Waikiki, Oahu – Friday morning, April 24, our cruise ended. We left the ship, collected our luggage in the terminal and caught a cab to the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach. We would be staying there for the next three nights. We checked in about 11 AM but our room wasn’t ready yet so we took the opportunity to get some lunch. The hotel has three restaurants and a sandwich shop. We chose Duke’s Canoe Club for lunch and were pleased with the service, the food and the view of Waikiki beach. After lunch we got our room keys and went on up. We had an ocean view room on the eleventh floor. From the balcony we could see a portion of the beach on one side and the shops along Kalakaua Avenue on the other.
After we unpacked what we would need for the next few days, we went back down to the street level and checked out some of the shops both in the hotel and along the street. We came across several signs announcing Spam Jam coming up Saturday night. We knew that Spam is very popular in Hawaii, just check the menu in any McDonald’s in the islands, but a festival to celebrate the canned meat was something of a surprise to us. That was something we would have to see. We didn’t have a lot of time for exploration because we had to get back to the room to get ready for our evening at Germaine’s Luau.
The bus to Germaine’s left from the next street over but we weren’t sure exactly where. We walked over there a little early and located the place. What we found was a whole block where buses line up for many tours. There were other people going to Germaine’s as well as those going to different luaus and sunset dinner cruises. We got it all sorted out and got on the right bus with our guide Holly. Besides acting as our hostess at the luau, it was also her job to get us in a party mood before we arrived. She did well at both tasks.
Once on the Germaine’s grounds, We watched the pig being pulled out of it’s cooking pit then enjoyed a couple Mai Tais while we waited for the buffet dinner to get started. While we ate, we were entertained by the musicians and dancers on the stage. The audience participation bits were especially funny. We enjoyed the dinner and the entertainment but, it had been a long day. When we got back to the hotel we were exhausted. We had to be up early in the morning for a tour of the island of Oahu so we had to sleep fast.
Early Saturday morning we were back at the bus stop to catch the Grand Island Circle Tour. This was a full day trip that took us to Diamond Head, Nuuanu Pali Lookout, Waimea Bay, lunch at the Dole pineapple plantation, Byodo-In temple, views of the offshore Rabbit Island and Chinaman’s Hat and many other locations on Oahu.
Our driver and tour guide, Dave, did an outstanding job of keeping us entertained and informed along the way.
The vog was finally almost gone giving us the clearest day of our trip. The view from Pali Lookout was fantastic with the green hills against the blue sky and water. This is what Hawaii is supposed to look like and does most of the time.
When we got back to Waikiki, the Spam Jam was getting started. The street had been lined with food booths and music stands and was packed from sidewalk to sidewalk with locals and visitors alike. We looked around but decided to have dinner at Duke’s rather than at the festival. After our long day we wanted a real meal.
On Sunday, our last full day in Hawaii, we took the opportunity to relax. We started off at the International Market Place across the street from the hotel. This pleasant shopping area, covered by palm and banyan trees, has hundreds of shops and food stands. We didn’t buy much but we enjoyed the window shopping anyway. For lunch, we even found a place called Hank’s Haute Dogs that sold Chicago style dogs.
After lunch and a little more shopping, we crossed the street and visited Waikiki Beach. We took our pictures of the Duke Kahanamoku statue and waved at the web cam. Duke’s Canoe Club restaurant at the hotel is named for this same man and the walls there are covered with Duke pictures and memorabilia. Duke was an important factor in making Waikiki the tourist attraction it is today and references to him are everywhere.
Georgia was still recovering from her last foot surgery and had to stay out of the sand and water. That meant no swimming for us on this trip. We didn’t really miss it though. It was fun to just relax in the sun and watch the people on the beach. The weather was perfect. This was a great way to spend our last afternoon of the vacation.
Dinner was on one of the patios of the Cheesecake Factory where we could enjoy the warm evening air. Then back to the room to back our bags for home.
Home again – Monday morning we got the airport shuttle from the hotel for our flight home. Due to some crew mixup, our flight was late leaving Honolulu but, they made up most of the time and got us to Los Angeles just a little late. We still had plenty of time to make out connecting flight which left at about 12AM LA time. That got us into Chicago a little before 6AM local time on Tuesday. By the time we got home it was 7:30 and we were worn out. Travel is fun but exhausting. I needed all of Tuesday to recover before going back to work on Wednesday.