Oahu Trip Report - Oct. 18-25, 2006 (long)

Old Nov 1st, 2006, 11:46 AM
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Oahu Trip Report - Oct. 18-25, 2006 (long)

My husband and I stayed at the KoOlina JW Marriott Ihilani Resort, which is about 30 miles north of the Honolulu Airport. We stayed there last year and loved it, so when the opportunity came up for us to return, we jumped on it. We bought a 5 night package ($699., no timeshare presentation required) when American Airlines was having a 25th anniversary sale in May. (We stayed 2 extra nights at the Marriott Rewards member rate of $279. per night.) The package was for a standard room at the KoOlina Marriott Beach Club Resort (located on the same property), but when I called to book our trip, I was asked if we would like to stay at the Beach Club or at the Ihiliani. I chose the Ihilani since we had stayed there last year and knew how nice the rooms were. We were given an upgrade to oceanview, just for asking! The Beach Club・s standard rooms are all mountainview (the 1 bedroom side with kitchenette of a 2 bedroom villa). If you stay at the Beach Club, there is no chance of getting an oceanview upgrade, but at the Ihilani, if you request one when you are checking in and they have one available, they will almost always upgrade you for free. The Ihilani rooms all have large lanais with furniture, very large bathrooms with 2 sinks, soaking tub and separate glass/marble shower, and the rooms are large with either a king bed or 2 double beds and a sofa, chair, coffee table, and desk. They include a safe, and a refrigerator (but it・s always packed to the max with costly refreshments). There is an ice bucket and glasses, but no ice machines. You have to request ice from the front desk and they will bring you enough for your bucket. There are no coffee makers in the rooms, but they will provide one for you upon request at no charge, however, if you want them to provide the supplies, it・s a $12.50 fee.

We always walk down to the Beach Club for breakfast at their outdoor restaurant, Kol・Ohe・s. We love eating outside in the fresh air and looking at all the vibrant colors of the palm trees, ocean, beach, blue sky dotted with while clouds, and pretty white sailboats going by! Aaaah! Their breakfast buffet is $16.95 for the full (hot) buffet, or $12.95 for the continental (cold) buffet. This price is about $10. less than the restaurant at the Ihilani, so it is worth the walk, plus we enjoy the walk and need it anyway. The Ihilani is located at the 1st lagoon and the Beach Club is located by the 3rd lagoon (approx. 1 mile). The grounds are so beautiful! There is a wedding chapel at the 1st lagoon and when there has been a wedding, you will hear the bells ring. Then pretty soon you will see the bride and groom and family come down to the beach to get photographs made. I bet those bells went off once an hour, no kidding!

KoOlina would be a great place to bring kids. The lagoons are calm enough for small ones to play in. The 2nd lagoon is the best for snorkeling, for some reason. Last year we saw lots of fish and a turtle. This year there was a turtle bobbing his head up in the 1st lagoon, but the water was too cloudy to see fish. The locals bring their families and picnic lunch out on weekends and enjoy the lagoons. We usually always go to Hawaii in June for our anniversary, but this year we opted to wait until October. (We went to Niagara Falls for our anniversary.) It was cloudier in October and there was more rain on the Windward side, but we managed to do about everything on our agenda anyway. The days are 2 hours shorter too, and we noticed with the increase cloud coverage, that the sunsets were not as pretty as they are in June. Nevertheless, we enjoy Hawaii anytime we go!! (At least the traffic was a lot lighter than it was last summer!)

I will describe the things we did this year in this trip report, but if you have any questions about some of the things we did last year, please reply to this post on this board. Last year we did the Pearl Harbor/US Missouri tour, the North Shore, Dole Pineapple Plantation, Powered Ultra-light hang gliding at Dillingham Airport, Tantalus Drive, Punchbowl Cemetery, Manoa Falls, Hanauma Bay, Valley of the Temples, Kailua Beach, Lanikai Beach, Sandy Beach, The Honola Blowhole, and Waikiki Beach.

This year, on Thursday, we visited the North Shore to see the large waves and surfers at the Bonzai Pipeline and Sunset Beach. We walked around Haleiwa Town and got some Shave Ice at Azoi・s and some delicious homemade chocolates at the Gecko Chocolate store (across from McDonald・s). We had sunset dinner at Haleiwa Joe・s. The food and ambiance was wonderful!! I highly recommend going to the North Shore/Haleiwa on a weekday. There is limited parking and the locals all go to the North Shore (and a lot of other beaches for that matter) on the weekends. I can・t blame them, I would be there every weekend too, if I had to work for a living there.

On Friday, we drove over to the Windward side to see about doing some kayaking off Kailua and Lanikai beaches, but when we got over there, it was raining and 10 degrees cooler. It was also windy and the waves were a little choppy. No one else was kayaking, so we opted to go back to our resort (on the Leeward side) and just hang out on the beach. It was sunny and 86 over there. It・s really a pretty drive over to the Windward side on either H3 or the Pali Hwy, rain or shine. Those mountains you drive through are beautiful! For dinner, we walked down to Kol・Ohe・s at the KoOlina Marriott Beach Club. It is a great location for a sunset dinner! The food was pretty good too. We had prime rib for about $25. They also had an after-dinner show for free, featuring local musicians and hula dancers.

On Saturday, we hung out on the beach at Lagoon #1 at the Ihilani. For our sunset dinner, we drove into Waikiki beach and ate a buffet meal at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. We had always wanted to see it, as it was featured in several movies and television shows. It is very large V it IS a village! There are about 14 restaurants there! We ate at the Rainbow Lanai, which over looks the beach/ocean. At sunset, there was a torch lighting ceremony that we could view from our table. The full buffet meal was about $27.95 per person. The food was pretty good, not great, but the price was right. We parked in their garages and had our ticket validated at the restaurant, which made it free. It・s a good thing, because it would have cost us $21. to park there for just a couple of hours!!

On Sunday, we hung out at Lagoon #1 again. (We opted to do more of that on this trip since the weather was better on our side of the island.) For dinner, we went back to Kol・Ohe・s again. They have several different specials to choose from every night, it depends on the chef that is working that day. We both had the Chicken/Pasta dish, which was very good! It was like a chicken fettuccini alfredo. I believe it was around $16.95. They had another local band there for entertainment too. (FYI - Every Tuesday night at the KoOlina Marriot Beach Club, they have a Luau on their lawn, provided by the same folks who run the Macadamia Nut Farm Outlet on the Windward side.)

On Monday, we went to Hanauma Bay to snorkel. We did this last year, and definitely wanted to do it again! It is easy to snorkel there and worth the $5. admission fee into thThe beach is pretty and you are guaranteed to see lots of big, beautiful fish! We even saw an eel and swam with a large sea turtle! They always tell you to get there early, like 8:00 a.m., to get a parking spot, but we always go around 2:00 p.m. when lots of the early arrivers have left. We find it・s not as crowded and can stay several hours until the sun goes behind the crater・s ridge when the visibility lessens. There are nice changing rooms there, so we changed and drove to Waikiki Beach to watch the sunset. We parked for free at Kapiolani Park (by the zoo) and walked down the sidewalk on Waikiki beach. We walked down to the statue of Duke K. (famous surfer) and ate across the street at Cheeseburger in Paradise. It・s a fun, whimsical place for tourist to eat. It・s about $12 each for a cheeseburger and Maui onion rings.

On Tuesday, we went back over to the Windward side of the island. There were clouds, but no rain. It was probably around 76 degrees, which was perfect weather for us to take a Ranch and Movie Set tour ($19.00) at the Kualoa Ranch. We got over there about 11:15 a.m. and a tour had just left, so we had to wait until the 2:00 pm tour. While we waited there was a nice gift shop/ restaurant to spend time and money in. Also, every 15 minutes, they show an 11 minute film of the history of the Ranch you can watch. We walked around and took pictures. It・s really a pretty setting with the Kualoa mountain range right behind it and the ocean across the street. We drove a few miles down the road to take pictures by Chinaman・s Hat at the Kualoa Park. We also went to visit the Macadamia Nut Farm Outlet just another mile down the road. They also have a nice gift shop and grounds in which to spend time. They have movie set tours too ($15.00), but we didn・t have time to do that this time. It looked like it would be as good, or maybe even better, than the tour at the Ranch. Next time! For $5.00 they cracked open a real coconut for me to try. They have free samples of their macadamia nuts and coffee that they package fresh daily there. I bought a watercolor print of some plumeria blossoms from a local artist that was there. She mailed it to my home for only $6.00 postage. I love it!

Back at the ranch, we enjoyed the movie set tour. It was on an old school bus with the windows removed. The driver was a local young man with a good personality that made it entertaining. He drove us through the valley where they filmed Jurassic Park, Lost, Godzilla, Pearl Harbor, 50 First Dates, etc. He also stopped at an old WWII Bunker in the side of the mountain. They have lots of movie posters in there, but it was originally used by the U.S. after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The tour took about an hour. They also have other tours on horseback, ATV, or HV through the jungle.

After the tour, we drove over to Kailua Beach and took some pictures. It was too late and the water was a little too choppy to kayak. Next time! We drove a little further down the road to Lanikai Beach. (This is the beach where swimsuit models do photo shoots.) We swam a little and took pictures of the beach and the Mokolua islands off-shore. It・s a beautiful beach right behind some million $ homes. There were some kite surfers out there, which was fun to watch. These two beaches are beautiful and the water is usually greener and warmer (more Caribbean-like). The bottom is really clean and has soft sand. One day, I hope to go here to spend the whole day. (You have to drive into a housing addition and go down a one-way street, then turn on one of the cross-over streets to park on another one-way street that has beach access walkways between the homes.) About 5:00 pm, we drove back to the Ihilani just in time to watch the sunset. We snapped a few sunset pictures before going to dinner. We drove 3 miles south to Kapolei and ate at an Outback Steakhouse. We then went back to KoOlina Beach Club Resort in hopes of seeing some of the Tuesday night luau show, but we got there just when it ended (about 8:30 pm). It looked like it was really a good luau. Next time!

Wednesday was our last day. We walked to Kol・Ohe・s for our last breakfast buffet. We asked for a late check-out since our plane didn・t leave until 7:30 p.m. We just hung out on the beach and called our family back home. We also went to a Long・s Drug store in Kapolei to get some pictures developed and buy a photo album to assemble on the long plane ride back. Since we didn・t have to be at the airport until 5:00 p.m., we drove up the west coast to see the beaches in Makaha, up north of the Ihilani. The mountains up there were beautiful too. All the beaches up that way are pretty, but there are a lot of homeless people camped out in tents and cars. We went as far as we could before the road ends at Yokohama Bay, where there were some large waves and surfers to watch and photograph!
We returned our rental car at 5:00 pm at the airport (Hertz) and made it through security by 5:30. We had to watch our last 2006 Hawaii sunset from the airport window. Wouldn・t you know it, it was the prettiest one of the whole week!

Next year, we hope to visit the island of Kauai in June! Can・t wait!! I hope this information helps someone who is planning a trip to Oahu. We have also been to Maui three times. We love Oahu, except for the traffic. We love the JW Marriott Ihilani and the quiet location vs. the busy, crowded hotels on Waikiki. We will definitely return to Oahu someday!

Mikensha is offline  
Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 04:38 AM
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Aloha mikensha!!

Mahalo for the nice report. It was good to hear all the details about the Ihilani. We usually stay in Waikiki for 3 nights and then head up to the north shore for a week or so. I've wondered how the leeward coast is.

Too bad about not getting to kayak... except now you have a great reason to go back. I'd like to do that on my next trip to O'ahu too!

Mahalo and aloha!!
makai1 is offline  
Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 04:52 AM
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Great TR Mike...we were just at Ko'olina 2 weeks ago. We had a similar package, but with car and timeshare presentation. We got an upgrade to a penthouse villa at Resort, but not oceanview. I never thought to ask about a room at Ihiliani.

There were a lot less children at Ihiliani, which would we would have prefered as we are now "been there done that" so I guess there's always next time.

Rereading report was liking reliving recent memories.

I have Photo Album posted on here you might like to see. I'll top it or click on my name.

DebitNM is offline  
Old Nov 2nd, 2006, 05:14 AM
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Thanks for your very informative report.
It's Maui for us next year, but a return to Oahu is definitely in our future plans. We like staying on the windward side, but the Ihilani always tempts. Maybe we'll give it a try next visit.
Barbara5353 is offline  
Old Nov 4th, 2006, 01:15 AM
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Mikensha, thanks so much for posting your report. Have een to Oahu before, but not yet visited or stayed at the KoOlina lagoons area. I have a similar package via AA, so when actually booking specific dates, thanks to your advice perhaps I'll request an upgrade to the Ihilani.
I love your plumeria print story. What a lovely memento of your trip!
CaliNurse is offline  
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