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Open for Business – what to see when you can’t see what you came to see

October 2, 2013

Sigh. The closing of Hawaii’s many national parks have wreaked havoc on quite a few “vacations of a lifetime.” Hopefully, these parks will be open soon, but in the meantime, here are a few of our favorite places we’d like to recommend. If they weren’t on your original Hawaii to-do list—well, you just got lucky.


Oahu – The Battleship Missouri Memorial


Can’t visit Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial? A few minutes away lies a huge piece of American history, the Battleship Missouri Memorial, aka “Mighty Mo.” And mighty it was.  One of the Missouri’s mighty guns could fire shells the weight of my Jetta wagon into a football field on the other side of the island. What’s even more significant, is the place on the deck where Japan surrendered to the Allied Powers to end World War II, thereby turning an instrument of war into a setting for lasting peace. Getting “chicken skin?” Go there and you will. NatHI tip: Ask for a docent tour.

Oahu – The Pacific Aviation Museum


These are not mere airplanes. We’re talking the SBD Dauntless Dive Bomber and the F4F Wildcat and World II history that’ll make even the non-aviation enthusiast (aka – skeptical teen)  let out a big “whoa.” Then it’s a stroll to MiG Alley for a look at the Museum’s Soviet MiG-15 and their North American F86 Sabre—America’s transonic jet fighter that battled in the air above Korea in deadly dog fights.  NatHI tip: Think you’re bad on the X-Box? Try their flight simulator.

Hawaii Island – Mauna Kea 


At 14,000 feet above sea level, visiting Mauna Kea will take your breath away—literally. There are important warnings if you’re in poor health, susceptible to attitude sickness or will be scuba diving the next day. Children under the age of 16 should not go past the Visitors Center. That said, if you have a 4×4 and are able to make it to the summit, you will be amply rewarded. To get there by sunset, you need to start early. Consider the long and winding road, as well as a few hours to acclimate at the Visitors Center which is located midway. On your way back down, stop at the Visitors Center for free stargazing every night from 6-10pm. NatHI tip:  Pack a picnic, some drinks, lots of blankets and enjoy the view from one of the scenic vantage points.

Maui – Hana Highway


With 620 curves and 59 bridges, the road leading to the quaint town of Hana is meant to be savored. From native flora to waterfalls to rambling shorelines, you’ll want to take your time. Not to mention, with all the one-lane bridges where motorists take turns to cross, you couldn’t rush it if you tried. So just smile and enjoy the trip. NatHI tip: When someone  lets you pass on a bridge, give them a “shaka sign” as a thank you. It’s the local thing to do.

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