A July 2003 trip
to Honolulu by jeanita
Quote: I have dreamed of visiting Hawaii since I was 13 when I started my first travel journals. Our three children decided to make that dream come true by giving us this trip for our 25th wedding anniversary. We had 8 days in this wonderful haven.
There was a nice swimming pool that we never seemed to have time to take advantage of, and an on-site convenience store. Staff was very helpful. We had our bed made and the bathrooms cleaned daily. We did our own kitchen cleanup. It was not a high entertainment hotel but adequate. Many families were staying there. It was located close to the action without all the noise one would have on the beach about two blocks away. It was great for evening walks of Waikiki Beach. Since most beach stores stay open until 10:30 at night, there is plenty of time to shop after a full day of fun on the beach.
Most tours had pickup at our hotel or the Marriott, just a block away. The parking garage cost $7 a day which was a surprise to us as we are spoiled by free parking on the mainland. Even many of the places that validated parking tickets still had a minimum they charged so it is good to ask ahead of time.
Check out was at noon and our plane didn't leave until 10pm. If we had needed storage, the hotel would have kept our bags in a safe place after check-out and provided us with a place to shower and clean up. The United Package Tour people would have arranged hotel to airport transport for us. Since we had the car, we just checked out and had a full day of fun.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 27, 2003
Aston Waikiki Sunset
229 Paoakalani Ave
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
We had decided this last day to visit some places on our "want to see list" and Hilton Hawaiian Village was one of them. We checked out several restaurants $40 and up. Finally I strolled up to a hotel employee and asked him where the working stiffs ate around the Village and he called Rainbow Lanai to check their schedule. So we decided to try it.
The Lanai opened at 5:30pm and we were first in line. It was open air and had semi-circular "islands" of the dining space that extended over the lagoon on one side. The waiter steered us to one of the lagoon tables that had a view of one of the pedestrian walks over the lagoon that connected the beautifully landscaped swimming pool area and the beach. Behind the walk was a lava rock cliff with water cascading over the edge to the lagoon. A more romantic spot we couldn't have created ourselves. We enjoyed watching a wedding photographer posing a couple in the lovely settings and people almost fall into the lagoon because they were so busy watching the activity in the Village.
There were several salads and sandwiches that were under $10 on the menu. What really tempted me was the lavish buffet that was only $23 for the early birds but went to $28 later. I took a good look at it but decided to not stuff myself for the long plane ride home later that night. We had excellent service. Next time I will make time for the buffet. I highly recommend this for those who want a fine dining experience that is also within a limited budget
Just after the meal we caught a Polynesian dance program taking place around the pool area. We just relaxed on a lounge chair and let our food digest while watching some more of what makes Hawaii so special . . . it's people, music, and culture.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 27, 2003
2005 Kalia Road
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
As a backdrop to the beach we were surrounded by the tall and lush Koolau Mountains. For those more adventurous the Kahana Valley State Park is across the HW from the beach.The mountain tops were a favorite launch site for parasailors who landed on the beach in front of us.
The water was just challenging enough for those of us who grew up in the mainland interior. The waves were breaking close to shore, and beyond, the water was calmly rolling. There was enough action for one to feel the power of the ocean but not to be overwhelmed by it.
If you desire a nice romantic, private, uncommercialized beach experience where you can have a quiet picnic with a mid-afternoon nap afterwards, this would be my choice. And we saw all the beaches on all sides of the island.
North of Ka'a'awa on HW 83, the
Attraction | "Zoo Park Weekend Art and Craft Show"
Across from the Art Exhibit in Kapiolani Park on the Sunday we were there was a big craft fair that had wonderful items for sale. There was a basket maker who was singing Hawaiian ballads to her electric guitar accompanment. She seemed more interested in singing than selling as she never stopped the performance. There were the retired teachers who collected gems and minerals from all over the world and transformed them into pieces of art. The jewelry maker who sold her exquisite wares for half of what the stores sold them. The crafts person who turned leaves and flowers in to angels that could hang on your wall or Christmas tree. Numerous seamtresses who made all manner of cloth goods. It was a wonderful look into the creative talents of the local people.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 27, 2003
Zoo Park Weekend and Craft Show
We booked the bus tour from the Waikiki area. Our tour guide, Uncle Walter (in Oahu, we are all cousins and the guides are uncles), filled us in on a lot of sites along the way that we later drove to ourselves. The bus takes you along the interior of the island past the places that parts of Jurassic Park, Windtalkers, George of the Jungle, Pearl Harbor, Raiders of the Lost Arc, Gilligan's Island and Fantasy Island were filmed. We learned about the various flora, the legends connected with the land forms, how Oahu has the purest water in the world that is catched from the 200 inches of rainfall a year in a pool under the volcanic mountains.
The Center is divided into three major areas: the Polynesian Villages, the visitor-shopping area, the luau-night show areas. The villages include Tonga, Fiji, Tahiti, Samoa, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Marquesas, Hawai'i. Each has its own special show, demonstrations, and participatory activities. Our guide had worked in all areas of the Center for several years and steered us from one place to another so we could have seating in the shade and not duplicate things we might be seeing later in the various big shows that night. We got to ride the long canoe through the lagoon and viewed the 2:30pm Canoe Pageant in a prime location. The Pageant featured two long canoes connected with a platform which served as a stage for the various dance demonstrations by each Village. Uncle Benny from the Hawai'i Village sang as each boat load of dancers performed.
Most of the young performers and guides are students at the nearby Brigham Young University, who started the center 40 years ago. They work a maximum of 18 hours a week to earn scholarships to attend the school. They are from each of the islands and work in the villages they are most related to. They are very eager to share their culture and island stories so don't hesitate to visit with them in order to learn more.In addition to the various Village shows you may participate in Village activities.
We went to the Ali'i Luau which was in a terraced area with food buffet at the top and stage at the bottom. Everyone received an orchid lei. There was constant entertainment from the stage backed by a waterfall and volcanic rock cliffs. The menu was traditional and included several Hawaiian specialties.
Finally we attended the Horizons night show. There were 100 performers with a story and presentation for each island culture. The final fire dancer was amazing!
Save your ticket and check before you leave about return visits within three days for free.
Polynesian Cultural Center
55-370 Kamehameha Highway
Laie, Hawaii 96762
Attraction | "Punch Bowl Crater-National Memorial Cemetery"
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Punchbowl
2177 Puowaina Drive
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
+1 808 532 3720
Attraction | "Sandy Beach-Koko Crater drive"
Koko Crater Botanical Garden
Off Kealahou Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96825
+1 808 522 7060
Kuoloa Regional Park
Near Mokolii Island, Windward Side
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
+1 808 951 4088
Valley of the Temples Memorial Park
Kahaluu, Hawaii 96744
+1 808 239 8811
Attraction | "Honolulu Botanical Gardens-Ho'omaluhia"
Absolutely wonderful for plant lovers, photographers, and walkers. 400 acres of lush plants at the base of the steep Ko'olau Mountains. Start at the visitor's center for map and information. It can be seen from car, but to really see all the vistas and plants, take time to follow some of the many trails and get up close up to the plants.
Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden
46-680 Luluku Road
Kaneohe, Hawaii 96744
+1 808 233 7323; +1
Attraction | "Honolulu Botanical Gardens-Foster"
Many of the trees were planted as early as 1850 in what was then a private estate. 26 trees in Foster Gardens have the designation "Exceptional Tree". There are only 100 such trees on the island of Oahu. Near the entrance is a colorful display of Crotons and Bromeliads. Nearby is the Lyon Orchid Garden and an orchid house for more modern hybrids. The Prehistoric Glen features plants that have survived from primitive times, a humbling experience. Be sure to find the CannonBall Tree and the Sausage Tree . . . both close together.
Bring a picnic lunch and watch the birds that populate the park.
Foster Botanical Garden
180 North Vineyard Blvd
Honolulu, Hawaii 96817
+1 808 522 7066; +1
Between the Zoo and Diamond Head
Attraction | "Tropical Farms and Kualoa Ranch"
We were greeted at the entrance to the shop by a friendly lady who patiently explained to me which fruits were which. There was a sample of each kind found in the islands and a plant out front to show where the fruit originated. Inside, there was coffee to sample and all kinds of macadamia flavored nuts to sample. We tried cracking some of our own to taste fresh and they were delicious . . . sort of like a mild hazel nut. There were a couple of other shops. One had some very nice locally made jewelry and other crafts.
49-560 Kamehameha Highway (on East Coast Of Oahu, Opposite Chinaman's Hat)
Kaaawa, Hawaii 96730
Attraction | "Ala Moana Center"
Ala Moana Shopping Center
1450 Ala Moana Boulevard
Honolulu, Hawaii 96814
Attraction | "Hilo Hatties"
First, a lot of stuff under one room at the main outlet on Nimitz Hwy. Second coffee as you shop. Third, good prices. Fourth a free trolley that will pick up and drop off at most major locations. The main goal is for the trolley to deliver you to Hilo's so if they drop you off at another site be sure to ask if you can get picked up from there to get back to your hotel. I took the trolley from the Duke's statue on Wakiki beach in front of the police station all the way to Hilo Hatties. Then on the return trip I got off at Aloha Towers shopping center where they would pick me up later. Aloha Towers is a good place to use public transport as there is limited and costly parking, if it is available at all.
Back to Hilo's. I purchased 100% Kona coffee there but the ABC stores on almost every block of Honolulu have equally good prices. Again...read the labels. If the coffee is under $9 a bag then it is probably only 10% Kona coffee.
One item I especially was interested in was the quilting. But again . . . most is done in the Philipines and advertised as a Hawaiian design. On the zipped pillow cases look inside for the hidden labels at the various outlets. There are a few Hawaiian made large quilts but they are pricey as good quilts should be.
I did find a basket weaver in the back of Hilo's who was doing her own stuff as we watched. She had some interesting palm leaf woven goods from purses to covered containers. She also did photo albums covered in tapa cloth made out of the mulberry tree and decorated in shells. The more you bought, the cheaper it got. She also would make specially ordered items if you wanted.
I got most of my shopping done at Hilo's so I could see the rest of the island with that chore over with.
Ala Moana Shopping Center
Honolulu, Hawaii 96814
808 537 2926
Attraction | "Pearl Harbor - USS Arizona Memorial"
Pearl Harbor and USS Arizona Memorial
One Arizona Memorial Place
Honolulu, Hawaii 96818
Attraction | "Mt. Tantalus and Round Top Drive"
Tantalus and Round Top Drive
Round Top Drive
Attraction | "Star of Honolulu Sunset Dinner Cruise"
We left the hotel about 4:30. We arrived at ship side greeted by hula dancers. On board we were quickly seated near the center of the first deck. We had great views out both sides of the boat and entertainment was forward and behind us. Tropical fruit drinks included with the cruise were immediately served to us and a photographer came by to take our picture.
As the cruise started all the newlyweds and people celebrating anniversaries were called to the dance floor to the tune of the Hawaiian Marriage song. Of course, we joined the group. One of our tablemates grabbed our camera and came running to the dance floor to record the moment. Everyone was always looking after others on this island.
We all ate the same menu and each group of tables had its own server. We had a tender salad from the heart of romaine lettuce, the most delicious tenderloin steak and all you could eat crab legs. The salad was garnished with fresh basil and the garlic potatoes with a sprig of rosemary which imparted its flavor throughout the potatoes. The passion fruit sherbet had mint on the side . . . all touches a herb grower appreciated.
There was plenty of time to dance, watch the dinner show and tour the ship. We found it to be increasingly hard to walk the higher we went. By the time we made it to the fourth or observation deck, most people were finding it hard to stay upright without hanging onto a railing. All the more fun! Check out the bar with its huge shell bowl full of orchids used to garnish your drinks.
We cruised from Aloha Towers to Diamond Head and turned around to return. A very memorable time!
Star of Honolulu Dinner Cruise
Honolulu Harbor, Pier 8
Honolulu, Hawaii 96826
+1 808 983 7827; +1
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