Thanks again everyone for your help and contributions. I posted our Maui trip report from 20th May – 24th May previously.We loved Oahu also but in a different way to Maui. This report has taken a while because I’m back at work now and also whilst I’m addicted to tripadvisor my husband is addicted to Ebay! We’re seriously thinking of getting a second computer!
Waikiki was as expected, a bit of a culture shock compared to Maui with its vibrant ambience, beach, night time buskers, shopping, restaurants, history and ALWAYS something to look at/buy/eat/drink/do. Once we got out of Waikiki things quickly reverted to a much more laid back lifestyle such as on Maui.
We were lucky to pick up a copy of “Oahu Revealed” in one of the discount shops in Waikiki. This really helped with our trip. Definitely recommend it!
FLIGHT FROM MAUI: our Aloha flight was an hour late leaving Maui for Oahu due to “two broken planes”. We didn’t mind. There is a big advantage finding this out before the flight rather than mid flight! We just read our Hawaii brochures while we were waiting and had a coffee. It’s so nice just to sit and do nothing – even at an airport!
CAR RENTAL/TRANSPORT: with National and had to be upgraded to a midsize again like Maui due to no compacts. On the last day in Oahu we swapped and upgraded to a convertible Mustang for touring. There was a little confusion with that as they didn’t seem to understand the concept of swapping, but eventually it worked out. They misunderstood and charged us for two days instead of one so you need to watch that if you are changing ANYTHING about your car rental. This was credited back after I checked the bill.
We used The Bus in Waikiki to get to the Ala Moana Center as it was far easier than getting the car in and out of the car park and battling the traffic. Only $2 return to go anywhere it seems on the island. Fantastic bus service!
WHERE WE STAYED: The Sheraton Moana Surfrider. If you want to stay here make sure you don’t stay in the “tower partial ocean view”. If you do, you will have disappointing views of the Outrigger’s guests’ rooms and probably like us, not too impressed. We upgraded for $40 extra per night on the other side of the building and had wonderful views of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head. Beautiful comfy king bed. Some drawbacks at the Surfrider but mainly terrific. I’m planning to write a more detailed review when I can get my hubby off Ebay!
RESTAURANTS: Cheesecake Factory – our favourite place. Very well organised and HUGE. We put our names down and wandered around looking at the street buskers while we waited 45 minutes for our turn. I recommend “Crispy Chicken Costoletta” - it was scrumptious. Comes with a beautiful lemon sauce so be sure to ask for plenty of sauce if you have this. Hubby and I shared the same meal the second time we went. They are fine with sharing. It’s just TOO much for one person to eat. Very good value for money here!
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. at the Ala Moana Center. Great “Forest Gump” atmosphere and great service. A fun place to eat at. Who doesn’t love Forest Gump? Lots of memorabilia to see.
Pacific Beach Hotel. They have a nice seafood buffet but the main draw card is the huge aquarium smack in the middle of the restaurant filled with beautiful fish and rays. A scuba diver comes down and feeds them. I think the meal cost us with drinks and coffee about US$100.
Dukes. Nice enough food, atmosphere and right on the beach. Very busy. Probably my least fav restaurant out of the ones I mentioned but still good.
Most potent cocktails definitely were at the Sheraton Moana Surfrider’s Beach Bar! Can’t remember which one’s I had!
ACTIVITIES: Pearl Harbor & the Arizona Memorial, USS Bowfin and USS Missouri. My husband’s life long dream was to visit Pearl Harbor. As we were driving, we allowed extra time for getting lost as we didn’t want to spoil this day and got there at 7.30am after setting off about 6.30am (of course we did get lost) There was a long queue which moved swiftly. The security measures didn’t bother us. It was actually nice not having to lug a bag around anyway.
We were ticket number four to go to the Arizona so while waiting for this we listened to the audio tape we rented. Eventually our number 4 was called and we saw a movie about Pearl Harbor and then hopped on the boat to take us to the Arizona. This was as expected, a very moving experience and everyone gave it the respect it deserves by talking quietly and in the main, taking photos in a subdued fashion, rather than taking “holiday” photos posing their kids/husbands/wives in them etc. You cannot go there and not shed a tear. Even now as I am writing this I can feel myself getting a little teary.
After this we went to buy tickets to the USS Missouri, USS Bowfin and the Pacific Aviation Museum the ticket office being easy walking distance from the Memorial. We bought the package of doing all three. Just be aware that a shuttle bus drops you off to The Pacific Aviation Museum AFTER the Missouri stop which we later found out (after being given incorrect info - caused us a bit of bother).
Whilst in the queue to buy the tickets, a veteran was in front of us who asked what the admission was for a veteran. I have to say both my husband and I were appalled to hear that veterans are not given free admission or at the very least a decent discount. This was quite a let down.
We stayed the whole day and finally left at 4pm after getting there at 7.30am. My husband’s life long dream was now a reality.
Hanauma Bay. Had an amazing time! LOVED this place. We got there around 8.30am, saw the ‘caring for the environment movie’ (you only have to see it once a year if you register your zip code). We hired a locker on the beach for $5. There is no food available on the beach but there is a snack bar up near the car park. If you take food with you make sure it is zipped up in a bag as a mongoose was raiding someone’s bag next to us on the grass just up from the sand. We chased it away. They are cute little rascals.
We had brought our own gear and got into the snorkeling straight away. We were thrilled to see so many beautiful fish depending where you went. Mostly we saw plenty of fish and lots of variety. To top it off we saw an eel (only briefly as I was in a hurry to get away from it!) and a beautiful large turtle. That was the highlight of our day. Wow!
Diamond Head: Due to me having too many cocktails the night before (oh dear!), we set off later than planned to Diamond Head. It is much better to get there as early as you can if you are intending to do the walk. It takes a LONG time and gets very HOT , is uphill and quite a lot of steep steps. You have been warned! Closed in, comfy shoes a must, hats, sunscreen and water!
The other HUGE advantage getting there early is that the car park can only take so many cars. This means you have to park at the bottom of a long hill in a car park down the road a bit and walk up to the entrance if you can’t get a spot.
Once you finally get to the top of Diamond Head you are rewarded with great views and a huge relief that it is over apart from the walk downhill. We bought some tasty hot dogs and shave ice (the best so far) when we finally made it back to the entrance.
I am very glad we did it (conquered it!) but it’s the sort of thing I wouldn’t want to do again whereas snorkeling at Hanauma Bay is one thing I would definitely want to do again.
Parasailing: we booked with X-treme parasailing for a tandem parasail. Unfortunately while we had a blast enjoying the 8 or so minutes parasail, we were let down with their photo offer. When you get on the boat they offer to take a full roll of 24 shots on 35mm film of your parasail for $15, for you to get developed later. When we got back home to Sydney, the film was blank. After 2 unsuccessful attempts to contact them we were successful the third time. A refund has been offered but we are not sure if it has been credited to our c/card yet. We now regret not asking one of the other parasailors to take a couple of shots for us with our own camera so unfortunately, I could not of course recommend them.
Waikiki Beach: Easy to swim beach. A turtle popped its head up very close to where we were swimming. So exciting! We saw them on several occasions so keep an eye out for them. Bought a blow up ring from the ABC shop like nearly everyone else for $2.99. You can just give it to someone when you leave and put a smile on their face!
North Shore Drive: After swapping the car at National’s airport branch, we started off around 7.30am and drove up to Hale’iwa. There appeared to be nothing open at Hale’iwa for breakfast and just when we thought we were going to end up at Maccas, my hubby saw Rosies Cantina out of the corner of his eye. We had a delicious breakfast of banana pancakes with eggs, bacon, sausages and lemon tea. This was a little gem of a restaurant. It is 66-165 Kamehameha H’way, Hale’iwa according to the copy of the menu I picked up.
While there, some locals told us that the Shark Cage Adventures were not allowed to operate any more due to an increase in shark attacks in the area and had only a month to run. Has anyone else heard this?
Leaving Hale’iwa, we drove past all the beautiful beaches of the North Shore, checked out the Turtle Bay Resort and continued on down the coast. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to do any snorkeling but we stopped off at Ka’a’awa Beach, Kualoa Beach and also Kailua Beach Parks for photos and a rest. Made it back to our hotel about 3ish, tired but happy.
Our plan of driving up the centre of Oahu and back down the east coast sort of backfired on us, as the disadvantage was that it is extremely difficult in places to pull over to the left when travelling south along the coast, to stop off at the various beach lookouts. We may have been better doing it in reverse but we still had a blast in our little red convertible!
This concluded what was a most wonderful and memorable holiday. Still had lots of things we would have liked to have done but that will be an excuse to come back.
Mahalo to the people of Hawaii for letting us enjoy the amazing Maui and Oahu and for your friendliness and hospitality. We hope one day to return and to visit the islands we didn’t have time to explore. Best wishes always.