I imagined that all of Oahu would be towering hotels and condos, crowded beaches and tourists everywhere.
We are staying in the North Shore, and roadside signs shout, KEEP THE COUNTRY COUNTRY. There are miles of accessible shoreline and low rise buildings. I kept thinking 'wow' with every turn of the corner. Although I'm not sure how long people will successfully fight development, the natural beauty here must be a constant inspiration.
|photo credit: Julian Wilson|
Rob and I enjoyed several beaches. Sunset Beach, Waimea, Pupukea, Haleiwa. Banzai Pipeline. The waves are huge, and it is easy to lose the scale of things until you see the surfers riding the blue curls of the sea. The Volcom Pipe Pro is bringing 112 pro surfers to compete for a spot in the Pipeline Masters and a $100,000 prize. Amazing to watch the balance and grace of these athletes in motion.
There was also the beauty of Waimea Falls Park and the Botanical Gardens. If I lived nearby I would be visiting every day. The botanical gardens are organized by region, and it is possible to explore endemic botanicals from all over the tropics, including one tiny island 600 miles southwest of Tokyo. Interspersed throughout are archeological sites and depictions of Polynesian villages.
Although we didn't stay in Honolulu long, we did see the Iolani Palace. Built 1879-82 in an "American Florentine" style., the palace had electricity and telephone service long before the White House and Buckingham Palace, and was a wonder in its day. Later abandoned it fell into disrepair, but has been restored to its former glory. One room housed the Queen's Quilt. The patchwork crazy quilt was created in a fashionable Victorian style, and was stitched by Queen Lili'uokalani and her companions during the queen's 10 month imprisonment at Iolani Palace in 1895. When I saw it, it instantly reminded me of the quilt at the Victoria and Albert museum, stitched by Mary Queen of Scots during her imprisonment in the 1570s.
Before venturing to the airport we had a glimpse of Waikiki Beach and the Royal Hawaiian. So many tall buildings and expensive stores. One place we wanted to see but couldn't, because it was fully booked, was Shangri La, the house and Islamic art collection built by Doris Duke. Tours need to be booked weeks ahead, so we were out of luck. The virtual tour leaves me wanting more.