Usually during my birthdays, I travel to new places and cities, at least that was the case before we were all hit by pandemic. Many years ago, during my birthday month, I had decided to visit the beautiful Honalulu city in Hawaii state of United States of America (U.S.A.).
What made my birthday even more special was that my best friend joined me for the trip (but a day later) from Bangalore, India.
Hawaii, located in the Pacific Ocean, is group of islands and the 50th and most recent state in the United States. It is an isolated volcanic archipelago in the Central Pacific. And Honolulu is the capital and largest city of Hawaii state on the O’ahu island. Honolulu, formerly known as Kou, is famous for its spectacular beaches and volcanoes.
Did you know that Honolulu means sheltered harbour or calm port in Hawaiian?
The best time to visit Honolulu is between April and June or between September and December. One needs at least 5 to 7 days to explore Honolulu and beyond. I was there only for 4 days as it was quick birthday trip.
How to get to Honolulu from Sydney?
The best and quickest way to get to Honolulu from Sydney is to take a flight. There are some cruises who do travel between the two continents, Australia and North America.
- Honolulu has an International airport called Daniel K. Inouye and is well connected with flights from all over the World.
- There are frequent flights between Sydney and Honolulu. Jetstar is the budgeted airline to get to Honolulu from Sydney in Australia.
- The flight journey from Sydney to Honolulu is around 10 hours 30 minutes and the one way flight ticket cost me about AUD 564.
4 days Itinerary for Honolulu
As I mentioned earlier, one needs at least 5 to 7 days to explore the island and places around. I was short on time and I had to make the best out of the 4 days I was there.
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Day 1 – Honolulu
Scuba diving at Hanauma Bay
On day 1, I had planned to do dive in Honolulu. The dive was scheduled to happen in Hanaumua Bay but unfortunately, was cancelled because of the rough ocean.
- Scuba Diving Company: Living Ocean Scuba.
- Tour Name: Hanauma Bay Introductory Scuba Diving Tour.
- Cost: USD 129.25.
- Website: Living Ocean Scuba
A stroll along Waikiki beach
Since the scuba diving was cancelled, I decided to explore the near by beaches and buy some souvenirs.
One of the famous beaches is the Waikiki beach. Waikiki Beach is just one of the five beaches in the district, the other four being Kuhio Beach, Gray’s Beach, Fort DeRussy Beach and Kahanamoku Beach. It is located on the south end of O’ahu island. A stroll by the beach, especially during the sunset is absolutely amazing. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes just by the beach and one can spend a few hours just watching the world go by.
Day 2 – Honolulu city tour
On day 2, my friend joined me on my trip. It was such an exciting day as I was super elated to see her after such a long time. We spent our morning catching up and mostly talking. While we were walking down the streets, we found these colourful birds.
Honolulu city tour
In the afternoon, we took half a day Honolulu city tour to see some of the touristy places. The guide/ driver took us around the east coast of O’ahu.
- Booking Company: Viator.
- Tour Name: Eastside Oahu Tour: Beautiful Beaches and History.
- Cost: AUD 175.20 for 2 Adults.
Big Banyan trees
The first stop was at the Waikiki beach, where there were the big banyan trees. The history goes that these big banyan trees were imported into Hawaii island from India. The first banyan tree in Hawaii was planted in Maui in April 1873. The story goes that the banyan tree sapling was given to Maui Sheriff William Owen Smith by missionaries from India. He planted that sapling and that tree is now the oldest banyan tree in Hawaii and United States.
The second stop was the Sandy beach. Sandy beach is known for its body boarding and surfing opportunities due to short break that breaks the water very close to the shore. However, this beach is also the most dangerous beach in Hawaii due to the number of injuries that occur per year.
On the west is the Hanauma Bay. Hanauma Bay is a marine bay in the southeast part of O’ahu island. The name hana means bay in Hawaiian language. Hanauma is both a nature preserve and a marine life conservation district and hence best for scuba diving.
The famous movie ‘50 first dates‘ has a scene that is set in Hanauma Bay. Today, it is suffering because of over tourism as it is the most popular tourist destination in O’ahu.
Nu’uanu Pali, Diamond Head and Rabbit island lookouts
The third, fourth and fifth stops were at the Nu’uanu Pali, Diamond Head and Rabbit mountain lookouts.
- Nu’uanu Pali is the windward cliff of the Ko’olau mountain. The Ko’olau mountain is not exactly a mountain range but the volcanic remnant.
- Diamond Head, also known as Le’ahi, is the volcanic landform cone. It is estimated that the Diamond Head is around 400000 to 500000 years old.
- Rabbit island is an island which is in the shape of a rabbit’s head and it was once inhabited by lots of rabbits.
Day 3 – Sky diving
Our day 3 was dedicated to the adventure and adrenaline rush. We headed out for a sky dive. Even though this was my second dive, it was the best one I have done. I was more confident as I knew what to expect. The whole time I was very chilled out and enjoyed the entire experience without having to worry about what is going to happen next. The views from my jump were breath-takingly beautiful and I highly recommend sky diving in Hawaii.
- Booking Company: Skydive Hawaii.
- Tour Name: Tandem Skydive.
- Cost: USD 100 for 2 Adults (excludes video and photos).
- Website: Skydive Hawaii.
In the evening, as part of my birthday dinner, my friend had planned for the authentic Hawaiian dinner at Paradise Cove Luau. Unfortunately, this got cancelled as well due to the heavy rains.
Day 4 – The Big Island
On day 4, we had booked a one day tour to explore the Big Island. The Big Island is the largest island in Hawaii. It has the diverse terrains and is home to two active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. There are no ferries between Oahu and the Big Island, the only way to get to the Big Island is by flying. We also flew into the Big Island from O’ahu and the flight journey is just around 35 to 45 minutes.
- Booking Company: Dynamic Tour Hawaii.
- Tour Name: Volcanoes National Park Adventure Tour.
- Cost: USD 698 for 2 Adults (excludes video and photos). The cost also included the flight tickets and transportation within the island.
- Website: Dynamic Tour Hawaii.
Black sand beach
The first stop was at the Black Sand beach. Punalu’u beach is the black sand beach in the Big island. The beach is black because of the basalt. It is a beautiful spot to snorkel and see the wild turtles.
The second stop was at the Rainbow falls. The waterfalls is named after the rainbows that are visible at the waterfalls. It is 80 feet tall and there is no entrance fee to see the waterfalls.
Mauna Loa Macadamia Nuts factory
The third stop was at Mauna Loa macadamia nuts factory. Started in 1946, the Mauna Loa macadamia nuts factory is a factory where one can see how the macadamia nuts are grown, processed and used for making chocolates.
Thomas A. Jaggar Museum
Update: Unfortunately, this museum is permanently closed now.
The fourth stop was at Thomas A. Jaggar museum, which was the most fascinating part of the day. Thomas A. Jaggar was an American volcanologist and this observatory museum is dedicated to him. The observatory monitors four active Hawaiian volcanoes: Kīlauea, Mauna Loa, Hualālai, and Haleakalā.
Safety for solo female travelers
Honolulu and the Big Island were very safe for solo female travelers. My friend and I walked around alone sometimes and we never had any issues whatsoever. However, like any other place in the world, be cautious at all times and know your surroundings.
Hawaii is a part of United States that I loved as the people were warm and the places absolutely stunning. In a nutshell, this was one of the memorable trips I have had. Hawaii and its memories will be very close to my heart and it was even more memorable because of my friend who joined me to celebrate my birthday.
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