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Waikiki Beach – A Study in Contrasts

March 4, 2012

By Cathy Brooks

In all honesty, it was with some trepidation that I anticipated the actual traveling to my destination. Yes, it’s true. This travel agent is not particularly fond of air travel. But knowledge of the prize that awaits me at the other end always forces me to hop onboard. Traveling from the East Coast to Hawaii makes for a long and grueling day, but oh is it worth it.

Even before we touch down, the view from our window fills us with wonder. After 10 hours in the air, our arrival in Honolulu is right around 5:30 island time – 11:30 p.m. in Atlanta. Much to our surprise, we aren’t feeling the time difference yet. With the sun shining bright upon arrival, we’re fooled into believing our day is still young.

How many places do you know that have a beautifully landscaped airport? Walking between buildings to collect your luggage, you know you are in Hawaii. Beautiful plants and trees adorn the courtyards preparing tourists for the sites they are yet to behold.

With a two day pre-cruise stay planned, we arrive at the Holiday Inn Waikiki Beachcomber Hotel. Surrounded by other hotels, high-end shopping, and next door to the International Market Place, the location on Kalakaua is directly across from Waikiki Beach. The view from our “partial-ocean view” room was a pleasant surprise. Not only could we see the ocean but also Diamond Head, the island’s dormant volcano, was in prominent view from our balcony.

Now that it’s after midnight in Atlanta, what to do about dinner? Airplane food and peanuts had our stomachs growling for more. Luckily, down in the lobby, the hotel sports a Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Restaurant. Cheeseburgers in Paradise for us tonight!

Waikiki Beach is one of those places that doesn’t sleep. Cars rev up and down the drag and lights twinkle all night along the strip, proving this is one action-packed place. Of all the Hawaiian Islands, Oahu most closely resembles the modern-day hustle of the mainland. You’ll experience the same traffic jams you encounter in Atlanta but somehow here, it’s more tolerable when wrapped in the beautiful package that only nature can provide. This island is young, fun and pulsating with energy.

Apparently, the birds are happy to be in Hawaii too, so happy they sing about it all night long, chirping hours before the first hint of daylight.

This first day we spend on Waikiki Beach and at the International Market Place shopping for a few souvenirs. Drying off in the sun after a dip in the inviting waters of the Pacific, I’m people watching.

It strikes me that this small microcosm called Waikiki Beach is a representation of the diversity of the Hawaiian Islands we have yet to see. Palm trees are set against a backdrop of high-rises, a dormant volcano looms over the sparkling ocean, and the people are a study in contrasts as well. You’ll find all types along these shores – children frolicking in the waves, young people gathered around bragging about their adventures the night before, athletic types attempting to surf the slight swells, and older folks hunched over unable to stand yet walking the sands. The hustle and bustle of Waikiki Beach and the gentle lapping of the water against the shore all blend together to produce a place that is vibrantly alive yet ultimately relaxing – day and night.

But alas, we must leave the beach and head out to prepare for the next adventure on our agenda – a luau.

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