Waikiki Beach is iconic, even in Hawaii. It is the shooting location for many TV shows and movies, including From Here to Eternity and Hawaii Five-O (of course). So we took off for the beach, stopping on the way for a delicious açaí bowl, which we described and showed photos of in October when we were here on another cruise.
All the photos were taken at or along Waikiki. As you look at these other-worldly photos, keep in mind that the wide beach running along the ocean is artificial – comprised of imported sand, largely from Manhattan Beach, California. We read that it arrived by barges, and it is dizzying to think of the number of barges of sand required! Almost 2,000 feet of sand has been replenished over the years at a cost of $2.4 million, as erosion claims about one foot of sand per year.
In the 1800s, Waikiki was a retreat for Hawaiian royalty, and they enjoyed early forms of surfing on longboards. A few small hotels appeared in the 1880s, and the area became more popular once Robert Louis Stevenson stayed on Waikiki Beach as he explored the South Pacific (winding up in Samoa for the rest of his life, as we related a few weeks ago). The high-rise hotels started to go up in 1955, and this area has only grown in size and popularity since then. Believe it or not, the income generated from Waikiki makes up a whopping 42 percent of all of Hawaii’s tourist income!
So we wandered along the beach and took photos. There are various statues, a small water feature with waterfalls, a gigantic baobab tree with multiple trunks, and people, people, people – all enjoying both the beach and the ocean. There were far more people than we saw on all the beaches of French Polynesia combined. It was warm but not as hot as in French Polynesia, and we noticed one more thing: during dinner, at 6:30 pm, we could still see the entire landscape outside. Just a few days ago, when seated next to the window at the same time, it was just utter darkness at 6:30 pm. So we have moved back into the light! It is great to be back in the US – back in the US – back in the US of A!