Hi all, just sharing a few thoughts from our recent trip to Honolulu -
At the Hilton Hawaiian village resort. Huge hotel, 4 or 5 restaurants and pools.
Pros: On the beach, so convenient access to ocean activities. Nice, spacious rooms. Shops, car rentals, etc. all right inside the hotel. A nice closed lagoon for young kids to engage in water sports - canoeing, paddle board, etc. Swimming pool with slides ...
Cons: Felt too crowded and packed (maybe because it was the X-mas break). Doesn't have that relaxed vibe. Somewhat impersonal.
The one thing we learned was to not depend on island weather forecasts ! We were threatened with rains for almost all days we were there, but ended up with mostly sunshine and light drizzles :) Apparently there were torrents of rain on the west and north parts of the islands, but the waikiki side was just fine.
Had a great time snorkeling at Hanauma bay on the 26th. The threat of rains (plus some showers in the morning) seemed to have kept the crowds away. We arrived in our rental car around 8.30 AM, and there were quite a few empty parking spaces. Rented snorkels, masks, fins, and safety vests for the kids (gals aged 11 and 7) right there, and then into the water within an hour. Conditions were not perfect - slightly choppy water, clouds in the sky, but the variety and abundance of fishes was amazing. A close second to snorkeling at the Molokini crater in Maui (IMO). Of course, it got quite crowded as the day progressed, but we were out by noon.
Diamond head hike -
We did the hike all the way to the top. The 7 year old had her share of complaints, but did the complete hike without any problems. We started somewhat early - around 9 AM, but on our way back the whole trail was a zoo.
We took the bus from our hotel in Waikiki. This adds about 10 mins of additional walking to the base of the trail, but you don't have worries about finding parking.
Pearl harbor visitor center -
Another short drive from the hotel. We reached there by around 11, and managed to get the free tickets to the USS Arizona memorial. For me, the most enjoyable part was the tour of USS Missouri - site of the 'official' ending of world war-2 with the surrender of japanese forces.