One of the joys of staying at Diamondhead side of Waikiki is Kapiolani Park. We planned a day of appreciation of what it offered there. We started out with a walk on the sea-walk along Queens Beach. It was a little early for sunbathers, but there were some folks practicing yoga, others securing picnic tables for family gatherings. We love to watch the ocean, and being from Iowa we don’t get many chances to do that. So we walked and chatted, watched the ocean and enjoyed the inland view of the banyan trees and other trees in the park. My friend had not heard of the Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial. We stopped to check out this building on the National Register of Historic Places. It has fallen into disrepair and has been graffiti. Built as an ocean water swimming pool and dedicated to those who served during WW I. Local Olympic Gold swimmer Duke Kahanamoko was the first to swim here.
Back to the seaside we continued on to the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel where we stopped for Sunday Brunch at the Hau Tree Lanai Restaurant. We like this restaurant for the menu, the location on the beach, the Hau tree shaded lanai and for the large dollop of history it has. This was once a private home, turned into a resort. Among the famous people who stayed here was Robert Louis Stevenson. And guess who joined him here for an occasional meal?….King David Kalakaua! Hau Tree Lanai has won prizes for being the best outdoor dining in Honolulu. Often overlooked by tourists, it is a favorite of locals. We didn’t have reservations but were given a good table on the upper level. Service and food were excellent. That day it was raining off and on so the unprotected tables near the historic lanai wall were empty. Our generous brunch servings of crab-cake Benedict and club sandwich with beverage and tip came to $56.50. It is one of the best meals of the whole trip.
Walking in the misty rain to our next stop, we enjoyed looking at the unusual trees along Kalakaua Ave. The best way to describe them is gnarly. Often in Hawaii rains are so light, almost a fine mist that you see open umbrellas and closed umbrellas in the same cluster of people. No one is quite sure what to do. Soon we arrived at the Waikiki Aquarium at 2777 Kalakaua Ave on the ocean side of the street. This is the third oldest aquarium in the US. It is relatively small but well stocked with fish, coral, jellies, crustaceans, and at least one monk seal. We have visited three times and have favorite tanks to visit. One fish that looks like seaweed, the cute sea horses and the jellyfish fascinates us. The size of some of the fish in the big tank convinces me to stay in shallow water. Outdoor tanks show various stages of growth in schools of krill from practically invisible to full size at 2". Admission is $9 for adults and $6 for kids and seniors, what a bargain! They open at 9:00 am daily and close at 4:30pm. There is a small gift shop geared at purchases children can make.
Next stop Cold Stone Creamery at the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel. They offer a nice selection of flavors and doodads to fancy them up. I stuck with a scoop of mango ice cream and was very happy.
At this point Bill retired to the hotel room. Marilyn and I flipped a coin…. zoo or shop. We may have fudged the coin toss because we both wanted to go shopping. Waikiki does offer many opportunities for that and we went our separate ways with our shopping lists. Some of my favorite Waikiki Shops are Crazy Fish, Crazy Shirt, and the old reliable ABC Store. Don’t be shy about wandering into hotel lobbies, some of the most interesting shops can be found there. I always visit the Hawaiian Quilt Collection and products of Hawaii Too in the Hyatt Regency.
To finish off our day Bill and I enjoyed a gourmet Hawaiian pizza at Wolfgang Puck Express on the ground floor of the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel. We liked that $12.51 meal so much we did it again later in the week. It had been a fun day full of variety and almost constant beautiful views of the ocean. We did it all on foot, no valet, no taxi and no trolleys. Gotta love Waikiki.