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Maybe you're stopping over in Honolulu before going to another island, or want to spend a few days adjusting before you go on your cruise. Either way, here's how to do a weekend in Honolulu without breaking the bank. You can enjoy this go-trip whether you choose to rent a car, or stick to the bus system ($2 a ride).
This amazing bargain is a locally owned and managed hotel, right in the heart of Waikiki. Starting at $46.50 a night, you get a somewhat worn, but clean comfortable room with a kitchenette. Rooms have tubs and showers, and most have lanais and A/C. We've stayed in the older wing without A/C and were very comfortable. Its only a short block from the beach, and free beach mats and toys are provided. Kid-friendly with a great pool. Stock up on breakfast items at the local Food Pantry on Kuhio Avenue, and avoid dining out for breakfast by making it in your kitchen! No parking, but they will show you to a nearby garage that only charges around $12 a day. The staff is very friendly, and a wonderful sandwich shop, Ruffage Natural Foods, is right downstairs.
Go for breakfast, then stock up on fruit for the weekend! Every Saturday
morning, from 7:30 to 11:00, is "Honolulu's premiere farmers' market,"
and parking is free. A different restaurant prepares hot breakfast
plates each week. You'll also find fresh baked scones, oatcakes and
other baked items to have with a cup of Hawaii-grown coffee. This is a
true farmers' market: the farmers and food producers are in attendance
to tell you about their products. You'll find a variety of products
including fruits, vegetables, flowers, beef, aqua cultured seafood,
fresh baked breads, hand made pastas, tropical jams and jellies, unique
snack foods, honey, baked goods, specialty seasonings and more.
Its only 2 miles from Waikiki: head towards Diamondhead on Kalakaua to Montserrat through Kapiolani Park. Kapiolani Community College is on your left. Or grab the #22 bus from Waikiki (you can take this same bus out to Hanauma Bay as well!)
I know, all the tourists go here, but it really is a great deal. JUST REMEMBER ITS CLOSED ON TUESDAYS. For only $6 ($1 to park, $5 entrance fee per person), you can spend the morning or the whole day on a protected beach at an amazing coral reef. While many people frequent the bay, it is quite large, and there is plenty of room for you to feel at one with the ocean. Be sure to listen to any warning the lifeguards give about where and where not to swim. While the coral looks like dead coral, its really a living coral reef with LOTS of fish, maybe even a turtle or two! Snorkel gear can be rented for $6-10. The food is very expensive however, so stop at Foodland in Hawaii Kai (its on your left as you drive to the Bay) and grab some picnic provisions--you can bring in coolers to the Bay.
Open at 6 am - 6 pm, but arrive early to get a parking spot. Or catch the #22 bus from Waikiki.
Saturdays and Sundays on Waikiki Beach, there are free stage shows starting at 4 p.m., with a movie showing around sunset (usually 7 p.m.). Movie schedules are available on the website. Bring a towel or chair, and grab some inexpensive local food from one of the many restaurant vendors set up for the evening. Enjoy local entertainment and a movie right on the beach!
The best beach in Honolulu! Skip the crowded Waikiki, and go to Ala Moana Beach Park instead. Just a short ride on the #8 bus to Ala Moana Shopping Center, then cross Ala Moana Blvd. to get to the beach. The beach is a long wide strip of white powder, and perfect for swimming since its protected by an offshore reef. Soak up the rays, or walk along the beach and around adjacent Magic Island for spectacular views of the harbor and skyline. Sit on the end of Magic Island and watch the local surfers do their thing. For a filling lunch, grab a jumbo dog (and we mean jumbo) from one of the two take-outs--for only $3, its enough for two people.
If you have kids, grab a plastic bucket of toys for a few bucks at any ABC store in Waikiki, and they'll be entertained for hours on the beach.
Food can be expensive on the island (its the "very very far away from everything tax"), but a good bargain is Genki Sushi. Voted best sushi in Hawaii, it comes by on a conveyor belt, and you simply grab whatever looks good to you. The plates are priced by the color on them, and added up at the end of the meal. Most plates are only $1.50. Don't miss the ever popular spicy tuna.
On Kapahulu Ave., take the #14 or #13 bus from Waikiki. There is often a short wait, but the tables clear quickly.