Friday, April 29, 2011

Beaches: Hukilau Beach and Hukilau Cafe

Another beach that is off the beaten path, not crowded, and has free parking is Hukilau Beach.  Not quite a "hidden gem" like Kailua Beach, you can still enjoy the scenic view and the soft sand without the crowds of other beaches.  

It's a long drive to get here, since it's on the North Shore, but has a great view and white sands.  You can walk to Malaekahana Beach to the north (around the edge of the treeline in the top picture) and wade to Goat Island during low tide and low surf.  Usually, that is something you do in the summer months when the surf is low and avoid in the winter months when the waves are high.  If you want to camp, check out Friends of Malaekahana Beach which is a private camp grounds around the corner.

In Hawaiian, "huki" means pull and "lau" mean net.  People would gather to pull fishing nets to the shore and celebrate with a feast of the day's catch.  

Unlike some of the other beaches we passed, this beach has no lifeguards, no bathrooms, and no showers.  It does have a lot of rules.  See the sign for the rules of the beach.

Since there are no lifeguard here, check the conditions on the internet or the papers before you dive in.  As you can see, today the waves aren't that bad so you can swim or boogie board here.  It is windy, so the waves are blown out.  

Even though the high winds make it bad for surfing, it's ideal for kite-surfing.  There were several kite-surfers out in the water today.   

While you're up here visiting Hukilau Beach for kite boarding, swimming, or surfing you can check out the Hukilau Cafe.  If you need food to fuel your adventures, this is the place.  The Hukilau Cafe is known for big portions, modest prices, and friendly service.  

You don't have to go too far to get to the Hukilau Cafe from Hukilau Beach.  It's just a few minutes down the road, located at 55-662 Wahinepe'e Street on the North Shore.

Watch for the small, yellow sign at the Y-intersection.  Don't worry if you miss it, just take the next turn.  Just be aware, the Hukilau Cafe gets crowded over the weekends and for lunch.

Check out Travel Channel's Man vs Food video with Adam Richman as he visits the Hukilau Cafe.  It starts around 1:00.  The two highlights here are the Hukilau Burger and loco moco.  The Hukilau Burger has a lot of protein for a regular sized burger.   The loco moco is huge.  This huge plate of gravy, two eggs, two burgers, rice, and more gravy will definitely fill up you.  Just what you need if you're starving.  If you want to read about the other restaurants in the video, click on: Helena's Hawaiian Food and the Mac-Daddy Challenge.

This is a small place with character.  The walls have signed pictures of celebrities, surfers, and professional athletes that ate here.  

And the wait is over.  The Hukilau Burger with all its goodness: 1/4 lb beef patty, teriyaki beef, egg, cheese, lettuce and tomato.  Don't expect a Hubert Keller burger with truffle oil and kobe beef, but a big cheeseburger that will fill you up.  

Afterwards, you can say been here, done that, and got the T-shirt.

Beaches: Waimanalo Bay

Not to be confused with Waimanalo Beach, Waimanalo Bay Beach Park is just a few miles down the road.  Officially known as Waimanalo Bay State Recreational Area it has the same amenities as it's sister beach, but it's bigger.  This long, narrow beach is known for white sand, bodysurfing, boogieboarding, and it's ironwood forest nicknamed "Sherwood Forest".

Waimanalo Bay Beach Park is across the street from the Waimanalo Polo Fields.  The northern part of the beach touches Bellows Field Air Force Station.  Bellows is a good surf spot in the winter, but closed to the public during the week from Monday through Friday.

Watch out, the T-intersection to the beach comes up quick and you'll miss it if you're not paying attention.

The parking lot is bigger than at Waimanalo Beach.  On the weekends, the parking lot also gets full faster than the other beach.  There is some off-pavement parking and there's another parking lot at the back up the round the bend, so there's plenty of space.  

The bathroom is bigger and they have more showers.  There is also a dishwashing sink here and a public phone over by the caretaker's house.  This makes it nice if you're camping. Each campsite has it's own table, grill, and trashcan.  There are 12 camping spots between the forest and the beach, but you must call for a permit.  Permits can be obtained through the Department of Parks and Recreation at 808-523-4525. 

This place is nicknamed "Sherwood Forest" or just "Sherwood".  Years ago, the ironwood trees provided hiding places from the police.  Originally part of Bellows Field until 1966, when the Air Force transferred 76 acres to the State, this undisturbed stretch of land became popular for stripping stolen cars.  The criminals there were compared to Robin Hood and his Merry Men.  Hence the forest became known as Sherwood.  Today, the ironwood trees provide shade for picnics and swimmers.

Like most state beaches, lifeguards are on duty.  Check with them before going in the water.  

Just be aware of the conditions.  Since this was winter, the northern shore of Oahu gets hit by storm systems and strong waves, but not today.  Also, watch out if they post signs for jellyfish.  Occasionally schools of small jellyfish (Portugese Man 'O War) will be in the water.  

As you can see, the waves aren't that big.  Waves are too small and blown-out to go surfing, but good enough for boogie boarding.  There is a shallow beach break that makes it good for boogie boarding or body surfing.    

The white sands gently slope down towards to ocean.  It's a sandy bottom, so you don't have to worry about rocks or corral.  

Looking east back towards Waimanalo Beach, Rabbit Island, and Ko'olau Mountains.  

Looking west towards Bellows Field and Kailua Bay.  Waimanalo Bay is a nice beach to hang out or swim in the water.  Just be sure to check the weather before you go.  

Friday, April 22, 2011

Beaches: Waimanalo Beach Park

Waimanalo Beach looking west towards Kailua Bay
Another beach that is off the beaten path, not crowded, and is a Eu-jeania favorite is Waimanalo Beach Park.  Waimanalo means "precious protected water" in Hawaiian.  This beach has a sandy bottom, small waves, gentle currents, low sloping shore, no crowds, and a great view.  The only thing about this beach is that there are schools of jellyfish that occasionally show up.  Check with the lifeguards before you jump in.

The park itself occupies about 75 acres centered around the beach.  Waimanalo Beach Park is a good drive from Waikiki and, depending on traffic, it might take about 30 to 45 minutes.  Also, don't confuse this beach with Waimanalo Bay Beach Park which is another beach further up the road.  

The signs are small and faded, so you might need to circle a few times before you find the parking lot entrance.  It helps that there are two parking lots and two entrances, so if you miss one you can catch the other.  

The other good thing about this beach is it's free.  There are no parking or admission fees.  It has bathrooms, showers, charcoal pits, and lifeguards.  The lifeguards are on duty until 5:00 pm, but not sure what days they're on duty.  

You can camp here, but that will require a permit.  There is a lot of open space for tents and pine trees for shade.  You can set up for camp or a picnic.  

Looking out to sea, there is Rabbit (Manana) Island to the left and Kaohikaipu Island to the right.  It's called Rabbit Island because looking at from the east the cliff face looks like the head of a rabbit.  The island is also a sanctuary for seabirds.  

This is a great view looking to the east.  Surfing here isn't that good, there really isn't a reef or decent beach break.  Waves are gentle and close out before breaking, so it's hard to catch and ride.  However, because of the gentle waves it is a great place for swimming, body surfing, boogie boarding, or just relaxing.  While you relax on the beach you can watch the small beach crabs run through the surf zone.  All depends on what you want to do.

Beaches: Halona Cove Beach and Sandy Beach

The next couple of beaches past Hanauma Bay are Halona Cove Beach and Sandy Beach.  There is not much to these beaches, but it gives you something to check out while you're driving through the area.  

Located just off the Kalaninaole Highway and right by the Halona Blowhole is Halona Cove Beach.  To Google directions just type in Halona Blowhole, there's no street address for the beach.  There's not much to this beach, it's small and there are no lifeguards or restrooms.  You can park at the parking lot for the Blowhole and parking is free.

There are a few footpaths down to the Cove, but be warned there is no paved trail like Diamond Head Beach Park.  The walk down is rocky and steep so bring a good pair of shoes or study sandals.  

The main attraction here is that there's not many visitors, there is a small cave under the highway (not shown in picture) and this is the beach scene filmed in From Here to Eternity.  There are a few tidepools, but just remember the rocks can be sharp and slippery in places and always watch the waves.

Some people do swim out, but be aware of the strong currents and tides.  I wouldn't go out as far as that swimmer because of the currents, sharp rocks, and lava tubes.

Remember, there are no lifeguards here.  So do like the sign says "if in doubt, don't go out".  For scuba divers, do not go out unless it's flat.  The current here can easily suck you out to sea or in a lava tube.  

Looking a few miles west is Sandy Beach Park, which is just a few minutes away.  

Technically called Wawamalu Beach Park on the internet, you can't find it if you type Sandy Beach Park, but nobody calls it Wawamalu.  Locals just call it Sandy's.  This beach has free parking, lifeguards, and restrooms.

This is a good place to bodysurf or boogie board....if you're really good.  Be warned, it is rocky in certain sections and has a ferocious shore break.  Depending on the season, you just have to go a foot or two out in the water and it's a sudden drop down.  I can't recommend surfing here because of the shore break, rocky bottom, and wave shape.  Waves do get big here in the winter, but there are better places to surf.  

This place is definitely NOT for babies or small kids if you want to go in the water.  I also wouldn't recommend this beach for swimming for tourists, but if you just want to check out another beach it's nice place to layout.  

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Things to Do: Pearl Harbor, Battleship USS Missouri Museum and Exhibit

Like the aircraft carrier USS Midway in San Diego, the battleship USS Missouri in Hawaii is both an exhibit as well as a museum.  Some internet sites say plan for 2 hours, but the Battleship Missouri is HUGE and we spent 3 hours.  It could easily gone into 4 hours.  There's a lot of history and stories in this ship, so the guided tours will be well worth your time.

You have to take a shuttle bus from the Arizona Memorial to the USS Missouri.  The shuttle bus takes you to Ford Island, in the center of Pearl Harbor.  Since the USS Missouri is moored on an active military reservation there are restrictions during the trip, so no picture taking while the bus is moving.

There are several tours to choose.  The regular "Mighty Mo" tour is $20 for adults and $10 for children.  This tour takes about 35 minutes and takes you by three spots: the forward Turret, the Surrender Deck, and the Kamikaze Attack.  You could also sign up for the "Battlestations Tour" which is an additional $25 and $12 for children.  For this tour, children need to be 10 years or older.  This takes about 90 minutes and goes below deck to places where you wouldn't be allowed to go alone.  I highly recommend the guided "Battlestations Tour", that was well worth the price.  You can also get the audio tour (45 to 120 minutes) or rent an iPod for the audiovisual Guide2Go tour (60 to 90 minutes).  

The Missouri was the last battleship built by the United States and commissioned in June 1944.  Even though she was only active for the last year of war, the Missouri fought at Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and Japan.  She also served as the flagship for the Third Fleet under Admiral "Bull" Hasley in the Pacific.  At the end of the conflict, it was on her deck that the peace treaty with the Allies and Japan was signed ending World War II.  The Missouri also participated in the Korean War and was decommissioned  in 1955.  She was recommissioned and modernized in 1984 during the Reagan Years as part of the Navy build-up.  The Missouri saw action in Operation Desert Storm and was finally decommissioned in March 1992.  After minor repairs and towing to Pearl Harbor, the Missouri opened as a museum on January 29, 1999.     

It's hard to get an idea of the size of the Missouri until you're here.  It's 209 feet (63 meters) tall, has a beam (width) of 108 feet (33 meters), and is 887 feet (270 meters) long.  That's 5 feet longer than the HMS Titanic.

Walking up to the deck, you'd be surprised that it's wood, not metal.  It's teak wood and covers about 53,000 square feet.  The reason for wood is to reduce accidental sparks when transferring ammunition and fuel, it's not slippery when wet, and serves as insulation against the hot sun.  Teak is also easy to maintain and doesn't easily rot, which is important on long cruises.     

Tours start here at the quarterdeck under the tarpaulin.  You will need to meet here for both the "Might Mo" and "Battlestations" tours.  

Along the turret (and throughout the ship) you'll see markers on the hull that go with the Guide2Go or Audio Tour.  This gives you more historical facts as you walk along the decks and halls.

First stop is what makes a battleship, the gun turrets.  These are 16 inch (406 mm)/ 50 caliber Mark 7 guns.  The only ships that had bigger guns were Japanese, the battleships Yamato and Musashi had 18 inch guns. Each gun is 66 feet (20.1 meters) from breechface to muzzle and weighs 267,900 lbs (121,517 kgs) with breech.  Each turret is considered a three gun turret, not a triple gun turret, because each gun can elevate and fire independently of the other.  The turrets were designed to accurately hit shore based targets, not other ships.  Other battleships were designed for ship-to-ship fighting, but were less accurate.

Here are the powder bags.  A max charge would take 6 bags, each with 110 lbs of powder.  The max effective range of the guns was about 23 miles (37 kilometers).  Depending on how far the target, the rounds took about 1-1/2 minutes to impact.

The Missouri fired two rounds: an Armor Piercing round and a High Capacity (High-Explosive) round.   The Armor Piercing round has the same mass as a Volkswagen Beetle which is about 2,700 lbs (1,200 kgs), costs as much as a Mercedes and can penetrate 30 feet of concrete.  The High Capacity round weighs about 1,900 lbs and can create a crater 50 feet wide and 20 feet deep on impact.

Next stop, the Surrender Deck.  

This is the plaque over the door of the Captain's Cabin marking the signing.  The signing ceremony lasted 23 minutes and was broadcast throughout the world.  

Encased are copies of the treaty.  There were several copies for each signing nation to take back to their home country.  General MacArthur used several pens in signing the different copies of the treaty.  The reason?  He wanted to save something for history and to give to his wife.     

On one of the treaties you will notice a mistake.  The Canadian representative Colonel Lawrence Cosgrave accidentally signed below his line instead of above.  This forced everyone after him to sign one line below.  

Here is the plaque commemorating the spot of the signing of the treaty that ended the War in the Pacific.  Originally the admiral's table was going to be used to sign the treaties, but it wasn't big enough for all the documents.  In order to get a table big enough, the crew had to take a mess hall table and cover it with a table cloth.  

Last stop for the Mighty Mo tour, the Kamikaze Attack.  That bend in the middle of the deck is where the Japanese "Zero" fighter struck the hull.  It doesn't look like much, but when you think about how much force it took to bend those inches of steel, that's a lot of force.

The Kamikaze attack occurred on the afternoon of April 11, 1945 during the Battle of Okinawa.  The low flying A6M5c Zero fighter aircraft hit the Missouri just below the main deck line and broke apart.  The bomb failed to go off, but the fuel exploded on to the deck.  The fire was quickly put out with minimal damage to the ship and no casualties to the crew.  Afterwards the crew found the remains of the pilot amid the wreckage and, to their surprise, the captain ordered the pilot be given a military funeral at sea.  

Captain William M. Callaghan was the first commander of the USS Missouri and best known for his controversial order to give the Kamikaze pilot a burial at sea with military honors.  His point was that the young pilot did his duty to the best of his ability and with honor.  He even ordered a makeshift Japanese flag be sewn to cover the pilot's body for the funeral.  To put it mildly, this caused dissension among the crew.  Capt. Callaghan's reason for the funeral was to honor "a fellow warrior who had displayed courage and devotion, and who had paid the ultimate sacrifice with his life, fighting for his country."  This concludes the Mighty Mo tour and you are free to explore the ship or go back to the quarterdeck to go on the Battlestations tour.  

If you signed up for the Battlestations tour, you get to go inside the forward gun turret.  Despite how large it is on the outside, inside the the turret is small.  As some people said, "Battleships are for battle, not for tours," however a lot of equipment was removed to make the turret more accessible.  This is the fire direction center in the turret.  They used an analog computer to calculate firing solutions for the guns.  In addition to this fire direction center, each turret has their own, as well as the central fire direction center in the tower.  This provided redundancy in case one was knocked out in battle.   

Crawling past the targeting equipment, you get to the see the guns.  The picture doesn't do it any justice, but the gun is huge and that's about a 20 foot drop to the bottom.  That thing that opens downward is the Welin breech block.  Because of the weight of the shell and breech it has to be operated with hydraulics.  The gun crew used the steps on the walls to move around the gun and breech.  A good crew can fire 2 rounds per minute, per gun.

Also, look at the size of the shock absorbers.  Despite what you might have heard, the shock absorbers cushion the turret from the recoil, so the ship itself doesn't rock an inch during firing.  

Watch out for the knee-knockers and head bangers while making your way through the ship.  And remember whether you are climbing up or down always face the ladder.  

The machine shop on the Missouri.  Look at the size of the drill head in the foreground.  Heavy equipment was needed because out at sea you can't stop by a repair shop, you have to fix everything on board.  

Going to the Engine Room you need to get on Broadway.    

 Broadway is the nickname for the long hallway that connects all engine and boiler rooms.

The Missouri has 4 propellers (or "screws" in Navy slang) and each propeller has it's own engine room.  

The Missouri had 8 boilers and 4 double expansion General Electric steam turbine engines.  All that power was needed for speed and maneuverability.  
The Missouri's top speed was in excess of 32 knots, which is about 37 miles per hour (60 kilometers per hour).  That's impressive for battleship that weighs 58,000 tons fully loaded.  That weight is in ship tons.  Ship tons refer to 2,240 lbs instead of 2,000 lbs.

To make all that machinery work, you need well trained seamen and Petty Officers.  To keep the men in line to make the machinery work, you need strong Chief Petty Officers.  They are the highest Non-Commissioned Officers on the ship with the most experience and technical expertise.    

Chief Petty Officers (Enlisted grade 7 or E-7) were treated like officers.  They enjoyed better quarters, their own lounge, and even their own galley separate from the other sailors.

Young officers were told like the sign to "Ask the Chief" if they had questions on equipment, procedures, or discipline.  

The tour also takes you through the enlisted galley.  This isn't the original galley, this was the modernized galley when the Missouri was recommissioned.  The original galley had bench style seating to accommodate the larger number of crew.  This is a far cry from the cramped quarters of the USS Bowfin.  

Ironically the galley also doubles as an emergency sick bay.  The reason was the galley had a lot of space, was centrally located in the ship, and dining tables could also serve as operating tables.  

One of the galleys was named the Truman Line in honor of President Harry Truman.  It was actually Truman's daughter that ate with the crew on some of the patrols.

Here is the Navigation Bridge.  Also called the Pilot House, this is where the crew steers the ship.

There's a lot more to the Missouri, it just depends on how much time you want to spend going through the halls.  And there's is one more museum to if you have time.  The shuttle bus will stop by the Pacific Aviation Museum on the way back to the Arizona Memorial.  

Also, if you're thinking about booking the USS Missouri for an event, like a wedding, and want to get information email, call 808-455-1600, fax 808-455-1598, or write to:
Battleship Missouri Memorial
Special Programs Department
Historic Ford Island, Pearl Harbor
63 Cowpens Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96818