Without a bump or judder to wake our slumber, the Crown Princess had silently berthed alongside Pier No. 2 before we woke to take breakfast. We could see the port in semi-darkness from our cabin TV, lines of commuter headlights snaking their way past impressive glass sky scapers on their way to work. It was only 6 am, they start work early here.
We had booked a morning tour along the scenic Pali Coast to get a feel of the island and were rewarded with a hot, humid, and sunny day. The tour left the port on time at 9.20 am, the first stop was at Waikiki Beach, the world-famous stretch of beach on Oahu’s south shore where you can find the Duke Kahanamoku Statue and fabulous views of Diamond Head.
Passing through the outskirts of Honolulu we were treated to views of the local housing, being reliably informed by our driver that all were more than a million dollars to purchase, many in the tens of millions, and is the principal reason why the native Hawaiians could not afford to buy with many now forced to live on mainland USA. In confirmation, we witnessed many shanty structures of fabric and tin at the side of the road where the poorer natives lived.
Skirting around the base of Diamond Head, its English name was given by British sailors in the 19th century, who named it for the calcite crystals on the adjacent beach thinking them as diamonds, we next stopped at Hanauma Bay to take photos before moving on around the coast to Waimanalo Beach to witness the regular spurting of a blow hole on the rocky shore. There was a stiff offshore breeze driving waves onto the rocks ensuring that waiting onlookers got spectacular photos and video of spray being ejected many metres into the air before clouds of water was caught by the wind and dowsed the surrounding beach.
Moving on along the coast road we passed several high viewpoints that gave impressive vistas of beaches and offshore islets before pulling into the obligatory tourist shop which provided some necessary retail therapy for some in our party. We had half an hour to kill, during which Sue and I were successful in feigning interest in the racks of touristy wares on offer. Waiting to board the bus we were surprised and disheartened to witness a sight that we thought we had left behind in Las Vegas, a young girl, high on some kind of drug was shouting at and threatening some invisible assailant at the side of the highway, eventually punching a telegraph pole before stomping and swearing off to cross the busy highway narrowly missing being run over by several cars. So, so shocking to see and a tragedy for the girl and her parents.
The next stop was after we had climbed up to the rim of the Diamond Head to Pali Lookout, a site of deep historical significance. Named “Pali” meaning “cliff” in Hawaiian, the Pali Lookout is the site of the Battle of Nuʻuanu, where in 1795 King Kamehameha I won the struggle that finally united Oʻahu under his rule. This fierce battle claimed hundreds of soldiers’ lives, many of which were forced off of the Pali’s sheer cliffs. It is also known for its strong and howling winds and today was no exception, holding a steady camera in the buffeting wind was difficult, but after adding a few more jpegs to the SD card I was pleased to escape to the calm and warmth of our luxury coach.
We returned to the ship by taking a route through the center of Honolulu, passing the statue of Kamehameha I, and the Iolani Palace, the royal residence of the rulers of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi beginning with Kamehameha III under the Kamehameha Dynasty and ending with Queen Liliʻuokalani.
Back on board, we had lunch before venturing out onto land again at 3 pm. It took us twenty minutes to walk along busy Ala Moana Boulevard to Waikiki beach. The beach and sea had been jam-packed with people enjoying the sun during our morning visit, but this afternoon it was much quieter. We ambled up the beach for a while before finding a vacant bench behind a Lifeguard station to sit on and watch the world go peacefully by.
Rested, I plotted a route on my phone’s GPS to the Iolani Palace and we set off to see this historic Hawaiian building. Unfortunately, it was just about to close for the day as we arrived so we had to be satisfied with a circumnavigation of the building before returning to the ship and icecreams.
Before the evening meal, we were entertained in the Princess Theatre by a Hula dance troupe from Honolulu. We had heard how important this form of dance is to Hawaiian history and has been part of its culture since ancient times, perhaps even before people were living in the islands now called Hawaii. It was a unique experience to witness the songs and movement in the flesh, the rhythmic motion of the girls interpreting the stories sung by the three musicians was pleasant and calming if nothing else to European ears and senses.
We ate our evening meal with a pleasant couple from Missouri, swapping stories of past holidays (mainly cruises) until desserts had been consumed then we went our different ways. We off to bed and they to one of the bars to seek musical entertainment. Tomorrow we have our earliest start during this trip with an 8 am adventure to the Waimea Canyon on the third Hawaiian island of Nawiliwili.
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