O'ahu Trip Report

Old Sep 16th, 2007, 02:25 PM
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O'ahu Trip Report

Here is my slightly belated trip report. I have been busy with other things, but I think I just donít want to finish the report because that is the official end of the trip. also I keep thinking I have thoughts I havenít yet put into words, but that may never happen...if it does, I can always add them later.

Our trip was 17 days July to August. I ended up consulting a travel agent and she put together a package that was as good a price as what I could put together myself and had a better flight schedule. Our airfare, hotel for 10 days, and rental car for 7 days, through Blue Sky Tours, was $4171. we did have to pay another $43 for the taxes or something on the car, which I thought was quite good. The rental hoouse cost was split, and I havenít added up the restaurant and other miscellaneous costs (and donít intend to, ha ha). We met up with family members so it was a very special trip.

Lodgings
We stayed at the Waikiki Circle for ten days. It is curently managed by Resortquest, but is still owned by the family of the woman who built the hotel in the 60s, which I was glad to know. We had an oceanfront room, 404. I understand the three front rooms on each floor are considered oceanfront. Ours was the center of these, so the one on either side would have a slightly less straight-on view of the ocean. I posted some pictures at worldisround.com/articles/334335/index.html which includes the view from our balcony and the room interior. Most mornings we would get up, eat some yogurt and fruit, and walk across the street to swim, then return to the room about 10. We spent hours on the balcony looking at the water and the surfers, and we felt like we were at the beach all the time because we were so close. After dark we watched people walking and driving by, and Mr Aloha spotted a few classic cars cruising. There was a fireworks show out on the water on July 22--we werenít able to find out what the occasion was for that but since we had such a good view it seemed to be just for us. The room was small but the beds were very comfortable. The closet was quite large, and extra coat hangers were brought when I asked for them. The bathroom was small but quite adequate. the mini-fridge was fine for beer, juice, and yogurt. There was complimentary coffee in the lobby in the mornings. The location was just great, and I would quite happily stay again in an oceanfront or oceanview room. We did ask one day if we could see a somewhat higher room, and a very nice young man at the front desk took us up to the 7th floor. I might like to be on the 6th floor next time, because on the 4th the streetlights are at about eye level and kind of obstruct the view at night. Cost was 189 a night.

We spent a week on the North Shore at VRBO #77614. there were 6 of us staying there. the house is great and we were very happy with it. It is not beachfront but only a minute walk to the beach access. The house was very well-equipped and the kitchen equipment was great--everything from nice heavy pans to a decent corkscrew. Each room has an AC unit and I did think it was needed to sleep. The only bad thing I can say about the house is that it is close to the highway and the traffic noise was constant. The nightly cost was right at 300, including the cleaning fee, but not the security deposit.
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Old Sep 16th, 2007, 02:28 PM
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Re the house, I should note I reserved it in about February. I was hoping for oceanfront, but by Feb almost all of the oceanftont were already reserved.
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Old Sep 16th, 2007, 02:36 PM
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Part 2: Restaurants

Our favorite this trip was Keoni, an offshoot of Keoís. I think we ate there 5 times in 10 days. It is at the corner of Kuhio and Kaiulani, on the ground floor of the Ohana East hotel, and is open-air. The decor is nice with paintings and huge flower arrangements. The service was very good.. We first went there because of their ad in the hotel guest info book, for $3.95 breakfast special. We actually did order the special once, but what I liked better was to split the steak and eggs benedict ($13) with Mr Aloha--he had the steak and potatoes and I had the eggs benedict. they had a really good fruit plate and their juice was very good. The breakfast special is eggs, bacon, and 2 large fluffy pancakes. They had some well-priced dishes for lunch, and you can also order from the dinner menu at lunch. they do not have a huge menu, but it includes Amercian, Thai, and some regional dishes. Dinners we had included Indonesian shrimp in peanut sauce, spicy fish, shrimp in yellow curry....If i could only eat at one restaurant for the rest of my life, this might be it. Only negative I saw was that beer is high, or at least what we ordered was about $6 each. Dinner entrees about $15 and lunch about 8-10.

We had a couple of great meals at Luluís. It is upstairs at the corner of Kalakaua and Kapahulu so there is a nice view. The prices seemed good especially at dinner--steak and shrimp $16.95, and they had Steinlager draws for $3 I think I had my most delicious breakfast here--crab cake eggs benedict: 2 large crab cakes on biscuits, covered in eggs benedict. It was easily enough for two people, but since Mr Aloha had an omelet, I had to force myself ;-) to eat all the crab, egg, and hollandaise--I just skipped the biscuits and most of the side order of rice. We also had coffee and excellent juice for $31 total.

One morning we walked down the beach to the Shore Bird, still a favorite. The price is now $11.95 a person, but the cashier will give you dollar off coupons if you ask. Still a wonderful spread and a good deal. We sampled the bread pudding with coconut, fried rice, steamed mahi, ham, bacon, sausage, muffins, fresh pineapple, melon, and perfect papaya, with unlimited pass-o-guava juice and coffee.

We had a lunch at Tikiís, good sandwiches for about $10 each, nice atmosphere and service.

We still have not been to Dukeís for breakfast, but we did go for lunch. their lunch buffet for $12.95 was a good value. Choices included mahi, kalua pig with cabbage, teriyaki chicken, grilled zucchini and peppers, potato salad, a caesar salad station and regular salad bar, plain rice and rice seasoned with seaweed and black sesame seeds (I think--anyway it was good), pineapple, cantaloupe, and watermelon. Everything was well-prepared and presented. It was nice to have all those fresh vegetables and fruit to choose from.

In the first couple of days we tried to find some really inexpensive places to eat. There is a tiny restaurant called Fattyís next to the International Mktplace close to Kuhio Ave. 2 people can eat there for $11, and the fried shrimp seemed ok and the sweet and sour pork was pretty good, but the shoyu chicken was underdone and still had some feathers on the skin, so basically inedible. We really did not know what to order and the staff didnít seem to speak much English, so we just ordered from the tiny steam table. I saw some beef dishes being cooked in the big woks and they looked good, so I might give it another try sometime.

I knew Perryís Smorgy is a longtime budget fixture and there was frequently a long line to get in, so we decided to give it a try for breakfast. I would never return there. The place was full of birds, and the staff made no effort to shoo them. If you turned away from your plate for a second, a sparrow would be eating your food. But the worst thing in my opinion was that the fruit appeared to have been cut and set out for at least a day. It all looked very wilted and there was a large patch of white fuzzy mold growing on the papaya.

In Chinatown, we ate at Legend Seafood Restaurant. We had fried shrimp, pork short ribs, spinach and scallop dumpling, shrimp dumpling, and mango pudding. The restaurant was very nice with tablecloths, and quite noisy. The dimsum menu was easy to understand and we didnít have too much ttrouble ordering from the carts. The food was very good and it was a fun experience. It seemed like we ordered a lot but our total was only $22.

We had Ono Hawaiian Restaurant on our list, but did not actually go there--we were favored with leftovers by my brother. He said the plates were big enough for about three people. We had laulau, kalua pork, poi (I like poi and thought this was especially good), lomi salmon, rice, and haupia---all very delicious.

We went to Chaiís and saw Hapa; we did make advance reservations. This was very enjoyable and the price was justified for us by the music. The food was excellent but the prices are way beyond what we would consider for just a meal. The service was wonderful and it is a nice atmosphere. We had an appetizer plate with 2 big prawns (coated in delicate noodles, on skewers stuck into a piece of pineapple--very dramatic looking), crab cake, and seared ahi. Also a salad, and for dessert the creme brulee sampler (very good, but the coffee one was so strong I couldnít finish it and gave it to my coffee-addicted brother but even he said it was too strong) and key lime calypso which was delicious and gorgeous. We also had 2 beers and total was 62.50.

Outside of Waikiki, we had a very good plate lunch at Kenekeís in Waimanalo, in the little strip mall where the sumo statue is. also went to Daveís Hawaiian Ice Cream there and that was excellent also.

We ate once at Haleiwa Joeís in Haleiwa. I am sentimental about this location as i first went there in the early 80s, when it seems to me it was just a plain-jane family restaurant in a great location, and later when it was a Chart House we had an outstanding meal on a rainy day after going to Waimea Falls Park and getting wet and muddy. Anyway, i wanted to go there again, and it seems like a very nice place in the current incarnation. We didnít order anything fancy, just a fish sandwich and a burger and they were good, $20 total.

Six of us ate at Grass Skirt Grill for $55. it was good and had good choices for the vegetarians in our group. It is tiny with tiny tables.

several times for supper we got sandwiches, chips and beer at the ABC store and ate on our balcony. there were 3 brands of sandwiches at ABC and not surprisingly we learned that the most expensive brand were the best.
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Old Sep 16th, 2007, 02:56 PM
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Part 3: Culture, Entertainment, and Miscellaneous

We greatly enjoyed the Prince Lot Hula Festival. We decided to just go for the afternoon. All of the dancing, chanting, and music were excellent. Some of the ancient hula accompanied by chanting was very moving and brought tears to my eyes. I'm really glad we were able to do this. It is wonderful to see the halau in a non-competitive, non-commercial setting.

At the Academy of Arts we saw the exhibit of Japanese woodblock prints donated by J Michener, the collection of Buddhist art, and the historic paintings of Hawai'i. All very beautiful and interesting.

The hula mound near the Duke Kahanamoku statue was being refurbished, so the nightly hula was in the Kapiolani Park bandstand. We went to this one night and the dancers were a senior citizens group who seemed to be really enjoying themselves and were quite good. We also saw the torchlighting from our balcony. These kind of things are just one of the reasons I like Waikiki so much.

I did go to Hakubundo and got some Japanese crochet books. I never made it to Ben Franklin or Don Quijote, but I got 5 books at Hakubundo!

I am not a real big snorkeler, but I did go at Shark's Cove and enjoyed it. My relatives who are really into snorkeling went at Waimea and the area from Rocky Point to Sunset Beach Park and said it was good in those spots. A turtle and a ray were seen near Rocky Point.

We did think the island overall was more crowded than we have seen it in the past. On Sunday it seemed everyone on the island was out cruising, and we wanted to stop at Sandy Beach and a couple of other places, but couldn't see any parking spots. I guess a weekend at the end of summer is a time when one would expect a lot of people to be out and about. I need to make another fall trip to see if I think it is less crowded

Overall this was a wonderful trip, and I enjoyed posting and reading here while planning it. Thanks again to everyone here. I hope this report will be helpful to other Fodorites.
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Old Sep 16th, 2007, 03:23 PM
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Thank you, especially for all the details. We are headed to Oahu over spring break for the week. DH has been there often, but the kids and I have not. So I really enjoy reading about what things/places/restaurants are worth going to. Thanks!
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Old Sep 16th, 2007, 04:10 PM
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Great report! just wanted to follow up on Chai's--the shrimp you had was "Kataifi Shrimp," and the noodle like coating is actually a version ov phyllo dough. the coffee is probably strong because Chai is Thai and he makes his coffee in the French fashion. Hmmm....I'm at Aloha Tower Marketplace right now. I think I'll have some!
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Old Sep 16th, 2007, 05:56 PM
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Very nice.
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Old Sep 16th, 2007, 06:09 PM
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I am glad you all enjoyed the report...thank you for the comments.

Melissa, on the prawns, tiny noodles was our best guess So is it phyllo dough sliced up that finely?
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Old Sep 16th, 2007, 06:09 PM
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interesting read, you mentioned LuLu's food, but what about the service, i thought the food was definitely delicious, but the service was just horrible. great pictures too, i love all pictures from oahu, even if its just a few.
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Old Sep 16th, 2007, 07:28 PM
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Infamous, I'm glad you liked the report and the photos. We had good service at Lulu's. We went there for dinner and returned for breakfast the next morning, and at least of the staff remembered us (I was surprised that someone who'd worked in the evening was there the next morning). I also liked all the surfing decor and the surfing on the TVs. Oh yes, and did I mention the Steinlager draws for $3?
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Old Sep 16th, 2007, 07:31 PM
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Thanks for your detailed report. Particularly enjoying the North Shore info as my sister and I will be staying in the area in March.
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Old Sep 17th, 2007, 02:17 AM
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Yes! Phyllo, but not sliced. It comes in a threadlike form, just like that. some forms of baklava are made with it!
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Old Sep 17th, 2007, 04:49 AM
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Great report and stunningly beautiful photos! Thanks for sharing your vacation with us.
 
Old Sep 17th, 2007, 05:05 AM
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Thanks for posting your excellent report and also validating what some of us already know; there is more to Hawaii than Maui!
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Old Sep 18th, 2007, 10:04 AM
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Thank you all for your kind words! It is not too hard to take good photos with such a beautiful subject. I have decided my best approach on landscapes is just to shoot, with a little zoom, and then on the computer crop til I like the framing.

Melissa, that is really interesting about the phyllo, I did not know it came in that form. My brother was amused by the amount of detail I recorded about our meals. I told him it was necessary in order to post a useful trip report! He will get a kick out of the fact that we have discussed the actual ingredients. (As an aside, I just saw that my favorite band, Los Lonely Boys, are going to be at Aloha Twr next week--are you going to see them? They put on a great live show.)

A couple of things I wanted to add to my report: Foodland at Pupukea on the North Shore has a good selection. I thought the prices were not bad, all things considered. My brother saw whole fresh tuna being carried into the store, inquired as to when it would be sold, and returned later in the day to purchase tuna steaks. That was among the very very best fish I have ever eaten. There are a couple of grocery stores in Haleiwa, but I did not shop there. We also had prawns and fresh fruit and veges from the stands near Kahuku, all very good.

In Waikiki, The block of Kuhio west of Kaiulani St is pretty handy. This is where Keoni restaurant is, as well as a laundromat : both are ground floor in the Ohana East hotel. Food Pantry is across Kuhio. It is a grocery store with prices I found comparable to ABC stores, but a bigger variety. it is not a very big store, but has fresh produce, for example. We mainly shopped at ABC but I was glad to know where Food Pantry was.

We walked through the Beach Walk development and thought it seemed like a generic entertainment-mall. I find it depressing that Trump is building in Waikiki. Along with all the Starbucks, Wolfgang Puck, etc, it seems to me to take away from the uniqueness of the area.

But I was glad to see that in general business seems to be booming in Waikiki. I do really like the recent landscaping and beautification of Kuhio Park.
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Old Sep 18th, 2007, 12:54 PM
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If you google Kataifi, you will find both links to recipes and images for this shredded phyllo. yummmmmmmmmmm

I am actually not going to Los Lonely Boys--it's put on by a tenant, Events At the Tower, not the Marketplace itself. I am, however, going to the Flock of Seagulls/When In Rome concert on Saturday!!!
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Old Sep 18th, 2007, 06:52 PM
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Aloha,
Great post, a big Mahalo for sharing your trip report.
Jeanne
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