Waikīkī is one of those places where locals avoid, for the most part, unless there’s a special event or family gathering. And, it had been a while since I’d been down there, even before I began traveling, so when my friend Chris suggested we have lunch at The Cheesecake Factory, I jumped at the chance to rediscover it.
Over lunch Chris and I caught up on everything that had happened while I was away. We have one of those friendships where we pick up where we left off no matter how long it’s been since we last spoke. The longer we chatted, the more I appreciated the depth of our friendship. There is no way that I could connect with someone I met on the road like I do with Chris. I suppose our friendship has had years to develop and evolve, and newer friendships just haven’t had time to put in the miles like this one. But, I know I was definitely missing this feeling of complete acceptance and understanding while overseas. It’s reassuring to know there’s someone out there who just totally gets you, and you don’t have to always explain yourself or your actions.
After a massive feed, we waddled our way along Kalākaua Ave and headed for Waikīkī Beach along a nearby path. The beach was overflowing with people swimming and sunbathing beneath the warm afternoon sun. The sand under my feet was hot and the Pacific Ocean looked so cool. All the colors seemed a tad brighter and more amazing than I remembered. I guess this is the reason Hawaiʻi is such a popular tourist destination.
Waikīkī is a good introduction to Hawaiʻi and offers all the sun, sand and (sometimes) surf that you could want. It has a multitude of activities, shops and restaurants to keep you busy during your stay. But, if it’s the only part of Hawaiʻi that you see, you’re missing out on the real Hawaiʻi.
As I have told many people I’ve met throughout my travels, the island of Oʻahu is simply any other American city set in the tropics. If you really want to learn about Hawaiʻi’s culture and natural wonders, visit a few of the outer islands after you’ve explored Oʻahu. Then you’ll know what the Aloha Spirit is all about.