As anticipated, our week in Hawaii had flown by far too fast, and come Saturday, we were forced to say Aloha (the bad kind) to the Big Island and start the journey home. However, we had specifically planned our flights to allow a 10-hour layover in Honolulu, allowing us to get just a little taste of what the biggest city in Paradise was all about.
We arrived at the Kona airport around 11am and a helpful Hawaiian Airlines agent was able to check our baggage all the way through to Austin – a feat that, if you’ll remember, the United agent in Austin told us was impossible even though the two airlines have a codeshare agreement. Further, noting the hubby’s 6’5″ frame, she also bumped us up to exit row seats on the Kona – HNL flight. Even more proof that Hawaiian Airlines pwns the domestic carriers to Hawaii any day.
We touched down in Honolulu just before 1pm, and the first order of business was to head to Waikiki beach, where we enjoyed beachside lunch at the famous Duke’s. Named for the native Hawaiian and Olympian who was later dubbed the “International Father of Surfing”, we enjoyed cheeseburgers and tiki drinks while watching a crowded flock of beginning surfers tackle the manageable waves.
With our bellies full, we headed over to Pearl Harbor & the USS Arizona Memorial where we hit a bit of luck – there were still ferry tickets for the last shuttle of the day, so we scooped up the free passes and were able to pay our respects as we explored the Memorial. Arriving late in the day (I’d recommend about 2:15 or so) is a somewhat risky strategy for obtaining tickets for the tour, but if you’re unable to be there to request the first-come-first-served tickets when the doors open at 7am and don’t want to pay for a 3rd party tour, this may be your best option. And, even if you don’t make it out to the Arizona Memorial itself, you can still enjoy the displays in the well-curated Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.
Up next, we headed back down to Waikiki where the main street of Kalakaua Avenue had been shut down to make room for the Waikiki Spam Jam. Benefitting the Hawaii food bank, the Spam Jam celebrates the island’s obsession with the canned mystery meat, with vendors slinging up Spam in all its forms. We tried some teriyaki Spam musubi, a dish that piles grilled Teriyaki-flavored Spam atop sushi rice, then binds it with nori…and…well…it was certainly not our favorite taste of the trip, but at least now we can say that we’ve done it.
A bit of souvenir shopping and finally it was time to head to the airport, where our red-eye flight was set to depart at 10pm. We bid adieu to our vacation, and fell quickly asleep as we crossed the Pacific to head back to our home and reality.