A Circle Tour of Oahu by Car

We overnighted aboard the Celebrity Solstice in Honolulu Harbor Monday night, and had a car booked from Enterprise for Tuesday morning. The general plan was simply to circle Oahu, or at least the eastern half of it, with stops at whatever spots attracted any of us at the moment.

My day began as almost all of them do, with a quiet coffee or 3 on the back deck. The sun was just coming up when I shot this at 06:09.
Morning light from our cruise ship docked in Honolulu, Hawaii
Although Enterprise was running a shuttle from the ship, Cathy and I walked the 4 blocks or so, and by 09:00 had a full-size car, for about $75. The car had only 9,000 miles on it, and I was amazed at the amount of minor damage on it – a few really bad drivers had obviously driven it! With a half-hour to kill before picking MJ and Jim up at the pier, we went for a drive and then a short walk along the beach. What a way to start a day – ahhhhhh… 🙂
The beach at Honolulu, Hawaii
The temperature of the sea is about the same as the air, in the low 80s. There are a lot of people living in their cars and vans, and in tents in Ala Moana Park. Lovely for the campers no doubt, but I’m surprised that the city allows it.
The beach at Ala Moana Park, Hawaii
My 44-year-old memory of the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific was that it was a beautiful and moving site, and as Jim is a Vietnam vet, we started our tour there. It turned out to be not a good idea. The only bathroom open (men have to stand guard while their wives use it) is a disgrace, and construction has closed or hidden much of the main memorial.
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific - Oahu, Hawaii
The battle-map gallery was open behind a construction fence, but none of the others climbed the many stairs to see it, so I just had a quick look and we continued on.
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific - Honolulu, Hawaii
When I saw a sign for Tantalus Drive, it was irresistible, and I turned right out of the cemetery rather than the way my navigator wanted to go, and it turned out to be one of if not the best experience of the day. It’s a very narrow, steep road that winds up the mountains above Honolulu, and as well as offering some spectacular views, the road itself, with very thick forest tightly crowding the pavement, was wonderful.
Honolulu, Hawaii
On the way back down Round Top Road (which is what Tantalus Drive becomes), Puu Ualaokua Park provided another great view over the city.
Honolulu, Hawaii
The seaward extension of the Honolulu Airport.
Honolulu Airport
Our ship can be seen just to the right of centre in this photo taken from Puu Ualaokua Park.
Honolulu, Hawaii
The road back down from the park to Round Top Road (this road is much wider and more open than Tantalus or Round Top).
Honolulu, Hawaii
From the peace and quiet ot Tantalus / Round Top, we made our way back to the busy H1 freeway, then headed north on H2 to see the famous North Shore. Even though this is the quiet season as surfing is poor, it was still very busy, and although we had an excellent lunch in a tiny cafe in Haleiwa, we made few other stops. This stop provided awesome mountain views, but the sea came right up to a high wall, so no beach.
Oahu, Hawaii
The two crosses on the cliffs above suggested that this might be paradise for many people, but others still want out by any means available.
Suicide crosses on Oahu, Hawaii
The ruins of a sugar mill brought another sad note in the guide book we were using – the son of the owner had died when he fell into a vat of boiling sugar.
Oahu, Hawaii
When very heavy rain started, I almost took a short-cut back to Honolulu, but decided to keep going in the hope that not only the weather but the whole experience would get better. The North Shore had certainly been a dud, although looking back at it now, with a different plan and more time I see how to enjoy the area.
Heavy rain on Oahu, Hawaii
Just after 3:00 pm, we got a view of the Makapuu Point lighthouse, from the opposite side we saw it from the ship as we sailed in. There were many people camping on this beach despite signs prohibiting it, and between those camps and a very large pile of garbage, what might be a very nice beach was far from inviting.
Makapuu Point lighthouse - Oahu, Hawaii
Makapuu Beach Park was lovely from the viewpoint above, and it appeared to be a good body-surfing spot.
Makapuu Beach Park, Oahu, Hawaii
Manana Island is impressive, and beaches on the north end (not shown in this photo) make it easily accessible. In the foreground is Kaohikaipu Island.
Manana and Kaohikaipu Islands - Oahu, Hawaii
Sandy Beach Park, seen from the viewpoint at the Halona Blowhole.
Sandy Beach Park - Oahu, Hawaii
Sandy Beach Park - Oahu, Hawaii
This lovely little beach is accessed by a natural staircase down from the blowhole parking lot.
Oahu, Hawaii
Getting a close-up look at the Halona Blowhole. Many people apparently get themselves into trouble and even get killed getting a closer look.
Halona Blowhole - Oahu, Hawaii

We were back into heavy trafic as we neared Honolulu, but had the car back well before the office’s 6:00 pm closing time (they don’t allow after-hours drops), and for our 6:00 dinner reservation in the ship’s main dining room. Although the day hadn’t been as good as I’d thought it would be, we saw some interesting areas and it gave us some ideas for our hotel stay in Honolulu after the cruise. And while we were driving around Hawaii, our friends back in Whitehorse were dealing with several inches of snow!

At 8:00, we set sail for Hilo, on the Big Island. The lights of Honolulu attracted many passengers to the top decks as we sailed away.
Sailing from Honolulu, Hawaii, at night
Sailing from Honolulu, Hawaii, at night
As always, while we’re enjoying ourselves, hundreds of people are hard at work keeping everything in order for us. That’s something we can always count on – even on our worst cruise, on a Carnival ship, that’s been the case.
Oahu, Hawaii

As I finish this, the sky is just starting to turn orange, and we’re 6 hours from Kona, where we have another car rented. My next post will about yesterday’s superb full-day tour of a corner of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park with a private guide.


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A Circle Tour of Oahu by Car — 1 Comment