A December 2004 trip
to Honolulu by SFPhotocraft
Quote: We just moved into our new home and found that we could not face Christmas drowning in a sea of unpacked boxes, so we headed across the Pacific to do our Christmas Hawaiian-style.
My mind-set finally shifted when I was a sales rep for a Pacific airline. Honolulu was part of my sales territory, and I actually got to go to Honolulu on a regular basis for business trips. Suddenly, I was looking at it through a whole different filter. Honolulu isn't a beach resort. It's a large Pacific rim city with a beach attached to it. I started to look at it as an interesting urban area and not as a resort. My whole perspective changed, and I really fell in love with this city.
Waikiki is crowded, a bit noisy, and a little overwhelming. If you are looking for that quiet island-beach experience, you can still find it in Hawaii, you just aren't going to find it in Honolulu. Waikiki is lively and full of history. I will argue it has one of the most dramatic backdrops of any beach in the world, with Diamond Head rising in the background.
I have watched the area change, and I admit not always for the good. The little local bar Hula's, with it's wonderful banyan tree, and the historic Aloha Theater, with it's great neon, were torn down to make way for a glitzy shopping center with mainland stores like Banana Republic. The local flavor of this block is gone forever. Parts of Waikiki are starting to look more like Rodeo Drive than Hawaii.
If you venture downtown (take The Bus), you will find a big city with lots of charm. The Bishop Museum is worth the trip. Also, stop in Chinatown and get some great food--a whole lot cheaper than in Waikiki . Some of the best Vietnamese Pho can be found here. Maunakea Street is a whole street of lei stands These aren't the touristy, pricey lei stands. These are the real things. The lei stands that Hawaiian people go to when they want to buy a lei for a birthday or wedding.
Have a Mai Tai under the Banyan tree at the Moans Surfrider
Visit the Byodo-In Temple.
Have a shave ice at Matsumoto's
Shop the flea market at Aloha Stadium.
Take a surfing lesson from Honolulu firefighters at Hawaiian Fire.
Shop for a lei on Maunakea Street in Chinatown
Do the luau at Paradise Cove.
Waikiki has a great bus system called The Bus. It runs all over Waikiki and Honolulu. It's clean, cheap, and easy to ride. Check out their web page at The Bus. The web page is tourist friendly and is great at helping you get almost anywhere on the island.
Of course like any big urban area, there are plenty of taxis.
The hotel is a large tower hotel located directly across the street from Waikiki Beach. The hotel is on the far east side of the beach and out of the congested center clump of hotels. The lobby is on the second floor, and the swimming pool is located just in front of the main check-in desk. The bellmen showed us to our room on the 23rd floor. We were facing Diamond Head, and the view from our room was stunning. The east side of the hotel has unobstructed views of Waikiki and Diamond Head. I can't tell you how breathtaking the view from our room was.
We had a junior suite, and it was large. The beds had a fun, very red, aloha-print bedspread. There was a pleasant sofa and sitting area. The entire room was done in a campy and kitschy Hawaiian decor. I may not want to live in this room, but for a week in Hawaii, it was perfect. Sure enough, there was our little Christmas tree and stockings from the sales team. My only complaint about the room was that the bathroom was very small.
One of the extras that we loved about the hotel was the breakfast. The breakfast was included in our rate, and in each room was a small thermal bag that you could take down to breakfast and fill with goodies. Then you could either eat by the pool, on the beach, or in your room. The breakfasts included delicious sandwiches, Japanese items, fresh fruit from Hawaii, Kona coffee, juices, and bakery items. We quickly learned that the drill was to pack a little extra for the fridge in the room. It made a great mid-afternoon snack for the kids. The breakfast was set up around the pool, and they had live Hawaiian music and a hula dancer each morning.
This is a popular hotel with groups, tours, and packages. It has a very high occupancy rate. The hotel was just redone, but it does show some wear and tear from the high level of use. There is a wait for the elevators, lines at the valet, and just overall, crowds.
This is not the most deluxe hotel in Honolulu, but it's a great pick for families on a budget. We were happy with the hotel and would not hesitate to recommend it.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 4, 2005
Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel
2570 Kalakaua Ave
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
Restaurant | "Tiki's Grill"
This funky and fun retro bistro is located on the second floor of the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel near the pool. This is a retro Hawaiian-themed restaurant that may not work in Des Moines, but it works well just a few steps off Waikiki Beach.
The indoor part of Tikis Bar and Grill is dark, with lava stones and scary-looking backlight tikis, and the walls are filled with fun posters of Hawaii from the 1950s. We ate indoors on one visit due to the rain. However, if it's not raining, the best part of Tiki's is the large lanai that wraps around the hotel. Here you have a bird's eye view of the beach and all the hustle and bustle of Waikiki. It's a perfect perch to eat and people-watch.
Our wait staff was young and full of energy. We ate here twice, and both times our waiter and waitress were helpful and very friendly. Both times our waitperson was wonderful with the kids and took time to make their visit special. Tiki’s also has live Hawaiian entertainment.
Don't miss starting out with a Mai Tai or other exotic cocktail. They all come in those crazy Easter Island Heads or fake coconuts with tons of fresh fruit garnish. The cocktails here were great - not watered down like other beach hotel bars!
I had Ahi tuna at one meal and shrimp chow mein for another meal. I give thumbs up to both meals! The fish here is island fresh and is very popular with both locals and tourists. The kids got the usual burgers and fries, but they loved the fact they are served on take-home Frisbees, a perfect gift for kids on a beach vacation!
Tiki's has a large gift shop with a lot of cool T-shirts, tank tops, and other beachwear with their logo. I am past buying logo T-shirts, but I have to admit that some of their wear was fun and unique. We saw a few tourist sporting Tiki logos on the beach.
We seldom eat at a place twice on vacation. However, Tiki’s was a family favorite, and the kids demanded we make a return visit. This was for sure the kid’s number one pick for eating in Honolulu. It's tiki fun for everyone!
Tiki's Grill & Bar
2570 Kalakaua Ave.
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
Don Ho's advertises one of the best Sunday brunches on the island. We found the bistro in the back of the marketplace on a prime waterfront location. The place with filled with tables of local families, and we took this as a very good sign. The place is exactly what you would expect: lots of tropical decor and lots and lots and lots of photos of Don Ho. (No ego here!)
We had two options, buffet or menu service. I incorrectly chose the buffet. The buffet wasn't anything to write to the mainland about; it was a pretty basic luau buffet. It had kahula pork, prime rib, some type of fish, and salad. The dessert table was full of cakes and pies and was pretty destroyed. This buffet is more about quantity than quality. The people who picked the buffet were filling their plates a mile high. I found it pretty basic and even a little bland. Patrick had the best meal at our table, the Hawaiian pizza with pineapple and kahula pork. The real winner was what everyone else in the restaurant seemed to be ordering - moko loco, bowls of rice topped with ground beef, egg, and brown gravy. I know it sounds disgusting, but it's a traditional Hawaiian breakfast and very tasty. It looked great here.
At night they have entertainment, and again I would hope that Don Ho would pick some up-and-coming stars to play here. (But then I was wrong about the food.) The bar did look fun, and this could be a fun night spot with good cocktails, music, and the harbor lights. It has potential.
I may not go out of my way to eat here; however, if you are near the Aloha Tower and want a meal, it's a good option for this area. The view was great, and I have to admit that they make a mean mai tai.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 4, 2005
Don Ho's Island Grill
1 Aloha Tower Drive (Aloha Tower Marketplace)
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
We found the wait to be about 45 minutes. You are asked to wait out on the sidewalk, but there are no pagers to call you. DON'T you dare miss hearing your name called! They do it once, very quickly, and then it's onto the next party! Everyone was huddled at the front door, hoping they would hear their names. The hostesses seemed a bit put off by the crowds and were void of that aloha spirit. No matter what time of day or night you walk by Cheeseburger, you will see a line of hungry tourists waiting for tables. This is a very popular place.
We were seated, and soon a hula-skirted waiter came to our table. They run the traffic in and out of here fairly quickly, and there was little personality to the service. It was more like, "Hurry up, order, eat up, and clear the table for the next party".
The name suggests cheeseburgers, so that is what we all ordered. I had the mushroom burger, Patrick had the Hawaiian burger, and everyone else had the signature cheeseburger. They came in a flash, served in a basket. The burgers were good--not the best I have ever tasted, but by no means the worst either.
The place was fun, but there are lots of burger places across the country with a similar feel. The thing I enjoyed the most was the live music. It was a rock band who was pretty good, and it was nice to be somewhere to listen to good music while enjoying a meal.
In reading the menu, I learned this was started by two woman who cashed in everything in Orange County, moved to Maui, and made a success of selling cheeseburgers in paradise! Good for them! You often hear of people doing this and losing everything. It's nice to hear a success story. They have restaurants all over the islands and have now opened in Mexico and Las Vegas, as well. They seem to have a formula going, and I expect that they will be opening up more very soon.
I can't say I was disappointed by our meal here. It's a very predictable kind of bar-and-burger joint. It surely delivers what it promises. The kids loved it, we all left full, and we even enjoyed some good music. I guess you can conclude that they did their job, and we got just what we came for!
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 6, 2005
Cheeseburger In Paradise
2500 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
Matsumoto's is located on the north shore in the groovy surf town of Haleiwa. The store was started in 1951 as a small grocery store by Mr. Mamoru Matsumoto, an immigrant from Japan. It was a typical small-island grocery store. However, it served shave ice from the back counter. First, locals discovered what I think is the best shave ice in Hawaii, and soon they told their mainland friends; next, it got into a few guidebooks, and today, Matsumoto's main business is shave ice! No more sundries and groceries.
I have been coming here for shave ice for thrity years and have watched the business evolve. More and more guidebooks sang the praises of this little grocery store that sold shave ice. More and more people came and lined up for the best shave ice on the island. Tourist buses unloaded the masses here. They now serve about 1,000 shave ices a day!
Mr. Matsumoto passed away a few years ago, but his kids and grandkids have taken over the business and kept up the same high standards Mr. Mamoru Matsumoto set.
When you arrive, you will see a list of yummy flavors. You can order almost every tropical fruit you can imagine, or go with more modern flavors like bubblegum or root beer. I am a creature of habit and always get the Hawaiian, a combination of pineapple, coconut, and banana. It's oh-sooooo-good! You can also be adveturesome and get azuki beans in the bottom of your cone or ice cream under your ice! I can never get beyond the ono-licious Hawaiian ice and can't venture down those more exotic roads.
The quality is great, and I have to admire the Matsumoto family. They could have easily franchised and had little ice stands all over the islands, but they did not. The shop is not flashy or fake; it still feels like a little north-shore grocery store, but it's now world-famous. However, the family still comes to work daily to shave and pour and keep tourists and locals happy. They keep control of their product with one location and keep pumping out the best shave ice in Hawaii. Don't miss this stop--it's worth the trip!
IMPORTANT FOOTNOTE: It's shave ice, NOT shaved ice. Drop the "d" if you want to sound like you are in-the-know!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 6, 2005
Matsumoto Shave Ice
66-087 Kamehameha Highway
Honolulu, Hawaii 96712
Restaurant | "The Surf Room (Royal Hawaiian Hotel)"
I did my research and it seemed like The Surf Room
in the Royal Hawaiian would best fit our bill. I had eaten Sunday brunch here and remembered the good food and wonderful ambiance of The Surf Room. We booked our reservations.
The Surf Room is known all over the islands for its scrumptious buffets. Tonight was no exception. The Surf Room would do three sittings of a Christmas Eve buffet. The cost was a $50 per person, a little high, but hey, Christmas only comes once a year! We picked the 7:30pm seating for our dinner.
We arrived at the hotel at 7:15pm, and there was already a very long line at the door. I am not sure why they chose to do the buffet in seatings and not a continuous buffet all through the night. It did take away some of the elegance of the night to have to stand in an endless line waiting to get seated for your dinner reservations. We didn't get seated until 7:45pm, so we had been in line for a half hour.
There is a lovely pink dining room, or the lanai, right on Waikiki Beach. We chose the lanai. We had a great table and could hear and smell the ocean. However, as it was night, we could not see much. I do remember the views from here for Sunday brunch and they were stunning. You have a great view of Diamond Head during the day.
The buffet is massive. There is food from every country. We had prime rib, a traditional roasted turkey, roasted suckling pig, tako poki, and a huge selection of sushi and sashimi. The list went on and on and on. The salads area was overwhelming. The buffets here move quickly and runners keep the choices fresh and delicious.
I was stuffed, but once I saw the wonderful dessert tables I knew I had to make room. The kids all made their own Hawaiian sundaes, and the grown-ups had some of the best coconut cream pie you could imagine.
I have to say that The Surf Room met our needs. It was elegant, a bit traditional, and yes, had a Hawaiian flavor. The buffet was truly a Christmas Eve to remember.
Even if you are not in Hawaii over Christmas, The Surf Room does their famous buffet every Sunday for brunch, and it’s not to be missed. During Sunday brunch, you will also have the added benefit of the stunning view. The Sunday brunch runs from 11am to 2pm each Sunday and is a wee bit cheaper at $42 per person.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 13, 2005
The Surf Room
2259 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
Restaurant | "Angelo Pietro's"
We took his word and headed out to find Angelo Pietro's. It's located in a very uninteresting area between Waikiki and downtown, a few blocks behind the Ala Moana Shopping Center. It's on the ground floor of a large office building. The location does not draw many tourists, but instead mostly locals and folks in the know.
When you walk up, you notice display cases with plastic food, just like in any restaurant in Japan. However, these dishes were pizzas and pasta dishes. The toppings, however, were strictly Japanese, with sliced eggs, fish, and other Japanese favorites.
We did not have reservations, and the wait was about 40 minutes for a table. This was a popular choice, and from the conversations, you could tell a vast majority of patrons were locals. We learned Angelo Pietro's started in Japan, and they now have locations all over Japan. This is their first venture outside of Asia.
The restaurant is brightly light and has a distinct Italian feel to the decor. The wait staff is young and extremely helpful. Our waitress offers us suggestions of her favorites. The service is friendly and efficient, and the vibe is fun and lively.
We started out with the Japanese mushroom pizza, and it was outrageously good. The small pizza was gone in seconds, and we didn't have the "please take the last piece" fight. We all ordered pasta dishes; I had clams and pasta. The pasta is a cross between an Italian pasta and a thicker soba noodle. Fusions can make strange bedfellows, and Pietro's is no exception. I have eaten at a lot of Japanese/French fusion places, but the Italian fusion seems to work a lot better for me. Everything was truly delicious and unique.
Once again, my asking a local paid off. We found a place that is not in any of the guide books and was a little off-the-beaten-track. If you want a unique dining experience in Honolulu, I would point you in the direction of Angelo Pietro's. This is fusion at its best!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 19, 2005
1585 Kapiolani Blvd
Honolulu, Hawaii 96814
+1 808 941 0555
Restaurant | "Polynesian Cultural Center - Fine Dining Option"
When you arrive at the PCC, you are herded into a sterile room and asked to order your evening meal. The menu items reminded me a lot of a cruise-ship menu. It was basic, with prime rib, fish, and salads, not the "fine dining" I had expected, nor very exotic.
At 5pm, your tour ends, and you are whisked into the main dining hall. The main part, the buffet, is for folks not on our package. We were taken past the buffet lines to a small, narrow room on one side of the dining room. The room is bland and uninviting. Our guide introduced us to our waiter--another BYU indentured servant. He was from the Philippines and had a big smile. As we had already ordered, the first course just showed up the minute we sat down. Because this is a Mormon-run establishment, they do not have a bar. I would have loved a Mai Tai. Instead, they have fruit juices. I had a pineapple juice that was very watery. Our onion soup was just a flavorless onion broth served in a small cup.
Our waiter was friendly and tried hard. However, the service felt very rushed, as plate after plate arrived with barely enough time to finish our course before. The main course was a joke. The prime rib was one very thinly sliced piece of meat full of fat, my salmon was a soggy mess of fish, the rice was overcooked, the vegetables were tasteless, and the baked potato was actually a half of a boiled potato. Everything was disappointing. We didn't touch our desserts. Again, being Mormon, there is no tea or coffee. The food is the same as on the buffet, only with less of it.
The big debate centered around tipping. The table next to us was a couple from England, and they had the same concern we had. Guides and waiters may be tipped, but the tips cannot be kept by the server. They are to be given back to the Mormon church. The person doing the service is not benefitting; instead, the church is getting a donation. It hardly seemed fair that the server could not keep it, but in the end, we did leave a small tip.
My advice is skip the dinner and show here. Do the village and then drive back to Honolulu. There are plenty of places along the way home that serve a better meal!
Member Rating 1 out of 5 on January 20, 2005
Polynesian Cultural Center
55-370 Kamehameha Highway
Honolulu, Hawaii 96762
You have a choice of two packages, the regular luau package for $65 or the deluxe package for $110. The basic features are very much the same. You can partake in all the activities and see the same show. The deluxe package includes all your drinks (and we went through a few) and VIP seating for the show. The VIP seating is not closer to the stage, but it is higher up. It also includes waiter service, rather than having to stand in long buffet lines, and includes a free photograph. It's hard to decide if the upgrade package is really worth the extra $45.
Paradise Cove is located on the leeward side of Oahu. It's about a 40-minute drive from Waikiki. All the admission prices include free motor coach transportation to the luau sight. This may be one of the low points of the evening. The motor coach picks everyone up at the Aston Hotel, where the line stretches around the block and it's mass confusion. The system of check-in is very manual, with clipboards and chaos. Once onboard, your host tries to get the spirit going with lots of lame jokes and stories. A simple briefing and Hawaiian music would have suited our tastes better.
However, once you arrive at the gates of Paradise Cove, things go a lot better. The cove is a beautiful grassy area on a privet cove and beach - absolutely stunning. You are welcomed with a fresh lei and a mai tai.
The grounds are covered with things to do. You can get a tattoo, take a hula lesson, throw a spear, take an outrigger ride, or just sit with a mai tai and watch the incredible sunset in paradise.
Soon the conch shells blows and it's time for the imu ceremony, the digging up of the roasted pig from his cooking pit. There is a lot of pomp and ceremony.
Then it's time for dinner. The fare is standard luau with kahula pig, vegetables, salad, rice and fish, and of course, poi. We had the deluxe package, so we had a friendly server taking care of us. However, the standard package is a buffet line and the lines seemed endless. The food was good, nothing gourmet but all tasty. I learned you don't come to a luau for the food!
After dinner there is a wonderful fast-paced show with hula dancing, fire walking, and songs. The show is tops and a great way to end a great evening.
Things wrap up all too quickly as everyone loads back on the motor coach for the ride back to Waikiki. We were all fat, happy, and a bit sleepy.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 18, 2005
Paradise Cove Luau
92-1089 Ali'inui Drive
Honolulu, Hawaii 96707
Attraction | "The Beach Bar at the Moana Surfrider"
So when I am in Hawaii, I am in heaven. I slurp up mai tais all over the islands. Let me tell you one tradition that I never miss. That is to savor the most perfect mai tai in the world at the Beach Bar at the Moana Surfrider on Waikiki. I wouldn't think of being in Honolulu and not stopping by the Beach Bar in the Banyan Court for at least one awesome mai tai.
Actually, my love of the Banyan Bar goes a lot deeper than just having one of their tropical potions. The location of sitting under a magnificent banyan tree on Waikiki Beach with a perfect view of Diamond Head is enough to knock your socks off! I have seen some of my favorite sunsets from the tables at this bar.
But besides all that, there is a sense of history here. The hotel was build was 1901, and shortly after that in 1904, this tree was planted in the courtyard. Both our dads remember sitting under this very banyan tree in WW II, when the hotel was a US Army R&R center. This tree has seen it all, from wars, to statehood, to beach movies and the explosion of tourism that has changed the face of Waikiki forever. I wonder how many honeymooners have shared a mai tai under her branches? There is sense of dynasty here. Today, the tree is 75 feet high and 150 feet across. We may pass through this place, but the tree stays and grows and will continue to see the island evolve.
Okay, enough philosophy! Back to the mai tais! They do indeed make the perfect one here. The bar is open from 10:30am until 12:30am each day. There is no cover, and you can usually find a good table right on the beach. We had a rendezvous with friends here on this trip, and it was the perfect place to catch up, sip great drinks, and watch the sunset in the Pacific Ocean. They serve appetizers as well. There is also live Hawaiian music playing most of the time, with a hula dancer slowly dancing the hula. It's all too perfect!
A trip to Oahu wouldn't be complete without a stop at the The Beach Bar. I have been coming here for so long, she feels like an old friend. I hope to see her many more times in my future and hope my kids will do the same!
Beach Bar at Moana Surfrider
2365 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
Attraction | "Pearl Harbor - USS Arizona Memorial"
Pearl Harbor is located not far from Honolulu International Airport. As a matter of fact, when you land at HNL, you may very well get a glimpse of it from the left side of the aircraft.
There are numerous tour companies who do the Pearl Harbor tour, but I recommend that you simply do it yourself by taxi or car rental. The sight is run by The U.S. Park Service and Navy and is free of charge. Even the parking is free. The doors open at 7am and be sure you are there EARLY. We arrived at 6:45am and already the line was weaving around the grounds, about 3 blocks long. Once the quota is filled for the day, those in the back of the line are asked to come back another day.
Once inside, you are given a number. We were number 10. This means you are on the tenth boat over to the memorial. You must listen for your number to be called over the loudspeaker. It took about 2 hours for our group to be called. There is not a lot to do inside. They have a bookstore, small snack bar, and a rather disappointing museum. The museum is crowded and does not have the relics you would expect to find here. We spent most of our wait time finding a bench outdoors and enjoying the warm Honolulu sun.
Finally, when you are called, you are invited in to see an excellent movie on that infamous day. The movie is chilling and educational. Rare footage from both the American and Japanese sides is shown. Then the doors swing open and you are ready to board your Navy-run boat to the memorial.
Most of all, this is a resting place for those killed and whose bodies remain entombed in the wreck. The memorial feels like a chapel floating over the water. The tone is somber. If crowds are too loud, a military person will hush them and remind them where they are. Tourists may bring leis and cut off the string and throw them overboard as a floral tribute. You can plainly see the Arizona, and what is most amazing is that after 70 years, oil is still seeping up from the tanks. One wall in the memorial lists the names of those killed that December day.
It took us about 4 hours from the time we arrived until the time we left. It cannot be done in a shorter time, so plan a full morning to visit the Arizona Memorial.
FOOTNOTE: If driving, do NOT take the Pearl Harbor exit; this will take you into the active Pearl Harbor Military Base. Take the next exit - The Arizona Memorial/Stadium Exit.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 20, 2005
Pearl Harbor and USS Arizona Memorial
One Arizona Memorial Place
Honolulu, Hawaii 96818
The center is on the east coast of Oahu near the North Shore. The center was opened in the 1960s by the Mormon Church when it built its BYU campus on Oahu. The idea was to build a major tourist attraction to promote Polynesia and with the profits give young islanders the chance to come and work here and study at BYU and take their education and the Mormon faith back to their islands.
It is great for kids, as it does give a great hands-on expierence to the different cultures that make up Polynesian. Each island has a village area that explores the housing, foods, and customs of the island group. There is Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti, Fiji, Tonga, and New Zealand.
We had gotten the Super Ambassador package, which came with a private guide and tour. Our guide was from Bolivia and was outstanding. We felt sorry for her when we learned about the long hours she was asked to work for no pay, other than her scholarship to BYU. She was not even allowed to keep tips but had to turn them back over to the church. She was smart and had a grace about her. Her insight and knowledge of the islands were amazing and fun. She taught the kids the basic greetings, and we had reserved seats for all the demostrations. I felt the upgraded ticket was worth the extra cost, as it gave the kids a lot of extra insight and knowledge.
The villages do a good basic overview of each culture. It is not in-depth, and certain areas, like native relgious beliefs, are glossed over or presented as primative and barbaric. There is no mention as to how missonaries almost destroyed the culture in most of these islands. The dress for the woman is also toned down and more modest than what is worn by women in the real islands. The same standard does not apply to the men! Also, don't expect to find a cocktail or a cup of coffee anywhere at the PCC.
The village tours are great. The dinner (see separate review) and the evening show are not worth the price or the time. My suggestion is to do the tour and leave at dinner time.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 21, 2005
Polynesian Cultural Center
55-370 Kamehameha Highway
Laie, Hawaii 96762
A parent’s dream come true. Some entrepreneurial Honolulu firefighters started Hawaiianfire to take small groups out and teach them about surfing.
Lessons run at 7:00am or a 9:30am pick-up. A Hawaiianfire van picks you up at your hotel and takes you to a secluded beach. You have 45 minutes of on the beach training and another hour and 15 minutes in the water.
Patrick was so excited that he woke up at 3:30am in the morning, asking if it was time for his surf lessons. The van arrived right at 7am to our hotel. Our driver was full of personality and quickly sensed the excitement and tad bit of nervousness. His demeanor quickly soothed any jitters anyone had.
It was drizzling when we left Waikiki, but pouring by the time we got to the beach. A huddle of firefighters was called and they gave us an option. We could do the class in the rain, or they would be happy to work with us and reschedule another time. We all agreed, you will get wet surfing anyway - let's just do it.
Ryan taught the first part of the class under a tent. He taught the basics and good surfmanship. He was fun and casual, but you could sense he was serious about the rules and making sure everyone was getting down the correct methods. As you would expect from firefighters, safety was a strong message.
Then the kids put on their rash guards and were introduced to their instructors - then it was time to hit the water. As is typical in Hawaii, the rain had now turned back into a light and even pleasant drizzle.
Breana had a prince of a teacher - Tyrone. He carried her into the water and rode with her. When she got uncomfortable and cold, he brought her in and shared his personal hot chocolate with her. It's safe to say, she left with a bit of a school girl crush on him!
Patrick's instructor - Kenny and he hit it off right way. Kenny a dad himself, knew just how to work with a 9 year old. Patrick got up right away, and on each turn, got a new tip or two, and with each run, showed more control and technique. Everyone not only showed a passion for the sport, but a love of sharing it.
The groups were made up of all ages. Regular lessons are a 3-to-1 ratio. All children under 11 must take a private lesson. The main lesson is $120, and the private for kids is $170. The cost includes transportation, foam surfboards, a leash, reef shoes, rash guards, a shade tent (or rain tent), chairs, and lessons.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 22, 2005
3318 Campbell Ave.
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815