Hawaii’s first point of arrival for visitors travelling by air or sea, is usually Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, where both the international airport and the Aloha Tower shipping terminal are located.
After clearing customs, most visitors head straight to the tourist hub of Waikiki where most of the hotels and holiday apartments are located, taking advantage of the famous Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head views. Even though most Australians live within easy access to a beach, Waikiki seems to have a special allure that draws so many Aussie tourists to Hawaii each year. Maybe the connection is that most of the sand on Waikiki beach is imported from Australia.
Walking along the beachfront on Kalakaua Avenue is a favourite activity for young and old. There’s so much to see, with shops and restaurants on one side to tempt you and just across the road is that famous beach.
One of the street sounds visitors first notice is the clang of the bells from the many trolleys circulating through the area. These open sided trolleys with their bench seats, are based on the wooden trolley buses of yesteryear, but have been updated to cater for modern needs. They ring their signature bell each time they are to depart one of their stops.
They are such a fun way to get around and view all the sights plus they definitely add to the atmosphere, with their friendly drivers greeting everyone as they get on board. I rode the trolley every day when I was in Honolulu recently, as they were much more fun than getting on the local bus service called “The Bus”.
The trolleys run separate services for Japanese, Korean and English speakers, with the language displayed on the front of the trolley along with the destination.
The Waikiki Trolley’s most popular service is the Pink Line that travels from the Waikiki beachside to Ala Moana Shopping Centre. With 12 clearly marked trolley stops along the route, including Duke Kahanamoku Statue and Hilton Hawaiian Village, the destination for most on board is Ala Moana, stopping just near Nordstrom Department Store. The friendly drivers announce each upcoming stop, ringing their bell once safe to proceed to the next stop. Tickets on the Pink Line are US$2, exact fare cash only one way and can be purchased on board, or at the Waikiki Trolley Information Desk in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center.
The Red Line Historic Honolulu Sightseeing Tour provides a commentary while taking in such sights as Iolani Palace, Chinatown and Museum of Art. Ticket holders can hop on/hop off, allowing them to spend more time at a favourite location. The Green Line visits the Aquarium, Diamond Head and Kahala Mall. For those with more time, try the Blue Line Panoramic Coastline Tour that visits Hanauma Bay, Halona Blow Hole and Sea Life Park, taking 2½ hours.
Shopaholics will be pleased to know that Waikiki Trolley also operates a daily reservation only service on an air conditioned mini bus to the Waikele Premium Outlets, where there are over 50 outlet stores, all offering incredible bargains. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough room in my suitcases to take this tour.
Sandra Tiltman Photos: John Pond