We were on the island (Oahu) from a Tuesday until a Saturday night. We had a late flight on Saturday, so had plenty of time for activities that day. Here are the highlights. It was our first visit. We are early 30's. Hopefully this won't be too long, but I am a details person.
Day 1 - Landed at 2:30pm. Got to the hotel about 5pm. We took a shuttle and it took FOREVER. Went to Duke's for dinner. The Hula Pie was awesome and the views were nice.
Day 2 - Hanauma Bay. We snorkeled and just laid on the beach. We stayed into the afternoon and got back to the hotel to relax for a while before dinner. We ate at Atlantic Seafood. They had an early bird special and a free appetizer, so we tried it out. The appetizer was a seafood spring roll. It was the delicious. The entrees were mediocre at best.
Day 3 - We had breakfast at Galaxy Steak House for $2.99. You can't go wrong with this. Two pancakes, 2 pieces of bacon, and 2 eggs. It was great and a great price. We picked up a rental car and headed over to hike Diamond Head. The hike wasn't too bad, but I was glad when we got the top. Great views and it was fun. We got there around 9 or 9:30 and it wasn't too hot. We made our way back down and then did the Circle Island drive. We pulled off at the Pali Lookout and the views were great. We stopped at a few beaches. We stopped and ate at Giovanni's and I was really disappointed. I thought it was terrible. We stopped at Haleiwa and it was a really neat little town. We stopped by the Dole Plantation, but just went in and looked around the gift shop. It was a fun day and we got a great deal on a convertible! We grabbed a bite to eat at Coco Cove - just some sandwiches. We sat at the International Marketplace and ate them.
Day 4 - We hiked Manoa Falls. We kept seeing people coming down who were covered in mud because they had fallen, so I was tentative. We made it with no problems. It was a nice hike. We got there around 10 or so, I think. We did take bug spray and didn't seem to get any bug bites. We left there and went back to the hotel to shower and get ready for the luau at Paradise Cove. They picked us up at 3:50 and we didn't get back until 10:30 or so. I really enjoyed the luau. The food wasn't bad and we got to see the sunset. It's at a beautiful location.
Day 5 - We had breakfast at Galaxy again. I tried the coconut syrup on the pancakes and it was delish. We headed out, via a shuttle, to Pearl Harbor. We got there around 9:30 and there was no line. I was shocked because I have read so much about the long wait times. I don't know how we got lucky. It was a Saturday too. We went right in. Once we were done there, we went across to the Swap Meet. We didn't have much time. Once you've seen a few booths, you've seen them all. We did pick up a few things. Like everyone said, we loved the ABC stores. I couldn't get over how many there were! We were in them a lot!! We went back to the hotel and spent about an hour and a half on the beach. We had to start packing our stuff and getting ready for the shuttle to take us to the airport. We ended up eating at the airport and it was not good.
I had read here that using the bus system was easy. I didn't prepare enough, ahead of time, for using it though. We seemed to always be missing a bus and having to wait. My advice would be if you plan on using the bus, find out before you go the times it comes to the stops you need, etc. That will save you a lot of headaches. If you plan ahead better than I did, using the bus will be a breeze. I can see how having a car would be a hassle, but for the day we had it, it was great. We didn't have to worry about paying to park it overnight, etc.
We stayed at the Aqua Waikiki Wave. We found the location and the price to be great. We were on the 8th floor. There was some noise, but I don't think it kept either of us up. My husband slept in earplugs, but I didn't. The room was very clean and the bed was very comfortable. Overall, we were very happy with the hotel. I asked the concierge a million questions and he never seemed to get tired or annoyed, which I really appreciated. It was a very short walk to the beach. We would definitely stay there again.
Our trip was great and we had a lot of fun. We need a vacation to rest from this vacation! There is so much to see and do that we didn't spend a lot of time relaxing. Maybe next time!!