Since joining Trip Advisor, I have depended on the reviews and information from all who submit when I am planning my trips. I hunt and search for months and then print the information and take it with me. Once again, trip Advisor users did not let me down, so I am sharing my own experience. My family and I travel quite a bit. We have stayed at mostly upscale hotels in the Caribbean, and this was our 1st trip to Hawaii. I traveled with my husband (celebrating our 20th anniversary), my son 10 soon to be 11 on the 4/27 and my nephew 12.
We left Regan National and flew into HNL with a stop in Dallas on American Airlines. The flight itself was uneventful and very nice. This was out 1st time flying such a long distance, but it was worth it!!! Kudos to the staff and flight crew on American for doing such a great job with a smile on such a long flight. They do not feed you on this flight. They only serve drinks. We came prepared with snacks (pretzels, cheese and crackers, and I packed sandwiches (PB&J for the kids). When we stopped in Dallas we ate at the McDonald’s and then took more sandwiches on board for the last leg.
When we arrived in Honolulu we took the shuttle over to get our Dollar rental car. I made the reservation on line before we departed to get a good rate. They were the cheapest at the time. This was the 1st of our three reservations with them. The rentals over there get banged up quite bit more than here and have more mileage on them. Got the car and good directions to the Hilton Hawaiian. Our 1st thought was WOW as we were driving along. When we finally pulled up at the HHV we were pleased with the overall look of the lobby and surrounding area. We booked the Ali’i Tower. We got a great welcome from the main front desk and then were pointed in the direction of the other tower. The reception here not so grand. I was really disappointed that we were not greeted with Leis and the person at the front desk breezed over the information and then told us we could read the rest later in the brochure she handed us. I didn’t let that bring me down, but I will be writing HHV about it (you’ll understand later when I review the other hotels). We were given a nice room with a wonderful view on the 12th floor. This room overlooked the pool, straight ahead you could see the harbor, to the left you could see the beach and to the right the chapel. We settled in and then went exploring. Honolulu reminds me of a cleaner version of New York sitting on a beautiful island with palm trees because of the skyscrapers. The buildings are tall and beautiful. The weather was overcast, but cloudy and rain off and on the 1st 3 days. It was still warm and nice by DC standards so we didn’t’ mind. The kids loved the pool and the beach. HHV is on a nice stretch of beach with good sand. We didn’t eat at the hotel except the free snacks that are offered for Ali’i tower guests. The food was just too expensive and from what we heard from the people who did order, wasn’t that great. I don’t mind paying for good food, but mediocre and expensive are not a good combination. We walked a short ways down the beach to the right were there is a Subway sandwich shop in front of this is where the kids did their surfing. I don’t remember the name of the outfit that ran it, but Dayton was good and patient with the kids. They also offered $10. off if you came back for a 2nd lesson. My son Myles loved it. Surfing through the hotel was 90. a person. Surfing down the beach 45.pp. Shop around and you’ll get a good deal. We ate at the famous Wailea Shop which is right across the street from the HHV entrance. As promised, the breakfast was to die for and at a very good price. Loved the pancakes and coconut syrup which I purchased at the ABC store and brought home. I am picky about my breakfast and really like IHOP (which is new and opened just a few doors down), but we never went there. I love it when I can find a decent coffee shop. This place is just great. The service is fast and efficient. The prices for breakfast, lunch and dinner are great. We then walked down along the strip which is like Rodeo Drive with all kinds of upscale shopping and everything in between. This is where you’ll find PF Chang’s, The Cheesecake Factory, along with the International Market where you can negotiate prices. We loved it all! There is also free entertainment by street performers and in the Waikiki mall at night. We saw a nice hula show. There is also a place for 3-D golf which the kids liked. You can find discounts coupons in the books that you can pick at the hotel. Check it out at bigkahunasglowgolf.com/Site/Big_Kahuna_Glow_…
Followed everyone’s advice on getting to Pearl Harbor early or later in the day. We chose early since we were still on East Coast time. We went the 1st day to check it out and talked to a guard that said to be in line by 7:00am which we did. We got our ticket and watched the movie at 7:45am. You are then loaded on a boat and taken over to the actual memorial. We were in and out in about 2 1/2 hours for the whole outing. They even have survivors there that you can chat with. One of them is now 92 and looks great. What an experience! Very moving. The kids liked it just as much as we did. We got lost quite a bit in Honolulu, the streets are not in any particular order and all look the same after a while. Even the locals said they get lost. But we still had a good time and found so many things just driving around. We were finally getting a little use to it when it was time to leave. Took our GPS, but didn’t realize we had to download Hawaii, so it was of no use to us. If you have one take it, but make sure Hawaii is on there. We checked out Chinatown and found Lenard’s for those wonderful Malasadas. You have to get these! http://www.leonardshawaii.com/index.htm The malasada for April is banana. The lady in front of me described it as having a banana pudding filling. We tried that and the custard, both were great. We didn’t understand the addiction and now some 10 pounds later, I do. The 1st time we stopped there the line was short but the 1st lady in line ordered about 3 dozen. They make them as they go so this took some time. My husband was waiting in the car and practically rolled his eyes wondering what took me so long until he had that 1st bite. He was hooked from that point on. We enjoyed the Paradise Cove luau. They have activities and games for the kids. We purchased the mid range package which was nice. We got leis when we arrived and drinks. We sat in the middle with a good view of the stage. The roast pork was just great. The rest of the food was ok salad, fried fish, rolls, fruit, poi, dessert. Just basic nothing special. They have lowered their prices a little, so it was 327 for the 4 of us. We chose to drive ourselves since we had the rental car. It was an additional $12 for hotel pick up round trip.
After those 3 days we flew to Maui on Hawaiian Air. It is a 30 min flight. Neither Honolulu airport nor Maui is as crazy as ours to get through security. They have all the same measures, but it wasn’t as packed so for the trip over we arrived too early being use to the East coast mess. On the trip back we knew to arrive with about an hour to spare. We loved Maui just as much. It is laid back and more like the country has moved to an island. Picked up our next rental from Dollar. We stopped at the swap meet on the way to the hotel which is great. We got some nice fruit and souvenirs. We then got lunch and drove to the Grand Wailea which took about 25 mins. Now we receive a great Hawaiian welcome with the leis. From the doorman to the front desk everyone was so nice. We received a room in the chapel wing which I highly recommend. We had an awesome view of the chapel and beach. We also got an offer to a bottle of champagne to be served in 2 of their restaurants. Our room was a nice size with 2 really comfortable queen beds and a chaise, desk and flat screen TV. The kids (old and young) LOVED the pool! We can’t say enough good things about it. From the slides and rope swing to the swim up bar it was just great. The kids played a lot of pool volleyball.
Before you can use the pool, you need to line up at the activity center to get a wrist-band. Even toddlers need them. The color of the bands change every day, so you will need to line up every morning. We( the adults) didn’t get them and no one seemed to care, but the kids were stopped when they tried to get on the slides and gently told to get them. There is a beautiful pathway to walk which takes you pass The Four Seasons and some beautiful private homes to one side and more home and condos etc to the other. To the left towards the Four Season the path will lead you to a small black sand beach. We mainly hung around the pool and beach area and rested for our 2 nights. We had dinner at the Outback which was good. Prices about $5-8 higher then what we normally would pay. In the same shopping plaza is a L and L Drive In www.hawaiianbarbecue.com which has a very good breakfast and lunch plate, a Subway, ABC store, Safeway. (you can also find them all over Honolulu) This is only about 20 mins from the resort. We stocked up on drinks and snacks. We took some of the things out the mini bar and put our things in. We then put those things back in before they cleaned the room in the am so they wouldn’t charge us for the items we removed. I was not paying $25. for them to remove the things for us so we could use it during our stay. A minor inconvenience. We expect to pay more at better resorts, but have never paid to use a refrigerator. We asked at the front desk where we could eat close by that was good and they turned us onto Fred’s for Mexican which was really good Fred's Mexican Café 2511 South Kihei Road 808-891-8600. The kids also tried the water trampoline which was a big hit. Kevin is the guy that runs it. He was nice enough to let the kids return the 2nd day for free since they hadn’t used much time the day before and we paid 20 for all day. The staff we encountered was super nice and not expecting any kind of tip, but we gave them to them anyway for going out of there way so many times. We got a burger to split one day and some non-alcoholic lava flows for the kids and one with for me and the bill was $57. I don’t expect to pay 15. for a frozen burger and chips. I don’t object to the price I just object to it being frozen. If they are going to charge those prices then they should at least offer a freshly prepared patty. The nachos and fruit salad were a little bit better priced at 13. each.
I also liked being able to pop into the chapel for a little peace and quiet reflection. They have water set up in here. There were water stations all around the resort. Fresh juice at check in. The kids didn’t want to leave and neither did we. However, it was back to Honolulu and our last stop which was The Kahala. Now the greeting at the Kahala was “all that” as they say, so I am glad this was out last stop. When we pulled up the doorman waited until I unbuckled my seat belt before opening the door. We were greeted by Heidi with mint scented cloths to freshen up and a flower lei for me and beaded ones for the boys and my husband. We were all so impressed. When we gave them our name our key was already there, they loaded our luggage and a very nice person took us up. He showed us our room and wished us a Happy Anniversary, and there waiting on the table was a small cake with Happy Anniversary on the plate and a bottle of champagne with 2 glasses. We had been upgraded to a very nice size room over looking the dolphin lagoon and beach. There were 2 stuffed dolphins in a gift bag for each boy. They were most impressed. Now this is a great way to start. The Hilton didn’t do anything special except a small plate with 3 pieces of fruit. The Grand Wailea gave us a bottle of champagne, but only when we dined in one of the restaurants and a card. The Kahala blew them all out of the water!!!! From that moment on we were greeted by name and a welcome home when we left and returned. They brought the car to us promptly which was worth the 25. a day no matter how many times we went in and out. They gave us printed directions to the places we needed. They gave the kids boogey boards and fins to use when we went to the Lanikai beach. This was a wonderful drive all the way down H-3. H-3 which has some really nice views and you pass through a tunnel. You see the beautiful Halawa Valley. We also drove down H-1 to get to Hanuama Bay which is another beautiful drive. Hanauma Bay is worth getting up early and getting there before the parking lot is shut down around 9:00am. We first went there on Tuesday and found it is closed. We returned on the day we were going to check out, so we checked out early and the hotel stored our luggage. We stopped at the Koko Head Deli which is at the light just before you reach Hanauma and had breakfast. Found out this is the same place Pres Obama stopped at and there was a picture for proof. We had wonderful croissant sandwiches. Also try Teddy’s Bigger Burgers! Yummy!!! We took drinks and snacks with us. While the kids snorkeled they saw sea turtles, moray eel, sea cucumbers, colorful fish and sea urchins. They totally loved it! We also stopped at Lung Fung’s for Chinese food on the way back from the 1st go round. Had never heard of it but the name sounded interesting. The food was good
5724 Kalanianaole Hwy in the Niu Valley Shopping Center
Honolulu, Hawaii 96821
(Niu Valley, East Oahu, Oahu)
Ph: (808) 377-5555
It is in the same plaza as the KFC. There is also a Mc Donald’s on the way to Hanauma Bay. I was happy to find that the McD in Hawaii still fry their pies. If you are a fan of McD original fried pies you’ll be happy to find they still fry them there. I understand McD wanting to improve their nutrional value on things, but I really miss those fried pies. Since we were traveling with kids, we covered most of the fast food places. Hawaiians love spam. The spam biscuit at McD for breakfast is great too! Don’t miss the swap meet at the Aloha Stadium. We stopped there on our way back from snorkeling at Hanuama. I didn’t want to really shop until the last day so we weren’t hauling the stuff around. The swap meet operates on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Go early because it gets hot later in the day. The place was packed. Plan on at least 2-4 hours, maybe more if you are a real shopper. Don't buy at the first place you see, compare vendors. You will find the same thing at many vendors and prices do vary. Some vendors are more willing to bargain than others, so have some patience. I always pack a collapsible bag to pack things in that we can carry on the plane. When we returned to The Kahala they allowed us to use the gym to shower and dried our clothes for us so we didn’t have to take wet clothes with us. The gym shower area is beautiful with nice amenities and big fluffy towels. With hugs and a promise to return the staff sent us on our way. Our return flight home was fine. Boy are well all missing all the things we loved about Hawaii. I know I have rambled on, but I have tried to leave nothing out. Can’t wait to return! Mahalo!