Dear O’ahu: I Love You

Heart-shaped tidepool on the (western) Leeward Side of the Hawaiian island of Oahu

Just got back from the Hawaiian island of O’ahu, and I miss it already.

(Heck, I was already missing it by the time I’d settled into the plane ride home.)

Back here in my regularly-scheduled life, there’s no crash of 40-foot waves in my kitchen, no tropical breeze in my bedroom, no daily flourish of rainbows outside my windows, no lilt of ukelele and birdsong in my ears. Instead, my soundtrack is the far-off squeal of a firetruck siren, the text buzz of my iPhone, and the hornet-hum of a gas-powered leaf-blower.

Having spent a futile half-hour attempting to will myself back to O’ahu, I’ve decided instead to give in to reality and simply share my favorite photos from the island with you.

This way, we can all escape the noise — and feel the love.

Just another rainbow on Waikiki Beach

Infinity pool at the Sheraton Waikiki, raised just above a public walkway

Outrigger canoe at Waikiki Beach Services; canoes like this were used by ancient Polynesians for long-distance ocean migrations

The expansive, elegant lanai at Waikiki’s Royal Hawaiian Hotel

Antique map of Hawaii on display in the lobby at Waikiki’s Royal Hawaiian Hotel

Some places, lovers carve their names in trees — on Oahu, they choose bamboo

This nawa tree at the entrance to the Waimea Bay Audubon Center is a riot of squiggles and grace

It always makes me happy to find a flower that stumps me — anyone know what this beauty is called?

Out in Oahu’s Wai’anae Bay, humpback whales sometimes happen

You can’t go more than a few miles on the island without stumbling across a koi pond

The Byodo-in Temple is a faithful replica of a 900-year-old Buddhist temple in Japan

The Leeward (west) side of the island is windswept, rocky and largely tree-less — and it’s where most native Hawaiians live

On the Leeward Side, the sun-baked hike at Ka’ena Point should only be attempted in the morning or late afternoon

On the Makiki Valley rainforest hike, look for banyan trees and listen for  birdsong

Hike up Diamond Head State Monument on a weekday, if you can — weekend crowds are astonishing

One slice of the view from Nu’Uana Pali Lookout, along the Windward (east) Side

Trail horse at rest at the Kualoa Ranch, on the Windward Side

On the North Shore, Sunset Beach is known for its sand, water and enormous waves

In the North Shore town on Haleiwa, shave ice is a wildly popular treat…but sometimes hard to balance

The 19th-century Bishop Museum offers hallowed halls of treasures from all over Hawaii, both above and below the ocean surface

For a special Japanese meal, visit Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin on a quiet side street in Waikiki

The view of both Waikiki and Honolulu from up at Puu Ualakaa State Wayside Park

Pineapple presentation at the New Otani Kaimana Beach, out near Diamond Head

On Oahu, even the phone booths have a little Hawaiian flavor

At Haleiwa’s Kua’Aina, turkey sandwiches (be sure to ask for extra grilling) come with huge wedges of Hawaiian avocado

Enroute to the North Shore on the Windward Side, the He’eia Kea Harbor (tires and all) offers a stunning view of Mokoli’i Island

Polynesian idols at the Bishop Museum are just happy to see you

But this tiki figure at the Polynesian Cultural Village Center? Not so much

The refurbished planetarium at the Bishop Museum offers you a chance to snuggle, look up at the stars, and learn a thing or two

Fabrics designer Alfred Shaheen defined Hawaiian style for a mainland audience in the 1950s and ’60s (

A luahine (older woman) teaches ukelele at Waikiki’s Outrigger Reef on the Beach…and man, can she jam

Turtle Bay is the North Shore’s only luxury resort, and it’s just about to go through a full-scale renovation

Trust me: the last sunset on your last night in Waikiki will feel sweet and bittersweet at the same time



Outrigger Reef on the Beach
Sheraton Waikiki
Waikiki Beach Services
Wild Side Specialty Tours
Kulaoa Ranch
Tonkatsu Ginzu Bairin
Bishop Museum
Turtle Bay Resort
Kua A’ina
Haleiwa Shave Ice


My trip to O’ahu was arranged courtesy of the O’ahu Visitors Bureau,
but all photos, experiences and opinions expressed here are my own



  1. Enjoyed reading your posts and seeing your photos from Hawaii. And love your attitude! We’ve been to Hawaii more times than we can count, and Bob lived there for about ten years. It’s still a favorite place for all of us and our families.

    Alan, Peter, and Bob.

    Authors of Beer in the Bilges, Sailing Adventures in the South Pacific

  2. So awesome, Melania. I love this gallery! It brings back so many memories of … two weeks ago.

    I hope you guys had even more fun than these pictures hint at … and I’m still stunned that we missed each other by mere days.

    Back amongst the snowdrifts,

  3. Ah, love. Thanks for sharing these photos 🙂

  4. Aloha Melanie,
    Did you go horseback riding at Kualoa Ranch? I had a great time riding there.

  5. Aloha Melanie,
    Sorry I missed you while you were here but I’m glad that you finally got the chance to visit our beautiful islands. I just love all your photos. I makes me want to play in my own backyard, thanks for the reminders.

  6. Nancy, I didn’t have the opportunity to ride, but I loved watching the horses and riders prepare for their tour. I was sad to have missed the royal fish ponds!

  7. Bubbelah, thank you — we had a wonderful time! The only thing that could have improved it, of course, would have been laughing/eating all over the island with you. [Head>desk] Next time: Kauai or bust.

  8. Kathy, thank you! And please, for both of us, go play on O’ahu this weekend. 🙂

  9. Aloha Melanie,
    Was that whale photo taken onboard with Wild Side Specialty Tours? I believe we have others from the tour – we’d be happy to share them with you!

  10. Tori, hello! I definitely took this (admittedly not great) whale photo while onboard one of your whale-watching and snorkeling tours — unless I’d had my big telephoto lens with me, I wasn’t going to get anything better. The experience of seeing whales with my own eyes was amazing, and I’m grateful to you for providing it!


  1. […] Monday I wrote about my dream of visiting Hawaii; that dream was definitely fueled by the gorgeous photos of O’ahu taken by Melanie of Travels With Two. And speaking of my post about Hawaii, you have until midnight […]

Speak Your Mind