Even though it’s been said you can get around Oahu without a car by just using the public transportation system, we felt otherwise and picked up a rental car at the airport in the morning. We then took off towards the Windward (eastern) side of the island. where our first stop was at the Valley Of The Temples Memorial Park. This gorgeous cemetery with rolling hills and lush greenery leads to the Byodo-In Temple, a replica of a 12th century Japanese Buddhist temple. This stunning building is a marvel to look at, especially with the green Koʻolau mountains as a backdrop. We truly enjoyed this place of peacefulness and serenity, even as it started to drizzle.
We continued to drive northeast to Kualoa Beach Park for a great view of Chinaman’s Hat Island. Called so for its obvious shape, this cute little island is reachable by kayak, if so desired. Unfortunately, the drizzle was starting to get harder and only after a couple minutes of enjoying the offshore island, the torrential rains came as we scurried back to the car but not before we were both soaking wet. As we made our way through the rain farther up north, the skies started to clear and our stomaches started to growl. So we pulled over for lunch at the Crouching Lion Inn, so named for the lava rock formation in the mountains behind it. I enjoyed another great Kahlua pork sandwich, as we both started to dry off in the clearing sun. As we drove further north along the sweeping coastline, we saw a tree swing on an isolated beach, so we stopped there to get some pictures and collect some shells.
We then finally arrived at our final destination, the famous Polynesian Cultural Center. Everyone I talked to said we have to go here, and they were right on, as we had a great time exploring the different island villages, such as Fiji, Tonga and Tahiti. We started off with a narrated canoe ride up a small river, and then walked through the villages, taking in the shows and demonstrations. Our favorite was in Samoa, where a highly-entertaining Samoan guy named Gaff demonstrated how to crack open a coconut and make coconut milk. His comedic timing was spot on, and he had the audience roaring with laughter. His show ended with another young man climbing up a 40-foot coconut tree in about 5 seconds. Matter of fact, he’s even climbed the tree faster than a monkey. We also enjoyed the Aotearoa or New Zealand village show, where I founds the native music very unique and catchy. We then feasted at a large luau, complete with pig, chicken, fish, pineapples, and the ever-so-tasty taro rolls, which were purple and sweet. Afterwards, we went to see the fantastic Breath Of Life show, which documents the journey of a young Polynesian man through his life, told through song and dance. Unfortunately, we were both dead tired, and had to leave halfway through the show. Not familiar with the roads yet, we didn’t know how long it would take to get back, and we didn’t want to get too sleepy before we left.