This will be my husband's and my first and probably only trip to Hawaii. We're in our mid-50's (I'm in fair and my husband in good shape) and coming for 6 nights in mid-August before spending 5 nights on Kauai. I have a tendancy to go way overboard in my trip planning (you should see my pile of guidebooks from the library) and would appreciate your comments on my itinerary, especially ways I can reorder sightseeing days/attractions to make it more enjoyable, inexpensive eating places near sightseeing locations, etc.. I'll be buying a 4-day Go Oahu card at Costco and want to really get my money's worth so that's why some days are fuller than others. We'll be staying in a rental close to Kailua Beach so I figure that if I want down time in the evening, I can go hang out there. Otherwise, I'd rather be sightseeing. I'm sorry that this is kind of long. Thanks a lot for your advice.
Mon. Aug. 11
Leave SLC at 7 am. Arrive at Honolulu Airport at 11:44 am. Find lunch somewhere (Manoa Marketplace?).
Drive 11.3 miles (27 min) to the Manoa Falls trail (1.6 miles RT). Park at the Tree Tops Restaurant near the trailhead ($5.00 parking). Allow 1 l/2 hours. If have some time left over, visit the Lyon Arboretum, just up the road, (donation; 8-4).
Drive 6.4 miles (17 min). Buy groceries at Costco.
Drive 13.6 miles (29 min) to our rental in Kailua, stopping at the Pali Lookout on the way (parking $3.00). Walk down Old Pali Road for about 10-15 minutes. (Or figure out a day to do this when we don’t have luggage in our trunk.)
Walk to Kailua Beach, one block from our rental, or Lanikai Beach, .6 mile. Sunset is 7:05 pm; moonrise 8:01 pm. It will be a full moon that night.
Tues. Aug. 12 (would it be better to move this schedule to a day later in the week?)
Take pictures of Lanikai Beach or Waimanalo Bay Beach Park at sunrise, 6:09 am (or any other day we’re there). There's a l/2 mile pillbox hike we could take for better views.
Drive 10 miles (18 min). Visit the Byodo-In Temple; get there before its 9 am opening (free with Go Oahu card).
Drive 6.1 miles (10 min). Take the 10 am 1-hour Kualoa Ranch Movie Sites or Jungle Tour (free with GO card). (Which one is more scenic?)
Drive 14 miles (23 min) to the La’ie Hawaii Temple for some pics, stopping at scenic viewpoints like Chinaman’s Hat, Laie Point State Wayside
Drive 1.14 miles (2 min). Tour the Polynesian Culture Center from 12-6; buffet dinner followed by Ha: Breath of Life Program from 7:30-9:00 pm (free with GO card; parking $8.00). Visit my nephew after the buffet and before the program. He lives about 5 min. away. Drive 60+ min. back to our rental.
Wed. Aug. 13
Drive 14.6 miles (32 min) to Hanauma Bay for snorkeling. *Arrive by 6:45 for free entrance. Check out the Toilet Bowl on the left side of the bay?
Drive 2.9 miles (10 min) to the Makapuʻu Point Lighthouse Trail, stopping first for pics at the Lana’i Lookout and Halona Blowhole. The hike is 2 miles RT. Allow 1 l/2 hours.
Option: Stop at Makapu’u Beach Park, across from Sea Life Park. Check out the tidal pools in the lava rocks on the other end of the beach. (which end?)
Drive 14 miles (29 min) to the Mu-Ryang-Sa Broken Ridge Buddhist Temple (9-5, $3.00).
If didn’t do this on Monday: Drive 12.2 miles (22 min) to the Pali Overlook.
Drive 5.2 miles (11 min) to the Ho’Omaluhia Botanical Garden (free; 9-4 pm).
Option: Check out some of the beaches/shops around Kailua.
Thurs. Aug. 14
Drive 18.6 miles (36 min). Hike Diamond Head early before it gets too crowded (6-6pm; 1.6 miles RT; $5.00/car). Stay to the left when the trail forks for the easier hiking option. Allow 2 hours.
Drive 7.2 miles (19 min) to Iolani Palace (free with GO card). Take a 45 min. guided tour, maybe 9:30? (Tues-Thurs: 9am-10am). **Where's the cheapest place to park?
Across from the front of the palace take a picture of the King Kamehameha statue in front of the Aliʻiōlani Hale building. Peek inside to see its rotunda.
Option: From the palace drive 1.2 miles (4 min). Tour some highlights of the Honolulu Museum of Art (10-4:30, free with GO card).
From the palace drive 1.7 miles (7 min) to Ala Moana Beach Park. Parking is free. Grab a takeout lunch somewhere? Walk l/2 mile (10 min) to 1009 Ala Moana Blvd (Kewalo Basin Harbor). Take the 1-3 pm Makani catamaran ride (free with GO card).
Walk back the way we came. Rent stand-up-paddle boards from 3:15-6 (free with GO card) at Ala Moana Beach.
Grab dinner at the Ward Center or Ala Moana Mall? (Any better food suggestions?) View the sunset from Magic Island. There's also supposed to be decent snorkeling here.
Option: Drive 2.3 miles (9 min) to catch the 6-7 pm Kuhio Beach Hula Show. It’s located at the Kuhio Beach Hula Mound, near the Duke Kahanamoku statue, beachside at Uluniu and Kalakaua Aves.
Option: Check out the street performers or some of the hotel lobbies on Kalakaua Ave. Is there metered or free pm parking? **Will we regret it if we don't spend time in Waikiki?
Fri. Aug. 15
Drive 32.7 miles (46 min) to the Dole Plantation. Take a 20-min. narrated train ride (free with GO card; 1st train at 9:30).
Drive 12 miles (20 min) to the Waimea Valley (botanical/cultural garden). It’s 1 l/2 miles RT to and from the waterfall. (9-5; free with GO card; allow 1 l/2+ hours).
Drive about 2.6 miles (7 min) to Laniakea Beach a.k.a. “Turtle Beach” for pics of the turtles.
Drive 5.3 miles (13 min) to rent kayaks at Oahu Kayaking, Haleiwa Boat Harbor (11-2 or 2-5; free with GO card).
Lunch at a shrimp truck?
Go snorkeling at Shark’s Cove, Three Tables, or Sunset Beach, all east of Hale’iwa (could snorkel before or after kayaking).
Have shave ice at Matsumoto’s, Haleiwa (9-6).
Dinner in Haleiwa? Watch the sunset from Sunset Beach?
Sat. Aug. 16
Drive 34 miles (52 min). Arrive at Pearl Harbor by 7:15 am. Pick up tickets for our 8:15 reservation. Pick up audio guide (free with GO card) to tour the USS Arizona Memorial. Tour the USS Bowfin Submarine & Museum (free with GO card). Tour the Battleship Missouri Memorial (free with GO card). Allow about l l/2 hours at each site. Have lunch there or closer to the Bishop Museum. Suggestions??
Drive 10 miles (19 min). Tour the Bishop Museum (9-5; free with GO card). View the 45 min. Wayfinders planetarium show at 1:30 if arrive before then.
Drive 7.4 miles (18 min) to Tantalus/Round Top Dr. for great panoramic views of Diamondhead, Honolulu, etc. The view in Puu Ualakaa State Park is the best and is located about halfway around the 9 mile loop. Allow about one hour for the drive and stops.
Option: Stop at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific first (just below Tantalus Dr.). It’s open until 6:30 pm.
Drive 16.7 miles (35 min) to rental. Pack for our 8/17 9:05 am departure to Kauai.
Best place for dinner our last evening?