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Oahu Trip Report

Old Mar 11th, 2007, 06:14 PM
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Oahu Trip Report

We LOVED Oahu! My expectations were fairly low, and boy was I surprised. I thought I would be heading to an island of never ending traffic jams, people and commercialism. I was so wrong…..

Our journey to Oahu from Chicago took a little longer than expected. Our 9 hour direct flight turned into 13 hours, so the trip did not start well. After sitting in coach for 13 hours I was ready for some serious R&R, and Oahu delivered the goods.

We checked into our room at the JW Marriott late Thursday evening. I could only muster enough energy to unpack and pour myself into a nice hot tub. Let me take this opportunity to say the bath tubs at the Ihilani are FABULOUS. The tubs are deep and wide with comfortable arm rests, the perfect place to unwind after a long day. The complimentary bath salts were also a nice touch. After my bath I drifted off to sleep in my ultra comfy bed, listening to the ocean.

I greeted our first morning on the beach. The birds and time change woke me up an hour before sunrise so I decided to take a walk on the beach. Sunrise from a hammock overlooking the ocean….not a bad start to the day. We spent the morning at Pearl Harbor, visiting the museum, Arizona Memorial and Missouri. We were amazed to find no traffic on the way and no line when we arrived. I guess our luck was finally changing. Afternoon was spent swimming in one of the Ko’Olina lagoons. The lagoons are man-made, which I have mixed feelings about, but the swimming is fantastic.

Saturday morning we headed to Hanauma Bay for some world famous snorkeling. Again, we were lucky to have no traffic on the way and no line of cars waiting for us at Hanauma. Weather was partly cloudy and the surf was a little high, perhaps the crowds decided to stay home that day. I was not overly impressed with Hanauma. Due to high surf the water was a little murky, and I didn’t find the fish to be abundant. It’s a very beautiful setting, but next time I’ll probably skip it. We spent the rest of our day exploring Lanikai, Kailua Beach, the Byodo Temple and took the Pali Hwy back for a breathtaking view from the lookout. Kailua was great fun. The surf was too high for swimming, but it’s a great beach to take a stroll or people watch. The sand at Kailua is powder soft, very close to a white sand beach in Florida. Lanikai was almost non-existent, but beautiful none-the-less. On the way to Lanikai we’re pretty sure we saw Evangeline Lily walking. The woman was wearing a baseball cap, with her hair pulled back and very large sunglasses, but I’m pretty sure those were her killer biceps.

Sunday was the highlight of our trip. We booked a boat trip with Wildside Specialty Tours, and it was worth every penny. Not only did we get to see some beautiful scenery, but we also saw (and heard) many whales, snorkeled at a fabulous offshore reef, and swam with dolphins. Being in the ocean with hundreds of spinner dolphins was simply amazing. The crew was very friendly, and I liked the small size of the group. They limit each trip to 16 people, so we had plenty of time to talk with the crew and spend in the water. We will definitely do this tour again when (not if) we come back to Oahu.

Monday and Tuesday were spent exploring the North Shore, watching surfers and snorkeling at the Turtle Bay Resort. The snorkeling at Kuilima Cove was phenomenal, much better than Hanauma. Fish were abundant and varied, water was clear, and we even saw some turtles. The cove is pretty protected, so it’s worth the drive up North if you’re looking for some good beach snorkeling. There is easy public parking and access at the resort. The North Shore is just plain cool. Watching the surfers on the Bonzai Pipeline is a must do.

Food Highlights: Pancakes with Macadamia Nut Sauce at Boot’s & Kimo’s in Kailua. Anything and everything at Sam Choy’s Breakfast, Lunch & Crab. The sushi, spam musubi, shrimp shumai at Shirokiya (in the Ala Moana mall). Ted’s Bakery on the North Shore for Chocolate Haupia Cream Pie and Macadamia Nut Cream Pie, and yes I did eat both pieces! L&L Drive In was more than adequate for the price.

JW Marriott Ihilani Resort impressions: We actually were not supposed to be staying at the resort. We prefer condo rentals so initially we booked 5 nights at a Ko’Olina Beach Club condo for $599. The Beach Club had no availability during our travel dates so Marriott upgraded us to the Ihilani. Upon arrival we opted to upgrade our Mountain View room to Ocean View for $50 a night, and also extended our stay an additional night due to our late arrival. The room was good size, with a small entry/ mini bar area, standard size sleeping area with obligatory desk and coach, but the bathroom and lanai were very large. In addition to the huge tub, the bathroom had dual vanities, a separate shower and separate water closet (a nice touch). The grounds were manicured, with several “ponds” filled with different marine life. The pool was very small and shallow, with no view of the ocean. The staff was very friendly, especially the valets. I had a lot of fun with the guys. Overall I thought it was a nice hotel, but I would never consider staying there for $500+ a night.

What else can I say? Oahu is amazing. Kauai is still my favorite, but Oahu is also incredibly beautiful and scenic. It offers the gorgeous scenery I associate with Kauai, with the modern conveniences of a major city. It’s the best of both worlds.


http://travel.webshots.com/album/558126004vWTHoM
annahead is offline  
Old Mar 11th, 2007, 06:23 PM
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Great pictures! What kind of camera did you use - especially for the underwater shots?

Did you have to do a timeshare presentation for those rates?
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Old Mar 12th, 2007, 04:50 AM
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I always LOVE reading a trip report that starts out as positive as yours! Beautiful photos.

So, did you buy the timeshare special thing and they automatically sent you to the JW, or what was the deal?

i'2
 
Old Mar 12th, 2007, 06:10 AM
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iceeu2 -- I could be wrong, but I don't think anna bought a timeshare.
I think this is where anna got the deal:

http://www.marriottvillas.com/getawa...ia/default.asp

It is the same thing we did in October, but we didn't get to stay at JW. We did the 90 minute timeshare presentation, but there was no pressure and we were done in 90 minutes!

Debi
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Old Mar 12th, 2007, 06:27 AM
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Thanks for the report!

We had a similar experience at Hanauma Bay and I'd be interested in finding out more about your boat trip.
Were you picked up at the hotel?
How long was the trip, did it include food and what did it cost?

Thanks again...
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Old Mar 12th, 2007, 06:16 PM
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Lots of questions. I'll try to get them all answered:

Cameras - Underwater shots taken with a fairly inexpensive Olympus camera. I'll have to check the model #. Other photos taken with a Fuji Finepix F20.

Timeshare - We were not required to do a timeshare, but decided to for the extra savings. They gave us $100 off our car rental, plus an additional $250 off our room! The presentation was fine, not high pressure at all.

Room - We booked the offer after receiving an email from AA and Marriott Rewards. The $599 price was for 5 nights at the Beach Club, but luckily for us the Beach Club had no availability. We did not ask to be upgraded to the JW, the Marriott representative asked if we would "mind" staying at the Ihilani since the Beach Club was booked. It was hard not to laugh at that question.

Boat Tour - Wildside Specialty Tours. I actually read about this tour on a competing travel site. We wanted something that focused on snorkeling and whale watching. Wildside offered both, plus the dolphin swim on the Morning Wildlife trip. This tour was very convenient for us since it departed from Waianea Boat Harbor. Waianea is a short drive west from Ko'Olina. I'm not sure if they will do pick-ups, but I highly recommend taking this tour.

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Old Mar 12th, 2007, 06:24 PM
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Oops, more details on the boat tour:

http://www.sailhawaii.com/itinerary.html

Cost $95, 4 hour tour. They had some snacks and beverages, but I did not look to see what was offered. It's a small boat with a small crew, very informal. Food and drink is self-service. The crew spends time talking with the passengers. We discussed everything from global warming and politics to the difference between spinner and bottle nose dolphins.
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Old Mar 13th, 2007, 08:01 AM
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aloha... aaahhh I love O'ahu!!

Very nice report annahead. I enjoyed the pics too! A wonderful O'ahu fix. Everyone who says O'ahu is not worth visiting other than Pearl Harbor... blah blah blah... sure doesn't have a clue about what they've missed! no worries... all the more for us!

Mahalo for the great report!
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Old Mar 13th, 2007, 12:43 PM
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Just wanted to thank you for your trip report, and for your pictures. I will be there second week of June and I can’t wait. Love to read and get ideas from other travelers, it’s really nice for people to take the time and write these and even better when they come back and answer questions. I am glad you enjoyed your trip.
Gina
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Old Mar 13th, 2007, 02:12 PM
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Thank you for a grea trip report. We are going in early June and are considering some excursions. About the Wildlife Specialty Tour, were there problems with seasickness? My husband and I are very prone. Thanks.
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Old Mar 13th, 2007, 04:31 PM
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Great report, and fantastic photos. But what I really want to say is....
Hellooooo?! We told you so!!

Oahu has a lot more to offer than Pearl Harbor, traffic jams, or commercialism. Now you, too, can jump on the "Why I love Oahu" bandwagon.


http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...1&tid=34515901
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Old Mar 13th, 2007, 04:56 PM
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Wow! Just when I was ready to say my fav pictures were your beaches & sunsets, then I saw the fishes and the all time fav, the two turtles...almost tied with the 5 dolphins....you get my drift! I surely enjoyed viewing your pictures as well as your great report!
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Old Mar 13th, 2007, 05:11 PM
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Thanks everyone for the feedback. I'm glad you're all enjoying the report and photos.

To MarleneSusan: no one on our tirp had a problem, but we were lucky since the high surf was hitting the Eastern shore. It's a small boat so you will definitely feel the swells. They do have ginger on board just in case. If you can't take anything beforehand (like bonine) this may not be the tour for you unless the ocean is very calm. You will feel less of the ocean on a larger boat.
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Old Mar 20th, 2007, 07:35 PM
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Nice TR & great photos.
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