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trip report - quite long

Atlanta, GA
Level Contributor
34 posts
1 review
10 helpful votes
trip report - quite long

I am much later getting this posted than I intended, due in part to my computer crashing and deleting my first attempt. I hope it is still helpful to someone.

My parents were living on Oahu and when we were on Oahu we stayed at their house. We also made most of our meals so there is not a lot of commentary on meals. We visited 4 islands, Oahu, Molokai, the Big Island, and Kauai. I’ll post each section on the appropriate forum.

Jan 31

My mother and I went to Chinatown for a Cook’s Tour of Chinatown with Walter Rhee. It was very interesting and informative. I highly recommend it as a way to get familiar with Chinatown and find out where the best food is located. It’s also a great way to try some new food. Before the tour, my mother and I ate breakfast at the Grand Café and Bakery in Chinatown and it was very good. However, between the big breakfast and the sampling on the tour we were not the least bit hungry for our lunch date at Legends. Despite that, the food was good and the dim sum was perfect for our (temporarily) small appetites. After our lunch we poked around the shops in Chinatown and bought leis for my sister and brother-in-law who were flying in that night.

Feb 1-3 Molokai

Feb 4:

We had purchased GoOahu cards and this was the first day we used them. We went to the Dole Plantation on the way to the Polynesian Cultural Center. It was raining slightly when we arrived at Dole but we decided not to let that bother us and we braved the maze. We were thoroughly soaked when we emerged from the maze an hour later but we had so much fun. We probably had more fun since it was raining than we would have otherwise. We did have dry clothes with us so after a quick change we watched the pineapple cutting demo and left for the PCC. We started with the Imax movie to give the rain time to pass and by the time we got out it had stopped. We had time there. Our favorite village was Samoa, mostly because the guys who do that demonstration are so funny. But in part we loved it because my brother in law (who is a fireman and oddly obsessed with coconuts) was asked to be apart of the fire-making and coconut husking demonstration.

All of the demonstrations were very interesting and the Horizons show was excellent. It was such a great way to see the differences between the dances. I highly recommend the PCC.

Feb 5:

My sister and Mom needed a rest so my Dad and I left them at home with my brother in law and went to Makapu’u point. We had both done the hike before but I was hoping to see some whales this time. We didn’t have much luck but the hike was nice anyway. We stopped at the blowhole and Sandy beach on the way back to watch the body surfers.

Feb 6:

We used our GoCards again and went to the Sea Life Park and kayaking at Kailua bay. We wouldn’t have gone to the Sea Life Park if it hadn’t been on the card but we enjoyed it. I wouldn’t pay their admission fee for what they have but with the card it seemed worthwhile. The sea lion show was especially cute.

The kayaking was nice, I enjoyed being out on the water. But I’ve been spoiled by kayaking in some truly amazing places and Kailua Bay was a bit of a disappointment. Maybe if we had spent a whole day kayaking it would have seemed more worthwhile because we would have had time to get out to the larger island. But since we only had half a day we kayaked out to Flat Island and walked around it. It was a nice diversion and we had a good time but it wasn’t as nice as some other places I’ve been.

We stopped by Agnes Portuguese Bakery in Kailua for some malasadas. They were awesome. The best I’ve had.

Feb 7:

We went over to Kualoa Ranch for their Movie Set Tour. The scenery was beautiful. My mom in particular, loved the tour. She’s a big movie buff and snapped pictures of everything. All the guide had to do was gesture in a direction and she snapped a picture of it. The rest of us mostly had fun laughing at my mom’s exuberance. I was glad that she enjoyed it so much. And it was fun to see Godzilla’s footprints and the tree used in Jurassic Park. I don’t watch that many movies so I couldn’t place or relate to most of the sets.

We stopped by the Mac Nut Farm near the ranch because a friend of my mom had raved about how fantastic it was. We didn’t really understand the lure.

We ran a couple errands and then went to the airport to pick up my husband. We went to Legends in Chinatown for dinner and then to the Kumu Kahua Theatre for their production of Pele Ma. It was an excellent show. The theatre is very small, it reminded me of an improv. comedy club I had visited in Atlanta. But the show was fun. We were on the front row and were so close to the actors that we could have tripped them if we stretched out our feet. Being that close it was easy to forget that everyone else was there and it felt like they were performing just for us.

Feb 8:

We drove up to the North Shore for some ultralight flights (also known as trikes and powered hang gliders). This made my list of the 5 things I most enjoyed in Hawaii. It was awesome. The view was beautiful. There was just the right amount of sun and rain to create beautiful sunny views and yet full circle rainbows. It was so much fun.

We ate lunch at the Grass Skirt Grill and it was very good. Then we went to Sunset beach and the Pipeline to watch the surfers. The waves were very high and it was amazing to watch.

Feb 9:

We went on a hike with the Nature Conservancy into the Honouliuli Preserve. The hike itself was great, despite the fact that one of the guides was obnoxious. The views were beautiful. I would not recommend the hike for anyone who is afraid of heights. There are a couple places where the trail traces the edge of a cliff. We all thoroughly enjoyed the hike.

That night we went to Hanauma Bay for some night snorkeling. We rented lights at the bay and snorkel gear for those of us who didn’t have any. We each had a wetsuit and were very glad for it. The water was cold, even with the wetsuit. There were a lot of people there in just their swimsuits and I don’t know how they did it. Without the sun for warmth I got really cold very quickly. It was definitely an experience. I’m glad I did it but I don’t think I’d do it again. Hanauma bay is so shallow and the coral comes so close to the surface that in the darkness I felt a little like I was in a labyrinth. During the day it wouldn’t have felt that way. It was interesting to see the animals that come out at night.

Feb 10-13 Big Island

Feb 14 Kauai

Feb 15:

We used our GoCard for the third time. This day was spent in Waikiki. We went down to the beach for an outrigger canoe ride. That was also something that we probably wouldn’t have done without the card but we did it and had a great time.

We took a sail on the Makani Catamaran and enjoyed it. It was very relaxing. We got to see some whales and just chill.

Then we went back to the beach for some surf lessons. We went with the same people we used for the canoe ride. I cannot remember the name of their booth but they’re set up right next to the police station. My parent stayed on the beach to take pictures while the rest of us took our lessons. We all got up several times, two of us on our first try (yes, I’m bragging…I was one of those who did). It was a fun experience.

Feb 16:

We spent the morning at the swap meet and then had to get back to the house so that my husband, sister, and brother in law could pack. The rest of the day was spent packing and taking people to the airport. Fortunately I still had a couple days before I had to leave.

Feb 17:

I went to church with my parents and then after lunch my dad and I went to Waikiki to the Artfest. It was nice but mostly jewelry vendors. We walked around Waikiki and went to Mondo Gelato for a snack. The kiwi gelato is fantastic! The rest of the day was spent relaxing.

Feb 18:

My Dad and I went on the Ko Olina Cat afternoon snorkel tour. It was a great tour. The food was good and the snorkeling was some of the best I’d seen in Hawaii. The setting wasn’t very pretty. The reason the snorkeling is so good there is because there is a power plant on shore that pumps their cooling water into the ocean. The warm water causes algae to grow which attracts fish. The best part was that it was warm in the water! I froze on all the snorkel trips we’d taken up to that point and it was so nice to actually be warm and snorkel at the same time. The rest of the trip was nice and relaxing and very enjoyable.

That evening my mom dropped my Dad and me off at the ferry in Kapolei and we rode it into Honolulu while she drove around to meet us. The ferry ride was nice at that time in the evening and we saw a lot of whales. It was nice to see what the coastline looked like from Kapolei to Honolulu.

Mom picked us up at the dock and we went out to dinner at the Greek Corner, an excellent Greek restaurant. The food was very, very good.

Feb 19:

On my last day, my dad and I drove up to Turtle Bay to go horseback riding. I really enjoyed it. It was a beautiful day and the setting was incredible. We rode on the beach for most of the time which was a really nice experience. It was one of my 5 favorite things we did and a great way to end my visit to Hawaii.

Los Angeles...
Level Contributor
636 posts
3 reviews
11 helpful votes
1. Re: trip report - quite long

Thanks for the nice trip report, RatherBeInAK. It sounds like you got your money's worth from the GoOahu card. I'm going to use your hint about having a change of clothes in the car in case of rain. Glad you had a good time.

Lagrangeville, NY
Level Contributor
2,981 posts
72 reviews
61 helpful votes
2. Re: trip report - quite long

I get cold snorkeling too and have to wear a shortie, although I still get cold after about 45 minutes in the water. Will have to try near the power plant next time.

I thought about taking the Kapolei ferry while I was on Oahu in February, although I never quite made it... too much to do too little time! I think my mom would have liked the ride. Never thought about the shuttle idea, guess I have to get my husband to be the shuttle driver. Was the ride wavy? My mom does get motion sickness if the waves are too high.

Laguna Niguel...
Level Contributor
7,899 posts
14 reviews
17 helpful votes
3. Re: trip report - quite long

wow- what a trip, I think we are going to try the horses at turtle bay next trip, I have seen them riding by the golf course, looks like fun and I know they travel some beautiful areas

Saint Cloud...
Destination Expert
for Oahu
Level Contributor
30,272 posts
4. Re: trip report - quite long

Very nice.

Atlanta, GA
Level Contributor
34 posts
1 review
10 helpful votes
5. Re: trip report - quite long

Thank you all for your kind words.


The ferry ride was a little bumpy, but not too bad. I imagine that it depends on the day. If you timed the ferry ride right, you could ride it back also. Or you could take the bus back. For us, on that day, at that time, it was easier to have my mom shuttle us (plus she had bruised a rib at some point during our adventures and didn't think she could handle the bumpiness of even a smooth boat ride). But there are other options.

Definitely try snorkeling by the power plant. It's like snorkeling in bath water. You could easily swim out from shore though you'd probably have to be careful of boats.

Thanks again to everyone for taking the time to read my very long report and for leaving the nice comments!

Edinburgh, United...
Level Contributor
127 posts
6. Re: trip report - quite long

Thanks for the trip report, its great. You managed to fit loads in, would you recommend the GoCard?

Los Angeles
Level Contributor
38 posts
4 reviews
9 helpful votes
7. Re: trip report - quite long

Thank you so much for your trip report. You gave me some excellent ideas to do on our trip there in December.

Level Contributor
24,069 posts
8. Re: trip report - quite long

Wonderful to hear a sort of "insider's" report, since your parents have a resident's perspective on what's interesting to do.

Could you give me an idea of costs for the ultra-light flights and tell more about them? Also, where is the ranch that offered the horesback riding on the beach on the north shore, and costs, please?

Atlanta, GA
Level Contributor
34 posts
1 review
10 helpful votes
9. Re: trip report - quite long


I do recommend the GoOahu card if the activities covered by the card are things you'd like to do. There's also another card, the VisiTicket that is very similar but has some different activities on it. I really liked the GoCard, it was easy to use and we saved over $100 per person. I would recommend planning out what you want to do with it to maximize the savings and minimize the driving. Also, some of the vendors require or at least recommend reservations. But to actually answer your question...yes, I do recommend it.

Thanks again to everyone! Your help was invaluable when I was planning my trip.

Atlanta, GA
Level Contributor
34 posts
1 review
10 helpful votes
10. Re: trip report - quite long


We took the ultralight flights with Paradise Air (www.paradiseairhawaii.com). You can find prices on their website, it varies depending on the length of your flight. Each flight is actually a lesson but you can fly as little or as much as you want during the lesson. When my parents flew they took 1 hour lessons and decided that it was a tad too long. When my sister, brother in law, and I were there we each took a 45 minute lesson. That is the length that Denise, the owner recommends though the 1 hour trip is the most popular. I thought it was a perfect length. My husband and brother each went on a 2 hour flight because they both love to fly (my brother is a pilot and husband would love to be and will be one when he finds the time to get his license). They really enjoyed it and flew their ultralights the whole time. I flew mine a little but found the views so beautiful that I just wanted to enjoy the ride at first. They are very relaxed about it and won't pressure you to fly more than you want. It was a great experience and like I said, it made my top 5 list.

The horseback riding was with Turtle Bay Resort (www.turtlebayresort.com). If you go to their website under "resort attractions" you can find the horseback riding among other things. They do allow non-resort guests to join them for horseback riding. They charge $50pp for a 45 minute ride but they also offer private rides and pony walks and things like that.

I hope that helped! If you have any other questions, let me know!