I Go Back: Oahu – Honolulu and Waikiki Beach


I had a terrific opportunity to go to Hawaii in April 2009 to visit my friend. Somehow agreeable to sending me off to paradise on my own, my dear husband chauffeured me to the airport… and off I went.  After a weekend stopover  in San Francisco, I headed for the island of Oahu.

My friend, who I’ve known since grade school, graciously opened her home to me for the week.  The price was right, and honestly, who can pass up a trip to paradise even if it means sleeping on an inflatable mattress? Not me!

Since my friend’s husband was stationed there in the army, and they had three small kids still in school, I left the itinerary up to her. The week would be sprinkled with trips to base, tumbling class, and sight seeing. First up: dinner and shopping… just us girls.

Let me take you back to Oahu; an evening in Honolulu and Waikiki Beach…..

 Hilton Hawaiian Village

Late Monday afternoon, it was semi-cloudy and the sun was starting to get low. Our starting point was the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Back in the day, the image of the rainbow on the building was splashed around on television games shows for the “grand prize”. It was kind of funny to me to stand and look right at it.

‘Kaha ka ‘Io me na Makani’ (The Hawk Soars with the Winds)

This beautiful sculpture by Kim Duffett greets visitors. Paying tribute to the Hawaiian culture and ancient style of dancing “hula kahiko”.  The figures are:

“…two female dancers, the spirits of the wind, represent the dance and chant of Hawaiian hula. Together they are the winds that uplift the mighty ‘Io , the Hawaiian Hawk, the central male dancer, who represents the spirit of Hawai’i poised to take flight.

….Together they celebrate the power of the hula connecting us with the spirit of the land, the Aina that is Hawaii. ” (description from this link. )

They were amazing.

Hale Koa Hotel 

A nice walk through the Hilton hotel grounds, includes seeing the penguin habitat, finding a few carved tikis along the way, and after working our way beach-side, we arrive at the Hale Koa Hotel (” House of the Warrior” in Hawaiian).   This hotel is a government owned recreation facility for military, located right on Waikiki Beach.  Not messing around, We find a comfy table at the outdoor Barefoot Bar and order up a  tasty “Lava Flow” cocktail.

I’d already been told by friends back home that I “had to try a Lava Flow”. I follow orders. It was delicious! If you’re in the mood for fruity frozen frou-frou drinks, this would do you well.

(I located a recipe here.  While googling, there are several search results, and the option to make it as  virgin drink where there is still all the flavor of tropical paradise, without the booze. Me, I’m a rum girl… need I say more?)

Dinner Time; Looking for a Shore Bird

Since the Barefoot Bar is on Waikiki Beach, we were but steps from me sinking my feet into that Hawaiian sand.  The beach was pretty empty— but it was dinner time, and the smell of the food from all the restaurants was enough to keep me focused on my growling belly. We followed the path along the sand, just enjoying the chance to talk and visit like we were still school girls.

The beach stretched around and brought Diamond Head into view.

Just about when my friend begins to doubt finding the restaurant from the beach side, we see the sign for the place!  The Shore Bird is an open air, cook-it-yourself hibachi grill restaurant. It includes a salad bar that gives diners the opportunity to build plates full of the usual fare and to sample traditional Hawaiian flavors.  (I specifically have memories of coconut cake….sooooo good!)  For my entree I opt for the fish special; ono (wahoo), and my friend has steak.  The waiter quickly brings us our selection and then provides brief, to-the-point instruction for grilling.

The grill area is a cloud of heat and smells of wonderful spices each diner has added as desired. It’s a fun experience to cook my own dinner, but not one for everyone. The expression on some faces is a sign that they are not BBQ masters in their regular lives…whereas I love to grill back home.

The dinner is satisfying and the ambiance of the restaurant is ‘island’ in every way. The view out to the beach starts to dim as the sun sinks.  The light from tiki torches takes over for the patio diners.  Live musical entertainment provides a soundtrack of pacific melodies mixed with classic lounge tunes.

Shopping in Honolulu

The sun has set. Dinner is done.  My friend and I head out to do a little shopping.  Mostly window shopping…. and people watching.  That is sometimes the best part, right?

My best part was a store called Sand People. (I don’t really have to explain this, do it? If you’re reading this, I assume you ‘get it’.)  I think I could have filled a suitcase to take home from this place alone!… vintage style post cards (that’s the group I bought.. in the collage at the top of this post), stationary, picture frames, lotions, candles, wall signs… all beach themed. Heaven.

There is plenty to see in this stretch of shopping — street musicians and performers, luxury brands and specialty shops galore.  The Crocs store has flip flops I’ve not seen back home, and the Apple store solves the solution of my naked iPhone, so both get sales from me.

Soon it’s time to head back to my friend’s house for the night.  One last thing…. upon stepping back into the sand on the way back to the car, I scoop up a small bit of sand.  My favorite purchase may be the book  Beaches by Gideon Bosker. … but aside from it containing beautiful images, I added something special….  I sprinkled a little sand into the pages. It was the best souvenir I could take, and a perfect way to take the visit to Honolulu and Waikiki Beach home with me….. sand in the pages…good for Sand on the Brain.

About Jorie

🌴 An Island dreamer with a passion for palm trees and turquoise water. Few things speak to my soul like having my feet in the sand on the coast of somewhere amazing with salty wind blowing through my hair. 🌴 🌴 Sandonthebrain is my way to hold that feeling all the rest of the days when I am not on an island. My collection of sand and affinity for rum, and island flavors helps to take me back...until the next trip. 🌴

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