As soon as we stepped off the plane in Honolulu we went back in time: firstly we’d left Sydney at 5:45pm on Sunday and it was now 5:45am the same day and secondly because the airport looks like it hasn’t changed since it was built – it definitely had an 70-80’s vibe to it.
The next strange thing was accepting that we were in the USA (considering we were on an island in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean and 2,282 miles from main land America). My initial fear was that Stu wasn’t going to be allowed in. He forgot to apply for his ESTA which he did in the queue to check in at Sydney Airport (on a Sunday afternoon). Luckily we got through so the visa must have been approved mid-flight *Face palm*.
We walked outside of the airport and tried to find Robert’s shuttle company to take us to the centre of town. Local buses won’t allow you to board with suitcases so our best bet was a $34 each return to our accomodation from the airport which was fine… although let’s not forget the tipping that you need to add on – I need to get used to this tipping thing!
We got to Waikiki Boutique hostel in about 25 minutes, were 2 blocks from the beach and with less than 36 hours in Honolulu we had a lot of ground to cover. I’d been sent “to do” lists from my friend Sophie and cousin Veronica and also looked at the activities the hostel recommended but we narrowed it down to the 3 things we thought looked the most enjoyable.
1) Koko Head
We purchased a day ticket on the bus for $5 which meant we were covered for the whole day.
Koko Head is 1,048 steps along an old railway line, directly up the side of the “mountain”, up to an amazing view point.
This was a nice morning to early afternoon activity (although be warned as this is peak sunshine so rather sweaty)! I personally found it really challenging because I had to concentrate on my balance but some people literally ran up with their dogs. What was really weird was the sound of gun shots the whole way up from the local shooting range next door. We really do feel like we’re in America now.
I’d recommend wearing flat trainers/tennis shoes for this, not flip flops.
A short walk away from Koko Head is Hanouma Bay; you have to pay to go onto the beach or you can just watch from above and enjoy the view for free.
2) Manoa Falls and Lyon Arboretum
Manoa Falls is a roughly 40 minute bus journey from downtown Waikiki, followed by a 10 minute walk to the car park, then the final trek to the falls is a further 45 minutes.
As soon as you enter the Lyon Arboretum park you remember what it’s famous for: Jurassic Park.
3) Diamond Head
We finished the evening the same way we started the day, at Waikiki Beach. Waikiki is very touristy and had a bit of an LA vibe to it – but honestly I did love Hawaii more than I expected. I definitely want to explore the islands next time.