Hi there! Thanks for stopping by to read Holiday in Hawaii - December 2020 - Part 4!
Day 6 - Ka'ena Point, Shave Ice, Pearl Harbor Museum, USS Arizona Memorial, USS Utah Memorial and Dinner at Aiea Bowl
Walking to Ka'ena Point
The most western tip of Oahu is called Ka'ena Point. By taking a trail on either side of the island's tip, you can visit a beautiful bird sanctuary and sit on a beach made entirely of corral. We took the 3-ish mile (each way) trail from the south side and enjoyed the incredible views of the crashing waves along the rocky shoreline.
Literally the entire hike provides a picturesque view. And the waves were booming and blasting against the rocks. I couldn't resist pretending I was an air bender from Avatar, or Mickey Mouse in Fantasia, orchestrating and directing the massive waves.
Ka'ena Point Natural Area Reserve
At the tip of Ka'ena lies a bird sanctuary and nature reserve. We got to witness a handsome Laysan Albatross sitting in some shade under a bush. These birds build their nests on the ground, so they are prone to attack from rodents. The area is protected by a large fence, so rodents can't sneak in.
There are monk seals that live out here as well, and we had the privilege of spotting two! They were far apart from each other, since monk seals tend to keep to themselves. They were both snoozing in the sun on the shore, listening to the soundtrack of the ocean as they dozed the afternoon away.
The tide pools at the tip of Ka'ena point are teeming with wildlife. I even laid eyes on an eel! It was pretty small but I immediately sprang out of the water after seeing that guy!
Magic Mountain Shave Ice
After that trek, we were so tired and hot that my partner dipped his head in the cold water of the public restroom's shower just to cool off a bit! Luckily, we only had to drive a little ways (with the windows rolled alllllll the way down) to get some sweet and freezing shave ice! That'll lower your body temperature and raise your spirits!
This place became my favorite shave ice EVER, because the ice was even finer and softer (like cold cotton candy) than any other shave ice I'd ever had. Or maybe it was because I had just walked 6 miles in the blazing sun? 🙂
USS Arizona Memorial
As a last-minute decision made the night prior, we took time to visit the USS Arizona Memorial, the Pearl Harbor Museum, the USS Utah Memorial and Ford Island.
It was a somber boat ride out to the USS Arizona Memorial, followed by an emotional experience. The memorial was built over the sunken USS Arizona, which is a battle ship that entombs more than one thousand men who died on December 7, 1941, when Pearl Harbor was bombed. Standing over the gravesite, with the ship lying just 40 feet below the water's surface, it really puts everything into perspective.
Nearly 80 years after the attack, the ship is still leaking oil. They call the oil "black tears". After seeing it in person, the black fluid stains escaping the ship and flowing through the harbor's water do uncannily resemble tears. About nine quarts of oil seep into the water each day. While there are environmental concerns about the oil leak, the ship has remained intact and nearly untouched, in order to pay the utmost respect to all of those who lost their lives.
Pearl Harbor Museum
After paying our respects at the USS Arizona Memorial, we took the boat back to the Pearl Harbor Museum and spent quite a bit of time there. In the museum, they have all sorts of videos from survivors of Pearl Harbor, both American and Japanese, giving their account. It was touching to hear the re-lived stories from the American men at Pearl Harbor during the attack and the atrocities they witnessed.
It was equally fascinating to hear the Japanese soldiers telling their heart-breaking side of the story. We relished the opportunity to learn about everything leading up to the attack, with the U.S.'s embargo on oil and gasoline exports to Japan, Japan's conquest of Southeast Asia, etc. War is complicated. Humans are complicated. I'm really glad we set aside time on this trip to visit and learn about a very important piece of history.
USS Utah Memorial
The USS Utah Memorial is less visited than the USS Arizona Memorial, because it's located on Ford Island, which is only accessible with a military ID or by the public shuttle bus that departs from the Visitor Center every 15 minutes. It was stirring to see the ship still partly sticking out of the water. Fifty-eight of the crew on the USS Utah died in the attack, after a torpedo hit the ship.
Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum
Also on Ford Island is the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum. It wasn't open when we were there, but we got to drive by the old planes and helicopters. Both my dad and my partner are big history buffs, so I think they enjoyed the planes a bit more that I did. But it was cool!
The entrance to Pearl Harbor is relatively small. We stood on Ford Island looking at the mouth of Pearl Harbor while the sun set. Some folks were fishing nearby with their kiddos, and it made me feel like life was brought back into the harbor, after learning so much about the death that happened here.
Dinner at Aiea Bowl
Have you ever seen the show on Food Network called Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives? If you haven't, a guy named Guy travels the country to visit the most unassuming food establishments that serve incredible food. Why do I tell you this? Because Guy Fieri has featured this local bowling alley on his show! And for good reason.
Their food is full of flavor and everything is mouth-wateringly delicious. The spicy edamame, the award winning tasty fried chicken, the furikake ahi tuna, the lemon crunch cake!
Oh, I'm so sorry, please excuse me while I wipe the drool off my keyboard...
More Travel Posts about Hawaii
Check out Part 1 of our trip, when we landed in Oahu and watched the sunset at Sand Island on Day 1. Then on Day 2, hiked to the Lanikai Pillboxes and went on an epic beach tour, ending at Waikiki Beach for a swim in the ocean and sunset with pineapple dole whip.
Check out Part 2 of our trip, when we went snorkeling at Shark's Cove, devoured shave ice, toured a few more beaches and watched the sunset at Barber's Point, all on Day 3.
Check out Part 3 of our trip, when we hiked the Pink Pillbox trail, snorkeled with turtles and watched the sunset at Secret Beach, ate katsu chicken ramen, toured the magical Aulani Disney Resort, ate all the goodies from Liliha Bakery, and watched the sunset at Ala Moana.