A July 2003 trip
to Oahu by ggflier
Quote: There's something for everyone in Oahu. Read on and discover that it doesn't have to cost you a fortune to experience an aloha paradise.
Is Hawaii really the trip of a lifetime? It certainly was for me! From snorkeling to luaus to circle island touring in a rented jeep, there is plenty of variety and beauty on Oahu, and believe it or not, it doesn't have to cost you a fortune to enjoy it all. This journal highlights some of the "must-sees" on a first time visit to Waikiki, focusing on activities for a budget-minded traveler.
One of the biggest misconceptions of Oahu is that it's not much more than a "lil Los Angeles" with its many high-rise buildings and busy traffic; but isolated, white sandy beaches, waterfalls and quaint little beach towns are all within an hour’s drive away. As we discovered, Oahu has so much variety and adventures, we planned a return trip because 1 week just didn't cover it all.
Planning is key to make the most of your trip. Alternate excursion days and your "must-sees" with relaxing days on Waikiki Beach - after all, you are on VACATION.
FOR THOSE ON A BUDGET - Some of Oahu's best attractions cost next to nothing, including:
And great savings for the most popular Luaus, Dinner Cruises, and fine restaurants can also be had with the Hawaii Entertainment Coupon Book.
Book a hotel room or condo with a kitchenette to save on meals. What better way to start off the day with a home cooked breakfast on your hotel lanai? Most Waikiki hotel lanais offer great views and Honolulu is surprisingly quiet in the early morning, so this is not only enjoyable but will also save you lots of money.
It's not necessary for a car rental your entire stay on Oahu, as one can easily get around by foot, public transportation and shuttle services.
That being said, it should be a requirement for EVERYONE to rent a car for at least 1 day to do some circle island exploring at your leisure to view some of Oahu's more natural beauty and surprises. I would recommend this over a bus tour as it will not only save you money, but gives you the freedom to stop and go as you please. Shop around on the internet for a deal on a convertible, driving up the coastline with the top down makes this experience all the more enjoyable. Beware - Hawaii's sun can be deceiving, so if you decide to drive topless, even on cloudy days, be sure to protect yourself and your scalp by wearing a hat and plenty of sunscreen.
Hotel | "Royal Kuhio - Lifetime In Hawaii"
The high-rise building was very secure and also included free parking. There is a recreation deck on the 7th floor with a pool and rec room with pool table, neither of which we used since we were only a couple of blocks walking distance from famous Waikiki beach. I did miss the fact that there was no jacuzzi.
This hotel was close to everything, we walked up Kuhio Ave. to the market to stock our kitchen, a shopping galleria was across the street, the beach was about a 10-minute walk and many options for dining out were everywhere.
The units are maintained by a couple of different timeshare companies, as well as individual owners, so I can't speak for the quality of every room, but if you're looking for a comfortable, clean affordable condo, as long as you get an ocean view this should fit the bill.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 28, 2004
Lifetime in Hawaii
2240 Kuhio Avenue
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
Restaurant | "Top of Waikiki"
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 28, 2004
Waikiki Lau Yee Chai
2270 Kalakaua Avenue
The first stop for many adults was the bar section, for a variety of cocktails such as lava flows and blue Hawaiians. These are included, number depending on your chosen package. After the pre-luau activities, everyone gathers for the traditional Imu ceremony, and then it's off to feast on roasted Kalua Pig, salmon, fried chicken, potato salad, and lots more. Then The Paradise Cove Extravaganza: live entertainment featuring hula and fire dancers, singing and more.
Transportation is included. The Royal Ali'i package seems to offer the most bang for your buck, including a flower lei, preferred seating, table service instead of waiting in the long buffet lines, and unlimited (though watered down) Mai Tai's and/or Soft Drinks. Though an expensive activity, if you've never been a luau is a worthwhile activity and there are many discount coupon offers to make it more affordable.
For more info visit Paradise Cove
Paradise Cove Luau
2024 N King St
Oahu, Hawaii 96819
Attraction | "Hanauma Bay"
Everyone must view the video/education program about the bay and its rules for protecting the reef. Afterward, a walk downhill and snorkel gear is all that's needed to get you swimming with plenty of gorgeous sea life. Bring your own snorkel gear if you plan to arrive before 8am since the equipment rental will not be opened yet.
The sandy beach is a beautiful spot for relaxing and safe for children. This was a first attempt at snorkeling and I absolutely loved it! It was a bit awkward maneuvering through the rocky ocean floor with swim fins at first, but after a few moments, I was sharing the waters with a variety of tang fish, parrotfish, sea turtles and much more.Pack a waterproof camera, snacks, drinks and plenty of sunblock.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 28, 2004
Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay
Attraction | "Arizona Memorial"
Before departure to the floating memorial, an informative 23-minute film is presented to visitors telling the tale of this tragic time in US history which lead World War II. Visitors are then taken by boat to the memorial, which floats over the fallen battleship.
From Waikiki, Pearl Harbor can easily be reached by public transportation ("The Bus"), but be prepared for about an hour of traveling time each way. There are large crowds for this "must see" activity, arrive first thing in the morning to avoid waiting times of over two hours. Hours are 7:30am–5pm, with the last tour at 3pm. Memorial tickets are free and are given on a first-come first-serve basis and there is a dress code, no swimwear. Cameras are allowed, but no camera bags, purses, backpacks or carrying bags of any kind.
See USS Arizona Memorial for more details.
Pearl Harbor and USS Arizona Memorial
One Arizona Memorial Place
Honolulu, Hawaii 96818
We preferred to plant ourselves on the less crowded western stretch of the beach early in the day, but later, make your way down towards the Sheraton Hotels and Outrigger Waikiki for cocktails and a beachside seat of the sunset.
If you're arriving into Honolulu on a later flight and are wondering what to do, an evening cocktail at Dukes (the Lava Flows are not only pleasing to the eye, but very tasty!) is a great way to start off your vacation. . . with a moonlight stroll along the shore and the backdrop of the cities famous twinkling lights.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 29, 2004
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
+1 808 951 4088
Attraction | "Atlantis Dinner Cruise – The Navatek I"
There were people dressed up in slacks and dresses, some in "dressy" shorts or jeans, but all wearing smiles. There weren’t many children. The Sunset Buffet Dinner included a meal with fruits, salad, chicken, fish, mashed potatoes, coconut cake, and more and included one premium cocktail, coffee and tea. We used the entertainment card and enjoyed a 2-for-1 discount that made this a great deal. There was a pricier package available, which offered seating on the upper deck with entertainment and a steak and lobster dinner served at the table rather than the buffet.
The buffet food was fair, and didn’t stand out one way or another (except that it was filling), but we weren't there for that. We wanted to ride a nice boat, with beautiful views and entertainment, and we got it. The cruise sails along Waikiki Beach, past Diamond Head and then makes its way back just as the sun sets. Be sure to get to the outer viewing decks early after your meal, as it can get crowded with passengers armed with cameras and digicams, waiting to shoot the perfect sunset photo.
For the price, I think the buffet package had better entertainment and was overall the better deal.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 5, 2004
Atlantis Cruises Navatek I: Reservations & Information
1600 Kapiolani Blvd
Oahu, Hawaii 96814
Attraction | "USS Bowfin Submarine"
Operating hours are daily from 8am–5pm and adult admission is $8. There is a walkman headphone audio tour to guide you through the tight quarters of the Submarine. Take advantage of it, as there are lots of interesting facts and info that is offered throughout the tour. It was really pretty amazing to see things like the tiny sleeping and eating quarters for the submariners, the machinery, and hear about the daily regimen these men had to follow.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 5, 2004
USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park
11 Arizona Memorial Dr
Oahu, Hawaii 96818
Some Memorable sights:
Halona Blowhole – There is a convenient parking turn-off for visitors to catch a glimpse of the blowhole’s powerful sprays, shooting high into the air. The surrounding area was very scenic with strong ocean waves banging against the sea cliffs and grooved, varied colored rocks.
Kailua Beach Park and Lanikai Beach- Our drive was filled with views of beautiful turquoise colored water and white sands as we drove past many beaches on the windward shore. Though Kailua Beach had a large parking lot, it was crowded, even on the weekday we were there. With trouble finding parking, we decided to drive on to the nearby residential areas. There we found parking near a small public beach pathway, at the less crowded end of Kailua Beach. Be careful not too venture out too far in the ocean at this isolated section of the beach, there are no lifeguards and the waves can be strong. It was nice watching the boogie boarders and windsurfers.
Deserted Islands – Goat Island, Chinaman’s Hat, Rabbit and Turtle Islands are just some of the deserted Islands you will see while driving up the coastline. From almost any of the beaches you can stop and get great photo ops of these islands.
Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck (in Kahuku) – Save your appetite for a stop at this North Shore food favorite. Just look for the old white catering truck, decorated with graffiti and surrounded by picnic tables. At about $11, one plate of garlic shrimp with rice is enough for two to share and is so good you may want to spring for another. Though it may look thirst quenching, unless you're already a fan, you may want to skip the coconut milk.
Dole Pineapple Plantation – The world’s largest maze, a 20-minute train tour, and a garden tour are available here along with their tasty, ice-cold Dole whipped pineapple cone...a refreshing way to end the daylong drive in the hot sun.
Los Angeles, California