Our flight to Honolulu was, unfortunately, destined to be an early one. It was scheduled to leave at 7:35 am on August 15th, 2005, so that meant that we had to rise at 3:30 am to get ready and make our usual preparations such as rechecking our bags and doing last minute checklists before we left the house. After grabbing some breakfast/coffee, buying lunch (more on that later) filling up the car and parking it at The Parking Spot, we took the shuttle to American Airlines for curbside check-in.
We were treated to beverages, gratis, on the plane and had an hour and a half layover in Dallas/Fort Worth. Soon, we were off to Honolulu, where we were served beverages again, but had to pay $3.00 if we wanted a snack box or $5.00 for a turkey wrap. Of course, I wasn’t going to spend $5.00 on dry turkey meat disguised as a burrito! I pulled out my trusty lunch bag where a close imitation of a subway sandwich patiently waited to be devoured along with some tasty chips, apple, banana and a cookie.
We were treated to two in-flight movies during our voyage: “Monster in law” and “Because of Winn-Dixie” as well as what was seemingly a marathon of the comedy, “Everybody loves Raymond”. Note to the airlines…..not everybody loves him….nevertheless, the flight was relatively comfortable, and there was more leg room in the cheap seats, for sure during our 7 hour, 35 minute ride. The ticket price wasn’t bad either…$350.00 round trip from Atlanta.
Please be aware that upon arriving in Hawaii, you will have to fill out a form declaring what perishables that you have with you. You are not permitted to bring anything (like my left over apple) into the state. If you do, they may pull you aside at the security checkpoint and you may be fined (if you DIDN’T declare it). The flight attendant gave me this warning when she saw that I had declared the apple. Needless to say, I changed it quickly and got rid of the apple. lol
We arrived in Honolulu around 12:30 pm the same day (they are six hours behind of us east coasters) and made our way to ground transportation where we boarded the shuttle to the Enterprise car rental lot. I was taking a big chance here; I had tried to get my reservation transferred from the Kapiolani Boulevard location to the airport location off of Nimitz Highway since the shuttle only serviced the latter. The reservations agent was supposed to call me back to see if he could find a car somehow since the airport location was fully booked. He never did call me….so I was taking a chance that a car had been reserved for me….the driver even seemed to be hesitant to take us if we didn’t have firm reservations.
I remembered the name of the agent and they seemed to be satisfied with that. I was lucky that they had a car waiting there for me! I had booked the car when I bought my plane tickets and using the coupon from the Entertainment book, my daily rental fee was 16.99! The agents were surprised that my rate was that low since the cheapest car they were renting that day was 35.00/day. Ka Ching!
We made our way onto the freeway to go to the wonderful pool house that we had rented during our stay in Kailua on the eastern shore. The scenery on the way was breath-taking!! We purposely drove slowly to take in the sights as well as snap as many pictures as humanly possible.
It was actually the rear of the owner’s home that opened out onto the backyard and pool area. We arrived about 30 minutes early and about 5 minutes later the owner arrived. She was ‘polite’ but quickly noted that we were early and that we should go down to the beach about three blocks away because they were still cleaning the suite. Why, I oughta……ok, I’ll play nice and resist channeling that guy Moe from the Three Stooges.
BUT……check out time is 10 am and check in is 3 pm….even if someone stayed there the night before, you think as a courtesy that they would make sure that they had the room ready at least one hour prior to our arrival….OR….at least invite us in out of the blazing sun as a courtesy….we are after all, their guest….paying ones at that!
So, we decided to go to the beach and take pics….it was beautiful, but it still left me feeling a little bothered by the owner’s inhospitable tone which was just downright unfriendly. For the most part, they left us alone……their kids were noisy a bit…but that didn’t really bother me. There was a second incident that did. There is a sign posted on the fridge in the pool house that states that the pool closes at 4:30 pm. We had just gotten back from our circle island tour and we were hot and tired. We had a good hour to soak in the pool and we got out right before the 4:30 deadline.
We dragged our tired bodies over to the lounge chairs and relaxed, enjoying the beauty of the tropical flowers. Well….about 20 minutes later…..our ‘host’ came out to let us know that the pool AND the pool area closed at 4:30 pm…..so in other words…..push on, Flintstone! lol I thought that was beyond rude…..we were probably going to leave shortly anyway…..I’ve just never experienced someone being so rigid and unaccommodating. I highly recommend that you A.V.O.I.D. this place at all costs. It’s called TWO DUCK INN. Only go if you’re feeling slightly masochistic. Sorry to be so long…..but I had to make sure that I made my point. I experimented with staying at an unusual bed (without the) breakfast inn and it left a lot to be desired.
Back to Day One….we decided to get out of the house and explore our immediate neighborhood. There wasn’t much to write home about, just your typical neighborhood with strip malls whose only saving grace was the beautiful tropical flowers and trees and a great view of the mountains. We decided to visit the local Safeway to buy a few groceries after taking an early dinner at a restaurant recommended by Oahu Revealed: Pinky’s Pupu Bar. We ordered 18 oz Mai Tais ($5.95) and 18 oz Lava Flows ($6.00) and decided to live dangerously and order some food too. We ended up buying the Aloha plate ($15.00) a traditional Hawaiian plate meal which consisted of pork wrapped in taro leaves, salmon, bbq pork, rice, & macaroni salad. There was no way that we could finish all of the food that we were served! We decided to take it back to the room and save for another day.
We turned in earlier than we would have expected because we were planning on getting up very early the next day to drive the Circle Island Tour.
The next day we got an early start on our Circle Island tour. There are plenty of tour groups that will take you on a tour around the island, but there’s something special about discovering the island with someone you know and love and at your own pace. Not familiar with said tour? Where depending on where you start (most start in Waikiki), you make your way around the island if you stay primarily on Kamehameha Highway (Route 83).
Here’s a pdf of the route: http://honolulu.hawaii.edu/tours/tours/oahu/oahu-1.htm
Make sure that you drive counter clockwise around the island so that you will be on the side where you can view the ocean instead of the Ko’olau Mountains. We left at 8 am and finished at a little past one at Dole Plantation….we skipped Waikiki because we had other activities planned there the next day. On that drive you would see: Various shrimp trucks, Chinaman’s Hat, All of the beaches (Sunset Beach is to die for), Byodo In Temple (If you’re a ‘Lost’ fan, where Jin proposed to Sun), Macadamia Nut Farm, Pali Lookout, etc. There were two machines at the Byodo In Temple and Dole Plantation where you could use a penny to make a commemoration of your visit for 50 cents. It made a really neat (and not to mention, cheap) souvenir.
Byodo In Temple was built in 1968 to celebrate the centennial of the Japanese immigrants arriving in Hawaii. It is an exact replica of a 900 year old Buddhist temple complete with Japanese bridges, ponds filled with koi, peacocks, swans, a tea house and perhaps not so old world, a gift shop. It also housed an 18 foot Buddha, the largest that has been carved in the past 900 years.
Dole Plantation was very interesting as well. There was no shortage of visitors pulling in and out of the large parking lot of this cheerful, yellow building with a brick red roof top. As you arrived, you were quickly greeted by lovely tropical flowers that spelled out the name DOLE in the grass that led you up the walk way to the entry. We took a lot of pictures before we found our way into the store where we indulged in the pineapple sorbet in a waffle cone ($3.95) we hadn’t eaten lunch yet….but who cared? lol It was delicious! I never knew so many things could be done with a pineapple! The possibilities were endless…but I wasn’t quite sure about the chocolate covered pineapple….. There were wonderful displays of the various types of pineapple that were grown on the plantation and a gigantic maze that you could walk through where a huge cut out of a pineapple lay in the center.
The Pali Lookout is a definite must-see. You will get a beautiful 180 degree view of the island below. There are several areas on Pali Hwy (Route 61) to see great views, but stop at the main entrance to get the best one. WARNING: I learned this the hard way….the wind shears are awful, it blew my glasses off before I had a chance to blink. Luckily, I retrieved them, but they will need to be fixed. If you wear glasses, make sure that you attach eyeglass cords to them or hold on to them before they blow off.
We decided to take our lunch at Zippy’s Restaurant at 44 Oneawa Street. I ordered a chef salad and my daughter ordered the Salmon Patty w/fries and the total for both was $15.10 with drinks. Nothing to write home about, edible and the price was right. The rest of the day was spent shopping and enjoying more of the beautiful scenery and a leisurely dip in the pool that was cut short by our host.
We rose early again to head to Waikiki to visit the Aloha Stadium right off of Highway 3. There is a swap meet held every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 6 am to 3pm where you can find great deals on souvenirs, clothing, food, etc. We got there around 8 am and it was already pretty hot, I would advise that you bring an umbrella to protect yourself from the heat. We found lots of great things cheap…..you could get T-shirts 8 for $20.00! We spent several hours there and managed to find all of the souvenirs that we were planning to bring home such as snow globes, t-shirts, stickers, leis, key chains, magnets, etc.
Here’s their website: http://www.alohastadium.hawaii.gov/
Afterward, we decided to drive around Waikiki to see the sights that we didn’t get to see on the circle island tour. We were really impressed with the touristy area of Waikiki….it was absolutely beautiful!! If we learned nothing else during our trip, we KNOW that we must stay in the center of it next time….it may have been crowded, but there was so much to do and so much to see. That is our one regret during our visit.
At the end of a long day of sightseeing, and shopping and having lunch at the Subway at the Ala Moana shopping center, we went back to the rental and take a dip in the pool for an hour and we spend the rest of the night packing our bags and relaxing (for once!!).
Sigh…we have reached our last day in Paradise. We spent the early part of the morning making sure that we haven’t forgotten anything and checking out. We headed back to Waikiki to partake in our last official sightseeing on the island: Manoa Falls!! We decided against Waimea Falls since it cost 24.00 to visit (remember this is a budget trip! lol) and there was no fee for Manoa. If you wanted to park in their manned lot the fee was 5.00, which was ok with me since parking it elsewhere was risky and it was well known that there were lots of car break-ins, so 5.00 was ok just to have piece of mind.
Located off of H1 & Punahou Street, which eventually turns into West Manoa Road, the tour books say that the hike up to the falls is a piece of cake. I beg to differ! It’s manageable if you are relatively fit and have pretty good stamina. If you decide to go and you should because the falls were worth it, wear shoes with very good traction, it gets more slippery the higher you go. Bring mosquito repellent, bottled water and do take breaks when warranted. There are huge boulders along the way where you can rest. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to reach the top. It may also help to pick up a stray bamboo stick that you’re bound to run across on your way up to give you balance.
Synopsis: Even though we stayed a very short time, you will still be able to see most of the major sights by doing the Circle Island tour. The places that we didn’t get to see because of time constraints or just a need to take a moment to breathe and enjoy the scenery instead of rigidly sticking to an impossible schedule…..we’ll see when we go back.