HawaiiThought to have been populated by Polynesian travelers about 300 BC, the Hawaiian islands are comprised of an archipelago of eight major islands and numerous smaller land masses, atolls, and reefs. The first westerners to see the area might have been in 1500s but because the Spanish wanted to keep trade routes secret, they didn't acknowledge coming across them, so first confirmed meeting was 1778 by Captain Cook, who visited twice. On his second trip to the islands, he overestimated his intimidation factor, and was killed after attempting to kidnap and ransom the King of Hawai'i. Some tales claim he was perhaps even eaten, but that was due to a misunderstanding of the funerary rituals of the Hawaiian people, who extended the honors usually reserved for the most esteemed members of their society.
Around 1887, having been swayed to only letting land owners vote, King Kalakaua was elected and forced to adopt a constitution that stripped him of all power. During the reign of the next ruler, Queen Liliuokalani was placed under house arrest and the monarchy was overthrown in 1893. Shortly after, the islands were annexed by the US. This was considered questionable under standard international law, but the deed was done.
Hawai'i was a very important military base of operations, the reason for our entry into WW2, and the jumping point that allowed us to effectively fight back and control the Pacific during the war. Hawai'i became a full state in 1959, the last state of the 50.
Its initial importance was as a sugar producer, the primary one in the world. Now it isn't as big a deal as tourism since it boasts constant 80 degree highs all year long, making this a great paradise destination.
The ArrivalI took my girls on a winter break using miles, which gave me really strange routing from Minneapolis to Phoenix to Seattle to Honolulu, but free is free right? We spent our entire vacation on the island of Oahu, home to the state capital city of Honolulu.
Waikiki - Day 1Waking in the corner suite (hey points again, don't condemn the excess, it's something anyone can achieve!) The room had a balcony view of Kuhlio beach and a window view straight out too, but the balcony was cooler. Sunrise was quite awesome.
Day 2Second day, I took everyone up to Manoa Falls. To get there, you take the bus to the end of Manoa Road then walk to the trailhead. This was not walkable from the beach, nor is there a lot of parking available. The hike isn't really bad, but it is kinda long.
Day 3For our last full day in paradise, I rented a car. My oldest said she wanted to see the Mermaid Cave. No location specified, just "find it" cause yeah right? Well, being a good dad, I did find it. It wasn't easy, I had to shmooze tourists and locals alike to piece together where to go. But we did indeed get there. Figuring out where the grotto is not terrible but also not super easy. The best time to go is at low tide because the cave will be more accessible from the water via large openings you can see, but I'd not enter from there because all the rocks and the waves and stuff kinda suck, I'd find the entrance that's from above, a bit inland. You can get close searching for the location online, then you gotta explore a ways for it.
Important tourist note: taking beach sand can have fines for illegally collecting and can reach $100,000! Also some consider it bad luck, as you're inviting the wrath of Pele (Again Bobby and Peter!), goddess of fire and volcanoes, for removing it from the island. I didn't, and I don't suggest you take any either.
Time to go homeThe next day was time to start heading back to the mainland. No one wanted to leave and go back to the cold and snowy Minnesota winter, but life has demands that don't always coincide with wants.
SummaryHawai'i is paradise. Every day is in the 80s year round. Many shops and hotels don't even have a main entrance door; instead they just have breezeways open to the interior. While Waikiki is walkable, the rest of Oahu is not. Best hotel deals are here even though it's the tourist hotspot. Resorts line the coasts, with ones on the west end probably the best ones including Disney's.
Home of great fauna, friendly people and expensive food. Grocery stores can be a great help on that front, but you will still spend considerably more than you would on the mainland for even something as simple as milk. Dive and surf gear is for rent everywhere, but rent surfboards close to the coast so it's easier to transport. Driving is pretty easy but the interstate does get crowded a lot and that can really impact your travel time. The North Shore is a long drive down 2 lanes. West side is a dead end, and you'll have to back track on the roads if you follow them to their conclusion.
You'll never get a free airline upgrade to Hawaii (except during pandemic times) and hotel upgrades can be difficult; there are just so many people who are willing to pay in advance for suites or views so what you book is what you get. Use miles outright or pay for that upgrade it if you want to travel in style. It is a very long flight, same as flying to Europe. There really isn't hardly anything bad to say at all, it's an amazing place.