Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Things to do in Honolulu, Hawaii


the main part, doing things with family (I'm not actually conservative, as implied)

As I've mentioned in at least one post that I'm back in Honolulu, this time for 2+ months until the end of the kids' school year.  Job hunting never did work out, so I'm still working remotely in an IT job based in Bangkok.  The kids do well, and schooling goes ok, so the main themes are on track.

This is really about what we've been doing, what a Spring Break is like when you take your local kids to do outdoor activities in the local area.  I guess it overlaps a good bit with what a tourist would do, just without the emphasis on spending thousands of dollars in a week, which just isn't an option.  There is a zoo, aquarium, and museums around, with two great versions related to art and science (Honolulu Museum of Art and the Bishop museum), but this doesn't go into that, even though we covered it all last year.  

Let's go with a few examples to clarify what tourist oriented themes we don't get to:

luaus:  I've never experienced this, even though I spent two years in grad school here, and two other short spans living here recently.  I suppose the food would overlap with what I have already tried, roasted pig and such, then there would be hula or fire dancing.  It's not completely separate from a dinner show at the Polynesian Cultural Center, which I have experienced.

PCC:  this is a theme park based around demonstrating old forms of traditions in Polynesia, in Hawaii and other "local" islands like Guam, Samoa, Fiji and so on.  It's ran by Mormons.  I don't see it as necessarily authentic, but surely most of the show themes tie back to actual cultural history.  In Trip Advisor review comments people either love the experience or hate it, tipped towards people liking it based on self-selection, mostly people on that page going there.

awhile back

Disney / other venues:  I have no idea what a small local Disney outlet is all about.  It's nothing like the full scale Disneyland or Disney World versions, but I don't what it is like.

we did go to a local water park recently, Wet and Wild

whale watching, other boat tours:  we wouldn't go on a boat or take any tours; we are poor locals.  We did go on a whale watching boat tour once, and it was pretty cool, since we saw humpback whales breaching.  You don't need to take a tour to snorkel, although going in the wrong place you will just see the sandy beachfront bottom.

What we have been doing:

Hanauma Bay:  a main draw on Oahu, a nature preserve with great snorkeling.  It's a little sad that high tourist visitation in the past, combined with use of sunscreens with ingredients that harmed living coral, has impacted the ecological health of this area.  They offset that now by requiring use of reef-safe sunscreen and closing the area for two days a week to let it recover, and limiting visitor count.  A good alternative right in Waikiki is Queen's beach, beside the old film screen framework across from the zoo and Kapiolani park (the beach in the local pictures here).

monk seals joined us, sunning on the beach nearby

hikes:  we've did three in the past three weeks, a waterfall hike outside of the city and two ridgeline hike variations at the near edge of the city, one out of St. Louis Heights and the other out of the Manoa valley.  Those last two are essentially the same place.  Manoa falls is the main local hike, along with walking up Diamondhead (volcano crater).  

The great part about local hikes is that you can take a bus for a half an hour or so and be at the foot of a trail, where it's a 45 minute commute for us to get to most local places back in Bangkok, still another 45 minute commute further to completely leave the city.  

Tropical forests are great, the look and feel.  To me ridgelines have an even nicer energy to them, along with great views and pleasant sunny and breezy weather.

Lulumahu falls; a nice spot, but the trail route is a bit confusing

Beaches, Waikiki and others:  some are crowded and not so great, but towards the edges crowds thin and some parts are really nice.  I was seeing sea turtles on most of the early snorkeling outings.  

From our house we can walk over to the nearest nice beach for snorkeling in under 10 minutes (Queen's beach, but it's really just the end of the Waikiki area).  My kids are learning to surf, with my wife trading homemade Thai food for lessons from a neighbor who is an instructor.  It all works out.

the beach near our house, the one edge of Waikiki

mountain view from a North shore beach

12 years ago, in the same place

running:  I'm back to running around Diamondhead, in much cooler weather than I could hope for in the cool season back in Bangkok, down to 21 C or so, in the 60s F.  I've been too busy with the kids to lean into training, so I've only ran that loop three times.  It seems that with any degree of consistency I could train for cardio improvement easily, with working through heat exhaustion dropped out.

including a walk to a park and stretch; the real pace was a little faster

12 years ago, at the local zoo, with Diamondhead in the background

local parks:  parks are parks, to an extent, but the feel of them here is a little nicer.  The weather is ideal, cool, sunny, and breezy, and the tropical theme makes it all look like a postcard.  

Kalani has been playing volleyball in a park league so we've been practicing for that in the nearest park, and I've been to a couple of her practices, and two games (drifting off the vacation outing theme).  We just bought Keoni a new bike, and he has already started biking around the large local park (Kapiolani), and will move on to wherever else through city streets.  

The parks are mostly for locals to have outdoor space access, for events or picnics and such, with tennis courts there, and with a concert venue (Waikiki Shell) and local event area (Kapiolani Park Bandstand), but tourists might also like walking through to see what's around.  There are two good shave-ice places on the north and northwest side of that park (Monsarrat and Shimazu), and local food and fast food options just up Kapiolani road on the west side. 

There is a magical sort of feel to all of Hawaii that you can only really experience if you slow things down and tune into it, and get at least a little space from malls, hotel spaces, traffic, tours, and crowded beaches.  Tourists rushing around to check off a list of things to do might miss it.  

If necessary visitors should schedule in time to walk along a less crowded beach (they're better on the east side of the island, but the edges of Waikiki are close enough), watch a sunset, or to spend an extra half an hour eating a lunch in a park.  Or a waterfall or ridgeline hike is fine, you just need to remember to take a few deep breaths and experience the environment, instead of only the noise in your own head.  

If you have kids getting that break and extra space may seem impossible, but then it's all the more important to guide them to appreciate and love the feel of the environment, instead of just shouting and stomping through it.

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