Military Guide

3D Hawaii: right here on the blog



I get a lot of Hawaii questions from readers, so I thought that I’d give you a chance to do your own research without even leaving the blog.

Google Earth has spawned an entire industry of 3D display applications, and businesses love being able to show off their facilities to their customers. A few years ago a local entrepreneur developed an application enabling the visitor industry to augment Google’s default imagery with their own 3D models of their sites. For example, the 3D model of the military’s Hale Koa Hotel site gives you a bird’s-eye view of the property– both hotel towers, the luau garden, the pools, and all the rest of Waikiki around the hotel.

“But wait, there’s more!” Click anywhere on the 3D image to activate the navigation controls, and you’re running the tour. You can use your keyboard & mouse to change your perspective for your own personal views. (See the end of this post for the table of keyboard commands.) Scan the ocean from the 10th-floor balcony of one of the rooms. See how to get from the hotel to the pier for the Atlantis submarine ride. Check out the surf breaks.

As you move around the Hale Koa, they’re adding new content every week. They’ve posted photos and more information about their amenities. The 3D widget also labels other hotels, local attractions, and beaches. The Hilton (next door) even gives you fly-through tours of their interior. (Many akamai military stay at the Hale Koa but spend quality time enjoying the Hilton’s facilities.) You can learn more about the Hale Koa’s luau and other shows, or you can search for other attractions like the Polynesian Cultural Center.

3D Travel has signed up dozens of Hawaii clients: hotels, visitor attractions, shopping centers, and restaurants. They’ve also devoted considerable time & effort to make it easy to find the places that everyone wants to see: Hanauma Bay, the North Shore, and… the surf breaks.

I’ve added two pages to the blog with the “iframe” code for the Hale Koa Hotel and my favorite surf break: White Plains Beach in Kalaeloa by Kapolei. Click on either one of the links in this post or use the blog’s “Tools” link on the navigation bar. When you get to White Plains on the south shore of Oahu, zoom down onto the beach and look for the chain link fenceline along the eastern side. (The concrete fence pylons are big dark circles on the sandy imagery.) Paddle out a hundred yards seaward from the fenceline and you’ll be at my favorite part of the break– plenty of waves, lots of room for everyone, long rides, not too much current, and an easy paddle back to the beach. If you return to the beach and move slightly west from the fenceline, straight out from the surf shack, that’s where you can take a surfing lesson from the lifeguards. If you have a military or DoD ID card then you can rent a longboard or a paddleboard from the surf shack and paddle out on your own. White Plains is roughly an hour’s drive from Waikiki, but it’s near Disney’s Aulani resort— and the White Plains prices are a fraction of both other places.

Like what you see? If you want to do serious vacation planning then bring up 3D Hawaii’s main website. It has more tools, more labels on the attractions, and more features. You can search for sites, filter through the activities, and link to the attractions’ websites.

Not going to Hawaii yet? 3D Travel has also built 3D Las Vegas and 3D San Francisco, as well as several other custom locations like this tour of the USS ARIZONA Memorial.

Here’s a few keyboard commands to get you started. (You can find the complete set at the Google Earth basic features user guide.) Please click anywhere on the 3D image (to activate the cursor) before you try these commands.





Move left Left arrow Left arrow Moves the viewer to the left.
Move right Right arrow Right arrow Moves the viewer to the right.
Move up Up arrow Up arrow Moves the viewer forward.
Move down Down arrow Down arrow Moves the viewer back.
Rotate clockwise Shift + left arrow Shift + left arrow Rotates the view clockwise.
Rotate counter-clockwise Shift + right arrow Shift + right arrow Rotates the view counter-clockwise.
Tilt up Shift + down arrow Shift + down arrow Tilts the viewer toward “horizon” view.
Tilt down Shift + up arrow Shift + up arrow Tilts the viewer toward “top-down” view.



Would you like to install this on your own blog? Click on the Hale Koa Hotel pin to “Discover” it or on “View site” to bring up the menu box. In the lower right-hand corner of the menu box, find the link “Want to embed this location on your site?” Click on the link, give your e-mail address to 3D Travel, and get the code. It looks like this:

<iframe style=”width:800px;height:600px;border:0px” scrolling=”no” frameborder=”0″ src=”″ ></iframe>

You have several choices of frame size (I’ve removed the sidebar from my page to give more room to the 3D view) and you can use as many widgets as you want.

Paste the HTML into a blog page (as I’ve done here) or try it in a text widget. NOTE: If you’re using WordPress.COM instead of a self-hosted WordPress.ORG site, you might not be able to run iframes. Sorry. I don’t know Blogger or the others– you’re on your own. You can read more at 3D Travel’s press release and the Google Earth blog.


Disclosure: My spouse and I are small investors in the parent company of 3D Hawaii. It’s a startup and we own much less than one percent of the shares. This tool is free and I don’t make any money from it. In the event that the blog does make any income from it, that income will be donated to military charities. When the company has their “liquidity event”, a very substantial portion of our profits (if any!) will be donated to military charities.


Related articles:
Lifestyles in Hawaii: “Naked on the beach”
Good reasons NOT to live in Hawaii
Want to buy a franchise business in Hawaii?
Lifestyles in early retirement: Hawaii long-term travel
Lifestyles in military retirement: Living in Hawaii
Lifestyles in military retirement: Napili Bay
Lifestyles in military retirement: Haleakala Crater redux
Lifestyles in military retirement: Haleakala Crater
Lifestyles in military retirement: learning to surf in Hawaii
Construction tour of the new USS ARIZONA Memorial museums


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About the Author Doug Nordman

I retired in 2002 after 20 years in the Navy's submarine force. I wrote "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement" to share the stories of over 50 other financially independent servicemembers and veterans.

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