Love & Light and everything bright...

15 Aug 2011

Updated May 28, 2011 - Hula, Royal Tour, Diamondhead Park, Waikiki, Opera Gala, Pokai Bay, Pipeline, Polynesian Dances, Kailua Beach... and More

Discovering Enchanted Oahu: Beyond Honolulu

Visits to three of four island shores



Oahu map - May 25-27 trip



(Morning view from our hotel window)      (Sunset view from our hotel window)



Visit to three of four island's shores

Discovering Enchanted Oahu: Beyond Honolulu

Hula, Royal Iolani Palace, Diamondhead Park, Waikiki, Opera Gala;

Pokai Bay, Pipeline, Polynesian Dances;

Kailua Beach... and More

HAIKU, Maui, May 28 - When Elizabeth and I travel, we like to be surprised.  Unexpected is the norm, not an exception.  On most of our trips, we have maybe one or three things lined up in advance.  Which are the reason for traveling.  Beyond that, spur of the moment decisions and spontaneous turn of events provide the tailwind which determines our direction and speed.  Just like our latest trip to Oahu...

Those who fly to Honolulu and spend their vacations lounging around Waikiki hotel pools and beaches, thinking that's Hawaii, are missing more than half the fun and 90% of the beauty of our tropical paradise.  Sure, there are many beautiful things in Honolulu.  But few are anywhere near Waikiki.  In fact, Honolulu beyond Waikiki is one of the most delightful cities in the world.  As far as the cities go, that is.  One reason for it is its beautiful trees and open spaces.  Monkeypod, Banyan, Royal Poincinanas, Rainbow Showers, Plumeria (trees) are not the names you would find in typical tourist brochures.  But they are the heart and soul of Honolulu and Hawaiian islands, especially when they are in bloom, such as now.

Nearly everything Hawaiian women use as jewelry comes either from the land (flowers) or the ocean (shells, pearls).  They weave them like the finest tapestry into leis and songs of Hula dances.  And music and dancing is every bit a part of our every trip as are hotels and rental cars.  Except we don't have to look for them.  Music and dances usually find us.  As they did immediately upon our arrival in Honolulu at the Hilo Hattie (store)...

Since this is the biggest Hilo Hattie store in Hawaii, and we had never been to it before, Elizabeth suggested on a spur of the moment we stop there on our way to the hotel.  A shot while later, we heard Hawaiian music.  A special Hula show was starting.  Check out this music video in which Elizabeth appears as a special "guest star" of the show... :-)

Hilo Hattie Hula with Elizabeth as Guest Star (May 25, 2011)


Once we got to the hotel, we were delighted by the view from our window (below left)...

The two panorama shots (middle), each made up of three different frames, offer the same view in the morning and at sunset.  My one concession on this trip to Elizabeth's love affair with shopping was a quick visit to the Ala Moana mall, where she got some items at Victoria Secret while I waited in a pink high-back chair surrounded by estrogen (right). :-)

Royal Iolani Palace, St. Andrews Cathedral

In the afternoon, I suggested we visit the Royal Iolani Palace where once the Hawaiian kings and queens resided.  Ever since we moved to Hawaii, I have felt very well connected and welcome by the land, the ocean and the spirits.  But even though I have read a fair bit about its history, I felt I was lacking a personal connection to the island's past.  So off the palace we went...


The Iolani palace was built in 1882 by Hawaii's last king, David Kalakaua.  Its name means a royal or heavenly hawk.  Since King Kalakaua did not leave an heir, he was succeeded by his sister, Queen Liliuokalani.  The queen was deposed in 1893 in a coup d'etat led by American businessmen and backed by the bayonets of the U.S. Marines from USS Boston.  Thus ended the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Hawaii which was at the time recognized as an independent country by Britain, France, Germany... and yes, the United States, too.  The last Hawaiian Queen spent eight months as a prisoner in a single room in her own palace.

One hundred years later, the U.S. Congress passed Public Law 103-150, otherwise known as the Apology Resolution, signed by President Bill Clinton on Nov 23, 1993. The resolution apologized for the U.S. Government's role in supporting the 1893 overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

But did we return the ill-gotten property?  No.  Did we reinstate the Hawaiian sovereignty?  No.  Yet the Hawaiians may consider themselves relatively fortunate.  The Native Americans did not even get an apology for the "ethnic cleansing" and slaughter Washington perpetrated against them in the 19th century.  Instead, they were herded like cattle and forced into reservations. 

Yet, the native Hawaiians were hardly fortunate.  In the hundred years or so since Captain Cook landed in Hawaii as the first white man to make contact with the natives,  the Hawaiian population has been decimated by white man diseases against which they had no immunity.  The pogrom was more effective than any war white man may have waged against the natives.  By the time Hawaii lost its sovereignty, its population was reduced to only about a fifth of that in late 18th century.  And today, the native Hawaiians and other Polynesian races account for only 9% of state's population.

By the way, Captain Cook landed in Hawaii, which he called Sandwich Islands, in 1779.  He was killed on the Big Island in a fight with the natives over a stolen boat.  Who would have thought that a century later, white man would steal the whole archipelago along with the natives' health.  The beautiful but empty Iolani Palace is a sobering reminder of frailties of cultures, freedom and royalty.  And what can happen when someone is enamored of technology.

You see, the Hawaiian royals had close ties with the British monarchy, and were far more "progressive" than many other modern societies of the 19th century.  The Iolani Palace had electricity and running water, for example, before the White House or the Buckingham Palace had installed the same.  Sadly, the modern American invention merely illuminated the royals' demise.

What remains, however, is the natural beauty.  Take a look at the above shots of the magnificent trees around the palace.  And then look at the Hawaii State Capitol... that modern structure in the middle right shot.  And then contrast it with the old Iolani Palace lurking in the deep background of the rightmost shot.  Which one looks more beautiful to you?

As we walked back to our car from the palace, we stopped to check out St. Andrews Cathedral.  As you might have guessed, it is an Episcopalian church (meaning Anglican).  And it has the look and feel of many English places of worship we have visited, including the beautiful stained glass over the entrance door.  The latter reminded this writer of the Glastonbury Cathedral in England (click here to see it).

And as is usually the case with our travels, the music found us again.  :-) An orchestra composed of children who attend the St. Andrews private school was rehearsing in the sanctuary near the altar just as we walked in (middle right).

Diamondhead Park, Waikiki

After this sojourn into history and culture, I thought we needed a contrast.  We found it in nature at the opposite end of Waikiki... in a lovely park nestled between the Zoo and Diamondhead (volcano), about 10 minutes' drive from the government offices.

The park is separated by a line of Ironwood trees from the Waikiki beach (middle left). In the distance, a group of boys (in red) and girls (in white) were practicing soccer.  It was quite windy, as you can see in the far right shot. Not only is our hair flying, but Elizabeth is trying to keep her balance against the wind by leaning on me. :-)

Since this is the far end of Waikiki, you don't get the hustle and bustle feel of Honolulu's busiest tourist district.  Back at the hotel, Elizabeth posed next to a beautiful Anthurium arrangement next to the elevators (middle right).  A few hours later, I did the same between two large Anthurium arrangements in the lobby.

Hawaii Opera Dinner Gala

One of the planned reasons for this trip was a Hawaii Opera dinner gala which as wanted to attend as members and supporters of the opera.  It was a lovely evening.  Two of the opera stars and performers were seated at our table.  Which made for some interesting conversations.  For those of you who may not be aware of it, Hawaii Opera is truly a world class organization, as are its performances.  Most of the opera singers, including the two at our table, also perform elsewhere.  The soprano, Jacqueline Quirk, for example, one of the two seated with us, had just returned the night before from a performance at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, for example.

Meanwhile, the opera event gave Elizabeth an opportunity to dress up (which she loves to do).  And so did I, but only to the extent of providing a suitable backdrop. :-)  The marina (left) and the flowers )right) did a much better job of it. :-)

To be continued...

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