Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Oahu, Hawaii

Ok, this has been written and rewritten many times and it has been lost due to my not paying close attention.  grrr.  Anyhow, I will now try to put down—at least in brief—some impression of our trip as well as some tips for your travel potentially.  Also, unlike Sydney which I meticulously (ok, somewhat meticulously) documented each day, Hawaii will come in probably only one post where I will approach it more topically than chronologically.



Well, this is the part that will not encourage those living in the USA.  In fact, I just checked and the cheapest I could find from Kansas City was over $700 ($526 if you are leaving LA).  However, if you are living in Southeast Asia, then you simply add it as a stop to Honolulu.  On a whim I went out to Kayak.com and checked it a couple of times and I can’t get the deal we got or even anything close to it.  Each of us only paid about $150 extra per-person for our tickets which made it all the more attractive.  Even at a cost of about $500/person it would still be a pretty reasonable rate. 


We flew into HNL (Honolulu) on the capital island of Oahu around 8 in the morning for our stay on the nearby beach resort area of Waikiki.  This arrival leads into the next topic…


NOTE: We did all of our flights on Wednesdays and that really changed the price of the hotel and the flights which I really recommend.


SECOND TOPIC: Transportation

Not knowing much about the size of and ease of movement in Oahu, we decided to opt for the rental of a car.  We appreciated our military friends there in Korea for helping us find a good deal on the car itself.  Adding insurance to the whole things more than doubled the price, but I think it was worth it for the first time. 


We could have taken buses, but we only made one major trip around the island and there was little need of even having the car really.  HOWERVER, the convenience of the car was great.  No waiting on buses or sharing one with the homeless drunkards and after living in Korea, the absence of mass transit was pleasant. 



We looked at dozens—nay, hundreds—of hotels looking for the best deals when planning for our trip and settled on one and then a week later, switched to another.  I don’t know that the old one was better than the new one or vice versa, but this one was nice.  Even with parking and taxes included we stayed just under $100/night.  Now if staying on the beach—facing the beach or hotel location—be prepared to pay for it.  Most of the ones that we found on the beach (and would have been willing to stay at) where well over $150 and if you wanted to I hear that a few of them on the $1000.00+/night.  (Any readers want to put us up in one of those next year, just email me for payment information!) 


Anyhow, I think the decision of hotels in Waikiki at least is based almost entirely on closeness to the beach.  So if price is your concern, each block away you go from the beach equals about $100 of savings.  Our hotel was only about two blocks from the beach and the walk really wasn’t bad for me.  Charity on the other hand couldn’t stand the overwhelming odors of all the restaurants on the way to and from the beach.  She almost threw up every time she passed them. 


Our hotel had beach towel service (fresh, dry towels just for the beach), breakfast (pancakes, muffins, bread, oatmeal, fruit, nothing-special-at-all, etc.), private porch and they even upgraded us at the desk because we came in too early for check in and our intended room was not ready.  Major props to the Aloha Surf and Spa!


All in all, I think there i s probably little difference between the hotels in each range.


FOURTH TOPIC: Activities

We actually have to split this up into many different categories.


A. Beach Activities

There are really wonderful beaches on Waikiki.  On the last day I went to our front of a hotel next to the armed forces recreation area and found the best priced cabanas  but the water surrounding them is not so great for swimming.  Rocky and filled with coral, the water at Waikiki will tear your feet—and any other body parts—to shreds if you do not have those ridiculous shoes. 


On the beach, if you plan on staying the whole day, then simply get a cheap cabana for the whole day and then you have a base of operations.  Look for one where the owners have very few chairs and the likelihood of stolen items should decrease a little bit.  The cabana will keep you off the sand and give you some shade if wanted.  Perfect for reading and if you go to “UV Rays Beach Services” beachside of the Outrigger Waikiki hotel, there is free WiFi there and it was awesome to post beachside! 


There was surfing and I reeeeeallllllyyyyy wanted to do it, but ran out of time to do so.  And other then swimming, floating (kinda like swimming but with no auto-kinetic movement) and surfing, there was little else to do (ok, little else I wanted to do).  Of the surfing I discerned two types: Longboard with a paddle and longboards without paddles.  Both looked equally fun…maybe next time.


We did go out on a catamaran but I cannot suggest it or even tell you the one we went out on as I found the behavior of the crew and passengers to be by and large…revolting.  I have heard there are better ones, but I would say that you should do some research and review searching before taking any of them (there are lots so I am sure they are not all bad!).  I would like to do one that had some snorkeling activity attached to it.


B. Inner-Island Tourism

I cannot suggest this enough.  While it is fun on the beach…the beach has little to offer after you have been to it…thrice!  (Charity disagrees.)  On one of the days, Charity and I both went exploring on the island.  On the internet, I found a Kona coffee and Macadamia nut farm on the east side of the island.  We planned a route—pretty simple if you look at the map—that took us around the east and north of the island and back down the middle again.  The views along that road were awesome!  We basically stopped once at the farm on our way up and then drove along the east coast going north.  The sights were wonderful and the weather was great on the day we went. 


We didn’t do much on the north side of the island, but on our way back down the western side we stopped at Sharks Cove and rented snorkeling gear.  We spent several hours there and I found a new love for snorkeling.  Despite the name, I saw no sharks in the cove, but I did see turtles, fish of huge assortments and beautiful scenery that made the time there awesome.  I would highly recommend snorkeling and Shark’s Cove was awesome place to do it!


We then spent some time at Waimea Bay Beach.  After being on Waikiki beaches, this was much more pleasant.  There was much less corral and rock while still having loads of beach for as few people that were there.  I would say a day at the beach—if you brought everything you needed for the day as there are no shops nearby—would be nicer at the less crowded Waimea.


We topped off our travels at the Dole plantation.  Under advisement from several people, we came, bought some souvenirs and ate some of the Pineapple soft-serve.  I know there are rides and some other activities, but we chose to enjoy what we did and head for the hotel.


C.  Pearl Harbor

Wow!  I love this so much that I gave it a category all to itself.  Pearl Harbor has loads of activities for the historical minded.  I probably could spend 2 days touring the place a couple of times. 


Charity was feeling extremely sick on the morning we planned to go to Pearl Harbor and not wanting me to miss out on one of the main reasons I came to Honolulu, she sent me by myself.  (Her saying she was sick did not stop her from making her way to the beach that morning….hmmm…)


Upon arriving to the Arizona Memorial center, the first thing you MUST DO is get your ticket for going to see the Memorial.  There are boat rides out to the memorial about every 45 minutes if I remember right and you have to be there early enough to get tickets.  There are tour buses that come in the late morning and because it is a first come first serve basis, you could get stuck looking at the memorial from the shoreline.  Because I was by myself, I got on the 8:45am ferry even though I arrived at 8:15!  I overheard the next available tickets weren’t till noon. 


Even if you get stuck with the later tickets, there is plenty to keep you occupied.  There at the memorial waiting area they have a small museum devoted to the the Arizona and the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Well worth the walkthrough.  Several outdoor exhibits include a memorial to several submarines lost during WWII with individual placards about each.  The USS Bowfin also moored at the memorial is up for tours…for a price…as well as a maritime museum in front of the Bowfin.


I purchased a ticket to go to Ford Island (an operational Navy base and therefore is only accessible by bus service.  There are 4 things to see on the island, but only three can a civilian see.  The USS Utah is the only you won’t be able to purchase a ticket for unless you are military or sponsored by military personnel.  Not to worry though as the Mighty Mo (USS Missouri battleship), the Pacific Aviation Museum and the USS Oklahoma memorial are all there and worth the view and price to go. 


If you had to choose an activity though—of course after the USS Arizona—I would have chosen the USS Missouri even over the Pacific Aviation Museum.  I know, the guy who wanted to be a pilot picks the battleship over the plane.  Yes.  The reason is the historical significance of the Mighty Mo.  It was the ship that played a huge part in WWII and also the sight of the signing of the surrender of the Japanese.  Furthermore, this ship was called back to duty in the Persian Gulf War.  Really cool.


Please don’t let me sway you from doing ALL that you can at this, the site of one of America’s darkest hours which would become the rallying point for the war in the Pacific and one of the last glimmers of the greatness of America’s resolve as a unified country.


D. Food

Not much to say here really.  There is food of all kinds there on the island.  Everything from Fast to Diner to Foreign to Hawaiian to High End Food.  All of it looked great to me…all of it made Charity sick except for a few choice dishes that seemed ok one day and not another…I know….weird.


We did try “Sorento’s Top of the I” one night because we had a Groupon for it and let me tell you it was awesome!  Pricey…but awesome!  Other than that, Wal-Mart in Pearl City provided much food for a cheap price (sandwich money goes a long way!) and we did eat out enough to make it fun still.


I may say a few more things about Hawaii in the coming days/weeks, but I think I will leave it there for now…especially as this post will probably exceed 2000 words and if I remember right, that makes this post >500 words longer than my EN102 term paper at BJU!


more to come….



























































































































For those of you who scrolled down, look for an extra special post on or around January 23rd! 




































For those of you who don’t get it, look back through my extremely long post for hints! :)

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Daniel and Charity Moorehead