Sun, Sand, Food, Drink, Shopping and History in Honolulu

Day 37, 2024 Grand World Voyage

Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024; Honolulu, Hawaii.

Today in Honolulu we mixed a bit of history, some beach time, a great meal and – of course – some shopping. I’ve been here on cruises several times, and my sisters and I spent a couple of days on Oahu while on a Hawaiian land vacation. So it’s all pretty familiar.

A few months earlier I made early lunch reservations at Duke’s restaurant and bar, right on Waikiki Beach. Sure, it’s touristy, but the food is good and the drinks just what you want for open-air dining in Hawaii. Duke Kahanamoku famously surfed a monster wave for more than a mile at Waikiki in 1929, giving birth to a legend and making this one of the most famous beaches in the world.

Tom and Monika joined us for lunch, where we had a choice of the buffet or ordering off the menu. The fresh grilled fish tacos were some of the best that I’ve ever had, and of course I loved an Endless Summer with its mango and citrus vodka, combined with guava, coconut and pineapple juice.

This morning we left the ship shortly after we docked – a rarity for me. As is usual for the early explorers, a dozen or so officers and staff, from the hotel manager to the cruise director to members of the beverage and housekeeping staffs, gathered to wish us well. As did a rainbow just above the ship.

Cruise Director Kimberly had offered to take along any guests who wanted to join her in skydiving – and more than 35 took her up on the thrill. I wasn’t even tempted, but it was fun to watch the videos they showed later in the day.

From the ship my sisters and I walked a few blocks through the modern skyscrapers and lush plantings. Birds of all kinds scavenged the ground for tasty treats. And as usual, I chuckle at the highway sign for Interstate H-1. Shouldn’t that be “intrastate?”

Our first stop was the state capitol – another on Elaine’s quest to check off in every state. It’s funny how after a visit a few years ago, I remembered the various symbolic elements (graceful soaring “mountains,” “palm tree” columns and oceanic “pools”), but forgot about the boxy building around the central open-air plaza. The entire building currently is surrounded by a construction wall as workers are renovating the pools. But the opening over the center court still is impressive. It represents a capitol dome, but Hawaii’s dome is the sky.

Across the street is Iolani Palace, where Hawaiian royalty reigned prior to statehood. We didn’t have reservations for the tour, but I finally had time to do a little sketching of a gazebo on the grounds.

We passed the statue of King Kamehameha, which is pictured famously in the opening to the Hawaii Five-0 television series. It was then just a short Uber ride to Waikiki Beach and lunch.

Each of the Waikiki hotels has its own pool and beach front, but Hawaiian beaches are open to all, so many people were taking advantage of the sunny weather, the rolling waves and the silky sand – all with Diamond Head in the distance.

After walking along the surf and then exploring the lush grounds of the pink Royal Hawaiian Resort, we walked about a mile and half through shopping plazas and along parks to reach Ala Moana Center.

I’ve heard a lot about this mall – the world’s largest open-air shopping center, anchored by Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Macy’s – but never visited. We split up to shop for last-minute purchases. My primary objective was to finish the transition to my new iPhone, which wasn’t working well at sea. A helpful Apple Store employee made it look easy. I bought some new M.A.C. makeup and browsed for clothing, but really needed nothing.

Back on the ship this evening, Polynesian dancers and musicians put on two energetic shows on the World Stage before our sail-away just before midnight.