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01-19-2013, 08:24 PM   #1
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Going to Hawaii! Activity & Photo Op Suggestions Needed

I'll be going to Hawaii in 10 days. It'll be my first time, and I'd like to get some activity suggestions, as well as some suggestions for photo ops, from people who have been there before. I'll be in Honolulu for two weeks (staying with family) and besides going snorkeling, visiting the Polynesian Center, and going on a whale watching excursion I don't really know what else to do. I figured that between here and the forums at TripAdvisor I'd get a good itinerary down, LOL. Thanks for all replies!

01-19-2013, 09:06 PM   #2
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Oooh... jealous... I spent almost 4 months there years ago. Came to really love it.
The Polynesian Cultural Center is really worth a visit. Check whether they allow flash for the evening show; I can't remember but I think not.
Must hike up Diamond Head for a nice view over the city. Also Punchbowl Crater where the veterans' cemetery is, gives another angle. Panorama pix!
Botanical garden -- good for photos if you're into exotic plants. Iolani Palace & the Bishop Museum -- culture & history lessons. Marine museum, down near the waterfront -- seafaring culture & history. The aquarium, also in Waikiki, is very cool. Boat pix?: Ala Wai yacht harbour. If you're into people- & street-shots, the International Marketplace in Waikiki is colourful. There was, when I was there, also a big flea market, I think on weekends, a bus ride out of town on the Ewa side. The name escapes me for the moment. There are tours to pineapple plantations, or you could maybe just drive up that way on your own & maybe get some pix of the fields. With a bus pass, you can get pretty well anywhere & avoid driving through crazy traffic; I spent a day just riding all the way around the island on the bus. You might find some good surf pix on the north shore. And, around Koko Head way, & not far from the PCC, there is also nice coastline. There must be helicopter tours on Oahu, but I did mine on Kauai. Also there may be concerts in the parks or... what's the name of it, the concert hall ... Check the newspaper while you're there for notices about events too.
Hope some of that is helpful, & if it was, please take a moment to toss a rock in the Pacific & wish Hawaii 'aloha' from me. I miss it & would love to return some day.
Have a great time!
01-19-2013, 09:20 PM   #3
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"Punchbowl" cemetery of the Pacific
Pearl Harbor/Arizona memorial
Pipeline/Waimea Bay (north shore) surf watching
Sacred Falls hike
Pali lookout
01-19-2013, 09:40 PM   #4
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Lots of good suggestions already, but I would just like to echo that you should not miss Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona memorial. That, for me, was a very moving visit. I also enjoyed a tour of the pineapple plantation. Found out that a bowl of pineapple in Honolulu was more expensive than the mainland! Northshore was also nice - easy drive. Best of all, enjoy your trip.

01-19-2013, 10:41 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alliecat Quote
Oooh... jealous... I spent almost 4 months there years ago. Came to really love it.
The Polynesian Cultural Center is really worth a visit. Check whether they allow flash for the evening show; I can't remember but I think not.
Must hike up Diamond Head for a nice view over the city. Also Punchbowl Crater where the veterans' cemetery is, gives another angle. Panorama pix!
Botanical garden -- good for photos if you're into exotic plants. Iolani Palace & the Bishop Museum -- culture & history lessons. Marine museum, down near the waterfront -- seafaring culture & history. The aquarium, also in Waikiki, is very cool. Boat pix?: Ala Wai yacht harbour. If you're into people- & street-shots, the International Marketplace in Waikiki is colourful. There was, when I was there, also a big flea market, I think on weekends, a bus ride out of town on the Ewa side. The name escapes me for the moment. There are tours to pineapple plantations, or you could maybe just drive up that way on your own & maybe get some pix of the fields. With a bus pass, you can get pretty well anywhere & avoid driving through crazy traffic; I spent a day just riding all the way around the island on the bus. You might find some good surf pix on the north shore. And, around Koko Head way, & not far from the PCC, there is also nice coastline. There must be helicopter tours on Oahu, but I did mine on Kauai. Also there may be concerts in the parks or... what's the name of it, the concert hall ... Check the newspaper while you're there for notices about events too.
Hope some of that is helpful, & if it was, please take a moment to toss a rock in the Pacific & wish Hawaii 'aloha' from me. I miss it & would love to return some day.
Have a great time!
Thank you so much! For the Polynesian Center luau, I have lenses that are supposed to do well in low light: Pentax-A 50mm f/2, Pentax-M f/1.4, 40mm f/2.8 Limited, and my 35mm f/2.4 should be here next week. I think I'll take the 35 and 40 with me to the Center, as that's an all day excursion. I'm debating whether I should take my K-5 or my K10D, though. I'm more comfortable using the K10D because I've had it for 3 years, versus the few weeks I've had the K-5 (and hardly used it b/c of almost non-stop rain here). But, I'm thinking that I should do a K-5 crash course so I can get up to speed on it. It may look like a smaller K10D, but that's about it, LOL.

Is there a way to get up Diamond Head besides hiking? I can't physically do that.

That weekend flea market is still there. My cousin sent my aunt (her mom) a flower print sling purse from there. I'll make sure to get there and the International Marketplace to get some pics. I was told that the bus goes just about everywhere and that passes were available, so I planned to take the bus everywhere unless it was far out, then I'd rent a car. I'm too much of a fraidy cat to take a helicopter tour. I don't fly in anything smaller than a 30+ seat Embraer jet - and that's if I don't have a choice, LOL. I'll do a tethered hot air balloon "ride" to get some aerial pics if the option's available. Yes, I'm that much of a wuss. You have permission to laugh at me.

All the other ideas you gave me are being added to the list, and I will definitely add throwing a rock into the Pacific and wishing Hawaii 'aloha' just for you! Thank you again.
01-19-2013, 10:52 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by SpecialK Quote
"Punchbowl" cemetery of the Pacific
Pearl Harbor/Arizona memorial
Pipeline/Waimea Bay (north shore) surf watching
Sacred Falls hike
Pali lookout
QuoteOriginally posted by cardinal43 Quote
Lots of good suggestions already, but I would just like to echo that you should not miss Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona memorial. That, for me, was a very moving visit. I also enjoyed a tour of the pineapple plantation. Found out that a bowl of pineapple in Honolulu was more expensive than the mainland! Northshore was also nice - easy drive. Best of all, enjoy your trip.
I won't miss the Pearl Harbor and USS Arizona memorial. I'm a Navy vet and my grandfather was in the Navy during WWII. He was on a ship in (I think it was) Guadalcanal and his ship was bombed and they had to abandon. If it wasn't Guadalcanal, it was one of the other battles in the South Pacific. I want to say that I heard that he talked about hearing shipmates get taken by sharks, but I don't quite remember - it's fuzzy. So, take that with a grain of salt, FWIW. But, yeah, I'll definitely go see that, if nothing else.
01-20-2013, 05:59 AM   #7
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Don't forget to overlook the fact that most of the state is basically a rainforest when it comes to amounts of rain; one of the top ten places in the world for amounts of rain.

So if you don't already have a gadget bag with an extreme amount of water resistance, be sure to get one; preferably with an AW cover of some sort. That - and when not sing items it wouldn't hurt to also have some durable brand of plastic protective bags.

In closing; did i mention a colleague who works at the top of a snow covered mountain in Hawaii. Now there's an interesting photo op location. It is also to my understanding that someone offers "bike coasting rental tours" down the side of that same mountain
01-20-2013, 09:40 AM   #8
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Don't forget Hanauma Bay, Bellows Air Force Station (the beach is awesome), Waimea Falls, and Sea Life Park. Have a fun trip.

01-20-2013, 12:04 PM   #9
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Oh yeah -- forgot about the Arizona memorial. And that reminds me of the Bowfin submarine & museum too. The museum was cool. One of those places where you can read "letters to home" that have been preserved; it really makes you think about the actual people who were there -- not just the history headlines.
I remember the bike tour ads. Haleakala on Maui. While I was there I heard about one of the cyclists sliding under a bus on the way down...
Diamond Head... Maybe this will help: Hawaii State Parks > Parks > Oahu
One of the brochures says "The site is accessible to those with disabilities near the visitor booth" but it sounds like they haven't any easy way to get to the summit.
Well, go to Punchbowl then. You can drive into the cemetery, & then have an easy walk to lookout points where you can get good pix of the city.
Also there are a few lookout points from Tantalus Drive, a very steep winding road up a mountainside. I did that one on my bike one day. No cell phone; don't think the landlady knew where I was... (or cared, LOL!) Looking back, I wonder, what was I thinking!? But I made it to the top.
Oh -- and go here, even just for a peek. The Oceanarium | Pacific Beach Hotel I couldn't afford to eat here but you can wander in & look. Dinner here would be neat.
Also while the touristy stuff is all very interesting, I think good advice is to get out of the tourist traps in Honolulu/Waikiki, which can seem like every other big city, & go looking for cultural things off the beaten track. It was when I got out of crazy Honolulu & visited historic sites and cultural things, that I began to really appreciate Hawaii's history & atmosphere. It's like nowhere else.
Too bad you can't stay longer. You could do some weekend tours of the other islands, which was what I did. I researched everything ahead of time, made up an itinerary, & did my own whirlwind bus-tour-style adventure.
Well, maybe next time. Hawaii will make you want to come back.

P.S. Post some pix when you return??
01-20-2013, 01:20 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Medium FormatPro Quote
Don't forget to overlook the fact that most of the state is basically a rainforest when it comes to amounts of rain; one of the top ten places in the world for amounts of rain.

So if you don't already have a gadget bag with an extreme amount of water resistance, be sure to get one; preferably with an AW cover of some sort. That - and when not sing items it wouldn't hurt to also have some durable brand of plastic protective bags.
Any blanket statement about rain in Hawai'i is wrong. Just a few miles away from 400 inches of rain a year (Wai'aleale) is 8 inches (Kekaha). Honolulu is on the dry side of O'ahu, so you get a lot of "really looks like it will rain" that fizzles into a mist. The weather report will often include the phrase "windward and mauka showers", meaning it will rain on the wet side of the island and in the mountains. Be ready for wet conditions but you may avoid them entirely.

Activities are pretty well covered, probably not time to do them all. Make sure you plan your meals with the idea of not eating in any mainland chain restaurant. Hawai'i imported workers from China, Japan, Phillipines, Korea, Portugal, Puerto Rico, maybe other places. Each culture brought different foods, vegetables, recipes and traditions, sometimes mixing them. Then there's seafood. A lot of stuff will be unfamiliar. Take chances, it's worth it. Some restaurants have made a name for themselves by mixing the flavors together (Roy's as a famous example) and some places offer just one thing.

edit: found a paragraph to quote that sums it up for me:

QuoteQuote:
Dinner began with a chilled carrot soup combining cumin, orange, coconut foam, and Madras curry. A leisurely procession of small plates follows—ginger mango duckling with sweet Kahuku corn fritter, lobster basil with fennel crisp, Kurobuta pork with vanilla-glazed Molokai sweet potatoes and Sumida Farm watercress—each inspired by the islands but with the zealous attention of a French chef. Dessert is a trio of malasadas, Portuguese donuts filled with li hing mui apple, azuki bean, and lilikoi, and topped with local vanilla ice cream. The meal is a culinary journey that marries the exotic tang of Asia with the zest of the islands.
I thought the Bowfin tour was great, though it's usually billed below the Arizona. Typical combat for the Bowfin: about a hundred guys in a tiny space crammed with food and weapons go on a 5000 mile cruise, fight until the weapons run out and the boat is just about to sink from serious damage, then sail 5000 miles back. I took a lot of photos on the tour with the 16-45 but you'll need a high ISO. One bus route from Waikiki to Pearl runs through Chinatown, which looked interesting but I never went there. Back to food, a farmer's market is a good way to see local culture and people. Pay attention to signs when taking the return bus from Pearl to Waikiki.

Last edited by Just1MoreDave; 01-20-2013 at 05:15 PM.
01-20-2013, 04:36 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Medium FormatPro Quote
It is also to my understanding that someone offers "bike coasting rental tours" down the side of that same mountain
My 2 sons did this down the side of a volcano (Haleakala (sp?) on Maui when we were there in 2002, and they had a blast - in spite of getting lost and the younger son taking a spill. Not much hurt except for his pride.
01-20-2013, 11:20 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
Any blanket statement about rain in Hawai'i is wrong. Just a few miles away from 400 inches of rain a year (Wai'aleale) is 8 inches (Kekaha). Honolulu is on the dry side of O'ahu, so you get a lot of "really looks like it will rain" that fizzles into a mist.
+1.
I was there from mid-Jan to mid-May. Day after day after day of sun. I was working outside & can't really remember a day when we had to work in the rain, or when I took the bus rather than bike in, because of rain rather than lateness. I remember walking somewhere, through town, when there was a "rain" that was really kind of a light mist; it felt sooo nice. I was dry in no time. I swore I would never admit to anyone upon returning home, that I got a teeny bit bored & would have liked a bit of change in the weather now & then. But in the middle of Canadian winter, I'll deny that fiercely!
I remembered the other name -- Aloha Flea Market. I'm going to have to get my albums out now & browse...!
01-21-2013, 12:53 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alliecat Quote
Oh yeah -- forgot about the Arizona memorial. And that reminds me of the Bowfin submarine & museum too. The museum was cool. One of those places where you can read "letters to home" that have been preserved; it really makes you think about the actual people who were there -- not just the history headlines.
I remember the bike tour ads. Haleakala on Maui. While I was there I heard about one of the cyclists sliding under a bus on the way down...
Diamond Head... Maybe this will help: Hawaii State Parks > Parks > Oahu
One of the brochures says "The site is accessible to those with disabilities near the visitor booth" but it sounds like they haven't any easy way to get to the summit.
Well, go to Punchbowl then. You can drive into the cemetery, & then have an easy walk to lookout points where you can get good pix of the city.
Also there are a few lookout points from Tantalus Drive, a very steep winding road up a mountainside. I did that one on my bike one day. No cell phone; don't think the landlady knew where I was... (or cared, LOL!) Looking back, I wonder, what was I thinking!? But I made it to the top.
Oh -- and go here, even just for a peek. The Oceanarium | Pacific Beach Hotel I couldn't afford to eat here but you can wander in & look. Dinner here would be neat.
Also while the touristy stuff is all very interesting, I think good advice is to get out of the tourist traps in Honolulu/Waikiki, which can seem like every other big city, & go looking for cultural things off the beaten track. It was when I got out of crazy Honolulu & visited historic sites and cultural things, that I began to really appreciate Hawaii's history & atmosphere. It's like nowhere else.
Too bad you can't stay longer. You could do some weekend tours of the other islands, which was what I did. I researched everything ahead of time, made up an itinerary, & did my own whirlwind bus-tour-style adventure.
Well, maybe next time. Hawaii will make you want to come back.

P.S. Post some pix when you return??
I'll probably be posting pics as I edit them. I don't go to clubs/discos and won't be out after dark by myself, so most nights will probably be spent editing and uploading. I do plan to go back. I think I'll save up for Maui. There may be the possibility to stay longer, but I'll play it by ear. I don't want to wear out my welcome even if it is family I'm staying with.

I hope to get off the beaten path as much as doing the touristy things. What I don't want is copycat photos. I'll be avoiding the usual chain restaurants like the plague. I've had authentic Polynesian food before in a Samoan-American home and all I remember is heaven on my tongue. I hope to find authentic Polynesian food - no Asian or other mix - while I'm there. If I can't I'll be really disappointed.

The ascent to Diamond Head has 172 steps, I think I read. I could do it in spells, but it would wipe me out for a day or two afterward (I have Lupus), and definitely make me very sore. I don't want to lose that time or be unable to do less physical activities due to muscle strain. There's a 10-story tower in downtown that I might be able to get some good shots from.

Whatever the case, I'm going to reasonably wring every bit of activity out of my body as I can, LOL.
01-21-2013, 12:56 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by bimjo Quote
Don't forget Hanauma Bay, Bellows Air Force Station (the beach is awesome), Waimea Falls, and Sea Life Park. Have a fun trip.
Hanauma Bay is supposed to be the best spot for beginner snorkelers, so I'll definitely be going there. I have to look up the other places. Thanks for the suggestions. :-)
01-21-2013, 11:20 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by NiftyFifty Quote
There's a 10-story tower in downtown that I might be able to get some good shots from.
Oh yeah. The Aloha tower? Not high enough to see too far over the city but I think I recall I did go up it.
There's a market around that too, but for really cheap stuff the International Market place is the best location for right in town. Vendors would often barter.
Aloha Tower Marketplace: Dining, Shopping & Entertainment in the Heart of Honolulu

I really must get out those albums!!
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