunity to try some Hawaiian activities such as spear throwing, ‘Ulu maika’ (consisted of rolling carefully crafted playing stones, somewhat resembling modern hockey pucks, on specially prepared courses, between stakes), a Shower of Flowers from a Hawaiian who climbed a coconut tree. Ronan the participated in a Hukilau Ceremony, which is a ceremonial pulling of the fish nets to the rhythms of the conch shell and Hawaiian chants.
The evening continued with a buffet feast in the company of friends, old and new at long tables, where you are encouraged to get to know those around you, in the true spirit of Aloha.
With the most spectacular Hawaiian sunset as a backdrop, the evening finshed with the Paradie Cove award-winning performers entertaining and amazing us with an unforgettable display of songs and dances of Hawaii and Polynesian culture. As Hawaii is a popular wedding and honeymoon destination, a traditional Hawaiian wedding song is played, allowing all the couples attending to get up to dance together. Surprisingly, after 4 and half years of dating, this was the first time Ronan and I have ever done a slow dance together…
5. Get in the Water – With Sharks
Ronan has a fascination and love for sharks and discovered that you have the opportunity to swim with sharks on the north shore – with no cage. This was one of the most amazing and fascination things I have ever seen. Ronan had this amazing morning though One Ocean Diving. On the lovely morning we went, there was about 40 sharks in the water, including several sandbar and Galapagos sharks. The sharks were amazingly timid due to their social structure, where the alpha swims closest to the surface, so the humans in the waters were considered the most dominant and so the sharks didn’t get overly close.
Of course, surfing is practically a religion in Hawaii, so naturally Ronan couldn’t resist getting a board and getting out to some waves. Surf boards are readily available to rent at very affordable prices and most of the rental places offer lessons also, so there’s no reason for people who haven’t surfed before to give it a go. The waves at North Shore are a little bigger than at Waikiki so I’d suggest that beginners start out in Waikiki first. If your just wanting to watch some great surfers, North Shore is brilliant, with lovely beaches (which are quieter than at Waikiki too).
6. Duke’s Restaurant, Waikiki
Duke’s was a great recommendation of a restaurant which we got from a shop owner. Dinner at sunset on the beach front was well worth the 45 minute wait fir a table. The food was top class and very reasonable priced while the service was brilliant.
Places to Avoid
There aren’t many places on my travels I’d recommend people to avoid, but Honolulu Zoo is perhaps one of very, very few. If you are an animal lover, like we are, you will more than likely come out feeling every bit as upset as we did. The enclosures for the animals are extremely small in my eyes and the animals seemed very unhappy. Several of the enclosures appeared to have no fresh water for the animals and grazing animals, such as the cattle, had no hay to eat and were subject to “feeding times”. Zoo keepers seemed non existent in the zoo, to the point where there was signs with a contact number if you saw an issue.
One of the most worrying things I saw were the elephants. There are only 2 elephants in the zoo, which is far below the recommend level for elephants in zoos as elephants are very social animals who live in much larger herds normally. One of the elephants appeared to have her foot stuck in a tire, and when we mentioned this it was completely dismissed and were told that it was her favorite toy. Upon further research, after practically running out of the zoo with tears in my eyes, I discovered that Honolulu Zoo was among the 10 Worst Zoos for elephants in 2016.
“Vaigai and Mari, two female Indian elephants, had the misfortune of being kidnapped from India only to be victimized for decades by Honolulu Zoo’s inability to provide them with reasonably consistent and decent management even by captive facility standards. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) withdrew Honolulu Zoo’s accreditation in 2016 after its 2015 inspection. Five Honolulu Zoo directors have quit in the past six years.
A former chief of the AZA even reported in late 2016 that the elephants were playing with a car battery that they had recently found or dug up. Violations at Honolulu Zoo included too little shade provided for the elephants from the direct sun, inadequately tested and brackish water, a notable absence of habitat enrichment, and unsafe rocks that posed a danger to elephants’ feet. A primary key reason cited for the loss of accreditation was the Zoo’s long history of lacking funds and support from the City and County of Honolulu, the Zoo’s legally-bound administrators. Hawaii voters recently approved an amendment to prop up the failing zoo through tax revenues.
Honolulu Zoo expanded its elephant exhibit at a cost of 12 million dollars, but still made our 2011 list. As we noted then, the enclosure was already outdated and far too small to meet evolving standards. The Zoo still puts elephants and keepers at risk by putting staff in direct contact with the elephants while brandishing bullhooks – which are nothing less than weapons- to control elephants through pain and fear.”
Traveled to Hawaii from 13-28 March 2017