We just returned from a trip to Honolulu. We didn’t plan on going to Honolulu this year; but unfortunately, a dear uncle of mine passed away suddenly (and peacefully) and this event brought us to this tropical paradise. As I reflect on my uncle and the time I spent with him throughout the years, I realize that he has had a lasting impact on me.
I’ll start this blog post with my dearest memories of him and I’ll end with some travel tips. I think this is totally appropriate, and I know he would approve, given his devotion to his family and to traveling with his family.
The most treasured heirlooms are the sweet memories of family.
More than anything I will remember my uncle by by his laughter and his smile. He was always so happy and belly laughed heartily. His positivity and encouragement was a light shining constantly on our lives.
He loved his family. He was completely devoted to my aunt – his wife of close to 50 years – my cousins and their families. His door was always open and he welcomed all members of his family and friends with a warm heart and open arms. All were welcome in his home.
He loved the beauty and serenity of nature. Growing up we would spend summers together with him, my aunt, and cousins. I remember our families piling into his van and driving to the Grand Canyon, Saguaro National Park, Sedona, and Flagstaff. He knew all about these places and would narrate facts about the landscape and the people living in these spaces.
And, he constantly encouraged me to push myself to do better and pursue my education. He would ask critical questions of the choices I would make as I grew up because he wanted nothing more than to see me succeed in life.
So last week, we traveled over four thousand miles to honor his life and his memory in one of the most beautiful places on earth – the island of O’ahu in Hawaii. While much of our time was spent with family, we were able to find some time to see some of the island where he lived and witness its spectacular beauty. As we toured the island, I could imagine him narrating facts about the landscape and people of O’ahu. I look forward to returning to see and explore more of this paradise in the future. If you go….
Fourth of July
Celebrating the Fourth of July in Honolulu is a treat in itself. The beaches are filled with family and friends celebrating our nation’s Independence Day. Pop up tents, BBQs, and games of all sorts riddle the sandy beaches of Waikiki and Kaimana, and Queen Kapiolani Park. The night ends with an extravagant fireworks show that can be viewed up and down the shoreline.
Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head
Booking a hotel 72 hours prior to a trip to Honolulu in the high season with an arrival date of the Fourth of July is seriously challenging. Availability is scarce and the laws of supply and demand dictate room rates. That said, we lucked out and were able to book a room for five nights and the stylish Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head (formerly the W Hotel). Nestled at the quiet end of Waikiki, this boutique hotel was not only affordable (all things equal) but it was also a real gem of a find as well.
The rooms were spacious and stylish and ours had a spectacular view of Diamond Head off of our balcony. Our daily rate included complimentary breakfast, morning yoga, bicycles, beach chairs and beach towels, bottles of water, complementary surfing or stand up paddling lessons, and wifi. There was even an afternoon happy hour with complimentary wine and snacks. The hotel was a two minute walk to Kaimana Beach and a ten minute walk to Waikiki Beach.
The staff was totally attentive to our needs, offering us advice and suggestions all week long. The concierge even spent one morning calling all of the rental car companies trying to locate a car for us so that we wouldn’t have to worry about finding transportation to and from family events.
Car Rental or Car Share?
Given the Fourth of July holiday and RimPac, the world’s largest maritime military exercise, there were no rental cars available. That was ok because we either walked or we took Lyft or Uber everywhere we needed to go. We chose the ride share options because the prices tended to be predictable than taxis. Most of the time, there seemed to be more Lyft drivers available and the Lyft prices tended to be less than that offered by Uber. We were even able to easily book car travel from both companies to and from my uncle’s home which is located approximately one hour away from Waikiki.
By the way, when we return to this beautiful island (and we will return) we will approach the experience as a road trip.
Food, Wonderful, Wonderful Food!
While most of our meals were shared with our family, we did have a chance to experience some delicious restaurant in Waikiki. Our favorites included Ramen Nakamura, Ono’s Hawaiian Food, the Rainbow Drive In, Uncle Bo’s Pupu Bar and Grill, and Leonard’s Bakery.
Aside from the limited time we spent on Kaimana Beach, the only tourist experience we enjoyed was the Waikiki Trolley. Our excursion on the trolley occurred on our final day prior to our red eye flight back to the mainland. We chose the Blue Line tour which took us along the Maunalua – Makapuu Scenic byway. Along the way we saw postcard perfect views of the O’ahu Eastern shore from Hanauma Bay, the Halona Blow Hole, Sandy Beach, to Makapuu Lighthouse and beach. It was truly spectacular.
Dorothy Hoffman is the creator of the travel blog, Squirts and Seniors. She is a Gen X-er who writes about traveling at home and abroad with her young son and aging parents.