Our Hawaiian honeymoon: Day two

[If you missed what happened on the first day of our adventure, read about it here.]

Our first full day in Hawaii — and all of our days in the Islands proved remarkably full — began with breakfast at LuLu’s Waikiki, conveniently located just around the corner from our hotel. With its spacious open-air dining room and decent food, LuLu’s quickly established itself as our go-to spot for morning fortification. (The popular breakfast choice on the Waikiki strip is a joint called Eggs and Things, centrally located in the hotel district, but we never saw a morning where that place didn’t have a line out the door. We didn’t fly all the way to Oahu to stand in an hour-long queue for an omelette.) LuLu’s is primarily a sports bar — judging by the decor, the owners are major Boston Red Sox fanatics — but they dish up a perfectly acceptable breakfast, and we never had a problem getting seated quickly so we could speed along with our touring.

Iolani Palace: Not the actual home of Hawaii Five-O.

Appetites sated, we headed for our first sightseeing stop: Iolani Palace, former residence of the Hawaiian royal family and the only royal palace located on U.S. soil. Iolani was high on the Pirate Queen’s list of must-dos, and she was duly impressed with the spectacle on display. After donning handmade cloth booties that fit over our shoes (to protect the palace’s vintage hardwood floors from thousands of clumsy tourist feet), we joined our docent, Cousin Tino — everybody’s your cousin in Hawaii — for a guided tour. You can’t take photographs inside the palace, but trust me when I tell you that you’ve never seen a house quite like this one.

Iolani Palace: "The Life of the Land is Perpetuated in Righteousness"

Between the opulent furniture, museum-quality artwork (mostly portraits of the Hawaiian royal family, and other monarchs whom they befriended), and fascinating history, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit. Cousin Tino made the time both informative and entertaining (we were his last tour of the morning, and a relatively small group, so he treated us to an extended stay with “extra stories”).

Ali'iolani Hale: Also not the actual home of Hawaii Five-O.

Following our stroll around Iolani Palace, we ventured across the street to check out the exterior of Ali’iolani Hale (“House of the Heavenly King”), the building that formerly served as the seat of Hawaiian government and today houses the state’s Supreme Court. It’s most recognized for the familiar statue of King Kamehameha I that decorates its courtyard. If you watch the current version of the TV series Hawaii Five-O, you might also recognize Ali’iolani Hale as the headquarters of Steve McGarrett and company. I regret to inform you that the Five-O team does not actually work here, and in fact, does not exist. Sorry… fiction. (Viewers of a certain age might recall that the original Hawaii Five-O used shots of Iolani Palace as the team’s home base. Sorry… also fiction.)

Kamehameha the Great: Not the original statue.

Ali’iolani Hale’s Kamehameha statue has a rather amusing back-story. Commissioned in 1878 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Captain James Cook’s arrival in Hawaii (an arrival that didn’t turn out all that well for the captain), the Kamehameha statue was designed by Thomas Gould, an American sculptor living in Italy at the time, and cast in bronze in Paris. Unfortunately, the ship carrying the statue from France to Hawaii sank off the Falkland Islands, and the statue was thought lost to the Atlantic. The forward-thinking Hawaiian government had taken out a hefty insurance policy, the payout from which paid for a recasting of the statue, which Gould promptly shipped. But wait! Enterprising local Falklanders recovered the original statue and sold it back to the wrecked ship’s captain, who in turn sold it to the Hawaiian government. Finding themselves with two identical statues, the Hawaiians installed the original on the Big Island’s Kohala Coast, near Kamehameha the Great’s birthplace, and mounted the replica — which you’re looking at here — in front of Ali’iolani Hale.

Next, we made a stop at a Wal-Mart to purchase snorkeling gear that we’d use during the trip. We scored complete sets of equipment — snorkels, masks, fins, and water shoes — for a relative pittance. Wal-Mart in Hawaii is pretty much like Wal-Mart on the mainland, only with more aloha shirts and macadamia nuts, and with an L&L Hawaiian Barbecue concession instead of a McDonald’s.

National Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl Crater

Our travels next took us up into the hills overlooking downtown Honolulu, to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Puowaina. Lodged in the lush green concavity of an ancient volcanic crater (hence the nickname “Punchbowl”), the cemetery houses the remains of thousands of military veterans. Punchbowl is also home to a group of ten marble memorials to Service personnel from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War whose remains were never recovered — “whose earthly resting place is known only to God.”

Dedication stone, Court of the Missing at Punchbowl Cemetery

It’s a touch ironic, I suppose, that in a place as teeming with tropical life as Oahu so many of the attractions that draw attention are memorials to the deceased. Having grown up in a military family, however, I’m acutely conscious of the sacrifices our Servicemen and Servicewomen are called upon to make. For that reason, it was important to me to take the drive up to Punchbowl with the Pirate Queen, whose father was a sailor during the Second World War.

Statue of Columbia at Punchbowl Cemetery

Overseeing Punchbowl from the head of an enormous staircase is a statue of Columbia, the mythic female figure who personified the young United States in the 18th and 19th centuries — hence the name of the nation’s capital, the District of Columbia. (Moviegoers know her better as the logo of a popular film studio.) Columbia pretty much got shoved aside in American symbology in favor of Lady Liberty around the turn of the 20th century, but when Punchbowl was dedicated in 1949, she received her corner in the limelight.

All aboard for Paradise Cove!

Our day transitioned from reverence to revelry in the late afternoon, when we and a few dozen of our new closest cousins boarded a bus bound for the Paradise Cove Luau. When planning our luau experience, the Pirate Queen and I had debated driving our rental car out to Ko Olina on the far western edge of the island, where Paradise Cove is located. Our decision to take the shuttle instead proved perspicacious, as the slog through Honolulu’s rush-hour gridlock took nearly two hours to traverse. Much better to relax in air-conditioned comfort while letting a professional manage the stress.

Now, you might be thinking, “Isn’t a commercial luau all touristy and whatnot?” Um, hello… we’re tourists.

Paradise Cove's dancing cousins... well, probably not actual cousins.

Never having been to Hawaii before, the Pirate Queen wanted to take in a few of the classic essentials: see the kalua pig rise from the imu (the underground fire pit in which the pig is roasted); taste some poi; get a temporary Polynesian tattoo; watch some hula and a fire knife dance. Paradise Cove delivered on all of her expectations, in fine style. We scored front-row seats for the imu ceremony. The Pirate Queen was chosen as one of the audience participants in the always hilarious poi tasting (a culinary undertaking she will not eagerly repeat). She got a lovely flower drawn on her arm by a handsome, shirtless young Hawaiian gent. (She had mostly perspired through the tattoo by the time we got back to Honolulu.) We had a pretty fair meal and a great view of the entertaining show, complete with the requisite hula and fire knife dancers. We shared our table with a nice young couple from Australia, from whom we learned that Burger King franchises Down Under are called Hungry Jack’s (hey, you never know when trivia like that might come in handy) and whose accents I struggled to commit to memory for future voiceover projects. And, we saw an amazing sunset over the Pacific.

Sunset at Paradise Cove

All in all, we enjoyed a delightful evening of stereotypical aloha.

And that was our second day on Oahu. I’ll regale you with the Day Three doings next time.

Explore posts in the same categories: Hawaii, Reminiscing, SwanStuff, That's Cool!, Where in the World is Uncle Swan?

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