I got a lot out of the trip reports on my regular viewing of tripadvisor over the months leading up to my vacation so I decided to post a report of my own. I'll try to keep it short and pertanent.
My girlfriend and I going to Oahu for our second time together. Our last trip was two weeks in 2006. My girlfriend moved to oahu (Hawaii Kai) when she was very young and lived there until she started highschool. Family couldn't afford private school and public schools there are a little lacking. She moved back to PA and spent all of her summber breaks back on the island until she graduated college. She still has a good number of family and friends who live there. I'm 30 and she's 27.
American airlines from San Antonio. Showed up to the airport and found out our flight was cancelled due to inclement weather in Dallas. We got on a flight connecting in LA about three hours later. Hung out at the USO at SA airport until then. Flight home was uneventfull red-eye. Food for purchase and movie each way. Got decent price on tix (low 400's each) by following prices on Kayak for months and flying Wednesday to Wednesday.
Found best rate at Budget using a Costco rate. Was quoted $130 total for the week. Final bill ended up being $119 when I returned the car. Got a very new Chevy Cobalt. Would reccomend joining the "FastBreak" club if renting from Budget. Free to join and let us go into a separate, empty line to get car and was very quick.
Stayed at my girlfiend's Aunt and Uncle's house most of the time in Hawaii Kai. I proposed (she said yes) while on the trip and I booked a room at the Westin Moana-Surfrider for that night. I booked there because my fiance always said that was her favorite hotel on the island even though she has never stayed in a hotel in Hawaii. She would always walk through the hotel to access the beach and was in love the the Veranda and Lobby. I had reserved an ocean view room with balcony in the Tower wing. Called ahead about a week before the trip and spoke to the concierge about having flowers delivered to the room. Explained that we were celebrating an engagment and she said she would document that on our reservation. Valet parked and at check in was greeted with their usual lei's, cold towel, and cold lemongrass tea. We were told we had been upgraded to an ocean view suite. (Make sure you are part of the Starwood program if you are hoping for an upgrade, free to join) The room was amazing. 15th floor with large living area, bedroom, and bathroom. Nice flatscreen TVs and two balconies (one off the bedroom with a second entrance to the living area and a second off of the living area). The living area balcony gave a great panoramic view of Waikiki and the bedroom balcony faced Diamond Head and the back of the Moana (Banyan Tree). The interactive picture of that type of room on the website is acurate. Flowers were delivered about 30minutes after we checked in. With balcony doors open you can hear the waves all day and night. Banyan area had live music until 10:00 at night that you could hear with the doors open, but was not audible with doors closed. No other "noise" to speak of even with doors open all night. From that angle, it was easy to spot sea turtles in the water and get a couple good/clear pictures of them.
We mostly ate at my fiance's family's house and her local favorites which might not interst too many other people on the website. Some local favs included Bubbies Icecream(Koko Marina shopping center?) for mochi icecream and Yummies Korean BBQ in same shopping center. Other restaurants included:
We walked to orchids from the Moana on the day I proposed for a Sunset dinner. Had an ocean front table. Very impressed. We ate at Michel's last time were where in Hawaii and were looking to try a new place that was walking distance from the Moana. The food and service was amazing. I thought the atmosphere at Michel's was a little nicer / more romantic. The main differences being that I believe Michel's faces the sunset more directly. At Orchids the sun was setting to our right and was our of view. Orchids does have a nice view of Diamond Head that Michel's doesn't and you still have all the colors in the sky and water from the sunset. The other thing that was different about Orchids was that there are people constantly walking by across the walkway along Waikiki between you and the water. Both restaurants are fantastic and would highly reccomend either if you are willing to pay the money for a nice dinner. Again, from my experience, I can't imagine anyone being diapointed with the food or service at Orchids.
Veranda breakfast at Moana-Surfrider -
Very expensive for breakfast. Food was standard. View, service, and atmosphere were excellent.
Ola at Turtle Bay -
Friends took us here one of our first evenings. Very nice atmosphere on the beach. Some dishes in our party were fantastic while others were average. Overall, good experience.
Wwe've been to Oahu before so we didn't do some of the standards this time such as Diamond Head hike. We also spent a decent amount of time with my fiance's family in the evening and looked at a few places to have our wedding so we didn't do quite as much as you might expect.
USS Arizona - Wasn't able to to get there on my last trip(long story). Got there early (~8 on a weekday), no real wait. Definitly worth it.
Kaneohe Bay Kayaking and Snorkeling - Friends took us out. Rented Kayaks, the place strapped them to the top of our car and we drove to a place that I can't remember enough to describe to put them in the water. Kayaked out to a sand bar in the middle of the ocean during low tide. Hung out on the sandbar for a while (a lot of friendly locals out there with their boats). Saw a few sea turtles from the Kayak near the sandbar. On the way back, we tied up the kayaks to a post coming out the water and snorkled around a peice of live reef. Saw large turtles, all kinds of fish, eels, and a large (I'm not an expert on shark sizes) Hammerhead. This little kayaking/snorkeling adventure was one of the highlights of our trip.
Makapuu Lighthouse Hike - Every since I met my fiance she talked about Makapuu saying it was her favorite part of the island. She likes how the water looks particulary blue there and you can see the mountains, beach, and islands all at once. I proposed while we were sitting at the top the the hike overlooking Makapuu at sunrise (complete with lei).
Hanauma Bay - Snorkelled and layed on the beach. Beautifull as always. I will never get tired of going there. If you havn't been, it's a must.
Sharks Cove - Good snorkelling. Saw a few turtles.
Waikiki Beach - I know people who grew up on the island aren't really supposed to like hanging out here, but my fiance loves it. We spent a couple days there including the morning we woke up at the Moana. I think it's a beautiful beach with a lot going on around you and enjoy it also.
That's all I can think of off the top of my head. Would also reccomend the diamond head hike and Manoa falls hike. I'm by no means a hawaii expert, but would be happy to answer questions/give my opinion on things that we have experienced. I've gotten a lot out of this website.
Thanks for reading. We'll be back in about a year for our wedding. If anyone has wedding/reception ideas I'd love to hear them. I can't stand going onto wedding websites/forums!