Sunday 12 November 2023

Oahu - Logistics and Itinerary

So this time I went to Oahu, and this time I took Mick who had for a long time wondered what the fuss was about, and also seemed quite taken with the stupid travel arrangements. Oahu was the only major island in the chain that I had never visited barring a flying visit to connect from one flight to another for reasons long forgotten. Unlike previous trips which I booked in August, one of the few months of the year when Laysan Albatrosses are at sea, or once in March to Maui which has no Albatrosses, this was was pencilled in for April. And Oahu has a big breeding colony on its western tip. Finally!

  • A seven day trip in mid April, leaving after work on a Wednesday to Budapest, and arriving on Friday late morning local time - Thursday was basically spent getting to Los Angeles. We left Hawaii late on Monday evening, overnight back to LA, with Tuesday morning spent birding there before catching an onward afternoon flight to London which arrived on Wednesday afternoon, and after which we had to return to Budapest via a back-to-back to complete the ticket. So whilst it took seven days only four of those were actually spent birding, the rest being travel. As you know I also enjoy the travel part, but it is a very long way away. 
  • Flights were on British Airways within Europe and transatlantic, with the flights to Oahu being with American Airlines. The pointless and wasteful hops to Hungary reduced the cost of the trip by approximately 60%. I'm not in charge of pricing, this is just what airlines do. Note that although far cheaper this is a pretty risky strategy, as had we missed the departing flight from Budapest we would have lost the ticket - you cannot just hop on in London. And back-to-backs also require an element of research and planning.
  • Car hire via Avis I think, there must be some kind of cartel as all were priced the same. Naturally, and as this was Mick's first trip, we spent the cash and went for a Mustang convertible which was predictably wonderful.
  • We stayed at Pupukea on the hipster North Shore, a long way from Honolulu, in a backpacker place where thankfully we got our own room. It's a far cry from the other side of the island and much more pleasant, albeit with a much higher crusty dude ratio. It was also a fraction of the cost of the chain mega-hotels down near Waikiki Beach. 
  • We visited five key birding sites on the island; the Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline (south-east) around the Japanese Fishing Shrine for seabirds, the 'Aiea Loop Trailhead for endemics, Kahuku Beach, Golf Course and Ponds for general birding, the Kaelepulu Wetlands, and of course the famed Ka-ene Point for the Albatrosses. The rest of the time was spent chilling out, eating poke, snorkelling at Electric Beach, and generally remarking how lucky we were.

Day 0: Late evening to Budapest, overnight at the airport.
Day 1: Back to London to catch the flight to Los Angeles. Overnight LA.
Day 2: Mid-morning arrival into Oahu, followed by birding around the Japanese Fishing Shrine for Tropicbirds etc, and then around the Kahuku area.
Day 3:Early start along the Farrington Highway to Ka-ena Point colony, where we spent the morning being mesmerised by not one by two species of Albatross
Day 4: The whole morning walking the 'Aiea Loop trail, mostly in the hope of Oahu Elepaio. Afternoon on the east side, taking Nu'upia Ponds, Hamakua Marsh and the Ka-elepulu Wetland before driving back around the coast to the North Shore.
Day 5: We spent the morning around Kahuku, and then visited the Lyon Arboretum. The afternoon was spent sea-watching and then we had a quick look at the Wiliwilinui Trail before we had to get to the airport for our flight.
Day 6: We hired a car from LAX and visited a few sites not too far away including Playa del Rey, Ballona Marsh, and Ken Malloy Harbor.
Day 7: Getting home.

The North Shore


  1. Out of curiosity. On a % basis. How does the cost of one of these jaunts compare to a similar time frame to going to Scilly?

    1. How much is a week on Scilly these days, I've no idea?