Conference in Honolulu

August 2005 Conference to Hawaii: Time limited to pre- and post-conference activities, but as this was my first trip to Hawaii, I wanted to make the best of it!

Waikiki Gateway

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by budgettravels1 on August 13, 2005

In its current state, the hotel is nothing fancy - better than most super cheap mainland hotels. Rennovations are in progress and the 3rd floor's free business center is very nice (free Internet, pay for printing). If the rest of the hotel is to look like the 3rd floor, this will be a very nice place in terms of room quality when the rennovations are finished. The front desk staff was very friendly. Centrally located to shopping and restaurants around the corner and to the beach (just a few blocks away). There's about a 12-minute walk to the convention center allowing time for crossing the streets - less time if you walked faster or wanted to climb the stairs on the canal side of the convention center. Hotel provides free toast and donuts, coffee and juice each morning - again, nothing fancy, but satisfying as long as you do not want any protein. There is a bus pickup just outside the door which was helpful as I did not rent a car. Also, there is a small ABC store outside the lobby for necessities/snacks and random things. I would stay here again as the location was convenient for the activities that I came for (conference at convention center), the room price was low and the staff was helpful and friendly.
Waikiki Gateway Hotel
2070 Kalakaua Ave.
Honolulu, 96815
(808) 955-3741

Pearl Harbor/Arizona Memorial

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by budgettravels1 on August 13, 2005

Hint: Go as EARLY in the morning as you can!

The bus stop is just outside the door of my hotel, but I never saw any bus schedules, so I waited a few minutes for bus no. 42 (at about 7:30am) - you need exact change for the $2 adult fare. After many stops and about an hour (now 8:30am), we arrived at the Arizona Memorial. The line was long, but it moved quickly.

Hint: Take as little as possible with you, or plan to check your bags for $3 each - they are currently allowing nothing that could be concealing inside, and even small purses and camera bags are not allowed in. Cameras and water can go in.

I was in group no. 15 and got my free ticket at about 9am for 11:15am tour. You can spend the time between ticket pick-up and tour time in the museum, outside, or at the Bowfin next door. It’s $5 for an audio tour, but I didn't get it. Lots of food is available for purchase. When your time is called, you watch a short movie. Then you get on a boat to go to the memorial, and after spending time on the memorial, you come back on the boat. You can release flowers/lei at the memorial as long as you do not let the lei string go into the water. This historic location is not only a place of reflection, but also education. Some of my friends were not interested in this site because of the potential for sadness, but I am very glad that I went. I learned a few things and had time for reflection about this event and those who have more recently affected this nation and world. I released the flowers from my lei, and it felt good. I took the return bus to the Iolani Palace, so it was not a straight trip back.

Pearl Harbor and USS Arizona Memorial
One Arizona Memorial Place
Honolulu, Hawaii, 96818
(808) 422-0561

Iolani Palace

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by budgettravels1 on August 13, 2005

For me, it was a nice stop after the Arizona Memorial. There are several busses that stop just across the street - when I boarded the bus at the Arizona Memorial I asked for a transfer since I did not expect to spend that much time at the Palace. I did not make a reservation for the guided tour ($20), and the next tour was, of course, sold out. I did take the self-guided option ($6).

I find the culture of Hawaii fascinating, as, being from the Midwest, we did not get that much exposure to it in school. The palace museum is very nicely put together and showcases events and lifestyles of the monarchy. The benefit of the guided tour is that you can see the interior of the palace and get the history from the guide. As I entered the self-guided part, there was a guide finishing a tour, and I could tell that she was knowledgeable and the guided tour would be useful, although the time/availability did not work for me. The next stop on the bus tour was the Ala Mona Shopping Center.

Iolani Palace
364 South King Street
Honolulu, Hawaii, 96804
(808) 522-0822

Ala Moana Shopping Center

Member Rating 1 out of 5 by budgettravels1 on August 13, 2005

I had been using "the bus" for my destinations this day and had no problems following the numbers and destinations, until I got to the shopping center. I needed to pick up a few things as gifts, and if I happened to find something for myself, even better. I found the shopping center confusing - as a veteran mall-goer, it was disconcerting. There is a staffed post office, so I was able to send a postcard to my mom with a local postmark (she likes these things). From the directory, I could not figure where the people could walk - it is one thing to figure out where the store is, but another to figure out how to get there. The mall felt dirty and dark to me. I really only found one store I came for, but I did manage to find the other items I was hunting for. I know (from a TV show I saw before the trip that inspired me to go to this mall) that the mall is nice, open, and well lit and has nice stores, but I didn't find them. I was a bit short on time, so didn't have the luxury of exploring too much - these nice stores could be there, just not in the part of the mall that I found.

Staying on Waikiki Beach meant that the shopping was targeted to tourists, or very high-end (Channel, Gucci, and Prada), and the prices similar. Did I get what I was looking for at the price I was willing to pay? Sure, but for the effort, I would have spent more time and similar money in Waikiki.

Leaving the shopping center on the bus was also confusing, as the number I was on from Iolani Palace or the numbers that I know drop off next to my hotel did not pick up at the center as far as I could tell - the way directions are given on the island make sense, but only if you know where you are coming from and where you are. So I took a different number (no. 8) and had to walk a couple blocks back to the hotel. (There was no schedule or map, so I didn't know just how close the bus would eventually go - I got out where I recognized the location.) During my stay, I had been walking between my hotel, the convention center, the beach, and the streets in between. Unfortunately, I did not go more inland, so I would not recognize the buildings or street names/numbers. Not all the bus drivers were nice and helpful (some are though), so use caution or find a schedule.

Ala Moana Shopping Center
1450 Ala Moana Boulevard
Honolulu, Hawaii, 96814
(808) 955-9517

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