Since the vacation in Hawaii was a computer-free one (the laptop stayed home!), no chances to add entries while I was there. Instead, I made notes on the little pad beside the bed in the hotel and I’m going to type it all in as this one mega-entry! (As ever, click on the photos for a popup window with a larger version in it.)
Tuesday, May 18
Our flight from San Francisco, on Hawaiian Airlines landed just before lunch time. Our two friends already in Honolulu (one living there now, and the staying with her for an extended vacation) met us at the airport and came to pick up the rental mini-van with us. Then it was off to lunch at Helena’s Hawaiian Foods. Not a restaurant I would recommend to vegetarians, and perhaps I would think twice about recommending it at all – it is very much a taste of home-style Hawaiian food, and very reasonably priced.
After lunch we headed for Waikiki to check in at our hotel, the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani. Our rooms were around the back of the hotel, overlooking the parking lot, but we thought since we would be out most of the time that would be OK (according to the front desk we had already been upgraded from dumpster view rooms).
Once we were checked in and all the luggage had been delivered to the rooms (and a quick change into more appropriate clothing for the Hawaiian climate), we took a walk through the International Marketplace and the rest of the stores along the main strip of Waikiki.
To finish our first day, dinner at Duke’s Waikiki Restaurant. Duke’s is part of the TS Restaurants chain that also owns the Sunnyside Restaurant and Lodge and Jake’s on the Lake in Tahoe (both good places to eat). Duke’s has beautiful views over the beach, and was a great place to eat, have a quick drink and watch the sun set on our first (half) day in Hawaii.
Wednesday, May 19
Wednesday morning we set off relatively early (at least we thought so) for the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. Unfortunately, it seems that we were not early enough and despite arriving around 9:30am, we had to wait until 11:45am for our slot in the movie theatre and boat ride over to the memorial itself. While waiting we checked out the museum, the gift shop and the nearby USS Bowfin Submarine park (we did not have time to actually go into the museum though).
After USS Arizona, we headed over to the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet which only operates Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. This is a good place to get Hawaiian clothing and souvenirs cheaply (the International Marketplace carries much of the same stuff, but is more expensive).
Dinner was at the Wailana Coffee House followed by dessert at Lappert’s Ice Cream and Coffee. The Wailana Coffee House is something of a diner with a local twist. Not as much home-style as Helena’s, but still includes some Hawaiian influenced dishes. Lappert’s is, as they say, gourmet ice cream. Pricey, but good.
Thursday, May 20
Thursday started with a hike up to the summit of Diamond Head State Monument. This has some pretty steep climbs (up stairs) in places, so take plenty of water and don’t rush it (one poor man had to be collected by a rescue helicopter as he fainted at the top of the steepest climb). Don’t forget the sunblock either – most of the trail is exposed and the sun burns fast! The views over Honolulu and surrounding areas though are well worth the climb.
A quick lunch back in Waikiki at Fatty’s Chinese Kitchen, a hole-in-the wall Chinese take-out, before heading over to the Ala Moana Shopping Mall. The girls did most of the shopping; the guys stopped at the Apple store and the Oakley store before heading upstairs to the Mai Tai Bar for happy hour.
Dinner at the Angelo Pietro Italian-Japanese fusion restaurant, a block or two away from Ala Moana. Yes, you did read that correctly: an Italian-Japanese fusion restaurant, and it was good too.
Friday, May 21
Friday was north shore beaches day; a quick trip up the Likelike Hwy took us to the eastern side of the island, and Kaneohe Bay. From there we went around the coast stopping at beaches along the way, taking photos, swimming and even cracking open a coconut found on the beach for a quick snack.
Our original plan had been to stop at Andy’s World-Famous Shrimp Truck, but we took too long on the beaches so instead we stopped at the Polynesian Cultural Center for a quick bite in their outdoor fast food restaurant, The Banyan Tree snack bar. We did stop by the shrimp truck later on though to grab a photo, as well as picking up a fresh pineapple from a road-side fruit bar.
In the afternoon we met some friends at Waimea Beach, then proceeded to Haleiwa for some shaved ice from Matsumoto’s Shave Ice. Not a big fan of this (I tried some at the swap meet earlier in the week too). It is too sweet from all the syrup they pour over it.
After that, a drive past Shark’s Cove and Sunset Beach (stopping for photos of course), before turning onto the Kamekameha Hwy to drop by the Dole Plantation and then back to Honolulu for dinner at Ev’s place.
Saturday, May 22
An early start for a repeat visit to the swap meet at the Aloha Stadium – to pick up the last remaining souvenirs, then on to the west coast. Stopping briefly at Ko Olina, and then on to Waianae for lunch at an L & L Drive Inn. After lunch we continued all the way up the Farrington Hwy past Barking Sands beach until the road ended at the top of Yokohama Bay. A few photos, and then back to Honolulu, stopping in at Chinatown before heading back to the hotel.
For the evening we joined the crowds on the beach in Waikiki for Sunset on the Beach – live music, then as the sun sets they pull up a giant movie screen and show a movie (we saw Miracle, the movie about the 1980 US Olympic ice hockey team). Sadly it seems as the council is trying to cancel the Sunset on the Beach events – that would be a big shame as it was a very pleasant way to spend the evening on the beach.
After the movie we grabbed a bite to eat at a small Japanese restaurant just across the street from the beach before heading to bed.
Sunday, May 23
Sunday morning we headed out to hike up to Manoa Falls – just on the edge of Honolulu. We were not really prepared for a hike through what is essentially a rainforest (and was making it quite clear where that term came from). The hike itself is relatively gentle, and certainly easier than the Diamond Head one, but having the correct footwear is essential as the trail becomes wet and slippery in many places. The scenery alongside the trail is dense and very green. At the top is the waterfall; not the most impressive waterfall I’ve seen, but still worth the walk.
Having been drenched by the hike (from the almost continual rain), we headed back to the hotel for a shower and change of clothing. Then it was round to the food court at the International Marketplace for lunch and some shopping at the DFS Galleria.
In the evening we headed back out to Ko Olina, just off the western end of H1, for a Lu’au at Paradise Cove. We were there early enough that there were no lines for the activities when we got in. While the girls worked on thread lei-style bracelets and braiding grasses into anklets and headbands, the guys tried spear throwing, bowling rocks and pegs and other games in exchange for shell necklaces. Then on for a quick ttemporary tattoo before meeting up with the girls again for a trip in an outrigger canoe around the little bay.
As the sun set we watched some traditional ceremonies near the roasting pit, snapped some shots of the sunset and then went back to the main area for dinner. Food was so-so (for vegetarians they did a large plate of salad and pasta), the entertainment though was excellent, including some impressing fire dances.
Monday, May 24
For our last day the plan was to check out the south east part of the island, starting at the Hanauma Bay Nature Park where, after a short video explaining the rules of the bay (which is a nature preserve) we trekked down the hill to the beach, rented snorkelling gear and headed into the bay to check out the sealife. And it was amazing. A huge assortment of brightly coloured fish, large and small, and brightly coloured corals too. Truly a magnificent place, and if I lived on the island I think it would become a regular destination for me! Don’t miss this one.
After the show we walked down the Waikiki main street to the All Star Hawaii restaurant for dinner.
Tuesday, May 25
Up early to finish packing, then out to buy some peanut butter mochi for a friend, pick up some food for lunch at the airport and then return the rental and catch our flight home. Vacation in Hawaii over.