Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hula in Hawaiian Sunset

The Hawaiian paradise experience is not complete without watching its Hula shows. And what a memorable experience is to watch this kind of Hawaiian cultural activity at sunset time by the world’s famous beach of Waikiki. Every moment, scene and ambiance is a paradise setting. The scenic sunset by the beach is timeless while the hues it reflects are delightful to watch. Moreover, the palms trees almost sway to the sound of the islands produced by the Hula musicians. My ears are in delight to hear the soothing and light music of the Hula. Even my feet want to dance when the beat shifts to a fast-paced Hawaiian island beat. It was a wonderful way to end a day in Hawaii.

Sunset has always been my favorite scenic view by the beach as this moment of day to night phenomenon is dramatic, stunning and spectacular. A beautiful moment of the day to witness this stunning view. Nevertheless, Hawaiian sunset is not an exception for a sunset to remember. The best view to see it is by the shore of Waikiki Beach, where visitors flocked by 5:30 pm to 7pm to witness this beautiful phenomenon. It is simply stunning… beautiful… and breathtaking.

The beauty of Hawaii is shinning through...

It was 5pm when we arrived in Waikiki Beach from Fort deRussy Park. It was just a perfect time to view the sunset. Beach-goers still flocked Waikiki, swimming and strolling around. But most visitors are there to witness the most beautiful phenomenon of the day in Hawaii – sunset. Everyone was waiting for that stunning moment. Like the other visitors, I capture shots of the Hawaiian sunset. It was a beautiful glow of yellow, amber and orange perfectly blended to the tropical paradise setting of Waikiki. I am in awe with everyone as we watched the stunning sunset by the beach. My eyes did not stop looking until the sun disappears from the ocean. It is one unforgettable sunset viewing I have experienced. Much more experience in a true paradise on Earth.

Just in time after the sunset, people flocking the Waikiki Beach were now gathering at Kuhio Beach Hula Mound to watch the free Hula show. I already saw the scheduled free Hula show in Kuhio Beach Hula Mound on the tour brochures I picked up in the airport. And we really make sure not to miss it as this is one activity that shouldn’t be missed when you visit Hawaii. Hula is a popular native dance in Hawaii accompanied by its native songs. Hula shows is a unique activity in Hawaii as it showcases its culture in the way of music, sound and dance. Hula shows is also being offered to most hotels in Hawaii as an exclusive show but it is quite expensive and some do not allow picture taking.
Transition and different shots of Hawaiian sunset.

The following are information about Hula.
Hula is a dance form accompanied by chant or song. It was developed in the Hawaiian Islands by the Polynesians who originally settled there. The chant or song is called a mele. The hula dramatizes or comments on the mele.

There are many styles of hula. They are commonly divided into two broad categories: Ancient hula, as performed before Western encounters with Hawai’i, is called kahiko. It is accompanied by chant and traditional instruments. Hula as it evolved under Western influence, in the 19th and 20th centuries, is called ‘auana. It is accompanied by song and Western-influenced musical instruments such as the guitar, the ‘ukulele, and the double bass.

The stunning Hawaiian sunset

Hula is taught in schools called hālau. The teacher of hula is the kumu hula, where kumu means source of knowledge. Hula dancing is a complex art form, and there are many hand motions used to signify aspects of nature, such as the basic Hula and Coconut Tree motions, or the basic leg steps, such as the Kaholo, Ka'o, and Ami. Hula is performed at luau (Hawaiian parties) and celebrations. Hula lessons are common for girls from ages 6–12 and, just like another kind of dance they have recitals and perform at luau.

Legendary origins
There are various legends surrounding the origins of hula. According to one Hawaiian legend Laka, goddess of the hula, gave birth to the dance on the island of Moloka’i, at a sacred place in Ka’ana. After Laka died, her remains were hidden beneath the hill Pu’u Nana.

Another story tells of Hi’iaka, who danced to appease her fiery sister, the volcano goddess Pele. This story locates the source of the hula on Hawai’i, in the Puna district at the Hā’ena shoreline. The ancient hula Ke Ha’a Ala Puna describes this event.

Another story is when Pele, the goddess of fire was trying to find a home for herself running away from her sister Namakaokaha'i (the goddess of the oceans) when she finally found an island where she couldn't be touched by the waves. There at chain of craters on the island of Hawai'i she danced the first dance of hula signifying that she finally won.

One story is that Pele asked Laka to amuse her because Pele was bored. So right away Laka got up and began to move gracefully, acting out silently events they both knew. Pele enjoyed this and was fascinated thus Hula was born. (Source)

The Hula show at Kuhio Beach Hula Mound

Its time for the audience to try Hula...
Watching the Hula show, I remember Iolani Luahine from Hawaiian Hilton Village. She is one of the known teacher and personality in the art of Hula in Hawaii. Here’s an interesting information about her. Iolani Luahine (January 31, 1915 – December 10, 1978), born Harriet Lanihau Makekau, was a native Hawaiian kumu hula, dancer, chanter, and teacher, who was considered the high priestess of the ancient hula. The New York Times wrote that she was "regarded as Hawaii's last great exponent of the sacred hula ceremony," and the Honolulu Advertiser wrote: "In her ancient dances, she was the poet of the Hawaiian people." The 'Iolani Luahine Hula Festival was established in her memory, and awards a scholarship award each year to encourage a student to continue the study of hula. In 1997, a statue of Luahine (sculpted by Kim Duffet) was dedicated at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, where Luahine performed in the 1950s (More about Iolani Luahine here)

Watching the Hula show.

I thought that Hula was just a simple interpretative dance. But as the performers explained, it is being taught with a proper guide and ritual. I thought that every move and hand gestures were just simple steps. But as I watch it closely and live, the simple movement and gestures is full of grace and beat timing. Especially the girl who performed in the Hula show, she was so graceful in her every move. Everyone in the audience was in awe especially when she did a slow dance. But do not be deceived that Hula is just danced by female. Male can also do Hula. But of course with a different steps and move and not the typical slow and graceful movement of the stereotypical Hula girl we know. Both performers were native Hawaiians and I observed they have a similarity to Filipino physical features.

The show ran for an hour and all the audiences were turning into crowds at the Kuhio Beach Hula Mound. Most of the audiences were visitors in Hawaii like us. After a series of shows from both male and female performers, they ended the show by inviting first time visitors in Hawaii to go on the stage and try Hula. My sister and my mom were pushing me try it but I did not try (They are second time visitors already). I felt shy to do Hula in front of the crowd so I just watch the visitors who dare to try the Hula onstage. They were fun to watch as some were really having a hard time doing the dance especially the slow one. The male and female Hula performers taught them the move and steps and practice one routine. After a few practice and briefing the first time visitors together with the performers dance a full routine of Hula in front of the audience. It was fun when they ended it on their back a made a slow left and right move of their butt.

No Hula show is great than performed by native Hawaiians.

First time visitors of Hawaii try their moves in Hula.

Souvenir shot with the Hula girl.

The Hula show ended with a pictorial with the performers.  The audience flocked them including us to have souvenir shots with the Hula performers. I am satisfied with the free Hula show. It was a showcase of culture in a spectacular show by the beach. It is a great way to discover the rich heritage and culture of the islands of Hawaii.

*Free Hula shows in Kuhio Beach Hula Mound is every Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 6:30pm to 7:30pm.

Hula in Hawaiian Sunset is part of my Aloha to Hawaii's Paradise series where I my share travel story to Honolulu, Hawaii last August 24-29, 2010. To continue reading, read part 4 - A Taste of Hawaii. Some photos credited to users.

You might also be interested in reading the other parts of the series.     

    Saturday, October 16, 2010

    Aloha to Hawaii's Paradise 2

    When people think of Hawaii, the first thing that comes to their mind is definitely Waikiki Beach. It is because Waikiki Beach is the famous beach in Hawaii or rather; it is the world’s famous beach. The seeming endless summer weather of Hawaii attracts beach-lovers and sun-worshippers to Waikiki. The tropical weather is feel-good for every beachgoers. It is a surfer’s paradise where surfers can’t resist the huge waves of the ocean to play and dive with. Even the fresh breeze from the ocean is irresistible to savor. You’ll find yourself in an endless stroll of white sand that you don’t want to end. Likewise, the waters of the beach charm visitors to swam in it. Remember, even the fishes like it too! Waikiki is just that addicting that you can’t resist but to give-in to its allures.
    Surfboard stack at Waikiki Beach.
    I can’t get enough of Waikiki myself. Its beach is enticing for me. It is like a magnet that draws me closer to its shores. So in the morning we indulge again in the shores of Waikiki Beach. This time we explore the right side section after Kuhio Beach Park. This is pass beyond where the storage of surfboards are located. Waikiki is in fact a series of beaches. And each section has a name as Waikiki is a 2-mile crescent of white sand beach. The Waikiki Beach section we stayed today is what I can call the “proper” Waikiki Beach as the view of the beach here is the famous postcard picture of Waikiki or Hawaii where Waikiki Beach is crowded by beachgoers, sunbathers and surfers, perfectly line-up with palm tress with the spectacular view line-up of hotel buildings and Diamond Head (a dead volcano that is very popular in Hawaii) set against the marvelous sea.

    Surfboards at Waikiki.
    Surfing lessons in Waikiki Beach.
    However, caution is needed in this section of the beach as the current is quite strong. Though the waves are not high, the currents here are not good for adults swimming with kids. There is no sheltered area the blocks the strong currents from the sea. Nevertheless, the beach in fronted by some of the high-end hotels of Waikiki like Moana Surfrider Westin Resort (dubbed as “First Lady of Waikiki” being the first luxury hotel built in Waikiki in 1901), Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach, Sheraton Waikiki and dubbed as “Pink Palace” because of its color, Royal Hawaiian Hotel which was built in 1927. Visitors troop the area for a wide range of beach activity. Aside from swimming and sunbathing (which Americans really loved), morning jog, sailing on a beach catamaran and surfing are also popular activities. But some opt to read books or stroll by the shore to appreciate the scenic view of the beach.

    Relaxing in the ocean front of Outrigger Waikiki Hotel
    Waiting for you to relax...
    Surfing is definitely one of the most popular water sports and beach activity in Hawaii. Its popularity has been associated with Hawaii, Waikiki and its beaches. It is because Hawaiian experience is not complete without surfing. It is what Hawaii is known for worldwide. Everyone in Hawaii surfs. And Waikiki Beach is one of the hotspots for surfing. The ocean waves were good enough to play surfing. It made me think that Hawaii is the surfing country of the world as surfer dudes and gals flocks the shores and waves of Waikiki. You can see some of them walking down the streets of Waikiki or from their hotels carrying their long surfboard going to the beach. They were literally everywhere in Waikiki. Surfing was a central part of ancient Polynesian culture and Hawaii is one of its birthplace. The Ancient Hawaiian people did not consider surfing a mere recre ational activity, hobby, extreme sport, or career as it is viewed today. Rather, the Hawaiian people integrated surfing into their culture and made surfing more of an art than anything else. They referred to this art as he’e nalu which translates into English as “wave sliding. ” The art began before entering the mysterious ocean as the Hawaiians prayed to the gods for protection and strength to undertake the powerful mystifying ocean. If the ocean was tamed, frustrated surfers would call upon the kahuna (priest), who would aid them in a surfing prayer asking the gods to deliver great surf. Prior to entering the ocean, the priest would also aid the surfers (mainly of the upper class) in undertaking the spiritual ceremony of constructing a surfboard. (Source)

    Diamond Head as seen from Waikiki Beach.
    The crowds of Waikiki sunbathing galore all day long.
    Surfing lessons is all-over Waikiki Beach. It is offered to almost everyone in Waikiki. You have to pay a fee for a quick surfing lesson by the beach. Afterwards, you can practice it right away in the waves! Hawaiian residents love the adventure of surfing. The water sport has a unique thrill adrenaline rush experience. Visitors also try it and enjoy the waves of Waikiki. As surfers are everywhere, and so are the surfboards. You can also rent surfboards if you don’t have one in case you want to try surfing. There is a storage locker of surfboards beside the Waikiki Police Substation. The City and County of Honolulu maintains and rents those nearly 600 surfboard racks and storage lockers in Kuhio Beach Park. A picture of the racks of surfboards has landed in numerous internet and travel magazine articles covering Hawaii. I have been fascinated with surfboards as some of it comes in colorful designs. Some were covered with a famous floral design and some are in cool colors.

    Beach overload in Waikiki Beach.
    A scene of a tropical paradise.
    Waikiki Beach for the last time...
    That day was the last time we spent a swim to Waikiki Beach. I find it memorable as I appreciate the beauty of Waikiki Beach. The scenic area and its crowd definitely make it the best beach in the world and the best beach I have been. As we exit the grounds of Kuhio Beach Park, there were beautiful man-made falls with ponds and flowering plants along the sidewalks of Kalakaua Avenue. My mom can’t resist but to take pictures with it. For me, it was a picturesque natural sight.
    In the afternoon, we planned to hike Diamond Head but we got lost and misunderstand the right bus to take us to the hiking site. It was my idea to do hiking as the guides says there is a great view of Hawaii at the summit of Diamond Head. Diamond Head is an extinct volcano that is very popular in Hawaii’s postcard pictures. It is now a famous landmark and tourist site in Waikiki. So we end up riding a bus that takes us to another popular resort and hotel in Hawaii, the Hawaiian Hilton Village.

    Along Kalakaua Avenue.
    Beautiful landscapes along Kalakaua Avenue.
    The Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort and Spa is a popular hotel in the Waikiki area of the City and County of Honolulu, Hawaii since 1957.
    The resort sits on over 22 acres of prime beachfront property and features the largest swimming pool in Waikiki, over twenty-two restaurants, exotic wildlife, and botanical gardens as well as a branch of the Bishop Museum. The Hilton Hawaiian Village is the largest hotel of the Hilton chain with 3,386 rooms and with 7 towers and is also the 14th largest hotel in the world. (More about Hilton Hawaiian Village) The Hilton Hawaiian Village is not just a resort but also a complex of branded shopping boutiques and numerous restaurants. It is worthy visit for visitors as there are a lot of recreational activities to do in the resort for visitors to enjoy. But, what I really after to see in this 5-star resort is its beach-front façade named Duke Kahanamoku Beach and its man-made lagoon. Duke Kahanamoku Beach is a section of Waikiki Beach on the far west end, in front of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort and the Hale Koa Military Hotel. The beach is immediately adjacent to the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor and the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon. It is the widest beach in Waikiki and an offshore protective reef makes it a good beach for families with children. Swimmers should wear reefwalkers or some other protective footwear because the shoreline in this area has a rocky bottom. Public access to Kahanamoku Beach is via Kalia Road and Pahoa Place. (Source)

    Hilton Hawaiian Village - the largest hotel of the Hilton chain of hotels.
      Duke Kahanamoku Beach at Hilton Hawaiian Village. (above and below photo)

     Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon is a small, man-made wading pool in the Waikiki neighborhood of Honolulu, on the south shore of the island of Oahu near the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor and Fort DeRussy Military Reservation. The Hilton Hawaiian Village is adjacent to the lagoon. It is actually owned by the state of Hawaii and its official name is the Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Lagoon. The lagoon is approximately five feet deep and its recirculation system draws about 15,000 gallons of water per minute from the ocean, completely recirculating the water about five times a day. The lagoon has a sandy bottom but the sand in and around it is rather coarse so you will probably want to wear sandals while walking in the lagoon sand. (Source

    Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon and the Rainbow Tower of Hawaiian Hilton Village.
    Statues of popular Hawaiian figures Alfred Apaka - Hawaii's revered singer/musician.
    Iolani Luahine - high priestess of ancient Hula displayed at Hilton Hawaiian Village.
    Duke Kahanamoku Beach has a wide beach shore perfect for sunbathing and picnicking in its white sands. From here you can still see the famous Diamond Head and can also relax in the park beside the Diamond Head Tower of Hilton Hawaiian Village. The lagoon was also a perfect spot for swimming with kids. The centerpiece island of the lagoon makes it more appealing. As we exit the village-style resort, we saw statues of popular and interesting Hawaiian figures like - Alfred Apaka - Hawaii's best-known singer and popularized Hawaiian music and Iolani Luahine - a native Hawaiian kumu hula, dancer, chanter, and teacher and regarded as Hawaii's last great exponent of the sacred hula ceremony.

    A Kukalepa Memorial in front of US Army Museum of Hawaii.
    US Army Museum of Hawaii.
    US Army Museum of Hawaii.
    War Tankers on display at US Army Museum of Hawaii.
    Fort DeRussy Park.
    Our next stop was US Army Museum of Hawaii and Fort DeRussy Park. US Army Museum of Hawaii houses a museum featuring the military history of Hawaii from ancient times to the Vietnam War. Entrance is free but we have not able to see the museum as it was close when we arrived there at pass 5 in the afternoon. We just did some photo souvenirs in its outside grounds where military relics and tanks are on display. The museum is on the grounds of Fort DeRussy Park. The park is actually United States’ military reservation in the Waikiki area. Within the park there is a large grassy park with picnic tables and barbeques, the U.S. military's Hale Koa Hotel as well as the US Army Museum of Hawaii.

    After a quick sightseeing in Fort DeRussy Park, we hoop on the bus that will take us back to Waikiki Beach again to watch the stunning Hawaiian sunset.

    Aloha to Hawaii's Paradise Part 2 is part of my Aloha to Hawaii's Paradise series where I share my ravel story to Honolulu, Hawaii last August 24-29, 2010. To continue reading, read part 3 - Hula in Hawaiian Sunset

    You might also be interested in reading the other parts of the series.   

      Friday, October 01, 2010

      Aloha to Hawaii's Paradise

      Welcome to Paradise… If you’ll be asked of what is your ideal paradise, how will you describe it? Beaches with sprouting palm trees? Hula dancers accompanied by island songs? Unending tropical summer weather? If I’m asked to describe mine, I would say the same words to describe my ideal paradise. Why? There is no place on Earth like the alluring paradise of Hawaii. The fresh, floral air is energizing. The warm, tranquil waters refresh you. The breathtaking, natural beauty renews you. Its islands offer distinct experiences that will entice any traveler. Hawaii is warmly inviting everyone to explore its islands and discover your ideal travel experience.

      Honestly, I don’t know how to start narrating my Hawaiian experience as I am bombarded by my senses to describe everything I had there. But one by one, I know I’ll be able to narrate all of the wonderful and unique travel experience in full blast. I can say it was an ultimate travel experience. I experienced the best of Hawaii. From natural sights, historical trip, city tours, cultural experience up to cuisine exploration, I sample what every visitor of the islands must have in Hawaii!

      Why I decided to visit Hawaii? My US visa expires next year and I want to have a one last trip to the United States before it expires. Since I’ve been to the usual cities of mainland US before, I want to try visiting something different that America is offering to tourist. Someplace that offers an ultimate holiday travel spot. Someplace that is very popular in the world of travel – yes, in the “paradise” named Hawaii.

      So in the last week of August, I have commenced my longing to visit Hawaii. Weeks before I have already indulging and browsing in Wikitravel and to see the places to visit there. It just made me more excited to experience Hawaii. The flight was a 10-hour trip. The plane leaves Manila at 1545H and arrives at 0715H the same day. The point of entry is its capital Honolulu. I this trip I am with my mom and sister. (Philippines Airlines flies 3x a week and Hawaiian Airlines flies 4x a week direct to Honolulu)

      The early morning arrival is suited time for travelers. You’ll easily appreciate the tropical and sunny weather of Hawaii. It is also perfect for those who want to savor right away their itinerary in visiting the places of the island. I find it a perfect fitting welcome when the aircraft blocks on the gate, I saw from my window the airport’s tower with emblazoned red colored greeting – Aloha.

      Hawaii is the 50th state of the United States of America. Situated nearly at the center of the north Pacific Ocean, Hawaii marks the northeast corner of Polynesia. While it was once a major hub for the whaling, sugar and pineapple industries, it is now economically dependent on tourism and the U.S. military. Hawaii is an archipelago of over nineteen distinct volcanic islands located over a geological "hot spot" in the Central Pacific. There are eight major islands, six of which are open to tourism - Hawaii (Big Island), Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Molokai and Lanai. (

      Views of Hawaii from our terrace: Hawaiian Skyscrapers (Top) and My first Hawaiian sunset (bottom)

      Oahu is the most populous and developed island. It is the third largest of the islands of Hawaii (the Big Island and Maui are both larger), and the most popular tourist destination in Hawaii. It is the governmental and commercial center of the state. Its southern shore is home to the city of Honolulu; four out of every five Hawaii residents call it home. Dubbed as “Heart of Hawaii”, the island of Oahu is great for people who wish to experience the islands and still keep the conveniences of a large city. Rainforests and hiking trails are located just minutes from Waikiki Beach, one of the world's best tourist destinations. In the winter, large waves on Oahu's north shore turn the normally sleepy area into the surfing capital of the world. As the location of Honolulu, the state capital, and as home to over 85% of the state's population, the island is appropriately nicknamed "The Gathering Place." (

      Honolulu is the capital and largest city of the state of Hawaii. It is the center of government, transportation, and commerce for the state; home to a population of nearly one million people in the metro area (80% of the state's population) and Hawaii's best known tourist destination, Waikiki Beach. The majority of visitors to Hawaii enter through this city, meaning this is definitely not the place to go for a "get-away-from-it-all" Hawaiian vacation - It is as fast-paced and dynamic as any city, with all its problems such as heavy traffic, drugs, crime, and homelessness. But Honolulu still has the charm of the Islands' laid-back atmosphere and culture. In the Hawaiian language, Honolulu means "sheltered bay" or "place of shelter". (

      Images from paradise: Palm Trees in Waikiki as sign of being in the paradise (top), Sailing is popular in Waikiki (middle) and the world's famous beach - Waikiki Beach (bottom).

      Honestly, we have done nothing in our first day. When we arrived in the hotel, I immediately proceeded to the terrace to see the beautiful view from our hotel. It is a city view that can be seen from the terrace. I can see numerous skyscrapers of the city and from a distance, hotels of Waikiki and mountains. Later, I feel so sleepy at that day and not tired. I looked at my watched and it is midnight in Manila local time. As much as I want to explore the nearby places right away, I rest to have my bio body clock adjust to the different time of Hawaii. It is 18 hours behind Philippines. But before I retire my first day, I did not fail to catch the stunning Hawaiian sunset among the skyscrapers of the city.

      My souvenir of the paradise with a "Shaka" - a popular hand sign in Hawaii which means "hang loose"

      8 am the following day we immediately went out to discover the world famous and perhaps the best beach in the world - Waikiki Beach! Our hotel is just one-street across this world famous beach. I say its approximately 40 steps from the hotel. There were early beach goers already. It is really best to appreciate the fresh ocean breeze in the morning while it is less crowded in the beach. There are public sitting benches facing the beach for viewing. On the opposite side of the beach is the Kalakaua Avenue – the ultimate commercial strip of Waikiki where numerous hotels, restaurants, shops, public amenities and boutiques are located.

      Waikiki is a district of the city of Honolulu, on the island of Oahu. Waikiki is the area of Honolulu bounded by the Ala Wai Canal to the north and east, the Diamond Head crater to the south and the Pacific Ocean to the west. One of the best known beaches in the world, Waikiki was the favorite playground of Hawaiian royalty in the 19th century. The name means “spouting fresh water” in the Hawaiian language, for springs and streams that fed wetlands that once separated Waikīkī from the interior. (

      Waikiki Beach... world's famous beach.

      The water is great that fishes are swimming in the beach with you too!

      The sidewalks of Waikiki.

      The beach of Waikiki that we explored that day was near Kuhio Beach Park. There is a sheltered swimming area, making it a popular beach for family outings especially those who are bringing kids. The waters here are good for swimming especially in the sheltered area. It is also shallow enough for families to enjoy the beach. But beyond the area are huge waves suited for surfing. The water is so clear that you can see the fishes swimming with you too!

      The number of crowds is growing later. It happened that today is Duke's Ocean Fest in Waikiki. It is a variety of sports competitions and events that pay tribute to Duke Kahanamoku, one of Hawai'i's greatest athletes. A statue of Duke Kahanamoku is located inside Kuhio Beach Park in Waikiki. It is a known landmark in Waikiki where numerous tourist were having their photos taken with the statue. That also includes us! About Duke Kahanamoku - Duke Paoa Kahanamoku (1890-1968). Although a descendant of Hawaiian royalty, Duke is a given name, not a title. He is known as the "Father of international surfing" and was Hawai'i's Ambassador of Aloha. He is one of Hawaii's greatest athletes and a 5-time Olympic medalist in swimming.

      Duke Kahanamoku - Father of international surfing

      Imitating Duke's statue at Kuhio Beach Park, Waikiki.

      Our next stop is International Market Place Waikiki, just right next to our hotel grounds. The International Market Place is a home to over 130 shops and carts. The place is in open-air setting located in the heart of Waikiki and a must-see-and-do for visitors looking for special gift or souvenir in Hawaii. We snap a photo by a cascading waterfall under a century-old banyan tree. International food eateries are also located inside the market place serving Filipino, Spanish, Chinese, and Mexican dishes. Shoppers should be cautious in buying goods and souvenirs from one shop to another as some shops especially the carts offers cheaper prices but same quality of products.

      In the afternoon we went on a city tour of Honolulu via an open-air trolley. Trolley Tours on Oahu is widespread. Actually it is the most common and preferred transportation of tourists in visiting the places of Oahu as the open-air and wide views gives a great view of the sights around the city. Japanese tourists favored it heavily and surprisingly the most numbered nationality touring Hawaii. They are everywhere which led to believe that this must be their second country. (Or Hawaii is just the nearest holiday spot that the Japanese enjoy) As we go on our city tour, we saw the skyscraper sights of downtown Honolulu. I also see the financial center and business district of Honolulu.

      Shopping paradise at International Market Place Waikiki

      Trolleys are perfect for city tours in Hawaii

      In downtown, we mainly visited Aloha Tower Marketplace, a shopping, dining and entertainment complex. It also houses attractions like Honolulu Harbor and Aloha Tower. There is a viewing area in the second floor of the marketplace where you can see an expansive view of Honolulu Harbor as well as the ships docked in the piers. We went next to Aloha Tower which is just beside the marketplace. The Aloha Tower is a lighthouse that is considered one of the most important landmarks in Hawaii. Opened on September 11, 1926, the Aloha Tower is located at Pier 9 of Honolulu Harbor. The public is welcome to take the elevator to the tower's observation decks. It’s free but unfortunately we came late and it is already close.

      Continuing our exploration of Honolulu Harbor, we dropped by Hawaii Maritime Museum (which was closed at that time for renovation) and sees Falls of Clyde docked at Pier 7. Falls of Clyde is the last surviving iron-hulled, four-masted full rigged ship, and the only remaining sail-driven oil tanker. It was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1989. It has been open for public before a ship museum but currently closes for its restoration. Pier 7 is also the pick-up point of Atlantis Submarine tours.

      Aloha Tower

      Falls of Clyde docked at Pier 7, Honolulu Harbor.

      Honolulu Harbor

      We return to Waikiki at 7pm. This time we had a chance to see Waikiki at night. The beach area at Kuhio Beach Park was still crowded by beach strollers. The shops and boutiques around Kalakaua Avenue were crowded by tourists and visitors. It seems so alive at night in Waikiki. The streets were uniquely lit by metal fire torches which I find very distinct in Hawaii. The shops nearby like International Market Place Waikiki, Macy’s, ABC outlets seem to have more visitors at night. The sidewalks of Kalakaua Avenue were colored by mime artist, dance performers, paper and lettering artisans and even fortune-tellers that visitors can’t help but engage, look and try.

      Night scenes in Waikiki

      All of our tours were just all-our-own itinerary and not from travel professional packages. I select the places we visit base from the information I saw in Wikitravel and The tour brochures from the airport and street sides of Waikiki were very helpful. All tips, how-to-get there information and maps that visitors needed in Hawaii and about its places were all detailed in those tour brochures. It was proven helpful and handy in all the places I visited in Hawaii. We returned to hotel exhausted from sightseeing and visiting shops around Waikiki. The whole day was a full blast of Waikiki experience and Hawaii’s best. This is just the start of “Aloha” to Hawaii’s paradise.

      Aloha to Hawaii's Paradise is a series of my travel stories to Honolulu, Hawaii trip last August 24-29. Please also do read the other parts.  
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