We arrived home yesterday after a wonderful 8 day vacation to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary.
I received many good ideas from people posting info here and hope this trip report helps future visitors. Feel free to ask any questions about the areas I went to and I'll try to give my honest opinion.
We arrived Tuesday night around 7PM. No problems at the airport, signage was very good. It took longer then usual to pick up our rental car as dollar had no special line for dollar express customers. Left the airport for our hotel, the Marriot Waikiki Beach Resort. Getting onto the H1 was no problem and traffic was not too bad at that time. Using Marriott's directions I was supposed to turn onto Kapahulu Ave after getting off the H1 but ended up turning onto Kapiolani Ave by mistake and ended up in a pretty bad section. A quick phone call to the Marriott and we were given perfect directions back to where we belonged. Check-in was a breeze and we were given a great room. I'll post a more detailed review of the Marriott along with pictures in the hotel section. At this point it was around 9:00 PM Hawaii time or 3 AM EDT time for us so we headed for bed.
Wednesday we got up early and headed to Pearl Harbor area and the Arizona Memorial. We arrived at 8:00 AM,lines were not bad, we had a great parking spot and found the memorials to be very respectful to those that served during the attack and lost their life or were injured. We also did the Bowfin Memorial and earned new respect for those that live in a submarine under water for months at a time. After the memorials we headed to the swap meet at Aloha Stadium. There were some good deals but found the same items at many locations but we still enjoyed seeing the various items for sale and made a couple of small purchases.
We headed back to the hotel and spent the rest of the day on the beach in Waikiki before going to dinner at the Hau Tree Lanai where we saw our first Hawaiian sunset and had a great meal.
Thursday we sleep-in a little bit and then did the Atlantis submarine tour. We were picked up and dropped off at our hotel. The submarine was a nice expierence. Neither one of us are scuba divers and we have never been that far under water. We went down to 107 feet at one point. If you are a diver this may not be worth the money but for us as a one time expierence it was something I was glad we did. That night we attended the Society of Seven dinner show at the the Outrigger. The Alii buffet before hand was not very good and I'd recommend skipping that and just getting the show tickets. The show was great, fast paced non-stop entertainment. If you don't like getting pulled up onto stage don't sit in the first row of tables. If you don't do the buffet you are seated in the third row or further back, but the venue is small and anywhere would be a good seat.
Friday we spent the day at the Polynesian Cultural Center. We were picked up and dropped off at our hotel and was glad we paid for the transportation as I was tired by the end of the day and it was cloudy most of the day, if it was sunny the whole time I really would have been exhausted and would not have wanted to drive that distance. We booked the Super Ambassador package and had "cousin" Frankie as our personal tour guide. He was great and this package got us front row seats for every event. The Horizons show at the end of the night was great. Considering these are mostly college students who are also attending classes at the same time they put on a terrifc performance.
Saturday we headed up the Pali highway, stopped at the Pali look-out but the vog was bad and it really affected the view. We went to Kailua beach park and got lucky parking as we got the only spot available when someone else was leaving. The water there and scenery are beautiful and the local canoe club were having outrigger races. That night we had dinner at Neptune's Garden, dinner was pretty good, seeing the aquarium in the dinning area was nice and we got $29 off with our entertainment book card bringing the total down to $68 which was a good deal for the meal we had. We walked Kalakaua Ave that night checking the shopping and street entertainers.
Sunday we headed to the North Shore area. We stopped at the Dole Plantation which was worth the time and we enjoyed some snacks. We then drove to Turtle Bay resort to try snorkeling at Kuilima Cove. There is a parking fee but if you get something to eat or drink at the resort snack bar they validate your parking stub for free parking. The beach area was rocky and though the scenery was very nice the snorkeling was poor, the current was strong and the whole time we only saw 1 fish. We then headed back along route 83 and there was no parking at any of the beach parks until we got to Haleiwa beach park so we spent the rest of the day here. Plans were to eat dinner at Jamieson's on route 83 and to change at whatever beach park we ended at. This was the biggest mistake I made in planning. The restroom/changing area at the Haleiwa beach park was one of the most disgusting filthy and smelly buildings I've ever been in. My wife said the womens room was as bad, finding bloody women's pads all over the foor. These rooms could not have been cleaned for weeks. Anyway, back to the postives, we had dinner at Jamiesons and the dinner was great, best steak I had on the vacation and my wife's seafood special was also very good. I had saved room to get a shaved ice at Matsumato's but they had closed by the time we arrived. Sunday night back at our hotel we hear on the news a story about a man being beaten to death on the street behind our hotel after he came to the aid of a couple who were victim's of a purse snatching. We had been in that area Saturday night about a hour before this incident so this was a little unsettling even though with the exception of my getting lost my first night I never felt unsafe anywhere I was at.
Monday we went to Haunama Bay and spent most of the day there snorkeling. We saw many fish and colorful coral. We took a lot of pictures with the disposable under water cameras we had and I hope they turn out good. There were wild weasels in the parking lot here and I saw one climb up into the underside of a pick-up truck. After leaving we drove up the coast to see the Halona Blow Hole only to find the observation area closed for reconstruction.
Tuesday we spent our last full day and actual anniversary day on the beach at Waikiki. I spent the cash, $50 for the day, to rent 2 chairs and an umbrella and was glad I did as I just needed to relax after all we had done. That night we ate dinner at DK's Steakhouse at the Marriott and had a terrfic meal and great service. We had told them it was our anniversary and they gave us a window seat and were treated really nice.
Wednesday- we checked out of our hotel, stored our bags with the bell service and took the Star of Honolulu Hawaiian Cultural with Lunch cruise. After the cruise we checked out the Hawaiian Aquarium. The Aquarium is on the small side but was very nice. I've been to other aquariums but I saw fish here I've never seen before. We picked up our bags and headed to the airport on the H1 fighting rush hour traffic most of the way. For people returning rental cars, at the last exit to the rental car area at the airport there is a gas station you can fill your car up at.
We had a great visit, the scenery is very beautiful and if the air was not obstructed by the volcanic vog it would have been much nicer. We saved about $100 with the entertainment book that cost us $15.00. We found the people, both local and visitors to be friendly. We felt safe in all the areas we visited. Though I knew there was a homeless problem it was bigger then I thought. We were never bothered by the homeless people and I will be looking for a charity to donate to try to help them and urge all vistors to do the same.