I didn`t get to see much of Hawaii while I was there. I was to busy diving and never really recovered from my jet lag from flying straight to Honnalulu from Iraq. So often when I wasn`t underwater, I was physically wasted. I did get three little side trips in while I was there (that can be posted here anyway), Sea Life Park, Waikiki Aquarium, and Pearl Harbor. I usually get a kick out of aquariums and no service member can really avoid seeing Pearl Harbor.
I was actually kind of dissapointed in the Aquariums considering the location. I just assumed that they`d be massive, but they weren`t. The one back in Tulsa seemed bigger and better equipped than the one Waikiki. Sea Life Park seemed almost dilapidated. I enjoyed my time at both but just couldn`t get over the feeling of unmet expectations.
Most aquariums are self guided sites and those locations were no different. And there was plenty to learn if you paid attention. The Sea Life Park has a large tank for its coral exhibit right as you enter the park. It includes a variety of fish, rays, anda couple of small sharks. The high point of the park were the show pools. They did pull off a pretty good dolphin show with seals and penguins included. Sea Life Park also had a large pool where you could swim with dolphins and the Wolphin (a half dolphin, half False Killer Whale). There other exhibits that were semi interactional as well. My impression of Sea Life Park is that it`s more of an extension of the University that maintains it and a place to get training for the students than anything else. It was a good afternoon but I`ve had better. Waikiki Aquarium, brags about its age more than its exhibits. I`m betting it was top of the line when it was created but now it just feels small. But the exhibit cases were very well maintained and there was a good variety. If you want to get your underwater naturalist specialty, drop by there with your books before you hit the water.
Pearl Harbor may still be an active naval base but it`s also very much a memorial. The Missouri where the war in the Pacific was brought to an end by the Armistice signed on her deck is moored as a museum within site of the Arizona Memorial where the war began for the United states and Japan. You can stand on the Armistice Deck and look forward to the Arizona. Often, passed groups of Japanese tourists. I had mixed emotions when I saw that, a combination of "What in the Hell do you think you`re doing here?" and "Maybe you`ll have a better understanding of Hiroshima now". Nope, I`m not terribly politically correct. I`m one of those people who think that any movie about Pearl Harbor should end with Admiral Halsey sailing into the harbor aboard the Enterprise with his cap pulled low, looking out over Battleship row and announcing that "when this is over, japanese will only be spoken in hell" and if it hurt ticket sales in Japan then so what. There is also a memorial to the submarines lost in the war with a small monument to each one near the site to board boats to go out to the Arizona. You can also tour the Bowfin, a WWII US submarine. Don`t miss the chance to circle Ford Island to visit the USS Utah Memorial. It`s a small one alongside the wreck of the only other ship sunk in the attack that wasn`t raised. Her hulk is still visible. To many people forget that she`s there. They are also breaking ground on a memorial to the USS Oklahoma.