Why I don't like Waikiki

Aug 10th, 2009, 03:22 PM
  #1  
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Why I don't like Waikiki

I recently stayed in Waikiki for a week while attending a hula conference -- we got a good rate on the rooms at Ohana Waikiki West -- and I must say I would never stay in Waikiki otherwise!!

If you have romantic notions of the beach, forget it, unless you are staying at a really expensive hotel that is really ON the beach. Otherwise, you are in the middle of cheek-by-jowl highrises, constant heavy traffic, noise, cheap souvenir shops, crowds of people, etc. Our guide book says that on any given day 70% of all the tourists in Hawaii are in Waikiki!! that's way too many!!

Our hotel had an outdor swimming pool on the third floor, with the noise and exhaust constantly rising up from the street. I was astounded that people actually used it! It was a 2 or 3 block walk through a landscape of high rises to get to the beach.

Also, the Ala Moana shopping center is nothing but big-name, big-bucks designer stores that you can find in any big tourist city in the world, and only one place that really offered genuine Hawaiian stuff.

Having previously stayed numerous times on Maui or the Big Island (Hawaii), I would never cosider going back to Waikiki. We are now staying in a rented house on the North Shore of Oahu, and it's much nicer, quieter, and more like the real Hawaii. And the beaches are nice. (In the winter the waves here are wild, so it's not for everyone.)

If you like beach life, try Maui. If you want a lot to see and do, and some beach experience, the Big Island is great.
charnees is offline  
Aug 10th, 2009, 03:30 PM
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I don't care for Waikiki either. Too busy, too crowded, too "Disneyland." Traffic in and out of the place is awful.

Too bad pretty much all the hotels in Oahu are in Waikiki, because I LOVED the rest of the island! No, I haven't been to the others. But I'd go back to Oahu in a heartbeat if I could rent a condo or vacation rental and stay somewhere besides Waikiki.
Andrew is online now  
Aug 10th, 2009, 04:25 PM
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I love Waikiki beach, but don't ever stay there. (We stay in Kailua) If you go looking for a quiet beach experience you will be disappointed. If you are looking for great people watching, riding the waves on an outrigger, learning to surf on the gentle waves, interacting with the beach boys, walking past some amazing old hotels, seeing the sunset, Waikiki is an excellent day trip.
rpowell is offline  
Aug 10th, 2009, 04:27 PM
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We went as a day trip as well from the North Shore... it is not my cup of tea either - but some love it!
MomDDTravel is offline  
Aug 10th, 2009, 05:21 PM
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Charnees- I'm not arguing that Waikiki is for everyone, but I have to answer some of your points.

You stayed in one of Waikiki's very budget hotels on one of the busiest corners in Wailkiki. I don't know what you paid, but usually people stay there because of the kitchens, and the great weekly rates. There are hotels much closer to the beach for very little more.

And Ala Moana Center is a big mall, but did you go two blocks beyond there to Ward Center or Ward Warehouse? They are full of local shops. Another 1/4 mile to Aloha tower and you'll find mostly local stores as well.

One hour ago, I picked my friend up from the airport and dropped her at her home away from home at the Waikiki Grand. $50 a night for a one bedroom condo across from the zoo and about 30 yards from the beach. Despite the drizzly skies and the long drive through Waikiki, she just got happier and happier as we approached her building. She loves the energy of Waikiki and always cooses it over other parts of Hawaii.
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Aug 10th, 2009, 05:29 PM
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Despite the drizzly skies and the long drive through Waikiki, she just got happier and happier as we approached her building. She loves the energy of Waikiki and always cooses it over other parts of Hawaii.>>>

Two friends of mine come immediately to mind. One goes EVERY year to Moana Surfrider - they LOVE it there. Another went every year until she passed a few years ago of cancer. It is exactly what you said - the energy. It is not for me... but I sure do agree - some LOVE It!
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Aug 10th, 2009, 05:34 PM
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I love Waikiki, adore it!! I grew up in southern California in the 60's and it reminds me a bit of that. Because I travel solo much of the time I like the energy & action with lots of other people around.

I think the disappointment comes when newbies to Hawaii don't realize the reality of Honolulu/Waikiki and are expecting a deserted tropical beach in the middle of nowhere... this ain't that!
suze is offline  
Aug 10th, 2009, 05:38 PM
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I think the disappointment comes when newbies to Hawaii don't realize the reality of Honolulu/Waikiki and are expecting a deserted tropical beach in the middle of nowhere... this ain't that!>>>>

I think you are right Suze. I knew I did not want that for our trip to Oahu (although we thought about it because we thought that energy might be fun with the 4 children) We ended up out on the North Shore which for us was perfect. This time we are staying at the Marriott (in November)...
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Aug 10th, 2009, 05:42 PM
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Ah, the Moana! I love to go there for tea on the veranda!

Last year, Fodorite HawaiianTraveler and his shy wife booked a room the night of one of our GTGs. They generously hosted a wine reception in their room before the Waikiki Hoolaulea (street party). Oddly enough, we all stayed in the room till the Hoolaulea was almost finished. We were hoping M/M HT would let us spend the night and watch the sun com up, but no luck!
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Aug 10th, 2009, 05:44 PM
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lcuy - I think that this couple has been going every year for at least 15 years -

I might have to have tea on the veranda there when I go in November
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Aug 10th, 2009, 06:15 PM
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I was just about to respond to Charnees, but lcuy did it for me! If I may add....

You're referring to "Waikiki" as if it represents the whole island of Oahu, and recommend people go to Maui. This is not the case. If you read through the threads here, you'll find that most people recommend you spend time OUTSIDE of Waikiki to get the true flavor of Oahu. To spend an entire week confined to a two-mile stretch and proclaim that everyone should go to Maui is grossly unfair.

As a lifelong resident of Hawaii, I'm not sure that I would proclaim the North Shore the "real" Hawaii, either. I just went to the Haleiwa bon dance 2 weeks ago and nearly fell over at all the tourists there! So I went to the Buddhist temple near where I live--which happens to be near Ala Moana Shopping Center--this past weekend for that bon dance instead. That's the one we took Iamq & Marteen to a couple of years ago.

If you want to know where the "real" Hawaii is, just ask. That's what the forums are for.
MelissaHI is offline  
Aug 10th, 2009, 06:33 PM
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I can't imagine not staying anywhere but on the beach..deals for 4-5* hotels are pretty cheap..Royal Hawaiian is $199..staying in a 'budget' motel on a busy corner would never sound good to me whether I was in Bakersfield or Waikiki.
Suze hit the nail on the head that some people come to Waikiki for quiet deserted beaches but its a bustling city..some of the best restaurants and a great bus system to get around and who doesn't love snorkeling at Hanauma Bay.

Can't believe the first time I landed in Papeete, Tahiti and here is this island out in the middle of nowhere and it was just like Hong Kong.
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Aug 10th, 2009, 06:43 PM
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If you like beach life, try Maui. If you want a lot to see and do, and some beach experience, the Big Island is great. >>>

I missed this the first time... I actually preferred the beaches on Oahu & Kauai but that was just our experience. I loved Maui as well. Heck... I just love Hawaii!
MomDDTravel is offline  
Aug 10th, 2009, 06:50 PM
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ksucat: I can't imagine not staying anywhere but on the beach..deals for 4-5* hotels are pretty cheap..Royal Hawaiian is $199..staying in a 'budget' motel on a busy corner would never sound good to me whether I was in Bakersfield or Waikiki.

Different strokes for different folks, I guess. In December 2007, I found a budget hotel that had been acquired and was being renovated and turned into a boutique hotel - and in the meantime was available for a whopping $65/night. Near the Marriott, one block from the beach! Not exactly a nice hotel (in the un-renovated part) but not bad at all, either. I've stayed at worse places. Since I was not there that much and was by myself, spending $200/night on a nicer hotel would have been a huge waste of money to me.
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Aug 10th, 2009, 07:13 PM
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I think so much depends on where you stay in Waikiki. Two years ago, we stayed at HHV, and hated it because of the heavy crowds and added fees for internet, parking, and beach chairs. This year, we rented an apartment across the street from the beach, and for less than two rooms at the Hilton, had lovely accomodations, a great kitchen, an unbelievable view of the beach and Diamond Head, and best of all, no crowds. It made a huge difference and completely changed our view of Waikiki.
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Aug 10th, 2009, 08:11 PM
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I say this with kindness, but it drives me crazy when people talk about the "real Hawaii". I'm pretty sure that it's all "real"(!!) from the astounding natural beauty, to the traffic and high-rises, designer shopping to desserted beaches and isolated towns, tourists and locals... one is not more "real" than the other.
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Aug 10th, 2009, 08:18 PM
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Oh suze, I so appreciate your post.

I always cringe and sort of chuckle when people want the "real" anywhere be it Hawaii, Mexico, Italy etc. Whatever they get it the "real" thing. They may not like the "real" as it doesn't match their dreams..but it is the real life in whatever area they visit.
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Aug 10th, 2009, 10:32 PM
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Andrew..are you the same guy that enjoys the posh Post Ranch Inn?
It's one of our fav's but you won't be seeing it on 'last minute deals' on expedia.
I think you got lucky on the Waikiki boutique hotel for $65 but good for you that you scored a good deal.
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Aug 10th, 2009, 11:19 PM
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ksucat: are you the same guy that enjoys the posh Post Ranch Inn?

Nope.

I think you got lucky on the Waikiki boutique hotel for $65 but good for you that you scored a good deal.

Very sweet deal - but again, it was under renovation. I got one of the "un-renovated" rooms, and it was very plain and basic. I saw pictures of the newer rooms; doesn't even look like the same hotel. I think the price would be 2X higher or more today.
Andrew is online now  
Aug 11th, 2009, 12:24 PM
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Well, all, I did say Haleiwa is "more like the real Hawaii" meaning it's not a major city with high rises and street lights and noise. But I agree that the real Hawaii is hard to define.

I did say also that the beaches on the N shore are nice, but it is true that in winter the surf is too high for lots of people.

I also said if you want to go to Waikiki you should stay ON the beach. If there are inexpensive places like that, good.

I am trying to warn folks who have never been here that most of their dreams of Waikiki will be spoiled if they stay in a warren of high-rises and traffic. I also wanted to warn folks that the fabled Ala Moana shopping center is not "Hawaiian" in that you'll find more Italian designer stores there than Hawaiiana.

The people at the hula conference from Oahu called Waikiki the "clutter" and there is a strong movement to prevent more of Oahu from being "high-rised". I have mixed feelings about it, because I am a tourist, although a yearly tourist to the BI, and therefor am part of the pressure for more development.

I personally like to stay away from the "clutter" in a smaller place. But then the pressure also is on the smaller places and soon every house is a rental, not a residence for locals, and that's not good. (Look at Venice, where the population has dropped from over 200,00 to 60,000, and practically every building in the city is for rent to tourists. The real Venice has almost ceased to exist.) As I said, I have mixed feelings about this.

But I still don't like downtown Waikiki. If you like "energy" go to it. (Or go to NYC or SF or LA) If you are looking for peaceful, romantic beach experiences, go somewhere else.
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