Tuesday, April 10, 2012

East Oahu Lanikai and Kailua area
 the Mokulua Islands
Oahu is the island referred to as “the gathering place.” I suppose it received its nickname for having the biggest population of residents and visitors combined in comparison to the other Hawaiian Islands. Oahu is home to two big cities Waikiki and the state capitol Honolulu. My US Navy family was relocated from New Jersey to Oahu when I was very young and I am thankful that I got to experience this island as my home.

Each island has its unique character and today I will share my thoughts on Oahu and my short YouTube video I call “Oahu Five-0” turn up the music!

My recent visit to Oahu was February 2012. It was a 5 day mostly cloudy trip. We even experienced down pours of rain but the sun did manage to break through for a day or two. Even with gray skies the temperatures were comfortable and mild. Hawaii’s winter runs on the same clock as the rest of the USA. It can get very cold in the highest elevations and on the island of Maui Mount Haleakala and the Big Island Mount Mauna Kea it snows. At sea level, the temperatures average 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit year round. Mid to late summer and early fall the temperatures on occasion climb into the upper 90’s. Hawaii attracts the “snowbirds,” our visitors from cold snowy places. The winter season is peak for Hawaii tourism. It is about supply and demand. Everyone wants to escape the cold. Hotels and vacation rentals are more expensive. However, you can find great deals on rental accommodations during low season (summer and fall). The Hawaiian Islands are a great destination to visit year round.

We stayed in beautiful downtown Waikiki at the Moana Surfrider the oldest hotel in Oahu. Waikiki is a mixture of old historic structures and new modern architecture. It’s a beautiful clean city. I have visited many cities in the world and Waikiki is well taken care of and feels safe. People are friendly and nice. They even have volunteer citizens called the Waikiki Aloha Patrol who really care about tourism and their beautiful island. Volunteers wear Aloha Patrol t-shirts, interact with visitors, answer questions and carry donated cell phones which dial "911" to report incidents or suspicious activity.

East Oahu Lanikai and Kailua area
Waikiki is a fun city to be sure. There is so much to do and see. Great places to shop, beautiful art, great people watching, music and entertainment everywhere day and night. Since I am not a city girl at heart, I can only take “any” city in small doses. I personally like to be semi-away from it all. If you feel the same way and want more nature and less people then visit one of the other beautiful beaches on this island. One of my favorite places is where I grew up as a child near Kailua and Lanikai Beach Parks. In a word, G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S! To be fair, there are beautiful beaches in Waikiki where you have plenty of room and space but not always in front of the hotels the beaches are not very wide and of course all the guests want to sunbathe out front because it is convenient to be near the amenities and bar, but these beaches can get jammed packed at certain hours of the day and you might find yourself sitting next to a complete stranger separated by only one foot of sand. Not my cup of tea. It is a great beach to people watch and have a drink at the many ocean front bars/restaurants. There are plenty of activities like boat trips and surf lessons. The scenery is a spectacular city scape with white sand beaches, nestled on the beautiful Pacific blue with Diamond Head as a backdrop.
Diamond Head Waikiki Oahu

Several years ago, while visiting Waikiki, Oahu, I walked to the end of the beach past the last hotel to find myself a quiet place by the ocean to sit and reflect. I am often mistaken for a local girl with my dark hair, tan skin and casual beach attire. A man and woman tourist, who was from another country, I think Japan, were taking pictures down the beach from where I was. They soon approached and with their broken English and many hand gestures asked if I would be in the picture with the man. At first I thought they wanted me to take a picture of the two of them together, but no I was to be in the picture with him.  I complied. Hang loose is my motto. They thanked me and were kind. They had a bag of fried pork rinds that they kept offering to me. They insisted I take a handful. So out of politeness I did. Yummy. Then off they went to seek more photo opportunities. I do not have Hawaiian blood, but I am a big Hawaiian at heart and Hawaiian love’ n freak. I think it ironic my little sister was born here and not me.

Did you know that the only Royal Palace on American soil is located here on the island of Oahu! The Iolani Palace was built in 1882 by the last King David Kalakaua. The Kingdom was the most modern structure using the most advanced technology of its time:  electricity and telephones. They were years ahead of the White House.

The island is rich with culture where Kings and Queens once ruled this small kingdom of Hawaii. I have read several good books about the history of Hawaii. I really love and recommend “Hawaii’s Story” written by Queen Liliuokalani. She tells you in her own words about the history of her nation and personal experiences leading up to the illegal overthrow of the monarchy January 17th 1893. Queen Liliuokalani was an elegant and smart woman as well as a great writer and talented musician. My heart goes out to her. She wrote one of my favorite Hawaiian songs "Aloha ʻOe" (Farewell to Thee). What most people do not realize was the Hawaiian Islands had the highest literacy rate of any country in the world between 1826 and until 1893. They were a highly educated nation. Queen Liliuokalani was later imprisoned in the Iolani Palace for eight months in 1895 by the unlawful Provisional Government. She was charged with treason for attempting to restore Hawai`i's sovereignty.

Another interesting book is “Broken Trust” by Samuel King and Randall Roth it chronicles a 100-year saga about Hawaii’s history, culture, native rights and recent political events leading up to early 2000. It is an expose about the abuse of a charitable trust and failure of a public institution. If you are interested in politics it is an educational book on governance, power, and greed.

Our entry into World War II began when Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941. Franklin D. Roosevelt was President and on December 8, 1941 he signed the Declaration of War against Japan and in his address to Congress declared “Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which shall live in infamy the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan…” August 1945 the war ends and the documents of surrender were signed aboard the USS Missouri on September 2, 1945 by Foreign Minister Namoura Shigemitsu with General Douglas MacArthur. The USS Missouri now resides in Oahu and is part of the Pearl Harbor National Monument. It is open to the public. The USS Arizona Memorial was built over the sunken USS Arizona, the resting place of 1,177 crewmen who are permanently entombed; I was amazed that after all these years the sunken battleship is still leaking oil. You can see it and smell it. It was a quick tour on the memorial itself. I found the museum fascinating and tributes moving, it will bring you to tears. It is a reminder how sad war is and it was heart breaking to see old pictures and videos of the dead and injured. Some were so young, barely out of high school their lives cut short…. Visit the Pearl Harbor website.

Another cool fact is our 44th President Obama was born here August 4, 1961. The US territory of Hawaii was admitted as the 50th state on August 21, 1959

On each island, there are places where you can feel a strong energy or life force. I usually sense it in places where nature prevails and man is just a minuscule speck. In West Oahu it is by the desolate Waianae Mountain range that towers on one side and the vast turbulent ocean on the other. Several million years ago lava once flowed to form this mountain range (and all the islands) and today what stands is an immoveable, petrified monument to the glory and power of nature. In time, however erosion and age will slowly whittle away at its grandeur. In places like this, I feel so small and timid.

A couple years ago, during a visit to Oahu, the rental car company did not recommend that I visit the far West side of the island. Not much to do there and the young man we spoke to said there were many homeless people who lived on that side of the island. He wasn’t kidding. This is one side of the island many tourists never see, tent city. It feels so far away and removed from civilization.  We drove past big and then small towns and eventually experienced views of bare mountains and long stretch of beaches. The further we traveled the fewer cars we saw. It did feel a bit eerie. We passed what seemed like miles and miles of beaches filled with tents. It reminded me of a shanty town you might see in a third world country but with a beautiful ocean as the backdrop. At times I forgot I was in the USA. But the truth of the matter is we have a growing number of homeless people across the country that needs shelter and opportunity…. We are all connected how long can we look the other way? This article was written in 2006.  (I did speak to a local woman on the phone May 2012 who said tent city is no longer.)

I wanted to visit the small town of Makaha also located on the West side of the island. This little town is authentic and real local. Not touristy. I wanted to see where my hero Rell Sunn lived. She is known as the Queen of Makaha.  She was a successful pro-woman surfer and one of the first females to break into a male dominated sport. Women have always surfed but they did not have televised competitions or prizes like the men. But that changed in the early 70’s when Rell was instrumental in establishing the Women’s Professional Surfing Association and finding the women’s pro surfing tour. She was a single mom for part of her life and had to deal with health issues. She accomplished a lot in her short time on earth. She died at the age of 47 due to breast cancer and complications. She lived with the disease for 15 years. She was a lover of life, land, water, waves and surfing. She was a fighter, survivor, and mentor to many. She founded the Menehune Surf Contest for children. She was born with a heart of gold and personified the aloha spirit. I love this quote by Rell, “The aloha spirit is real simple. You give and you give…and you give from here (the heart), until you have nothing else to give.” To learn more about Rell Sunn visit this website.

Rell Sunn admired famous Hawaiian legend Duke Kahanamoku from Oahu. Kahanamoku's name is used by Duke's Canoe Club & Barefoot Bar in Hawaii and there is a chain of restaurants named after him in California. A monument at Waikiki beach stands in honor of his memory and many people visit and place leis on his statue. His initial claim to fame began in 1912 when he won several gold medals in the Olympics for swimming. He represented the USA. He later became an actor, served as Sheriff of Honolulu and introduced the sport of surfing to the rest of the world.  Here is a cool YouTube documentary on the Waikiki Beach Boys and Duke!

There are many more Hawaiian legends and in the music world there is Don Ho and Israel Kamakawiwo'ole aka IZ. Remember the old TV shows made here the original Hawaii Five-O and Magnum P.I. Even Elvis Presley filmed some movies in the Hawaiian islands. The list goes on and on!

Here is Mike Izone a talented muscian who we saw performing live at The Tabora Gallery.  Enjoy and support the arts.  I captured this with my camera.
two music video live Mike I and Mike II

Aloha and a hui ho!
Kathy McCartney
North Shore Haleiwa


  1. Hi Kathy,

    I've been looking for blog posts about Oahu to feature on our site. If you're interested, you can drop me a line at Kate (at) Dwellable (.com)


    1. Aloha Kate, I will send you a personal e-mail. Thank you for your interest.


  2. Hi Kathy!
    Did you and Kate ever get in touch?


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