48 Hours on Oahu


It’s true what they say about Oahu, it really is the gathering place. Most people stop off on Oahu on their way to other islands. What to do if you’ve only got a day or two?

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Of course there are the beaches, so many beaches. But there is so much more. We had only 48 hours on Oahu before joining the rest of the family on Kauai. My husband and I had lived on Oahu for the first two years of our marriage and we were eager to share this special place with our children. But how do you summarize two years of living into two days?

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We landed mid afternoon. With a five hour time difference between Hawaii and Michigan, we felt wiped out. However, Hawaii is rejuvenating! We had no problem rallying our energies. My teenage son, while still in the airport, began repeating “I love it here. Hawaii is amazing. I just love this vibe. I don’t know what it is but I just don’t feel negative about anything or anyone.” Skeptically, I pointed out that we hadn’t yet left the airport. I’m pleased to announce that his positivity lasted a week.

After picking up our rental car we were just in time for rush hour traffic in Honolulu. The slow goings helped us look around and settle into the vibe. Naturally we tuned the car radio to the local station. I had missed those tunes!

We took it easy that first night, with no formal plans. We walked around Waikiki until it was a respectable bedtime, forcing ourselves into the time zone as quickly as possible. I told my children of my experience in Hawaii so many years earlier: the first time I ever experienced warm and dark at the same time. For a girl from the far north, that was new to me.

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Good morning, Waikiki! Hello there, Diamonhead!

We awoke early, watched the sunrise from our hotel room, and packed up to explore the island.

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My favourite: glassy, silvery seas in the morning.

We stopped at Kaneohe Beach Park and then continued up the windward side of the island.

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Our next stop was Pounders Beach. We told the boys stories of our time there, made contact with the first wild chickens, and continued on.

We were lucky. The surf was good. We confirmed our suspicious from the airplane that the number of surfer looking dudes meant we were in time for an invitational. It did mean the surf spots were getting crowded, even early in the morning. But we enjoyed seeing the surfers from afar.

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Mahalo, Haleiwa

We stopped in Hale’iwa. Again, the beaches were full of surfers, but that meant the shops weren’t yet too crowded. After some shave ice, some shopping, and a quick lunch at Kua Aina Burger because our favourite shrimp truck (the only one that existed when we were here before) wasn’t yet open.

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And, of course, saw more chickens.

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We stopped at the farmers market at BYUHawaii after driving through the campus, and met an old friend. Then finally we went to the Polynesian Cultural Center. I’ve written more in depth about our visit to the PCC here. It’s a very special place.

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I had always known that Oahu was the gathering place. I had hoped to meet up with at least one friend who was on the island. However I had not expected to meet up with friends from high school who were not only on Oahu at the same time but were at PCC on the same day! Toward the end of the day I even ran into a former coworker/boss who excitedly showed us some of the changes from since we had left. We will treasure our memories of PCC forever.

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We spent that night at a hotel on the north shore, knowing that once the PCC night show was over we’d be tired and ready to go straight to sleep.

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The next morning we went to the Aloha swap meet for some souvenirs (and memories) before going to Iolani Palace (which I wrote in detail about here.)

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We took some scenic routes around the island and promised to make it to Pearl Harbor on our next visit to the island. We picked up some essentials (and lunch) at Ala Moana, sharing again some special memories from our early days. And then it was time to head to the airport.

So no, definitely, I’m not saying that 48 hours is enough to see even the bare minimum of what we wanted to see on Oahu. Not at all. But it was a start. It was a taste.

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We will return. And it won’t be 17 years before we return. (I hope!)

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