Let me start by saying what’s obvious: Waikiki is the worst place on Oahu. It’s a total tourist trap, wall-to-wall people, cars, tacky souvenir shops, sterile overpriced hotels, and bars that play bad dance music.

Morning in Waikiki

That said, there’s a lot to like about it.

I like that I could walk into a Lawson convenience store any time of day and walk out with a mochi ice cream, a can of sweet iced coffee, and a fried something-or-other.

I like the little Korean place across from our condo, where I waited in line with the construction workers and police officers for a quick, cheap, and filling breakfast of spam, corned beef, or Portuguese sausage with eggs and rice.

I like the basement food mall court where all the signs were in Japanese and where I had the best bowl of ramen of my entire life, the bowl by which all others are now judged.

God help me, I even like the damn ABC stores. Sure, they’re touristy as hell, and yes, they all have the same things, but sometimes you need bottle of water, a pack of aspirin, and an aloha shirt at 11:30 at night.

Early in the morning, before the traffic reaches¬†Office Space¬†proportions, before the river of humanity starts to flow up and down Kalakaua Avenue, Waikiki is kind of… peaceful. My second morning in Oahu, I got up very early to take a walk and a few pictures.

Statue of Duke Kahanamoku, Waikiki Beach
Statue of Duke Kahanamoku, the famous Hawaiian surfer, on Waikiki Beach
Stalking Chickens in Waikiki
Feral chickens are everywhere in Hawaii. This early, a lot of them were still sleeping, and the ones that are awake don’t take kindly to being stalked with a long camera lens.
Diamond Head from Waikiki Beach
Diamond Head looms over the south end of Waikiki. A few days later we would climb it and I saw this scene in reverse.