Oahu & Kauai Trip Report

Apr 27th, 2010, 05:12 PM
  #1  
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Oahu & Kauai Trip Report

I’ve frequented this website for years asking questions and adding input when I could but this is my first full-fledged trip report. DH and I celebrated our 25th anniversary in Hawaii this month. We spent two nights in Waikiki and six in Kauai. We used a travel agent that my sister-in-law had used for her trips to The Big Island in the past. Not sure I got the BEST deal I could have but I did try pricing thru Expedia and Travelocity as well as directly with airlines and hotel and really couldn’t seem to do any better. I decided on this trip we would splurge on accommodations and cut back on the restaurants. I’m usually all about having great meals but something had to give as Hawaii is not an inexpensive destination.

We flew OKC to DFW to LAX to HNL on Tuesday, March 30th. This routing actually got us into HNL about two hours earlier than flying direct from DFW. The day started very early for us as our flight left OKC at 6:00 a.m. All went fine with the flights. This was the first time we had flown since American Airlines began charging for checked baggage and in-flight food. The original plan was to just have airport to hotel transfers on Oahu rather than renting a car as the cost for parking is expensive. However, after checking with other Fodorites, I learned that cab fare from Waikiki to Pearl Harbor would most likely cost more than the car rental and having a car would allow us much more flexibility. A note on car rental: In the past we’ve always rejected the rental company’s insurance offer, assuming that our own auto insurance would cover us. DH checked with our insurance company before we left and was told that we are covered however there can be “gaps” in the coverage so we bought the insurance which was not cheap! We did some further checking with our agent when we returned to have them define these “gaps” so that we can make a better risk decision in the future. What we were told is that while our insurance will pay to fix the rental car, the rental car company can also charge you for the lost rental revenue while a car is out of service being repaired. I certainly never knew that!

In Honolulu we stayed at the Royal Hawaiian. Everything there was superb! They do treat you royally from the moment you arrive. The check-in agent asked if we were celebrating any special occasion and we received complimentary champagne in our room. Our room was in the historical part of the hotel and it was lovely. HUGE walk-in closet and a rather small bath room. The bellman told us some rooms in that part of the hotel had THREE closets from the days when guests travelled by steamship and stayed for weeks at a time.

We walked to a shopping area and found an ABC store to purchase wine and beer to have in our room, then changed into swimsuits to check out Waikiki Beach. Walked next door to the pool bar at the Sheraton and had a drink and split a cheeseburger. By now we are starting to drag a bit. It’s 4:00 in Honolulu but it’s 9:00 back home and we’d been up since 3:00 a.m. Walked back to the “private” beach at the Royal Hawaiian (they have a little chain roping off their lounge chairs and umbrellas on the beach section right in front of the hotel). I must say that people watching on Waikiki Beach is about as interesting as it gets. We were early to bed for sure.

The next morning we drove to Wailana Coffee Shop for breakfast. This was a Fodor’s tip and was convenient, they have underground parking, and the food was good. We arrived at Pearl Harbor at 8:00 and got tickets for the 11:20 boat to the Arizona Memorial. We purchased the $42 ticket for all the attractions. The Arizona is free but you pay for the Missouri Battleship, the Bowfin Submarine and the museum. Watched the introductory film, which is pretty interesting and then took the first (9:00) shuttle over to the Missouri and did the guided group tour that was included. Returned back to the park and toured the Bowfin. Made a mistake of not picking up the headset tour which was included in the ticket as I thought we’d just make a quick look thru the Bowfin, however, you are in a small space behind other people that are listening to the tour and you are not going to be moving until they do! I’m certain we didn’t get the experience of the Bowfin that we should have. When we walked over to the loading area for the Arizona a little after 11:00, I thought it was odd that there were very few people around. The park ranger was making announcements that due to windy conditions, all boats to the Arizona had been cancelled for the remainder of the day. It was extremely windy while we were there, but being from Oklahoma, it was just like spring at home!

Went back to our hotel and changed for the beach. Used a tip from a great guidebook, Oahu Revealed by Andrew Doughty, and walked down the beach to the hotel Hale Koa to get lunch at their pool snack bar. This is a hotel for military personnel but anyone can walk up to their bar and snack bar to enjoy food and drink at a much more reasonable price. Then back to beach at Royal Hawaiian for some more lounging and people watching.

That evening we got a table at the Mai Tai bar at the hotel and enjoyed Mai Tai’s where they were supposedly invented. They serve some nice bar food and we enjoyed a light dinner there. They had a small group with a dancer playing some Hawaiian music.

On Thursday we got up early again and went back to Pearl Harbor to make another attempt at the Arizona. We arrived at 7:00 and got a ticket for the 8:20 boat to the memorial. After this we returned to the hotel to check out then drove east past Diamond Head and around the southeast coast. This is a very beautiful drive with several areas to pull over and gawk. We didn’t think we had time to go all the way to the north shore and get to the airport in time so we cut thru the middle of the island. Arrived in plenty of time for our flight to Kauai.

To be continued in Kauai…
PaigeS is offline  
Apr 27th, 2010, 08:40 PM
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Great start! Glad you had such a nice trip.
lcuy is offline  
Apr 28th, 2010, 05:17 AM
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Wonderful way to celebrate your anniversary. Looking forward to your report on Kauai.
Barbara5353 is offline  
May 2nd, 2010, 02:15 PM
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I'm enjoying your report. I'll be interested in what you have to say about Kauai.
Pegontheroad is offline  
May 2nd, 2010, 02:54 PM
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On Thursday afternoon we took an inter-island flight from Honolulu to Lihue. The flight was overbooked and the gate agent forgot to account for the additional pilot that needed to fly over to take the plane back to Honolulu. It was like musical chairs, everyone was on the plane and there was one person left standing with no seat. They asked someone to volunteer to give up there seat and no one budged. Then they called the name of two passengers (married couple) no one raised their hand to admit they were the persons being paged. Finally, they had to get a gate supervisor to board the plane and make the last couple that had checked in get off and take the next flight.

We had reserved a convertible for Kauai and got very used Chrysler Sebring. The seats were very uncomfortable for more than a 30 minute trip. Since it rains so much on Kauai we probably only had the top down twice in six days. If you are driving very far at all, chances are you’ll run into some rain somewhere along the way.

Check in at the Grand Hyatt in Poipu couldn’t hold a candle to the royal treatment we had received at the Royal Hawaiian. They did have the lei greeting (however they had run out of the flower leis and gave me the black bead “men’s” lei) and there was no tropical fruit juice and no sit-down check in. It just didn’t make you feel as special as the Royal Hawaiian. I’m sure if we hadn’t just come from the Royal Hawaiian I would have thought the greeting and checking was more than fine. Our room was very nice, great bathroom with large double sink vanity. The lanai had nice, solid, comfy chairs. Not the type of cheap patio furniture you sometimes find. Our room was a very, very, long way from the lobby, I was certain we’d get lost trying to find it again. The best thing about the Grand Hyatt is the grounds, landscaping and pools. It’s just amazing and very beautiful. Since it is so spread out, your lanai feels very private and secluded and is designed so you don’t see your neighbors if they are out on their lanai at the same time.

After unpacking, we drove to the shopping center where there are some restaurants and had a light dinner in the bar at Keoki’s Paradise. Then to the grocery store in Koloa for snacks, wine, beer and breakfast stuff.

Friday morning we had a 9:30 helicopter tour with Blue Hawaii. This was fabulous and certainly worth the price. I had requested the front seats when I reserved on-line we did get to sit up front. We were somewhat concerned about the light rain but honestly the tour was just wonderful. Maybe it would have been a little better with clear skies but we were still able to go everywhere and see it all. It wasn’t raining over the entire island. I knew that they filmed the tour and offered the videos for sale and I’d thought we pass on the purchase of the video, however, the cost was only $25 and it was just so beautiful, I had to buy the DVD. When we watched it at home the sound quality when the pilot is talking was awful. The music parts are good but the narrative is so bad you can hardly tell what he’s saying. While waiting for the video to be ready we had lunch at Mariachi’s in the same shopping center in Lihue as the helicopter tour offices. This is pretty decent Mexican food. Too be continued….
PaigeS is offline  
May 2nd, 2010, 02:54 PM
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jcb
 
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Thanks for posting. Looking forward to the Kauai part!!
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May 9th, 2010, 01:21 PM
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Sorry this has taken me forever to finish. When you get home from vacation the real world just gets in the way! On Saturday we hung out at the hotel all day. As I mentioned, the grounds are just amazing and the pool areas are great. For dinner we tried Dondero’s but didn’t have a reservation so we couldn’t get in. Ended up just ordering room service and making a reservation for Dondero’s for Sunday night.

We loaded up the car with ice chest and beach towels and headed up to the North Shore to see that area and find a beach on Sunday morning. Alas, our beach day was not to be. It was rainy and cloudy all day. We drove past Princeville and Hanalei to the park where the road ends. It was crowded and there were no parking spaces left even though it was before noon. It was Easter Sunday so I suppose many people were on family outings, or maybe it’s always like this if you don’t get there early. Had we planned better, we would have brought our rain jackets and hiking shoes and gone for a hike since the sun wasn’t cooperating. We drove thru Princeville and up to the St. Regis, but didn’t go in. It was intimidating when we were dressed more for a casual beach day. By now it was lunch time and since the picnic on the beach was out, we looked for a place to eat. We chose Bouchons in Hanalei. The fish tacos were exceptional. After returning to our hotel in Po’ipu for a short nap we drove west see the Sprouting Horn. There were several roosters, chickens and some baby chicks at the Sprouting Horn park. I have to say that all the free chickens were one of my favorite things about Kauai. They are so colorful and found in some surprising places. I parked my DH at Keoki’s Paradise in the Po’ipu Shopping Village while I shopped for some gifts to take home to our assistant and co-workers. I enjoyed a Puka Dog and it was fabulous! DH is not a fan of hotdogs or shopping so he was perfectly happy sitting in Keoki’s bar having beer and nachos.

Monday we did another pool day at the Grand Hyatt. This was our 25th wedding anniversary and we had dinner reservations at The Beach House at 7:00. We went early to be there for the sunset and easily got seats in the bar. Ordered a bottle of wine and some ceviche as an appetizer. Wine was good, ceviche marginal at best. At sunset many of the restaurant patrons went out on the lawn to take photos. We were fortunate to have had a gorgeous day and the sunset was beautiful. There was a professional photographer taking photos so we had ours done. They really turned out great. I think she must have enhanced the sunset somehow, because it looks much more colorful in the photos than I remembered it being. This was a great souvenir to have of a memorable evening. I have to say the best thing about this restaurant is the setting and views, not the food.

Tuesday we drove up to Waimea Canyon. I had thought that we would do some hiking, but we must have been too lazy. We always hike in Colorado in the summer; I don’t know why we never did any in Kauai. So many things to do and so little time! The other thing that was on my list that we did not do was a lu’au. I’d heard the lu’au at the Hyatt was very good, however, during our stay it was held indoors due to weather conditions. It just didn’t seem like the experience would be what you are looking for to go to a lu’au inside.

We stopped in Koala for lunch on the way back from Waimea Canyon and ate at Tomkats (nothing special). There was a shop/art gallery where I found tiles painted with the Kauai roosters. I purchased one to use as a coaster on my nightstand at home and I love having it to remind me of Kauai.

Wednesday arrived and it was time to leave paradise. We went for an early walk along the beach before packing up to head to the airport. The inter-island airline was able to check our bags all the way thru to our final destination. I had expected we would have to claim them in Honolulu and re-check with American for our trip to the mainland. Not only was this convenient, but also less expensive than American’s baggage fees.

I do hope to return to Hawaii someday and next trip I’d like to go to the Big Island and Maui. Two weeks after our Hawaii trip we went to Puerto Vallarta for a business trip. Ordinarily this would have been a great perk but with Hawaii so fresh in my memory I was constantly disappointed as nothing was as wonderful as it had been in Hawaii. It seems you just can’t get a decent bottle of wine at a Mexican all-inclusive resort! Also, the smokers were so much more prevalent in Mexico. I don’t recall noticing anyone smoking in Hawaii - maybe they have strict no-smoking regulations in public places? In Mexico there were so many people smoking in the pool area that it was hard to find lounge chairs were the smokers weren’t going to ruin my pool time. With three trips already done in 2010, I believe we will be home for awhile.
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