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Trip Report April 2014 family with 2 adults and 3 teens

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Trip Report April 2014 family with 2 adults and 3 teens

Trip report Oahu April 2014 2 adults, 3 kids ages 16, 14 and 11

This was not our first trip to Oahu. But I thought I would share our experiences to help others decide what to see and what to skip. We have owned a timeshare on Oahu since 2006. We stay at Marriott's Ko Olina Beach Club. Which we love. We are currently in the middle of a remodel of our home, so our plan this trip was to decompress and reconnect. We allowed a lot of time at the resort and skipped a lot of sightseeing, therefore.

We flew on Allegiant Airlines from LAX, which was REALLY cheap. Even after paying for a few checked bags and assigned seats it was still cheaper than our regular airline, or any other for that matter. We arrived at HNL shortly after 1:00. My husband went down to get the Avis rental car (he has status with Avis due to work travel and goes right to the car). The kids and I went to get the bags. By the time we got out to the curb, he had texted us with they type and color car he was in. And we were on our way. The airport is about 35 minutes from Ko Olina. We hit a little traffic, but were at the resort by 2:30!

We checked in. Our room was ready because we were actually supposed to check in the day before. After unpacking, we headed down to the beach. We have a two bedroom villa which has a full kitchen and small washer/dryer. The two younger kids share one bedroom. The oldest prefers to sleep on the sofa bed in the living room. After beach time, my husband and I drove over to the little Ko Olina shopping center. We ordered some pizza and wonderful garlic knots from "Pizza Corner" (there are several restaurants in this area; pizza, Hawaiian Barbecue, sushi, "Just Tacos" and "The Monkeypod Cafe". While they prepared the pizza, we walked over to the grocery store which is an ABC store. We picked up food for breakfasts and snacks. We prefer not to go to Costco, because we always end up eating some meals out and with lots of food leftover. We walked back to pick up the pizza. We had a nice dinner on the balcony as the sun set.

Day 2 was a resort day. My daughter wanted to build and race the tamiya race car at the Keiki club. So we planned our day around that. We worked out in the gym first then we had breakfast burritos in the room. We spent the morning at the beach. We built the race car, then went and grabbed lunch at the marketplace before the car race. We watched our daughter race her car. She got to choose a "hot wheels" car as a consolation prize. Then we went to the pool. We played all over all the pools for the rest of the afternoon. Dinner this day was take out from "Longboard's" on the Marriott property.

Day 3 we went to Waikiki. We drove down to the Waikiki Marriott and I dropped off the 16 year old, 11 year old, and my husband. They were going to go down and rent surfboards. The 14 year old and I drove to Diamond Head State Park. The parking lot in the crater was full. So we drove back out and parked at the community college across the street. I just kept my fingers crossed that we wouldn't get a ticket, or worse, towed! We walked back up into the crater to hike to the Diamond Head Summit. It costs $5 to park at the crater, or $1 each to walk in. We went past the window, but the girl didn't charge us the $2. Maybe because I only had a $20? Anyway, we stopped at the bathroom and began the hike. It is only a mile long, but includes a rise of at least 500 feet. So it is strenuous. You need good shoes because the trail is rocky and uneven. There is a hand rail. You hike up most of the way. Then you come to a flight of stairs. I wish I'd counted them. Maybe there were 30? The stairs lead to a tunnel that is lit, but narrow and there are hikers exiting the summit coming the other way. The tunnel curves at the end, so you don't see daylight til you get to the end. After the tunnel, you can go left and take more ramps followed by a couple staircases to the top. But we went right. We were greeted by a staircase that was twice as long as the first one, but there was no one coming down. These stairs ended in a short tunnel and a spiral staircase. We emerged at the top of Diamond Head and climbed out through the sites of one of the "pill boxes" on top. The views were incredible. I'm afraid of heights, but this was pretty bearable for me. We climbed all over the top. There are several look outs with stairs, walkways and even ladders connecting them. We headed down the hill via the trail. We stopped at a lookout on the way down where they used to have a winch to pull supplies halfway up. Great photo op. We got back to the car and back to Waikiki to pick up our surfers within 2.5 hours. No ticket on the car either. After picking up the family we went to the Moana Surfrider and valet parked (!!!!!$$$$). We walked over to Duke's and had a wonderful lunch in the bar. We were REALLY lucky to get a table. We stopped at the Honolulu cookie company for some cookies before retrieving our car. It costs $50 to valet park at the Moana Surfrider, which we did not ask about when we left the car. So we ran inside. My husband bought a diet coke from the bar for $4. Paid the now $6 validation fee and we ended up parking for a $10 diet coke. Not smart, but it could have been worse. We left Waikiki around 3:00. We did not get back to Ko Olina until 4:30 because of heavy traffic. We swam for a bit back at the hotel and rented a movie from their rental system at the hotel. Because lunch was so late, and we had our cookies, no one really ate dinner.

Day 4 was another resort day. We worked out in the morning and then I made pancakes in the room. We went out into the lagoon and snorkeled. Conditions are cloudy. But there were fish out amongst the rocks...more than I've seen there before. More better places to snorkel in Hawaii and on Oahu. But it got us our fix. I barbecued hot dogs for lunch. Then we spent the afternoon in the pool. We always like to devote at least one night to sunset family photos. This was the night. So we walked down to the secret beach past the Ihiilani before sunset. We took a lot of photos down there. It is my favorite place for photos any time of day in Ko Olina. Next we went looking for a place for dinner. We ended up at the buffet at the Aulani. I would not go there again. It is very expensive. The food is varied and good. But a little too adventurous for some members of my family. My husband and I did not feel like we got our money's worth. Until the next morning when our 14 year old thanked us because he loved "that dinner". Go figure!

Day 5 was our North Shore day. We love the North Shore. Our first stop was Waimea Bay. There was a narrow shore break this day. But at the far end of the beach, the water was calmer. So we went down there and floated around a bit. My husband and kids came back to where the waves were breaking to play (i got out and took pictures). When the sets were large, they would swim out past the break and just go up and over the waves. When the sets were smaller, they would lay parallel to the wave and allow it to push them in and out. They had a great time. We were there for two hours. We had planned other stops along the north shore. We usually stop at Sunset Beach and Shark's Cove. But now everyone was hungry so we headed to Kahuku for shrimp. We like "Famous Kahuku Shrimp", because a friend who grew up on Oahu recommended it. There used to be a Subway behind it which was perfect for my non-shrimp-eating daughter. But it was gone. Anyway, we had our shrimp and headed back to Haleiwa for shopping and shave ice. We get our shave ice with ice cream in the bottom from the Aloha General Store. Line is shorter there. We continued on our way and decided to stop at the Dole Plantation. The last time we stopped there the kids were 4, 6 and 8. They have a giant maze. They give you little cards. At various places throughout the maze there are places to stencil in a symbol on your card. There are 8 symbols. It costs $5 each to enter the maze. In 2006 we spent two hours in that maze and never found all the symbols. So we decided to try the maze again. I'm happy to report we found all 8 symbols this time. And it only took 45 minutes >:) lol. Next we spent a load of money in the gift shop buying more pancake mix, coconut syrup, more cookies and pineapple cotton candy. Most people get the whip, but we had just had shave ice, so we skipped it. We now headed back to Ko Olina with a quick stop to pick up some steak for dinner and sandwich makings for lunch the next day. We grilled our steaks on the barbecues in front of the Na'ia tower. After dinner, everyone went for a nighttime swim.

Day 6 was another resort day. We started with swimming in the pool. Lunch in the room. Our daughter enjoyed time with Kariel the mermaid, while my husband and I watched from the Na'ia Pool Bar. Back out to the beach in the late afternoon. Then sunset photos again (I got lucky this time and the kids let me do it twice...this time in front of our resort). Followed by dinner at Longboard's. They told us the wait would be AN HOUR. But it turned out to be 30 minutes. So we listened to the entertainment, watched the sky turn lots of different colors, and played charades til they called our name. We went back to our room to pack for the trip home.

EARLY departure Easter morning. Flight time 9:00. Allegiant recommends arriving at the airport 2.5 hours before the flight. So we left the Marriott at 5:40 am, got gas, dropped off the rental car, and checked our bags. We stopped for breakfast in the food court at the airport. And arrived at the gate around 8am. Perfect relaxing trip.

The things we've done in the past that we chose to forego this time include Pearl Harbor, Halona Blowhole, Kailua, Polynesian Cultural Center, Whale watching, snorkel tour, Manoa Falls hike, Leonard's Malasadas, and many stops along the north shore. You could fill a whole week with sightseeing, spend your whole week at the resort, or some mix of the two. Hope there is info here you can use. Let me know if you have any questions.

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Kapaa, Hawaii
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1. Re: Trip Report April 2014 family with 2 adults and 3 teens

What a great report, sounds like a wonderful time. A good mixture of exploring and relaxation!!

Saint Cloud...
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2. Re: Trip Report April 2014 family with 2 adults and 3 teens

Very nice! Thanks!

Alhambra, California
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3. Re: Trip Report April 2014 family with 2 adults and 3 teens

Sounds like everyone had a great time, thanx for sharing.

Philadelphia, PA
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4. Re: Trip Report April 2014 family with 2 adults and 3 teens

Sounds like a great trip! What was your honest opinion of Allegiant? Is this the first time you used them? We love Hawaiian Airlines, but the $200+ per person savings on Allegiant sounds tempting sometimes. I know most on here advise steering clear, but would love to hear from someone who has flown them recently.

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5. Re: Trip Report April 2014 family with 2 adults and 3 teens

Hey Traveling Girl, I had the same concerns. I think traveling on Allegiant is fine. But you have to go in with both eyes open. First of all, they have a small presence at the airport, LAX anyway. And they don't fly to Hawaii every day, at least not this time of year. So, what does that mean? When you arrive at the airport the lines to check a bag at Allegiant are long, longer than any other airline in the vicinity. I think there were 2-3 stations open at the counter to check in bags. We got to the airport for our flight out 2 hours before departure time. We are very experienced travelers and we were to the gate in no time. But I think if you arrived one hour before, you might have trouble. Then the same crew that was checking the bags in, comes out to the gate to get passengers boarded. So there's no one at the gate until just before boarding. When the gate agent came on the plane in Honolulu to welcome us, she added that in Hawaii they request passengers arrive 2.5 hours before departure time. So when we returned, that's what we did (flight time 9am, we got to the airport at 6:30am on Easter Sunday, at least there was no traffic). I read some reports here and on yelp where people experienced EXTREME delays on their flights to and from Hawaii in particular. If the airline only offers one flight every other day, and something goes wrong with the plane, it may take a day to get the repairs made or another plane brought to Hawaii. So, our plan was if there was a delay with our return flight, my husband, who usually flies United for work, would just go get another flight on United and the kids and I would wait for the delayed flight. They had Monday off school so wouldn't have to be back. We really did think about this when making our plans, I always like to give us a day on the back side just in case. Anyway, so those two things are important; small staff and few flights.

There are also a lot of complaints about the nickel and diming. But my experience was that all those fees were given to me during the purchase process. I went looking for flights to Hawaii. I booked the flights probably in January? I found this, I think it was $393, airfare to Hawaii that was ridiculously cheap. So I started through the reservation process. I selected the flight, then they ask you if you want to select a seat. I said, yes, select a seat. Well, that was $18-22 extra depending on whether the seat was an aisle seat or a window or a middle. Then it was time to declare how many bags I had. It is cheaper if you can declare this when you are buying your ticket, rather than when you get to the airport. They DO charge for carry on items as well. And unless you book preboarding, the people with carry ons boarded last, on our flights at least. So, the charge for a carry on for our flight was $35/bag and the checked bag fee was $70/bag. And all of these prices are ONE WAY. So, I'm booking the flight, I selected 4 checked bags, no carry ons (they allow a personal item for each person for free, so each kid brought a backpack on the plane, their school backpack). I reserved seats. I did not select priority boarding. So the total price was $2760 for the five of us. That's still less than $600/ticket without all the extra charges. And we could not find another airfare for that price for our week of travel. So we decided to go with Allegiant.

They have a 40 pound weight limit on checked bags. That's ten pounds lighter than other airlines. We saw quite a few people balancing their bags and pulling shoes out, etc. to get the weight down. We had one bag that weighed 50 pounds. But the rest were under 40, one much so. They did not charge us for the extra weight. I don't know if that's because we paid for our checked bags during the purchase process, or if it's because our average weight over the 4 bags was 40 pounds each.

The airline also provides no food or beverage for free. This is a bummer because, I remember the days when you got a full meal for free on airlines. But this is almost standard now, right? I mean on most airlines you might get pretzels and soft drinks for free. But if you want a "snack pack" it costs you money. So the only difference on Allegiant is you have to buy your soft drinks too. They even charge for water; $2, but you get the whole bottle. AND since their food service is profit motivated, the flight attendants move through the cabin approximately every 90 minutes asking if you want something to eat or drink. I liked that! We opened a tab and were able to order food and beverage all flight long.

Another compaint I've read about is the lack of customer service. We had no problems with our flight, so we didn't need customer service, so I can't speak to that. The ground crew was friendly enough at check in and when they took our boarding passes as we boarded. The flight attendants were friendly enough during service. Sometimes I feel like I'm bothering flight attendants when I order something to eat or drink. But I didn't get that feeling this trip. It was a good experience.

We will almost always fly United because of the perks my husband gets since he travels with them so much for business. But I would use Allegiant again. In fact, I plan to. I have another trip coming up to an obscure location and United doesn't fly there. We'll see if I have a different experience there.

I know I tend to write a lot. But I think that people are more likely to complain than they are to say, "that went okay". So I wanted to paint as clear a picture as I can about the airline. If you are at all concerned about cancelled flights, and you want to know the total cost up front and you want to get to the airport right before boarding, then Allegiant probably isn't for you. But we're used to using the priority line when we check in at United and used to skipping the security line too, and this "bargain" airline, turned out to be just fine.

Santa Monica, CA
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6. Re: Trip Report April 2014 family with 2 adults and 3 teens

Aren't return trips more relaxing? I can't wait for our trip #3 this summer. Thanks for getting me more excited!

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7. Re: Trip Report April 2014 family with 2 adults and 3 teens

Thanks for your report--what a great trip! We're headed to Oahu in July & are staying on the North Shore, so I love reading this. Thanks, too, for the details on Allegiant. We've never flown with them but are considering doing so later this year for a quick trip from Arkansas to Orlando. I really appreciated your sharing each of the charges.

8. Re: Trip Report April 2014 family with 2 adults and 3 teens

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