Written by Eric from Aiea on 09 Nov, 2010
It is a funny thing how so many people go to Oahu and really do not get much further than the canal that surrounds Waikiki other than going to Aloha Tower and Ala Moana Mall. Waikiki is full of things to do, and many just…Read More
It is a funny thing how so many people go to Oahu and really do not get much further than the canal that surrounds Waikiki other than going to Aloha Tower and Ala Moana Mall. Waikiki is full of things to do, and many just spend what time they have on island enjoying the beaches and the shopping there. However, Oahu is a gem in itself that offers some great things far past the moat that is the canal. One of the big travelers’ questions is always if you should or should not get a rental car. Car rentals on Oahu are actually very reasonable in price due to competition. Many do not get a rental car because the price of parking is so high. It’s just one of those factors that is difficult to beat unless you are staying down at the end of the strip towards Diamond Head where there actually is parking towards the park. Those who are military or veterans have a huge advantage in the parking game by using the FT Derussy parking garage. The advantage comes in that if you are going to stay for a couple of days, you can go to the office and pay about 8 dollars a day for a swipe pass. It is a significant savings event by doing so and a huge savings for 4 or 5 days on island.Though Diamond Head is one of those things that many know about or see – few actually take the coast side road that runs above the ocean and see the view from there. To get there is rather easy, you just continue on past the park at the end of the Waikiki strip. It is a great hike or run, and even easier just to hop in the car and drive it. There are plenty of places to stop and park and take in the view of the rocky beaches and the windsurfers. If you are driving and continue on – you will soon be in Kahala and pass by the mall there and can get on H1 going East.H1 East is the route to Hawaii Kai. H1 becomes a roadway after Kahala, with plenty of traffic lights. The best time to take the drive out this way is from 8am until about 3pm --- in between Oahu’s traffic cycles. If you know the flows of the traffic – then you can work any trip out past that time – but to be stuck in a paradise traffic jam is the same as being stuck in pone anywhere else. You might want to stop off at Kawaikui Beach park near Hawaii Kai, or at the beaches close to Hawaii Kai that are on Maunalua Bay. These are not the best beaches – but you do get some spectacular views from here and they are very good ones for a picnic.If you might just happen to want to get something to eat, you can stop off at the Hawaii Kai shopping center on the Koko Head side of the causeway. The Greek Marina there is a great stop for gyros – or just to get the awesome fries they have. Yummy Korean Barbecue is the other quick eat spot there. For a more laid back time – would say try lunch at Kona Brewery there on the lagoon. The shopping center is also where you can find soft serve mango flavored ice cream.The road out of Hawaii Kai goes up hill, though actually its more up the volcano. The next couple of miles are some of the most beautiful driving sites on island as you hug the coastal lava rocks above the ocean and have one incredible view after another as you pass by H Bay and come up to the Blow Hole parking lot. To the right of the parking lot at the bottom of the ravine is a small inlet beach that is one of the most beautiful on island. To get there is a walk down the large rocks at a point near the road. Its lava rock – so don’t think you can go down it barefoot, but it is a great hidden beach.Driving to the beach visible from the Blow Hole lookout takes you to Sandy Beach. Sandy is by far the best shore break beach on island – and you will see a lot of local boogy boarders in the water there. The beach has really soft sand and best of all – a lot of parking. There is a shower and a bathroom there as well. This is one of the best places in the Fall to see some very good wave riders and surfers in action. One thing about Sandy though is that in the Winter months and the rougher waves coming in – there is a lot of drag in the water behind a wave – and don’t lose your swimming trunks by not expecting it. Sandy is a beach that is just outside of the tourist rage – and most of the folks you will see are locals from Oahu who are out enjoying the water and the sun. Normally waves here will run at about 3-5 feet, growing larger with passing swells and storms.The area form Sandy Beach to the pass is more a desert than a tropical island. There are plenty of hiking trails around in this area as well. As you approach the pass – there is a pull off to the right and a small parking lot. From that lava rock walled lookout you can see several of the smaller islands off the other side of Oahu and some spectacular views, as well as seeing para-gliders suiting up and flying from the cliffs. There is always a great breeze there in the day and it is one of the best places to get some spectacular photos. You can not see the light house that is too your right – it is on the other side of the mountain and is visible from the beaches that are down on the other side of the pass.Close
Written by Eric from Aiea on 05 Nov, 2010
My first Halloween in Oahu came about when I flew up to Honolulu from Pago Pago for a meeting that happened to coincide with Halloween. Having just left ST Louis before moving to American Samoa, I had no clue about how Halloween was done out…Read More
My first Halloween in Oahu came about when I flew up to Honolulu from Pago Pago for a meeting that happened to coincide with Halloween. Having just left ST Louis before moving to American Samoa, I had no clue about how Halloween was done out in the islands and thought it might just be a few clubs throwing costume parties. What I found was that when it comes to Halloween, you are not likely to find many places that celebrate it as big as Honolulu does. Years later, I am still going back to celebrate Halloween, and thought I would offer a few tips for those traveling to Hawaii or for those who are new living on island on the fun things that are offered and where to go. When Halloween falls on a weekend – expect for there to be so much going on that you can miss somethings. The best bet is to pack your own costume and bring it with you to island. If you were thinking you can find a costume in a store the day before, then you probably underestimated just how many locals and tourists are coming out in costume. The Japanese tourist will likely have gotten everything in walking distance of Waikiki – so if you need a costume – you might want to go to Hawaii Kai, where in the shopping center on the Cocohead side of the lagoon is a department store with lots of Men and Women’s costumes to be found and decent prices. It is a great stop if your on your way to see the Blowhole or to Sandy beach. Both Walmart and Kmart nearest to Waikiki may have a few items left – but last minute choices will be limited because a lot of people will have the same idea to go there.Prior to Halloween night, you will find that Oahu has a haunted plantation (Hawaii's Plantation Village Indoor-Outdoor Museum in Waipahu) a haunted warehouse (on Ala Moana), and a haunted lagoon if you want to go to a fun scare place. Of those, the haunted lagoon is one that really is a unique island expereince. This is different in that you are taking a night time canoe ride at the Polynesian Cultural Center’s lagoon in seach of the Laie Lady. There are usually two versions, one family-friendly and the other that is not family oriented. The canoe rides were held each Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 6:30 to 9 p.m throughout the month leading up to Halloween. There are also several ghost tours of the island, to a few places that most consider to be haunted.One of the best pre-Halloween parties has been at Club Paparazzi at the Ward Warehouse. The pre-party there is usually done so that it is not in running with the bigger clubs and it gets a pretty good draw of people from both the local and tourists on island. It is a dance club with very good DJs and usually offers a discounted admission if early and in costume. You are likely to find a pre-Halloween party at Aloha Tower at well, but expect to have an admission charge. The upside is that usually it is also a large costumed crowd that shows up.For Halloween Day, expect to find two huge block parties going on that you will want to go to. The biggest problem, as always – is parking. If you can take a shuttle or a taxi – that is the best way to get around on Halloween night. Traffic in both downtown and in Honolulu will be heavy – and just is an item that you have to adjust too. If you are staying in Waikiki – get back to Waikiki by 5pm and you are ok for traffic and parking. There are plenty of places to eat in Waikiki and surrounding it, so just plan ahead and know that the whole island is about to come join you for Halloween.Honolulu Hallowbaloo Music Arts Festival is the huge block party that starts downtown in Chinatown and is centered on Nuuanu Ave, with about seven blocks being closed down to traffic and entrance points to walk in from about 5:30 to 1130pm. This year was the 3d year, and it has grown bigger and better each year in putting on a real music showcase with some great bands and showing off a unique aspect of Honolulu’s culture. Hallowbaloo is a massive street festival and pub crawl drawing 10-20,000 costumed revelers and features about 10 bands and 15 DJs on different stages set up at the ends of the blocked area. This year also included a mechanical bull – set up in the center of a street. There are plenty of food and beer stands, plus all the pubs and restaraunts are open. First place in the costume contest this year was $750, and you can expect to see some wild and some unique costumes. You can stop off at any of the bars here when the barriers come down and the street party is over and finish Halloween here. But chances are that you wont. The cars will fill the streets heading to Waikiki as the tropical sun begins to set. The stretches of Kuhio and Kalakaua will soon be covered with people in the Halloween costumed best. I found the best time to actually go out and join the fun is to start abput 7:30-8pm. I recommend the Yard House as the best place to start off with a few drinks before wandring into the crowds. In Waikiki along the strip, costumed partygoers stroll down the coconut-palm-lined sidewalks of Kalakaua Avenue past its high end stores and malls. On both sides of the street you will find tens of thousands of people in costume with camera in hand getting pictures with some of the best adult themed costumed characters you may see anywhere. You wont want to miss this, and all the bars surrounding Wakiki will be packed. The crowds rally start getting heavy about 8pm and will stay that way until usually about 1am. Do make sure your camera batteries are fully charged be fore you go though! Wearing a great costume is one thing, making sure you got shoes or boots that are comfortable to walk a mile or two in is a whole nother thing. There are actually plenty of places to stop and take a seat at and rest up for a few minutes, the best being down on the grass area by the statue of Duke.To close out the night means heading over to one of the night spots. My favorite for Halloween is Restaurant Row and the Row Bar/Oceans Halloween party. Expect to find a thousand folks there in costume and some great music and about a $15 cover charge. The fun goes until 2 or 3 in the morning. When it is all done – you wonder just how many folks wont be getting up early for work the next morning. Having been lucky enough to be one of those that did not make it in early for work a few times– can say there are quite a few – and that all the fun is definitely worth it. There really is not much like Halloween in Paradise - and if you get a chance to experience it - GO!Close
Written by MilwVon on 05 Sep, 2009
During our week on Oahu we enjoyed many activities, most of which I have written a review in this journal for. In addition to those fun things, I wanted to be sure to point out a couple of other things that you might want…Read More
During our week on Oahu we enjoyed many activities, most of which I have written a review in this journal for. In addition to those fun things, I wanted to be sure to point out a couple of other things that you might want to do while visiting Honolulu and/or Waikiki.Of course, you cannot come to Hawaii and not take in at least a beach or two! On this trip we spent three or four afternoons at the beach. There are many different varieties of beaches, however, so you need to know what you want to get out of the experience.To get away from it all and to just relax, I would suggest the beaches around the four lagoons at Ko'Olina. Each of the four lagoons are a bit different with #3 being right on the resort property allowing visitors access to such creature comforts as comfy chaise lounge chairs and a full service snack bar. Lagoon #2 has nice shade and fair snorkeling. Parking is limited, however at #2 and #3 making it best to park at #4 and then walk the connecting sidewalk to the lagoon you want to hang out at.For boogie boarding and surfing, you cannot go wrong at Sandy Beach. Well . . . yes you can if you're not a good swimmer and ready for the rough ocean. This is where David got the snot pounded out of him a couple of times, but he loved it. For me, it was way too rough so I sat and watched (and prayed) from the nice shoreline.If you are looking for snorkeling that is better than "decent" try out Sharks Cove on the north shore. The entry down to the cove requires a bit of sure-footedness, but even with my gimpy knees I could do it. There is no beach to speak of here, but plenty of space to sit and lounge. The big black rocks are smooth enough to sit on if you get tired and want to enjoy the people watching. The snorkeling is very good; many say the best on Oahu. We saw lots of fish of all varieties here and enjoyed our second day here. (The first was a washout due to clouds and later rain.)Turtle Beach is a nice beach for lying out but not so much for snorkeling or swimming due to the rough surf. It is called Turtle Beach because it is here that the Honu (turtles) come to feed. It is close to Sharks Cove, making it a nice stop after a day of snorkeling. We spent about 30 minutes here watching the turtles feed on the green mossy stuff on the rocks along the shore. There were people snorkeling with them, but it didn't look like there would be much visibility.While on the north shore, or on your return back to Honolulu and the other side of the island, you owe it to yourself to stop at Dole Plantation. We were first here in 2003 and returned again in 2005, our last visit. It was surprising how much they've added on to the gift shop building, that now houses a full service snack bar. It is here that you can enjoy a fresh pineapple "whip" cone. The refreshing flavor really hits the spot after a day at the beach!I would caution, however, this is a tourist trap pure and simple! All of the Circle Island tours stop here. While the plantation tour via a choo-choo is educational, and the pineapple maze is fun for the kiddies . . . the place is built to get you to spend more money inside the gift shop! There are several Maui Diver booths to sell you pearls and loads of "Made in Hawaii" items. You would be better served to buy your chocolate covered mac nuts at Wal-Mart or K-Mart. They are the very same brands and roughly half the price.What would Friday be without a fish fry . . . especially if you are from Milwaukee where fish fries are a part of the community and culture? We enjoyed doing the all-you-can-eat fish fry at Moose McGillicuddy's (see separate review for more details on this nice dining place in Waikiki). The whitefish was wonderful and who can beat their happy hour drink prices?Speaking of eating, the Seaside Cafe is a wonderful place to stop in for breakfast. Located right on Kuhio Avenue in Waikiki, it was very convenient to our timeshare. The food portions were outstanding and the daily specials provided real value. Be careful, however, as the reviews for this place for dinner are very mixed with a lot of folks not very happy with the quality of their food. We had breakfast there three mornings, and only had the best of food and service!For more ideas of things to see and do, check out my previous Oahu Journal: http://www.igougo.com/journal-j63295-Oahu-Oahu_-_Hawaiis_Gathering_Place.html.Close
Written by azsunluvr on 16 Feb, 2009
It had been raining for weeks. Our hosts said they hadn’t seen the peaks of the mountains outside their windows for a really long time. We brought luck…the peaks were visible and the sun shined for the 2 days of our visit. But the previous…Read More
It had been raining for weeks. Our hosts said they hadn’t seen the peaks of the mountains outside their windows for a really long time. We brought luck…the peaks were visible and the sun shined for the 2 days of our visit. But the previous lack of sunshine had kept the ocean water too cool for us. So instead of snorkeling and frolicking in the waves as planned, we did a lot of driving around the island and just walking on the beaches. From Waikiki to Kaneohe to Haleiwa, we stopped at any beach that caught our fancy.Sunset Beach and Sharks Cove showcased the high surf and crashing waves. Laie Beach Park was peaceful, with soft sand and beautiful rock formations. Waikiki was busy with catamarans coming and going and couples and families playing in the waves. One beach had a couple of rope swings so we stopped and played. Another had beautiful aqua-colored water and we just had to stop and take pictures.At Diamond Head Lookout, we were able to see whales spouting, surfers waiting for that one great ride, and enjoy the park-like setting on the cliff. Mongoose fought and played all over the hillside, seemingly unworried by all the tourists hanging around.We would rather have picked one or two spots to snorkel and hang out, but it was enjoyable taking in many of the lovely beaches Oahu has to offer.Close
Written by Kebamo on 14 Nov, 2006
The pleasant and entertaining ride from Waikiki to Oahu's sunny west shore is a chance for one of the friendly hosts to greet guests and prepare them for the evening ahead. Guests who board the bus as strangers will feel like members of the Ohana,…Read More
The pleasant and entertaining ride from Waikiki to Oahu's sunny west shore is a chance for one of the friendly hosts to greet guests and prepare them for the evening ahead. Guests who board the bus as strangers will feel like members of the Ohana, or extended family, by the time they step off. Upon arrival at at the luau, you are welcomed with a traditional shell lei and greeted by the majestic beauty of a luau on a tropical Pacific Ocean beach.
An impressive ceremonial event at the Luau is the opening of the imu (underground oven). This is the traditional rock-filled oven where the Kalua Pig is placed early in the day and gently roasted to succulent perfection. Gather to watch the pig being removed from the oven while the method and traditions of imu cooking are detailed.
After exploring the beautiful Luau grounds and taking in the many intriguing activities, get set to experience some great food – island style! Help yourself to the multi-course Hawaiian Buffet...a combination of traditional island favorites and continental (traditional American) fare. Tempt your taste buds with such exotic specialties as Lomilomi Salmon and Kalua Pig, Poi (taro) and Mahimahi (fish), and be sure to save room for some tasty dessert items to round out your culinary experience. To quench your thirst, there is everything from fruit punch to the special tropical drinks like the "Mai Tai" and the "Blue Hawaii". Complimentary unlimited soft drinks, hot coffee and hot tea are provided for your refreshment throughout the evening. Every adult receives 3 complimentary alcoholic beverage coupons. A variety of tropical, blended and specialty beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) are also available at the cash bar.
The luau boasts an open seating arrangement that allows you to sit where you choose during the dinner and the show. You may enjoy sitting at the traditional low luau tables fronting the stage where you can enjoy your meal on the woven mats, just as the ancient Hawaiians did. It's the perfect place to see both the pre-show entertainment, and later the spectacular Polynesian Revue.
Spectacular entertainment delivered to you at the ocean's edge, under the stars and palm trees.
After dinner guests are treated to a colorful showcase of authentic song and dance from many Pacific Island nations, including Hawaii, Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa and New Zealand. It provides guests with a cultural tour of the South Pacific, featuring performances ranging from fierce ceremonial war dances to fondly remembered Hawaiian love ballads and a pulse pounding Samoan Fire-Knife Dance.
Written by jenandfrank on 30 Apr, 2006
Notes and Thoughts–OahuNorth Shore:Definitely worth a drive if for nothing else than a nice way to spend the afternoon. I highly recommend you pack water shoes and sneakers. Our main purpose for driving to the north shore was to see the crazy waves, the pipeline and…Read More
Notes and Thoughts–OahuNorth Shore:Definitely worth a drive if for nothing else than a nice way to spend the afternoon. I highly recommend you pack water shoes and sneakers. Our main purpose for driving to the north shore was to see the crazy waves, the pipeline and maybe some talented surfers if we got lucky. We wore sandals and if that wasn’t stupid enough we left them in the car – assuming the walk would be all sand. IT’S NOT!! Its broken coral, broken shells, twigs, rocks, glass, etc.. and the closer you get to the better waves, the worse the ground gets. At one point I questioned if I even cared about the waves - that’s how much it hurt just walking there. Bottled water and suntan lotion are also a very good idea. There is not much around in terms of stores and supermarkets so come prepared. Right off of Kamehameha Highway– you can’t miss the waves. Make sure you stop at Matsumoto Grocery for a shave ice. This family owned store is probably the most famous place for shave ice which in NY we call a snow cone. Many flavors to choose from but be prepared to wait in line as they serve, according to their website, over a thousand a day. We waited 35 minutes for two “cones.” Bees are everywhere due to the syrup that spills on the ground. The place itself is shack-like, selling t-shirts and trinkets but everyone is there for one reason only. Tom Hanks and Adam Sandler among others have enjoyed this frozen treats. http://www.matsumotoshaveice.comBreakfast in Waikiki Beach:Unless you want to spend a fortune for some type of hotel-buffet, I recommend one of two things; 1. Stop at a supermarket, buy cereal and/or fruit and use your hotel room’s mini bar to store it. 2. Go to Denny’s (or somewhere similar). Denny’s is located directly across the street from the Halekulani Hotel, on Lewers. Although over priced for eggs, it is by far your best breakfast bet. It’s relatively fast (let’s not forget you are in Hawaii), and its 1/3 of the price you’d pay for these $30 per person buffets. While we were there they had an “egg special,” which included two eggs, meat, and bread for $8.29. Like I said, not cheap but far cheaper than the alternative. We found it to be packed and clean, with the service being affable yet sometimes on the slow side.Diamond Head:Located about 15 minutes from Waikiki Beach is Diamond Head. Open from 6am to 6pm, this facility charges $5 to park and a $1-per person fee for entrance. The hike is less than 1 mile, and it ranges from paved walkways to dirt paths to stairs. This is not for the handicapped or for small children who require strollers. To reach the top point, which is the reason you go here at all, you must ascend two large sets of steep stairs. The top is the only area with true views of Waikiki Beach and of the water, the lighthouse, etc. That being said, I recommend you pack light but do remember the film, water and suntan lotion. Season Passes are available (for locals who make this about exercise and not sightseeing). Wear sneakers (not sandals or slides) or hiking shoes (if you feel it necessary). Tours are available but to be honest why would you need to take a tour? You need a local to walk you to the top? Trust me, you can’t get lost and paying a tour guide is a waste of money. While we were at the top, we heard a tour group talking and although the guides do talk about things like vegetation, unless that interests you, save the money and do the hike on your own. Many guide books state a flashlight is necessary but this is not true; lights have been installed in the once dark tunnel. Highly Recommended.Getting Around:I HIGHLY recommend renting a car in Oahu. If not for your entire trip then for a day at the least. This way you can drive around and see places like Diamond Head, the North Shore, etc., without paying a small fortune for a cab or tour company. Every major car rental company resides at the airport or speak to your concierge about a daily rental. We got really lucky with rates on hotwire.com. I am assuming all the hotels charge for parking, as there is very little available in Honolulu so be prepared.Waikiki Beach:Many people refer to Oahu as New York City on a beach–ah… no. It does remind me a lot of the nicer parts of Miami, Florida, though. It’s clean, the people are all beautiful and having fun, there is an excessive amount of high-end shopping, and one hotel is nicer than the next. Everything you need for a fun, yet relaxing vacation is available in Oahu. The restaurants cater to even the pickiest of eaters, the shopping goes from trinkets to Chanel and the hotels from Motel 6 to the Halekulani and Mandarin. The drive from the airport is about 45 minutes (without traffic) and there is a lot to be seen, all within walking distance. The beach, although very slim at times, goes on for miles and everyone is always outside enjoying themselves. ABC stores are in high supply here. Almost like 7-Elevens on the mainland. They are a cross between a mini-mart and a souvenir shop. It is impossible to walk a block and not see at least two. This is the best place to buy Hawaii t-shirts, snacks, postcards or that last minute duffel bag because you over packed and the airline wants to charge you $50 for the extra weight.Dole Plantation:Again available through a tour or you can rent a car. It is a bit of a drive but on the way to the North shore from Waikiki. The Dole Plantation is a gimmick to be honest. First and foremost it’s a large gift shop that sells everything from postcards to pineapple ice cream to jewelry to salad dressing. The back has a pineapple maze, a "train" ride through the plantation, locals selling items off of kiosks and an area displaying pineapple tree/bushes from around the world. It took us longer to park than to look around. Total yawn fest.Pearl Harbor:A definite must while in town–without question. Free parking and entrance to the memorial. Expect crowds. Read more about my experience in my other journal entry entitled “Pearl Harbor”.General:The visitors here tend to be 50% American and 50% Japanese. Prices are in line with NYC and other major U.S. cities. I have been to four Hawaiian Islands, and Oahu seems to be the least expensive in terms of restaurants and resorts. There is a slew to choose from. For whatever reason Oahu has a reputation for being a stop-over island. I completely disagree. We were here for three full days and could have easily found another few days' worth of activities. The people are warm and friendly, and there is just about something for everyone. Highly recommendedClose
Kyo-Ya—2057 Kalakaua Ave. Honolulu, (808)947-3911Located 5 minutes from Waikiki Beach/The Halekulani Hotel. Kyo-yo is widely considered the best Japanese restaurant (Tokyo style) in Honolulu. Chef Shizuo Tsubata has been in the kitchen 30 of the restaurant’s 32 years and has taught many of Honolulu’s other…Read More
Kyo-Ya—2057 Kalakaua Ave. Honolulu, (808)947-3911Located 5 minutes from Waikiki Beach/The Halekulani Hotel. Kyo-yo is widely considered the best Japanese restaurant (Tokyo style) in Honolulu. Chef Shizuo Tsubata has been in the kitchen 30 of the restaurant’s 32 years and has taught many of Honolulu’s other top Japanese chefs. The menu is extensive with many Kaikeke dinner options (complete dinner with many courses). All selections were listed in Japanese and English. However, unless you are an aficionado you will need some sort of an explanation because nothing had a description below it. Needless to say we became best friends with the waitress; we really needed her help. This was not Benihanna's.
After being seated we were served cold towels, tofu, marinated cabbage and Chinese pickles – all in mini dishes. We ordered two Kaikeke dinners which included salad, miso soup and an entrée and dessert. The food was fine; I think the experience was more exciting than the actual meal. It felt like we were really in Japan though. The salad was good but there wasn’t much of it (small portion) and the miso soup was your average Japanese-restaurant portion. The chicken (the name of which escapes me) was boneless dark meat with skin (predominately thighs) battered and deep fried. It was a heart attack on a plate and was served with rice, macaroni and potato salad mix and a BBQ dipping sauce on the side. The Kaikeke dinners ranged from chicken $23–beef $28.
The meal came with a choice of ice cream; green tea, red bean, vanilla or sherbet. I mean red bean ice cream… are you getting the picture yet? Cups of green tea were also served as part of the package at the end of the meal. Chops sticks are on the table but silverware was available upon request. Very casual dining, with all locals and kids (we were the only non-Japanese people eating that evening). Wine is not really an option here but there was an extensive sake menu. Reservations requested but certainly not required. The wait staff is very helpful and friendly here, dressed in traditional garb. Choice of 5 Japanese beers and the liters were $7.50 each. Valet parking available. Recommended but not as good as the hype.Hau Tree Lanai—New Otani Hotel, 2863 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu. (808)921-7066 or http://www.kaimana.com/dining/hautree-menu.htmlLocated in the back of the hotel, facing the beach under a huge Hau Tree – the same tree made famous for sheltering Robert Louis Stevenson. Very quiet and peaceful and such a nice place to relax while having lunch. The tree itself was incredible and nothing like I have ever seen before. It didn’t attract bugs; it gave us a great breeze and made for a romantic atmosphere. The tables were wrought iron, painted white, covered with green linens (although I think they change to pink for dinner) and a piece of glass on top. We were served poi rolls when we first sat and although I like poi, these were terrible. We went for lunch and the options were typical items like burgers, chicken sandwiches, salads and pizzas.
For an appetizer, my husband and I shared the Thai chicken fingers. They probably would have been really good if they hadn’t been exceedingly over-cooked. Moving on...I had the taco salad served in a taco shell which could easily have fed 2 people. Filled to the brim with veggies and covered with a sesame-soy vinaigrette dressing, it was good. The cheeseburger was over-cooked but all of the toppings made it edible. This was far from a gourmet meal as it was more about the atmosphere. Service was very friendly and laid back. Many Japanese beers were available, which was a nice change. Our bill was $41 for one beer, one appetizer and 2 lunch entrees. I thought that was rather expensive considering the food was barely so-so. All credit cards accepted. Breakfast served 7 to 11am, lunch from 11:30am to 2pm (except Sundays, when it starts at 12), and dinner from 5:30 to 9pm. The dinner menu was more extensive than the lunch menu. Not Recommended for food but a great place to relax and have a drink.Leonard's Bakery—933 Kapahulu Ave., HonoluluBeginning in 1878 and continuing on for a decade, Hawaii solicited immigrant workers from Portugal. They brought malassadas with them. Malassadas are Portuguese doughnuts that are made with eggs, butter and milk. Deep-fried, then coated with plain sugar. They are incredible! In 1952, Frank Leonard Rego founded Leonard's Bakery in Hawaii. It was the first commercial offering of malassadas. Hawaiians spell Malassadas with a single "s", probably because the word was spelled incorrectly on the Leonard’s bakery sign back in the fifties. Needless to say at Leonard’s you will find lines of people waiting for the best piece of fried dough you’ve ever had. Malassadas are found all over Honolulu but Leonard’s is the best. The store itself is in major need of renovation – right down to the old sign out front, but the staff is friendly and fast and the baked goods can not be beat. Other items sold are cookies, pastries and bread – all average bakery prices. Parking in front of the store, located off a major road. Recommended.Kua Aina—66-214 Kamehameha Hwy., Haleiwa. (808)637-6067This is basically a burger joint. Boasting "the island’s best burger", but referred to as a sandwich shop. Offering only beef patties and assorted sandwiches and salads in an order-at-the-counter type of atmosphere. Very fast-food-esq with the service equally as bored to see you. All burgers can be ordered with bacon, cheese and avocado - among other options. I ordered "fresh turkey" with lettuce and mayo. The turkey was terrible; veins, fat, dry, etc., so I ended up eating more bread than turkey. My husband had a burger and said it was alright. Indoor and outdoor seating, with the napkins being a roll of paper towels on each table. Outdoor seating comes complete with swarms of bugs (ironically which we didn’t find anywhere else on the island). The French fries are shredded and extremely oily – not a fan at all. This place does HUGE business, I’m guessing because it’s the only place of its kind on the North Shore. (It’s not because the food is so great) It also happens to be a big surfer hangout. Some parking in the back, red building set back from the street. If you are not looking for this place, you will most likely pass it as we did three times. Open 11am to 8pm daily. Cash only. Not Recommended.
Orchids – 2199 Kalia Rd (Halekulani Hotel) Honolulu, (808) 923-2311Located in an open space within the Halekulani Hotel, towards the back (with ocean views). The tables are set apart allowing private conversation in a very tropical yet upscale environment. Everything is crisp white with views…Read More
Orchids – 2199 Kalia Rd (Halekulani Hotel) Honolulu, (808) 923-2311Located in an open space within the Halekulani Hotel, towards the back (with ocean views). The tables are set apart allowing private conversation in a very tropical yet upscale environment. Everything is crisp white with views of Diamond Head. We were immediately greeted by last name and sat as if they had nothing to do that evening but serve us. We received a pumpkin cream cheese spread with bread flats and rolls as soon as we ordered. Orchids offers a 4 course chef selection; salad, soup of the day, a choice of filet mignon or onaga and a dessert. The cost of the chef selection is $53.00. This is a great value considering the quality and service. The salad included avocado, tomatoes and a tarragon vinaigrette – simple and fresh. The soup of the day was spinach and crab consume. Both very delicious. For dinner I chose the Onaga which is a local fish that is line-caught. It is Orchid’s signature dish and has been so for the last 20 years. It was served over a mix of Asian greens with a ginger sauce and white rice. SO delicious. Choice of dessert for the chef selection included; coconut cake, Tahitian crème brûlée, frozen nugget, goat cheese cake and sorbets.
The meal also included coffee or tea–it’s like they are giving the gourmet food away. The coconut cake is truly like nothing I have ever tasted before. Fluffy yet filling, sweet but not over-kill, just absolutely positively delicious.. and of course their specialty dessert. We actually debated going back for dinner a second night because the dam cake was so good. The regular menu offered such appetizer options as; oysters, crab cakes and kahlua pork with foie gras. Some entrée options were; veal, chicken, surf and turf, lobster of the day and scallops. My husband chose the kahlua pork (of course) and the rack of lamb. They call the lamb a "chop" but it was a rack. For $36 the entrée was served with red bliss potatoes, asparagus and butternut squash all in a merlot reduction sauce. He was quite happy.
The Kahlua pork was served almost like a dumpling with pieces of foie gras on the sides of the plate. Really good. They had an extensive wine, coffee and tea list. The service was top notch and we were spoken to all evening with "Mr./Mrs…" . Our total bill was $121 and that included two appetizers, one soup, two entrees, one dessert, one bottle of Fiji water, and one glass of wine. All well worth the price as this was a memorable meal. Overall the menu is focused on fresh seafood – but you are in Hawaii so did you expect differently? Reservations required dressy-casual attire. Accepts all major credit cards. Open daily for breakfast and lunch; Sunday brunch is supposedly quite a treat here. Very Highly RecommendedAlan Wong’s Restaurant - 1857 S. King St., third floor, Oahu.
(808)949-2526 or www.alanwongs.comServing regional Hawaiian cuisine, this is a place you’d never find unless you were looking for it. Located on the 3rd floor of an office building with virtually no outdoor signs. This restaurant is popular with the locals and tourists (deservedly so) and it’s not uncommon for lines to form for the elevator. With a loud crowd and an open kitchen, this place does not disappoint. For appetizers we had two salads. The arugula salad was served with goat cheese, tomatoes, marinated beets and a balsamic vinegar paste dressing. The Caesar was Maui romaine lettuce displayed in a Parmesan cheese shell and it had shredded pork as decoration on the sides of the plate. Both were pretty basic but very good. Other options that night was; sushi, duck nachos and foie gras. Prices for appetizers ranged from $11 to $20.
For dinner we had the veggie layer cake and the NY strip steak. The layer cake was layers of grilled vegetables; zucchini, eggplant, Maui onions and tomato with a goat cheese and lemongrass dressing. Hard to imagine, even harder to explain but the presentation alone was exquisite and it was a perfect choice for a vegetarian (which I am ironically not). The NY strip was a special that night and was served with Parmesan-mashed potatoes. The cut was huge and the steak was cooked exactly how we asked. Other entrees were; onaga (which is a Hawaiian fish that is "line caught"), seafood paella, short ribs and mahi-mahi. Entrees were priced between $25 and $40. They offer 17 coffees; all 100% single estate and all served french press.
Each coffee is listed with a vintage and are from the Hawaiian Islands only. The dessert menu was almost as extensive with 10 choices. Items like kona coffee cheesecake, the banana split and the five spoon crème brûlée sampler only give you an idea of the decadence. We chose the "Wong Way Banana Split Ice Cream Cone" which was not your mama’s banana split I can tell you that for sure. It was a fancy (homemade cone) filled with 3 scoops of (homemade) ice cream, fresh fruit, hot chocolate, macadamia nuts and fresh whip cream. It was as delicious as it was beautiful. I had to take a picture just to prove my point–see below. Desserts ranged from $7 to 10.50 each and coffee ran from $5 to $7. There is a five and seven course Chef’s tasting menu which is available every evening. They price was $65 and $85 respectively and the menu changes every day. The service was excellent and our waiter even had his own business card. That was a first for me. Valet is $3 and it was a 5-minute drive from Waikiki beach. Dressy casual attire, reservations required. All major credit cards accepted. The menu changes often so it’s better if you are not a picky eater. Highly Recommended. Please Mr. Wong open a restaurant in NYC!
Halekulani—2199 Kalia Road, Honolulu, (808)923-2311, or www.halekulani.com.Halekulani or "House Benefiting Heaven" is located on Waikiki beach and has been open since 1984. This Leading Hotel of the World is nothing short of excellent. The front of this hotel is somewhat understated and located at the…Read More
Halekulani—2199 Kalia Road, Honolulu, (808)923-2311, or www.halekulani.com.Halekulani or "House Benefiting Heaven" is located on Waikiki beach and has been open since 1984. This Leading Hotel of the World is nothing short of excellent. The front of this hotel is somewhat understated and located at the end of a very busy city street replete with noise, traffic and tourists. However, upon entering Halekulani you are transported to a world of beauty and tranquility. A few steps and the contrast is hard to believe. It almost seems like magic! The staff is attentive and helpful from the minute you pull up to the valet. The front has a covered driveway, a few steps, a small lounge area and then a full view of the pool, ocean and the center-grounds of the hotel. The lobby is off to the right, built in a small-round area. Pretty but not over the top. There is the reception desk, a concierge desk (always staffed by at least two people) and the cashier’s desk which is responsible for check-out and any money related matters for guests. There is a large table with a huge fresh floral centerpiece in the center of this room. If you continue to the right, there is the second part of the lobby with two small lounge areas. All common areas of the hotel are open to the outside, and completed with fountains, flowers and manicured lawns. Extremely beautiful. There are several boutiques on the premises, three restaurants, two lounges, a gym, and a spa. The concierge services were excellent. From a few weeks prior to our arrival and during our stay–everything we asked for they did promptly and with a smile. The concierge desk offers free tickets to the Bishop Museum, Honolulu Symphony, and other cultural events/places. Probably one of the best concierge desks we have ever had the pleasure of dealing with.La Mer is the Halekulani’s finest of dining options. French inspired with all fresh Hawaiian ingredients. Formal attire; men are asked to wear jackets. Reservations a must, opened from 6 to 10pm only. House Without a Key is a great place for cocktails, causal dining and a place to relax while watching the live Hawaiian music nightly. Watch the sunset and traditional hula dancing (former Miss Hawaii) while relaxing. Orchids is another fine dining option here but a tad more casual than La Mer. Located on the main level of the hotel, in the far back of the property with oceanfront views. All covered but open dining, in an elegant setting. The service could not have been better as we were greeted by name and attended to all evening as if they had nothing better to do than serve us. Breakfast is served Monday thru Saturday from 7:30 to 11am, lunch is 11:30am to 2pm, and dinner is 6 to 10 pm. To read more, check out my entry "Oahu Dining."Wireless access was free to all guests. The business center was also free to guests and very well maintained. Plenty of computers and printers all free of charge. There is a staff member present at all times who was more than happy to help. Free bottled water, fruit, coffee and tea were available. The gym was small but complete and open from 6am to 10pm. Free access to all guests of the hotel. With views of the pool and the ocean, all of the equipment was new and the cardio machines had small personal TVs on each. There were two elliptical machines, three treadmills and two bicycles, along with plenty of free weights, mats, and yoga balls. Free bottled water and fruit were available, as well as headsets and fresh towels.Our room (433) was a partial ocean room, but it might as well have been considered full ocean, although we couldn’t see Diamond Head. Spacious, bright and very clean, it had a king bed, couch, two chairs, coffee table, desk, entertainment center, bench at the foot of the bed and a huge closet. The closet opened from the hallway and was connected straight thru to the bathroom (meaning you were able to access it from either place). The bathroom was a nice size with one sink, a fresh orchid, a safe, plenty of counter space, and a tub/shower. The tub was a Jacuzzi tub, and therefore very high on the sides and hard to step in and out of. The downfall to the bathroom was that the doorway to the bathroom was a shuttered door, so if someone used the bathroom in the middle of the night it illuminated the rest of the bedroom. The amenities were in large supply; robes, slippers, shampoo, conditioner, bath wash, cotton balls, bath salts, shoe kit, manicure kit, shower cap, mending kit, juice (Nantucket Nectars) and bottled water that was complimentary and refilled as we used it. The entertainment center came equipped with a DVD and CD player along with Hawaiian CDs to play at our leisure.The room had a nice size terrace that faced the inside of the hotel’s property (same view from when you arrive in the driveway). The terrace was accessible by another set of floor to ceiling, wall to wall, shuttered doors. We had views of the lawn, the pool and the ocean. The terrace had one lounge chair and a bistro table set. We were welcomed with a fresh fruit tray and fresh chocolates made by the hotel’s chocolatier. Turn down service was a given every night and housekeeping overall was excellent. It did bother me though that housekeeping never organized the desk or the bathroom counter and they never replenished the notepads or hotel stationary (both which I use to write notes for IGOUGO). There was Berber carpeting and a down comforter. A control panel next to the bed allowed you alter the air conditioning, lighting, do not disturb and request maid service lights, bell hop, etc. Every morning we received a local paper stuffed into one of the hotel’s canvas bags, attached to our front door. Something about it was just nice. Maybe it was because of the canvas bag or the fact that you didn’t have to bend down to get it–I don’t know. It’s just another way this hotel adds extra touches to enhance your stay that I loved.They do have a small (public) beach that connects to other hotels in Waikiki and offers a nice view of Diamond Head. It’s fine, but not the reason you come to this hotel. The pool area is very pretty and spacious. The pool staff sets up chair covers and towels for you and unlike many hotel pool areas there were plenty of seats in the sun, not covered by palm trees or the building itself. That being said there is plenty of shaded seats as well. The lounge chairs were cushioned, which should be the case at all up-scale resorts. The heated pool was large with a huge orchid mosaic tiled-design on the bottom.Typical (non-suite) rates vary between $365 to $670 a night, but we were able to find great rates at www.lhw.com. Walking distance from tons of shopping. The staff remains as low key as possible and you will never find yourself sharing an elevator with them or waiting in a long line at the front desk. Honestly, the service couldn’t have been better. Check in is done in your room and the staff member that escorts you will not accept a tip. Security is everywhere so you will never feel unsafe and you will never find non-guests roaming around–that was a huge plus. It just maintained the tranquil environment you were paying for. This is not for people on a budget, but it is worth every penny you spend. This is also not a place for kids. Very Highly RecommendedClose
Pearl Harbor - (808)422-0561 or http://pearlharborsurvivorsonline.org/This is a remarkable memorial. It is the final resting place for over 1000 Americans who lost their lives when the US was attacked by Japan in 1941. Located on the Pearl Harbor Naval Base and maintained by the National…Read More
Pearl Harbor - (808)422-0561 or http://pearlharborsurvivorsonline.org/This is a remarkable memorial. It is the final resting place for over 1000 Americans who lost their lives when the US was attacked by Japan in 1941. Located on the Pearl Harbor Naval Base and maintained by the National Park Service, entrance into the facility is free. The museum/memorial maintains its structures by donations only. After entering, you are handed a number and are encouraged to walk around, take pictures and enjoy the calm setting that the museum has created for guests. When your (group) number is called the line moves into a movie theater where a short film (23 minutes) is shown. The film is narrated by Stockard Channing and it shows actual footage of “the day that will live in infamy.” The film is interesting and eerie at the same time. It’s not the Hollywood version that came out in theaters a few years back. It’s very real and very in your face. The film is followed by a 5-minute boat ride to the site of the Arizona and memorial. Assuming you watch the movie, take the boat, look around and head back – the entire tour can be done in a couple of hours. The memorial is even more beautiful in person than in any picture you have ever seen. Pristine white and kept spotless on the inside and out. The memorial was built, dedicated and finally open to the public in 1962. The architect was Alfred Preis. The white structure is long with three separate sections; entry, main assembly area, shrine. The entry area is basically the dock and a set of stairs into the memorial. Wheelchair access is available and pictures are encouraged on your way back to land, not on your way into the memorial. The assembly area is the long part of the building with windows. Thru those windows you can see parts of the USS Arizona that still creep above the water. After 50 years, oil still seeps from the ship below. When the sun hits it just right, you can actually see the boat below the water as well. There are diagrams in the center of the room that describe the position of the ship. At the very end of the memorial is the shrine room. Listed against the far wall are the names of the crew of Arizona. Those names are etched in the marble wall. Maps are available in eight languages and a donation is requested when taking one. The grounds are kept immaculate and there are signs and charts all of the property that explain the surrounding area. You will find people try to keep there voice low and there are no children running around screaming. It is a very peaceful and well respected site, both on land and at the memorial. There is plenty of free parking. NO backpacks, large camera cases, or pocketbooks allowed. That means leave it in your car or get stuck paying to rent a locker. Honestly, short of a camera and maybe a credit card for the bookstore, there really is no need to bring anything else. The bookstore is very large and has everything from postcards to picture books. I found it interesting and very appropriate that before you are taken to the Arizona you are reminded that this is a MEMORIAL not a tourist attraction. "Please act accordingly or you will be removed." Thankfully everyone seemed to agree. Be prepared to wait, especially on the weekends. Located off Kamehameha Highway or by Bus #20. Open 7:30am to 5pm. Recommended.Close