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Trip Report 6 nights go in a blink of an eye! A quick trip to Waikiki

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We have recently returned home from a wonderful short stay in Waikiki. My DH was there for work so time to do things together was always going to be a bit limited.
We are also returning to HI for a really special holiday at the end of this year with our young adult children.
Therefore these 6 days for me were a lot about relaxing, enjoying some great company, good food, shopping and just exploring and enjoying Waikiki. A great excuse to try to slow the pace of life and discover a little of the aloha spirit!
This my first Trip Report – a bit long and rambling but here goes.....
We flew into Honolulu in pouring rain however as I am always the optimist that didn’t dampen our spirits - it was going to be a great week and I was sure the predicted weather was for sunny days ahead....the wind was sure to shift the clouds and reveal the beautiful ocean colours I had hoped for.
Our accommodation for the week was the Sheraton Waikiki – a very busy hotel, although a great spot from which I could set out to explore.
Our room was ready fairly quickly which meant we could freshen up a little after our flight before heading down to Rum Fire for lunch.
We had a King room on the Diamond Head side looking over the main pool with ocean views stretching out from a good view of Waikiki beach right up to Diamond Head. People were everywhere, lots of laughter and a real holiday atmosphere. At home Waikiki is often compared to the Qld Gold Coast but I found it quite different and loved the vibes it seemed to project. It amazed me to see the waves break so much further out from the shoreline....perfect rolling waves.
After my first taste of Poke (not sure about this one) DH and I set out for our first adventure into the streets of Waikiki.
We decided to walk along the beach a little, then up towards Aston Waikiki Beach Tower(AWBT) where we would be for the beginning of our 4 week return trip later this year. I wanted to check out the rooms and ensure we had made the right choice.
We took a slow walk up to AWBT getting our bearings and literally pinching ourselves that we were here – The AstonWBT hotel perhaps does not look as grand from the outside but perfectly positioned across from the walled sea pools. They are also building a new McDonalds directly in front however I was assured this was not going to have any different building height to what was already there. The building and construction would be finished before we returned.
One of the attendants took us up to a room similar to what we have booked. It was on a higher level so had a great panoramic view, the apartments are well set out with a functional kitchen + 2 bedrooms with main BR facing the ocean if you ask for an (02,03) room. Clean well furnished and really all that we wanted. There is a pool - quite small and quite dated but more than adequate for the time we would be there. The building is gradually being completely restored and we were warned there could be work going on –however it would be restricted to? the bottom few floors between 10 am and 4pm.
The positioning is great and a very easy walk to all the wonderful shops and restaurants. Almost seems a little quieter up this end of Waikiki.
Verdict...... can’t wait to return and very happy with our choice! The staff were also lovely and very obliging.
We wandered back to the hotel – in and out of the shops and generally looking around.
That night dinner at IL Lupino – a great Italian Wine Bar – lovely service with food and wine to die for. Tagliatelle alla Puttanesca for me along with a good red ...delish! We would be back.
The next day we wanted to go out to the Waikele Outlets and decided after a leisurely breakfast we would try and find our way there by bus.....local bus. Yes we only paid $2.50 however it took us close to 2 hours to get there! The $10 return direct shuttle would have been perhaps a more time efficient option!
We found some great bargains (dh very happy with his $18 Levis) had a tasty late lunch from the Thai van at the outlet – then found our way home.
Dinner tonight was at Hula above Dukes, very casual and relaxed atmosphere. We all enjoyed our meals and decided to have an early night.
The next day greeted us with beautiful sunshine and started with a well paced walk right up to the bottom of Diamond Head. We really enjoyed the walk stopping at a beach cafe on the way home for bacon and eggs and coffee overlooking park and beach. Halting the seconds of time was becoming one of my priorities – I knew already the clock was ticking faster than it was supposed to. I have since discovered there is another cafe up this way I want to frequent on our return trip in Dec – ‘Bogarts Cafe and Expresso Bar’ on Monsarrat Ave – it received a great wrap in our local paper and online reviews seem to make it worth a visit.
Definitely a day to enjoy the sun and water and we eventually found ourselves at Dukes to experience another first – Fish Tacos! A new favourite for me, when I first read about them it sounded like the last thing I would try. The grilled Cajun fish was so fresh and everything except the sour cream seemed quite healthy– I would have this again before we left!
The afternoon went quickly eventually back at the hotel for an introduction to the conference in the afternoon followed by an opening event - a Luau at the Royal Hawaiian. We were all instructed to dress with a little bit of Aloha – and in true spirit that’s what they all did it was a sea of beautiful colour with flower leis and true Hawaiian prints over the lawns of the RH. The fire and Hula dance was certainly a spectacle and many onlookers stopped to enjoy it all from the beach.
Next day I was on my own – I decided to have a quick breakfast downstairs in the marketplace before I embarked on a walk to Ala Moana shopping centre.
It really was an easy walk – I am sure I took the long way but arrived in under 30mins. I was on a mission to find a few things however still enjoyed strolling and meandering through the maze of shops at my own pace. Very easy to lose your sense of direction and the centre is undergoing some major renovation, I somehow ended up with several bags of goodies 4hours later & lunchtime sales with an extra 40% off made most of my purchases justifiable :-). Actually many ‘sale’ purchases were as good a buy as those you could get at Waikele.
I found my way home by bus rather easily and we organized ourselves for an early departure to our evening event.
We had an organized dinner on the USS Missouri! It was certainly a highlight for us all. What a privilege to board this historical beauty. A band from its time played us onto the boat, greeted with Mai Tais we all watched the sun set over the memorial from the deck, under the three enormous guns and then went on a meander along the boat to a huge Marquis set up on the rear deck.
We were treated to a group called ‘The Paradise Sisters’ as entertainment for the night and enjoyed a fabulous smorgasbord as our meal. The singers started their act in army uniforms from the era and sang and danced with amazing similarity to those from their time. It was a great atmosphere with many finding their way to the dance floor.
Buses helped us find our way home – I think we were on the last as I really wanted to enjoy every last moment.
I found this brochure
http://pubs.hawthornpublications.com/ussmissouri/index.html#/1/ it gives you an idea of the set up for the night.
My only regret was not having enough time to absorb all the historical facts due to the social focus of the night. I knew we would definitely come back in December to fill in this gap.
The next day a group of the ‘better halves’ found ourselves on an organized Trolley Tour showing us all the local sights of Waikiki – it was enjoyable to see the other side of Diamond head as were the beautiful coastal views – we had lunch at the Aloha Tower Market Place – the lunch was lovely and I enjoyed meeting a few new people. The market place on the other hand is all but empty and quite run-down – a shame as I am sure it was quite a lively place in its day.
All the same it was great to go on the Trolley ride – I was really starting to feel more at home with the orientation of where everything was. I would have loved to go on to the North Shore on this day – the weather was so beautiful.
We found our way back to the hotel pool for the afternoon – the adults only pool is set with an infinity edge pool almost directly onto the ocean – you can actually look out from the edge of the pool and see the turtles. Pool service is great but deck chairs are at a premium – my suggestion even though it may seem an unfair expense - is factor this in and book a 2 chair cabana on the outer edge - $50 dollars well spent for space you can call your own for the afternoon and even until the sun sets. (Do this the day before to be sure – you can always cancel if your plans change)
The final conference event was an all American Night – the whole ballroom was set up like a giant Diner with Jukeboxes ,themed food and old cars + actors dressed up like people from this time as well as jive dancers setting the beat on the dance floor. A really fun night!
Our last day was free time- the boys had planned a golf day up on the North Shore whilst a few of the ladies had decided on Day Spa at the Westin (we booked this well in advance of our arrival). We had breakfast at the cafe on the street side of the Westin. Great coffee at last as well as beautiful acai berry yogurt sorbet mixed with delicious toasted muesli, berries and banana – it was to die for and a wonderful way to start the day.
The Westin is a beautiful old hotel and seems to hold a very peaceful ambience in its surrounds amongst all the hustle and bustle of Waikiki. If I came here as a couple without family I think it would be a fabulous choice – busy but retains a pace and old world atmosphere that somehow makes it seem really special.
The Day Spa is in a new wing, very spacious, with a gorgeous lounge to use between treatments, which overlooks the beach.
A massage and a facial was on my agenda – my masseuse presented me with a bowl of glittery sand – in a short time left alone with this bowl I was to empty my mind of anything negative and there was a promise that it would be ceremoniously surrendered to the waves at sunset. On returning she asked if I needed a bigger bowl :-)!
A beautiful massage and facial – not normally a luxury I afford myself but truly worth it for the special memory.
We all spent some time in the lounge sipping on Iced tea before heading off to the Halekulani for a much needed hair wash and blow dry in preparation for our last night out.
I did some last minute shopping for gifts and ended up succumbing to the Honolulu Cookie Co – the small samples I tasted were amazing and the gift packs so pretty it was an easy inexpensive gift to bring home. I chose the Waialua Estate Chocolate collection – everybody loved them back home.
We had an Early Dinner booked back at IL Lupino – it was so good the first night and they were able to accommodate a rather large group at short notice so it was an easy decision.
They have some really amazing Reds at this restaurant and their food is all so beautifully cooked with excellent service.
My meal this night was ravioli ai funghi – just perfect!
Everyone really enjoyed the night.
Home in time to pack and an early departure the next day – that was pretty well the end to an amazing week. Many things I didn’t do and yes not as adventurous as some, but it truly did seem I blinked my eyes and it was all over.
I guess there were no regrets as I knew we would be back in 6 months to explore some more and hopefully some of the quieter areas outside of Waikiki – the trip to come is going to be a much different approach. I really am even more excited now and very impatient to return. To me this is a place that offers so much there is no chance of doing it all in one go, whilst also trying to relax enough to have a holiday - I can see this will be a destination favourite for years to come.
Maholo for reading – I hope you enjoyed my first ‘epic’ tale of adventure!
Ps One thing I will do before our next trip is print off a map and mark with an x all the best barista made coffee haunts – if you have any favourites please feel free to leave me a note :-)

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