Trees and the Hawaiian Shore – Still Walking Waikiki


In real time we only stayed two nights near Waikiki. Being first timers to Hawaii, two flights from the middle of the mainland to Honolulu seemed daunting. We wanted to enjoy a warm up before boarding the cruise ship for the trip’s main act. A good decision – time to relax, see a bit of Oahu. And figure out just what time it really was – body clock or island time?

Strolling the shores of Waikiki, without any time constraints or places we had to be, was a joy. I spent most of my waking hours walking along the ocean, never tiring of the ceaseless surf, the wild cloud formations as the trade winds stirred the currents, water and sea.


We do not have palm trees in Wisconsin, unless visiting one of the under a glass dome botanical gardens. I love trees of any kind. Palms took their rightful place on my ‘tree love list’. Love these palms, the trunks swaying like dancers, the leaves whistling as the winds slide through the foliage.


Most of the coastlines I have walked consisted of long stretches of sandy dunes or rocky beach. Not trees. But on this stretch trees hugged the sandy shores.


Kapiolani Park provided a variety of seating options. Grassy, sandy, or under a branch woven pavilion. Always a shady place for respite from the sun, if and when desired.


Still, the city of Honolulu was never far from sight. A photo of a palm tree’s shadow leaning from sand to water also captured the city in the background.

I think I’m ready to move on, board the cruise ship and explore a few more islands. Amazing stuff coming up. Promise!

Walking Waikīkī – Art is Everywhere


Walking the streets of a major city (or truly, almost anywhere) there are opportunities to see art of all sorts — commissioned sculptures, carvings and paintings at restaurants and other establishments, even street art, dusty with footprints. In the rush to get from here to there, it’s easy to pass and not see the interesting, the unusual, that which adds a bit of beauty, novelty, or unexpected information to your day.

I walked along the shore of the Pacific Ocean from Waikīkī to Diamond Head and had opportunity to see a variety of sculptures, mosaics, wood carvings, murals, even stencil art on the sidewalks. Not all of the art I stopped to see was museum quality art, but every piece added flavor and dimension to my visit, offering a perspective of the city through a different lens.


The above sculpture – photographed on my way to Diamond Head, mid morning, without leis adorning the surfer and seal, and photographed again on my return, mid afternoon, adorned with the traditional leis. As a first time visitor to Hawaii, I remained fascinated at the frequency I saw leis used as a gesture of welcome – and not only to tourists as would be expected. Leis on business people, on people relaxing on the beach, and (photo proof) on sculptures.

The seal and surfer sculpture, titled Makua and Kila, is set into a rocky fountain on the beach promenade. It’s based on a children’s story by author Fred Van Dyke and weaves traditional Hawaiian values of respect for family and respect for the ocean into the story of friendship. (artist Holly Young)

Surf Board Inofrmation Plaque

Perhaps signage doesn’t qualify as art for many people, but when the sign includes a surf board, photography prints, and typography it goes on my list of that which is “interesting, unusual,  adds a bit of beauty, novelty, or unexpected information” to my day. Upon reading a short list of facts about surfing I learned more than if I hadn’t read the list. Obviously.

Did you know that Mark Twain tried surfing on his visit to the Hawaiian islands in 1866 – unsuccessfully? Or that by the 1900s surfing had nearly died out, partly because of opposition from missionaries who thought time should be spent in more upstanding activities? That Waikīkī means “spouting water”? Or that the longest ride on the surf was by Duke Kahanamoku in 1917 who caught a 35″ wave and rode it 1 1/4 miles to shore? (He was an Olympic champion and the “father of surfing…”)

That’s what the sign says.


The statue of Mahatma Gandhi is located in Kapiolani Park in front of the Honolulu Zoo. It has a checkered past — or at least the donor of the statue has a checkered past — but the statue of Gandhi does catch your attention, located in the midst statues of Hawaiian kings, surfers, and dolphins.


Here’s a more typical statue,  a preaching Saint Augustine standing near the church entrance that bears a longer name, St. Augustine by the Sea Catholic Church.

Incredibly, a (long) search through the halls of Google turned up exactly nothing about this specific statue. So…


And then the less serious, but equally fun art — the wooden carving and another lei.


And the hula dancer stenciled on the sidewalk and up a set of steps. I call it bread crumb art.

Follow the hula dancer and find breakfast!

Still in Honolulu – Exploring the Banyan Tree


This towering banyan tree, complete with benches around its circumference, is located outside the Honolulu Zoo. I spent some quiet time bench sitting and people watching on a stroll from Waikiki to Diamond Head.

The banyan tree is a common botanical feature of Hawaii even though it is not native to the islands. Their canopies are vast, the larger ones spreading up to a hundred and fifty feet across.


Banyan trees are characterized by their prop roots that grow to support the expansive limbs. Trees spread laterally and can cover wide areas. I love the look of the roots as they drip towards the earth, seeking a firm footing.


The trees are native to the tropics and subtropics and were brought to the Hawaiian Islands in the late 1800s by missionaries from India.


Amazing roots. They can eventually become as large as the original trunk. And they make perfect roosts for the local birds and greats nooks for a game of hide and seek.



Honolulu – Change is in the Air


Sailboats and Surfers on Golden Seas

Mark Twain is famously quoted as saying “If you don’t like the weather in New England, wait five minutes.” I imagine this would be true in most of the United States, but I didn’t expect it to be quite so true in Hawaii. Hawaii, to this Midwestern born and raised woman’s way of thinking, meant sunshine. And true, I was blessed with sunny skies much of the time I was traveling the islands.


Setting Sun

Bright skies, glowing sunsets sliding below glowing horizons.



After the Sunset

And circus colored remnants once the sun had set.


Honolulu Gray Skies

But just as often I could turn around and see the nearby mountains cloaked in gray. I’d be walking along the streets under sunny skies, wondering where I’d misplaced my sunglasses, and then the sun would disappear above the clouds. I no longer needed sunglasses. Instead I needed an umbrella.


Catch a Rainbow

And I really didn’t need an umbrella for long, only an awning to shelter from the rain. Within minutes, the skies lightened and the famous Hawaii rainbow appeared.


Rainbow Reward

Five minutes was plenty of time for a change. Rain. Sun. Windy. Calm. Or a rainbow as reward.

Honolulu – First Impressions

Honolulu Skyline

Honolulu Skyline

To the arriving and leaving. To the journey
I wake to freshness. And do reverence.
~ Jack Gilbert

Circling the Hawaiian Islands – part family tradition, part pilgrimage, part challenge.

Family Tradition:

I’ve been traveling the United States – summer road trip! – for nearly 50 years; my husband and kids joined me in the annual camping/cross-country road trip over thirty years ago. By the time our three kids had graduated from high school, we had visited 46 states. My younger daughter and I explored Washington and a bit of Oregon in 2010 to increase our “states visited” number to 48. Our recent visit to Hawaii made the island state #49. With good fortune, Alaska will be #50 in 2016.

Almost a year ago Manda and I began planning a visit to Hawaii. To take best advantage of our short stay of 9 days, two of which were travel days, we planned to fly into Honolulu and then take a 7 day island cruise, with stops at Maui, the Big Island (day long stops at both Hilo and Kona) and then an overnight stop in Kauai before cruising back to Oahu. The plan worked well for us as first time visitors – it was a delicious taste of Hawaii. We now have a long list of new favorites to visit the next time we head (far) west.

St. Augustine Catholic Church and Waikiki Coastline

St. Augustine Catholic Church and Waikiki Coastline

Pilgrimage: a spirit-renewing ritual, a journey to find/see the sacred in the ordinary.

~ Bo Mackison

Part Pilgrimage:

We arrived in Honolulu a day early to get our land legs after our long flight, although in retrospect it wasn’t so much the land legs I needed as a stronger pair of sea legs…

The view from the hotel – iconic. Not only the golden Pacific, a sea of honey-hued waves aglow in the setting sun, but also a bit of the Waikiki coast, the iconic surfers (and surfing students) waiting to ride incoming waves, palm tree-lined streets. And this church, tucked into the hotel hustle and beach crowd – St. Augustine by the Sea. The modern church, built in 1962, replaced an older wooden structure built in 1901. The older church was well-known as the “church without windows” — latticework walls provided an open structure and ocean breezes provided ventilation. I hoped for time inside the church — a soothing place to sit with my thoughts and a place to rest my knees for a bit — but the building was locked.

Instead I found refuge sitting on a bench tucked under a banyan tree and watched the rhythm of the surfers and the waves.

Hotel Visitors, 26th Floor

Hotel Visitors, 26th Floor

“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”

~Toni Morrison

Part Challenge:

This trip was on my maybe list for months. Though we’d made the reservations almost a year ago, 2015 was one of those challenging years, punctuated by way too many ups and downs. I’d had to cancel several greatly anticipated trips throughout the year, aware that in order to best care for myself I had to limit travel and other activities.

So it was with a mixture of concern and relief that I packed my luggage for Hawaii. I also packed a mental self-care list, acknowledging the need to balance the joys and frustrations of travel with my awareness of limitations and the willingness to practice extreme self-care when needed.

Challenge…but I wanted to fly.