Sunday, February 1, 2009 – Honolulu Hawaii!
We were up at 6 in order to get in a full day and wanted to see Honolulu as we approached by sea. With the mountains and sea, we know it is a beautiful sight from the air. Before the sun rose at 7:45, we could see the lights twinkling ahead and the outline of the mountains. Enjoyed breakfast on the deck in the dark as we slowly approached Honolulu; it was so pretty. We were greeted with hula dancers and live music pierside! Docked at the Aloha Tower, which used to be the tallest building in Hawaii, the area is now a shopping mall!
Honolulu, the capital and largest community in Hawaii, means “place of shelter” and is on the island of Oahu with approx. 900,000 inhabitants. Oahu, the third largest of the Hawaiian islands, was first settled by the original Polynesian migrants to the archipelago in the 12th century. Kamehameha I conquered Oahu and moved his royal court from the Island of Hawaii (there is an island called Hawaii and the state is also named Hawaii) to Waikiki in 1803. The court relocated in 1809 to downtown Honolulu. Captain Brown of England was the first foreigner to sail into the Honolulu Harbor, in 1794. Honolulu is the current and historic center for state government, with the State Capitol, Iolani Palace (the nation’s only royal palace built in 1882!), City Hall, the State Library and the statue of King Kamehameha I. Iolani Palace had electricity and telephones lines installed even before the White House.
Easy off and on the ship in downtown Honolulu (the commercial center, as compared to Waikiki, the center for tourists) and we took the local bus ($2 one way) out to Pearl Harbor. We had visited the Arizona Memorial but had not been to the USS Bowfin or the USS Missouri. You could easily spend an entire day for all the museums and ships in the complex! Pearl Harbor is a simple embayment, west of Honolulu. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands are a U.S. Navy deep water naval base, the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. It was the attack here on December 7, 1941 that brought the United States into World War II.
The USS Bowfin, “the Pearl Harbor Avenger”, was also used in the miniseries, “War and Remembrance”. The museum supplies audio guides as you walk through to hear actual stories from the crew. They even slept in the same room as the torpedoes! The sub is only 16 feet in diameter, packed with ladders, hatches and obstacles, like the naval version of a jungle gym. The submarine sank 44 enemy ships during the course of her nine war patrols and now serves as the centerpiece honoring all submarines. There is a beautiful park of 52 marble stones remembering each of the subs which did not make it back, and their eternal crew of over 3500 submariners.
The USS Missouri, the “Mighty Mo”, was the last battleship ever made and hosted the final act of WWII, the signing of the Terms of Surrender, the surrender of Japanese forces. There are three massive gun turrets with three guns in each turret. Each round weighs either 1900 or 2700 lbs. and is capable of firing up to 23 miles away. There are four Vulcan Phalanx Weapons systems and 32 Tomahawk Anti-surface missiles. We climbed up and down and were amazed at how large and complex is the interior of a battleship. There is even a Kamikaze Attack Site! On April 11, 1945, a kamikaze was able to penetrate the Missouri’s formidable antiaircraft defense before crashing on the starboard (right) side of the fantail. The ship served two tours of duty during the Korean War and was again modernized and participated in Operator Desert Shield and Desert Storm. She was decommissioned in 1992 and now stands watch over the fallen of Pearl Harbor.
Other sites to explore on Oahu: Polynesian Cultural Village, Diamond Head crater, Hanauma Bay for snorkeling and the Halona Blowhole, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl Crater) cemetery with over 44,000 U.S. war veterans, surfing at the North Shore, Pacific Aviation Museum, Sea Life Park, Waimea Valley Audubon Center and the expansive and beautiful beach of Waikiki!
Shopping and sitting under the palm trees calling home for a few hours finished off the time in Honolulu. It was perfect weather and the restful. And tiring…after a buffet dinner and the show of Mark Adams impersonating Dean Martin (one of my favorites!), I collapsed. Missed the Hawaiian Deck Party under the stars (regret that!!) but slept 12 hours straight, so I must have needed the sleep!