Hawaii is a tropical island in the middle of the Pacific, north of the Equator. We went there just in time for Christmas. Winter in London, summer in Honolulu – not a bad choice. The picture on the right is the view of Honolulu from our hotel, the Polo, 9th floor. We could wear t-shirts and sandals and of course the rain is warm.
What you notice particularly about Hawaii is the quality of the light. Look at how clear the buildings are, how vibrant the colours. This is not paradise because the people are wealthy, they’re not; this is paradise because the sun shines brightly, the sea is deeply blue and the evenings are fragrantly warm.
Honolulu is on O’ahu, which is in the middle of the island group, and it’s all very American. Near our Christmas dinner house, this huge Old Glory waved in the front yard of a near neighbour and another had a small flag growing with his pot plants as part of his letterbox, as you can see in the photo below. We sun-bathed on low recliners, wore sun-glasses and ate ice-cream.
O’ahu is an island full of flowers – beautiful, big showy hibiscus like the one you can see right, with bright bougainvillaea and a huge variety of orchids. The wonderful display you can see on the latticework around the front gate of another neighbour in the picture, below, was quite common. A cheery little native dove cooed in a unique singsong and picked titbits from the cracks in the footpath. Colourful birds I had never seen before sang songs I had never heard before.
Look at the colours in this picture – aren’t they terrific? The clarity and brightness are remarkable. This is the marina close to our hotel. The funny thing is that we humans take ourselves with us wherever we go. Look at the rubbish on the surface of the water. Who would do that in paradise? You moor your million-dollar yacht on a silent, silver pond, admire the view – and then chuck your junk overboard. It did not smell nearly as lovely as it looked.
Some of the views in Honolulu are just stunning. An offshoot of the marina is this canal development. I am standing on a low bridge just a couple of hundred metres from our hotel and this canal, fish and all, stretches away almost to the foothills. I’m not sure how the water is circulated, but this is a sea-water canal.
There’s a shallow sea-water pond in the middle of Magic Island and I watched a young boy catch a small fish and yell excitedly to his dad to help him land it. This heron may have been watching him, or it may have been waiting for a fish of its own. Two young hunters hard at work…
The main reason for going to Hawaii was for the wedding of very good friends. This wedding was to take place at dusk on Magic Island, Hawaii. It’s not an island at all, it’s a spit of land with a park, a pond and a banyon tree. Fortunately for us, it was close to our hotel. Close enough so that Elaine was emboldened to think she could walk there in her silver sandals and glittering ball dress. The hotel staff commented to us the following day that they watched her walk all the way there and thought she was very brave!
You can see here just how lovely the location was for a wedding; palm trees, a gentle, warm breeze, the rolling surf and excellent company.
Honolulu is, of course, a modern, multicultural city. Read Hawaii, by James Mitchner, to get a flavour of the sometimes turbulent history of the natives, the Chinese, the Japanese and the Americans. We took a short trip around the bays in the south of O’ahu and saw some of the shanty villages the natives live in. These conditions point to the probability that the wealth being generated by Honolulu and Waikiki is not doing a lot for the local economy. Most of the money must be being repatriated to the mainland. Pity. This little shrine was outside a restaurant.
This is the essence of paradise, isn’t it? A young chap sits on a log next to his girlfriend, and they sit and look at a warm, sunlit, idyllic scene. They are looking across the Magic Island pond to Waikiki.
Every day, this ship quietly and slowly sidles up to this spot and drops anchor. It lets down huge orange pillows and people climb down off the ship and go swimming, fishing and surfing. I’ve never seen anything like it.
Hawaii is a wonderful place to have a wedding. This couple and their chaperone (?) were married at the Hilton Hawaii Village, a 2000-bed hotel. One of five similar hotels in Waikiki. On the Magic Island foreshore that faces Waikiki (so there is a nice background in every photo) we saw four weddings taking place at the same time.
These are the racing catamarans of Waikiki, drawn up on the beach. There is quite a culture of sport amongst the young in Waikiki. The catamarans are paddled by a crew of 5 – very quickly – even though the canoes are quite heavy for the crew to lift out of the water.
I think this is one of the best photos I have taken. On the evening before the wedding we walked to Waikiki and waited for the sun to set. Elaine was watching the effect of the light on the Waikiki hotels and enjoying the warm atmosphere. Behind her to her left there was a dreadlocked chap in a wheelchair playing an electric guitar to background music from his ghetto-blaster. He was good, too