Posts Tagged ‘Oahu’

 I am afraid this Hawaiian tour is beginning to be an epic novel and I still have not found my photos, but I have borrowed some that mom had copies of.

Grand Circle Island Bus Tour: Oahu Grand Circle Island Tour with Dole Plantation – Trusted Tours and Attractions – eTicket Center- At $63.67 for an adult, it is a bargain, when you consider the cost of renting a car and purchasing gas.

I am not really a group tour person. I like to shoot off on my own and discover new things, and we had intended on taking the tour and then renting a car one day, but we never did rent a car on Oahu. The public transportation is excellent and most of the outlying things we wanted to see included free shuttles to get to them. And, mom’s penpal of sixty years (and her husband) took us on their own tour one day. Our driver was an excellent guide who made the tour interesting and personal. He was from Wisconsin and told us that living in Hawaii wasn’t any more expensive than living in Wisconsin (what with heating oil, winter clothing and winterizing a car) and it was a heck of a lot warmer.

We saw the Dole Plantation, where mom could get her fix for a pineapple soft serve, Halona Blowhole, Sandy Beach (with an awesome kite display), and Windward Oahu (I think that is the west coast). I enjoyed Byodo-In Temple and mom liked feeding their gold fish. There was north shore beaches and Waimea Bay and Kona Coffee farm. It was 120 miles of gorgeous scenery with enough stops, and time at them to be enjoyable. It departs around 8:15 am and returns around 5:45. It’s a really good tour and they pick you up at most of the hotels.

I believe we stopped in Haleiwa and, unless I am mixing it up with another town, it was a charming little town with artisans. I still remember the ceramic fish with bamboo chimes that I fell in love with and wished I had gotten. I go more for quality and hand crafting now-a-days and would rather have spent a bit more on it than on purchasing t-shirts and such.

GERMAINES LUAU: Aloha Top Ten > Activity Details > Germaines Luau 

ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY,  THE BEST LUAU ON THE ISLANDS, at least that we found, and we hit at least four of them. We were picked up near our hotel, included in the price of the ticket, and taken twenty-seven miles from Waikiki to a private beach. “Cousin K” (enough to make the trip worthwhile right there) entertained us on the bus and got everyone in the mood to party. Although, if I never have to hear, “Just hang loose, ust have fun, sipping on a drink and lying in the sun, Don’t try to fight it, it ain’t no use. When you’re in Hawaii, you should just hang loose.” I will be eternally grateful.

Mom is a reserved lady and I wasn’t getting up on the stage doing the hula, but I have to admit it, we had a blast. I’m sure the three free drinks you are given doesn’t hurt the mood, even though it had busloads of tourists, it still felt like a party with people you know. My only complaint was, as I remember, I wish it was right on the waters edge. We were in the sand though and they had tables, in front, where you sat in the sand at a low table and then regular style picnic banquet tables for those who needed to sit on a bench.

But, the biggest treat was the all you can eat traditional Hawaiian Buffet. It was the BEST FOOD in HAWAII. And, that was considering I was not over my Bacterial Bronchitis, and on nasty medication and barely ate more than one bit of anything. However, it was still the best of them all.  The menus is on the link above. Well worth the $66.13 per adult, when you consider there was several hours of entertainment. And they definitely had the best entertainment, including the most awesome fire dancers. 

I have admitted now to being a lame tourist, but you can be as reserved as you want and still have fun or you can go dance on the stage. Other luau’s do not come close.

Atlantis submarine: Atlantis Adventures

This was one mom wanted to do, even though she worried about getting down into the submarine. She did fine with the ladder and they were very helpful. The coral reef was fairly new though, I believe they had sunk airplane or ship hulls to build it and this was nine years ago, so is probably better. It was still fun and I would do it again. We saw some neat fish, turtles and a shark. It’s not something you get to see in Indiana, obviously and they have the sub on three of the islands.

Polynesian Cultural Center: The Official Site of the Polynesian Cultural Center and Alii Luau

This is a pretty interesting, yet all tourist attraction. The drawback is that you will never see all the village shows you want because they all start at the same time. They have villages for Hawaii, New Zealand, Tahiti, Samoa, Fiji, and Tonga as well as other exhibits. Their mission is to “preserve and portray the cultures, arts and crafts of Polynesia.”

It’s on 42 acres and has a nonprofit center so that students of nearby Brigham Young University Hawaii can work their way through college by “sharing their island heritage with visitors.” They have hands-on activities and exhibits going on throughout the day and then at designated times, they do demonstrations and therein lies my complaint.

The demonstrations, as I remember, were always spaced two hours apart and each village did them at the same time, so that you could never, in one day, see all of them. You have to decide where you are going when. At the end of the day there was a canoe pageant that was cool. But, our favorite part was the evening show.

Their “Horizons” night show (and I do not believe you can do the luau and the show) was awesome and held in an open air auditorium and, at that time told the story of Hawaii. We really enjoyed it and for $58 per adult, you get admission to the seven villages, a tram tour, IMax and the night show. It is a good deal.

 Before we left Hawaii, we would return to this island one more time and see Hilda Silva, mom’s pen pal since that was one of the main reasons for our trip. They have written to each other, since they were teenagers. Which for all you young folk, means hand writing on paper and sending it through the Postal service.

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I should state here that Military grandson is probably on his way to Hawaii this month, or next, for a tour of duty. Talk about luck. This boy has the best guardian angel ever. I’m just grandma, so no one lets me know what’s going on, of if he has arrived yet.


This photo is of my mother, during the 40s, in an authentic grass skirt and Hula wear that her penpal sent to her. Mom has always loved Hawaii and wrote letters to two Hawaiian’s at that time. One, Hilda, remains a friend and penpal to this day and had visited the mainland once to meet mom. This was mom’s chance to visit Hilda in her home. Mom looked her other penpal up in the phone book on the Big Island, and found his name, but did not call him. She remembers him fondly yet.


I loved Hawaii. I was not joking about moving there. I love the place. The air welcomes you, the people welcome you, the ocean is heaven, rainbows in the sky, flowers, nature, blowholes, fish, cute Hawaiian men. I mean what more could you want? And, since BrainDebris will probably be traveling to Hawaii next year, I want to fill her in on all the stuff to see and not to see. So, off we go— 


Our erstwhile travel agent set it up for us (she deserved her jail time for this part alone- see part one), to have a complimentary breakfast with the “Pleasant Hawaiian” people who, she told us, would book the things we wanted to see. Later, in touring Oahu, I saw numerous kiosks where you could walk up and purchase tickets for the sights you wantto see, on the schedule you want without being held captive, for half the day, as we were.


I really wanted to go to the Urasenke Foundation Tea Ceremony that morning. I probably made a mistake in trying to plan our trip to get everything in and that is never possible. But, it didn’t matter anyway as we were held captive by the “Pleasant Hawaiian” people until noon and we were not getting out of their grip without a fight.



First thing was this pleasant picture. Pretty Hawaiian girl, nice lei’s, sappy tourists. They took our pictures, they took the lei back. REMEMBER: almost every lei you are given is for a photo op. You will give them back the lei and you will pay for the photo. The flowers in these aren’t even real.


I have to say that Oahu was the touristiest island we were on. I live in a tourist county, so I do understand. Everyone makes their income off of the tourists and since tourists are generally happy, the locals are happy, pleasant people.


I would highly recommend going to Oahu first and then relaxing on another island or two last; where the memories you take home will be a better picture of the real Hawaii. Also, save some money for the real treasures of the other islands.


Back to our complimentary breakfast-They gave us a commercial of an hour of slides. It was interesting but I would prefer seeing the sights in person. Breakfast was cold scrambled eggs, fruit and one cup of juice. ONLY one small cup of juice. I know because the woman at our table asked three times for more and was told no. Forty-five minutes later, we finally got water, but no pats of butter for your roll; nope, not allowed. It was like prison food.


Booking, in this situation was bad. You had a roomful of thirsty tired, hungry, angry people sitting in a lunch room only a few people to actually book your tickets for you. There are kiosks to book shows, tours, etc all over the island and your hotel can do this also. Skip the bad breakfast.


Then we were escorted to Maui Divers. Mom is a jewelry nut and she had a ball picking out jewelry. I did enjoy the tour of the jewelers at work, and we were given complimentary Champaign to open our checkbooks. Okay, I have a teeny cynic somewhere deep inside me.


Do not forget, we were still being held by the “Pleasant Hawaiian” people, who then put us on a shuttle bus and waited at every exit to direct us back to our bus, lest we escape and they lose their cut from the stores they took us to. One of the neatest, and maybe saddest, things we saw was in their parking garage. An open truck load of coral was being brought in for jewelry making.


Downstairs from the Maui Divers was the cheaper jewelry store. They wait with a bucket of oyster shells in hand to wrangle that last dollar out of you. I am pretty sure our upstairs purchases put us in the two pearl bucket category. For four dollars we each picked a shell and I’ll be darn if we both didn’t get double pearls in our shell. What are the odds of that happening? Wouldn’t we love to buy this gorgeous $150 earring setting? I handed her $8, for the shells and left with our pearls in a plastic bag. There were stands all over the island that you could try your luck with an oyster shell. 


 It’s kind of fun though. Okay, I’m a lame tourist.


Next stop, Hilo Hatties. It is considered a “must stop shop” but it was rather expensive and we found better deals elsewhere. I think there are a few things you can only get there though. I did purchase a pineapple candle and some candy to send back home. Eventually we were let off the leash and I could breathe fresh air again.


I don’t want you to think we did not have a good time, because we did. Oahu has some great sights.



What we missed: Mom did not want to go to Pearl Harbor. She felt it was too depressing. If I were going back, I would definitely go to the Waikiki Aquarium. 


TOMORROW: What we did see on Oahu: The best Luau around, A great bus tour, Diamond Head, Polynesian Cultural Center, and mom’s high school penpal. A reunion made in heaven and more

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