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Just returned - 10 days in Oahu... My Review (WARNING: LONG)

long beach, ca
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Just returned - 10 days in Oahu... My Review (WARNING: LONG)

Just returned from 10 days in Oahu and this is my review (WARNING : will be lengthy). Overall we had a great time but because this was our first visit there we had to do and see and shop as much as we could. I think however on our next visit we would just relax and spend most of our time at the beaches or at the pool. Our only regret was that we weren’t able to snorkel at Hanaumana Bay. Most days were good hardly ever bad and the weather was great most of the time too. A few drizzles here and there but its true when they say it lasts for about 5 minutes so don’t run for cover just walk through it as it will pass...also it would be my advice to rent a car and drive out of Waikiki, there is so much to see on the other side of the island and it would be a shame not to at least drive by it if not stop by and visit it. Although we were there 10 days, we were also there because my eldest daughter dances hula, and her halau (hula school) was going to Oahu on a study tour so we arrived prior to the start of her tour to do our own thing. So in my review I will also add the things we did while my daughter was on tour, as they did more of the educational and historical sites (which might be of some interest to some people).

And a note of caution for those who rent with Budget (or possibly any rental car company), I always rent from then and normally never have any problems with them, however, upon return of my rental after 10 days I was charged $100 more than what I was originally quoted when I booked with them on their website. They tried to tell me that it was because of tax and other fees…ha…you better believed I marched right into that office to argue that I wasn’t going to pay over what I was quoted (and I had my online confirmation in hand too so keep all documents with you in regards to anything you book online). After some research, they found that because our flight had been delayed coming into Oahu after midnight (considered one day after my original rental date) my original quote had been defaulted to a new rate. I told them that I called from LAX that our flight would be delayed, and that they failed to mention that policy to me when I called or when I picked up that car that my rates had changed. They could see that I was getting upset and that I wasn’t going to pay that extra $100. So the manager at Budget adjusted my price back to my original quote. They were understanding and helpful about the whole situation and apologized for the misunderstanding. So just be aware of your costs and make sure you’re paying what you’re suppose to be paying. As with anything you pay for just make sure you look at the receipt before you leave the store. Oh and also another note, during our rental our car battery had died (all the way out at the Polynesian Cultural Center due to my youngest daughter playing with the lights) after being placed on hold with the Roadside Assistance # given with the rental car, I had my husband call AAA on our other phone which he got through right away however because we were out so far away from Waikiki it was going to take someone about an hour to get out to us. I then asked my husband to look for security to see if they could jump us and luckily they did otherwise we would’ve been sitting out there for quite awhile. Anyway, we called Budget to ask for a replacement car; they said sure no problem so went directly there from PCC to their location at the airport. Again, upon return of the rental I noticed we were also being charged for fuel. I questioned them and they said that when we came into replace the car after our battery had died that our gas tank wasn’t fully fueled. Just another charge we were unaware of or that they failed to mention…Again, just beware and really look at your bill before you pay for anything.

Also take advantage of the coupons you are given or find in various booklets around the airport or hotel. We made the mistake of not using them, which in turn could have saved us some $, not significant amounts but hey when on vacation every $ counts especially for those with kids. We found so many coupons AFTER the fact, and were a bit disappointed in ourselves that we didn’t find these coupons prior to going anywhere.

*Also a note before I begin, my family and I made a rule about eating out…if they had a chain in Long Beach or CA for that matter and that we could get it at home, then we weren’t going to eat there (like McDonalds or Jack in the Box, etc.). This forced us to find places that served food unlike what we could get at home. Unfortunately, we broke this rule only three times. Once because we were really hungry and needed to get something really close to our hotel (which was Subway), while at Wal-Mart our kids were screaming mad hungry so we stopped at L&L and the other was for dessert (Cold Stone). Other than that we were able to eat at places either recommended by those on tripadvisor or by family and friends. It’s a good rule to have because you didn’t travel so far to get something that you can get close to home.

Ok now on to my review…

The Hotel: Ohana Islander Waikiki (on Lewers St and Kalakaua Ave) I also posted a review and photos on the hotel link listed here on trip advisor. Overall, I will tell you were pleased and impressed with the hotel as well as the staff. It’s not a five star but will do for the amount of time you will actually spend in your room. The only downsides are the small pool, slow elevators, and the parking situation (not enough spaces especially if you get there anytime after 6pm). My husband was actually really impressed as he was expecting the worse, and he is one that is HIGHLY CRITICAL of hotels, and will hardly ever be impressed with a place let alone get some good night sleeps in it without worry about the cleanliness of the place. He was actually to sleep really well for the whole trip and that has NEVER happened anywhere we have gone before. For the $ it is worth it. And I don’t know if being on a higher floor helps as I have seen some reviews of those who stayed on lower levels and were not satisfied. So if you can request anything about the 10th floor and a partial ocean view. I was worried about the construction going on down the street but it actually didn’t affect us only when we walked by it to get to the beach. The hotel staff are pretty friendly and courteous and somewhat helpful at times. The parking attendants are super nice and were a bit more helpful than the bell desk or front desk but overall everyone there was pretty accommodating. And I don’t know if it was because we were there during the July 4th weekend, but it seem pretty crowded in the hotel at times. The hotel doesn’t have a gift shop but does have a Subway, Starbucks and Pizza place below the lobby. It’s a small, quaint and cozy hotel within walking distance of EVERYTHING. We enjoyed our time there, would recommend to anyone and would stay there again.

DAY 1:

•Early wake up (5:30am) just to watch the sunrise (BREATHTAKING!)

•Free Breakfast @ Beachcomber Hotel (included in our vacation package) food was so-so and the presentation on things to do and see was a bit boring for us and our two kids. However I wanted to see what they could offer as far as pricing goes, and if it would’ve been cheaper to go through them or do stuff on our own. We did everything on our own as it was really about the same price and if not cheaper.

•Walked up and down Kalakaua Ave. (The “Strip” of Waikiki) just to familiarize ourselves with everything. Browsed by International Marketplace (didn’t buy anything as I knew we would return a few times during our stay), Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center and the beach.

•Returned to the hotel in search of getting some lunch. We drove out to Rainbow Drive Inn (on Kapahulu Ave.). Their food is very affordable and GOOD. Their chili rice was one of the best I have ever had. (I returned to this place several times during our stay just for the chili rice). Their Loco Moco is ok (so my husband says he’s had better) but they have a mix plate lunch that seemed to be very popular, has steak, chicken and mahi mahi with 2 scoop rice and mac salad for under $6. I found this to be one of my favorite places to eat while we were there. And if you go for breakfast their fried rice is suppose to be really good (I didn’t see the fried rice until AFTER I had already place my order and we never got the chance to return for breakfast at least). Highly recommended however their parking lot is pretty small so get there before or after the lunch rush otherwise you’ll be standing in some long lines.

•We headed to the beach but without any shading (by that time mid afternoon all the umbrellas and huts had already been rented out for the day so get there early do you don’t have to sit in the sun) it was really HOT so we headed to the pool at Outrigger Reef (and if you stay at any Ohana or Outrigger hotel you are welcome to use their pool but its not like they check). They have a nice pool, its warm and it’s a saltwater pool and they have a descent size Jacuzzi. My family and I enjoyed it. Also had my first drink served in a fresh pineapple, I don’t recall the name but it was good. I also love the fact that the Reef has a Jamba Juice in their lobby.

•For dinner we headed to “Cheeseburger in Paradise” (the on Kalakaua Ave opposite direction of our hotel), the food and atmosphere were great. And if you order their “Planter’s Punch” BEWARE its fully LOADED! Way too strong for me, that I didn’t or couldn’t finish it.

•After dinner we watched the sunset from the beach and were lucky enough to catch a show on the beach (I guess something that happens nightly).

DAY 2:

•First stop Leonard’s Bakery for some HOT, FRESH Malasadas. We were the second ones there at 6am (when they open).

•Onto Diamond Head. I was worried that my kids (8 and 2) wouldn’t make it. They did just fine. It was I that thought I can’t do this, actually it wasn’t until I got to those STEEP steps that I thought I was going to pass out. Ha! But we made it to the top, and the view is SO WORTH THE CLIMB! Just beautiful. A MUST DO IF YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN. And I don’t think I would ever do it again. Start time 6:30am, time finished 8:30am.

•We then stopped off at the Farmers Market at the Community College just down the street. Found a few goodies but for the most part a bit disappointing. Unless you are shopping mostly for fruits, veggies and plants then you may be disappointed too or if you have a kitchenette in which to store or cook in then this place would be good for you. We were out of there in less than 30 minutes.

•Off to Hanaumana Bay by the time we got there it was only 9:30am and the lot was full. Sad to say we didn’t go snorkeling as we just continued to drive. (obviously not on my agenda for the day but what the heck just go with the flow as not everything you plan works out the way you want it to)

•Our next mission was to get some shave ice at Motsumoto's (north shore area) but to get there we had to drive from one side of the island to the other(something that I actually had planned for another day but oh well). While we did that my kids slept, and my husband and I enjoyed the breathtaking scenery of Kailua, Lanikai, and just the Windward side of Oahu.

•For lunch we just happened to stumble on Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck (a must do on my list and should be on yours). Their scampi is out of this world really garlicky but so worth it. (TIP: get there early before the lunch rush otherwise you could wait up to an hour for your food, and also bring your own drinks as they don’t offer much and have a smoothie truck right next door but for $4 that’s pretty expensive. A friend of ours recommended that we bring some beer to go with our shrimp, will have to try that next time.) Overall it is a little overpriced at $12 for 12 shrimp and 2 scoops of rice. However, my husband and I shared one plate and we ordered half ($6 for 6 shrimp and 1 scoop of rice) a plate for my daughter.

•Next we drove through the North Shore to Haleiwa. The beaches along this drive were absolutely amazing. Clear blue waters. And even though we didn’t actually stop just to view it was enough to take our breath away.

•Motsumoto’s Shave Ice. Get with the ice cream on the bottom. YUMMY! The wait wasn’t too bad about 10 minutes, it took us longer to decide what flavors to get and what T-shirts we were going to buy. Well worth the drive.

•On our way back to Waikiki we stopped at Costco to fill up on gas as we heard it’s cheaper than anywhere else on the island and its true. And the wait wasn’t too bad maybe 15 minutes. The lines just LOOK long.

•Again my daughter wanted to go swimming so this time we headed to the Outrigger Waikiki pool. It’s pretty small and a Jacuzzi that wasn’t working. Plus it was way too crowded with way too many kids.

•For dinner we headed out to Pacific Beach Hotel’s Oceanarium. I called ahead to make reservations and the next available they had was at 8:30 (meaning we would miss the last feeding of the fish, the whole reason for eating there) I put my name down and thought that walk from our hotel to there would take at least 30 minutes getting there about 8pm. However, even walking at a slow place we got to the restaurant at 7:30 and got in within minutes. It was a seafood buffet (but they also have a dinner menu but you have to ask for it otherwise they will assume you are there for the buffet which is what happened to us) but the crab legs were good. Although a little pricey, the food and atmosphere are worth it. My kids thoroughly enjoyed the aquarium and got excited every time a sting ray swam by. I also tried my first “LAVA FLOW” (Pina Colada with Strawberry puree) here…and it was delicious, from then on I was hooked. : )

•We stopped by Stone Cold (which was across the street from our hotel) as the walk from the restaurant made us hungry for dessert.

DAY 3

•Pearl Harbor. GET THERE EARLY!!! We got there at about 6:30pm and there was already a line but not too long. After 7am it was wrapped around the grass area, and by the time tour buses started to arrive it started to coil around and around…and I felt sorry for people who PAID EXTRA $ to get on a tour bus only to be stuck in line just to get tickets for the tours and then to wait around some more for their tour times. I would suggest going on your own instead of paying for a tour but that’s just my opinion. We were able to get on the first tour and were out of there by 9:30am. We didn’t really visit anything else like the Missouri or Bowfin. But I really enjoyed the Arizona, very moving, somber and humbling.

•We then headed out to the Swap Meet at the Aloha Stadium. (Tip: look for the coupon in the “Best of Oahu” which allows admission for 2 free) And if you can get there early before 1pm is best. We spent a good 3 hours there and it started to get REALLY HOT…my kids were HOT and getting FRUSTRATED with the fact that it seemed like we had circled the place a few times. We were a bit let down with the items they have there. We thought we would be able to find more unique things there but almost every vendor sold the same things. After awhile everything looked the same. However, they do have good deals (especially for Hawaiian clothes, I was in search for matching outfits for my whole family to wear to a luau) and BARGAIN, BARGAIN, BARGAIN…the stuff there IS CHEAPER than the stuff at the International Marketplace. Bring plenty of water to drink as all that walking in the sun WILL get you drained.

•Stopped at Wal-Mart to pick up some snacks for the kids and instead of a McDonalds inside their store they have L&L, the kids were hungry so we pick up some food. I wasn’t in the mood for L&L and started to crave for some chili rice so we drove out to Rainbow Drive Inn just for some. We returned to our hotel to eat and rest. I however had to do laundry. This was only day 3 and I had 3 loads to do. What with all the outings we would come back all sticky and sweaty not to mention our clothes were just about the same and coming back to go swimming…clothes do add up. Anyway, laundry is expensive to do. The hotel charges $1.50 for wash and $1.25 for drying. Needless to say a few of our clothes still came out damp, and I was not going to spend more $ just to dry them completely, so I just hung dry them in our room closet, shower and balcony. All the while I am doing laundry, my husband and kids fall asleep…and never wake up…at least for the rest of the night. I tried to get them up to go out to get something to eat but everyone was EXHAUSTED. So it was an early night for us. I too eventually fell asleep as I was tired too. Who know being a vacation could make you so tired! : )

DAY 4 (July 4th)

•Breakfast at Zippy’s. The food was ok, not great and not bad either. Some say their lunch or dinner menu offers better choices. And their chili is supposed to be superb. Have to wait till my next trip to find out.

•Drove out to Dole Plantation. We were the first ones there just before 9am so we waited in the car (my littlest one sitting on my lap in the drivers seat playing with everything – this part will be significant later). We had good time here. We did the train ride, garden tour, and my husband and oldest daughter did the maze (finished in under an hour), while my youngest daughter and I browsed the gift shop. Upon the return of my husband and daughter we got some of the dole whip and did some shopping. I also wanted to take home some pineapples for family and friends. Dole offers to have the pineapples ready for you at the airport, if you give them your flight information they can have it ready to be checked in. Not bad and very convenient, for about $30 I got 8 pineapples!

•On our drive to the Polynesian Cultural Center we stopped to eat lunch. Again we couldn’t pass up Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck. And I don’t know if it was because it was a holiday weekend or just the lunch rush, but we waited a good hour for our food. And yet the wait was still worth it. I am telling you TRY IT AND YOU’RE GOING TO LOVE IT!

•Arrived at PCC about 1:30pm. That was plenty time to visit each village as they closed at about 5:30 or 6:00 for dinner. We opted to just pay for admission and the “Horizon” show. (As we already made plans to attend Paradise Cove’s Luau on another day.) It’s an interesting place. My kids enjoyed all of the activities that goes along with each village (especially the fake tattoos). For dinner we ate at the Banyan Tree Snack Bar. The food was ok, still a bit overpriced but I am sure not much better than the luau food (so I have heard). And the no caffeine drinks, didn’t make it any better as soda just doesn’t taste the same without it. The Horizon show was spectacular. We enjoyed it. The ice cream dessert they serve during the intermission was YUMMY too. Overall we had a good time until we got to our car that is. When we approach our car we noticed the backlights on. First thing that I thought of is that someone broke into our car, wrong…turns out that we had a dead battery (which where the line about my daughter playing with all the instruments while we were waiting at the Dole Plantation comes in). Long story short, after being the LAST car in the lot a nice security guard jumped our car instead of waiting around for AAA. Went to Budget to get a replacement car and end of story.

DAY 5

•Breakfast at Wailana Coffee House (corner of Kalia Rd and Ala Moana) The food was pretty good for the price, and the coffee was also exceptional (and I’m only a decaf coffee drinker and I hate any coffee that has a bitter after taste and this place didn’t have that).

•After breakfast my husband and I decided we would spit up with our girls, as I needed to search for matching outfits for them for our luau later that night. So my youngest and I headed off to the International Marketplace, while my husband and oldest returned to the hotel to go swimming and sun bathe. My search for matching dresses (which I thought would take an hour) turned into 3 hours of endless walking in circles at the IMP. I even found myself getting lost but lucky enough I found some dresses that were about the same color as the outfits I had bought for my husband and me from the Swap Meet. Needless to say that my daughter and I returned to the hotel starving which is when I stopped in at Subway to pick up some food. As I knew we wouldn’t be eating until later at the luau.

•4:00pm we walked over to the Sheraton Bus Depot to board a bus to take us to the Paradise Cove Luau. There was some traffic as we headed out to the luau but it wasn’t too bad. Our tour guide though made the bus ride some what amusing but at one point I dozed off and fell asleep. I woke up prior to just arriving at the luau. Overall by the end of the night we had a good time. We enjoyed the activities prior to the start of the luau. However, the one bad thing I can say is that the lines for drinks is HERENDOUS. I waited in line for about 45 minutes to an hour just for drinks. Not to mention I was wanting one of their souvenir glasses and wouldn’t you know it that the minute I get to the bartender he had just given a way the last one. AH…so I headed over to the main bar (which is where my husband said the tour guide said we should go to as they have about 12 bartenders instead of 4 at the other bar, so TIP: go the bar in the white stands) only to get disappointed again, as I got the window and the girl working there said I had to move to another window because she needed to make change. Finally, I did end up getting my LAVA FLOW in a souvenir glass. But by then I had missed the part I wanted to see the most which was when they pulled the pig from the ground. Eventually though my husband and I decided to forget about the drink situation and make the most of the night. From then on, we had a great time. The food was good a little cold but still good. And the entertainment was excellent, and in the end I think we got our monies worth. Since this was our first luau ever, I would say it was fun and entertaining. I would definitely do it again and recommend it to anyone. I think those with kids especially will like PC because of all the activities prior to the luau. At nights end we picked up our photo that we took at the entrance, and boarded the bus back to the hotel.

DAY 6

(START OF STUDY TOUR, where my eldest daughter checked into the Sheraton Waikiki with the rest of her hula sisters and chaperones for the remainder of our trip)

•Breakfast/Early Lunch @ Rainbow Drive Inn (again! The chili rice ala carte is on $2, and my husband got spam and eggs with rice for $5 and saimen – noodle soup for my kids was $2) this place is cheap and good.

•Queen Emma’s Palace (off of Pali Hwy) – a lovely summer home to tour. Historically it has a lot original furniture, art work and valuables from that time period, very interesting. This something I don’t know if I would’ve chosen to do had it not been for my daughter’s tour however, I found it to be interesting and educational.

•Aloha Tower Marketplace – my daughter had a performance here so we went to support her. They don’t have too many shops but ok just to walk around however its close to the piers and often times there was a breeze that reeked of poo (sounds gross yes). They don’t have too many inexpensive places to eat either. They have a Hooter’s and Don Ho’s restaurant that I saw. For a snack I stopped in at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, hoping to get a caramel apple but to my surprise they didn’t have any (in fact, I found it nearly impossible to find any apples in HI…I guess its just not a common fruit there) so instead I tried something they have called the “ONO BAR” very YUMMY…if you like rice crispy treats than this bar is for you…it is like a rice crispy treat mixed with peanut butter, marshmallows, & dark chocolate chips. Its melt in your mouth good. : )

•For dinner, Teddy’s Bigger Burger (on Kapahulu Ave) pretty good burgers and fries at a descent price.

Day 7

•Circle Island Tour – the halau rented a big non air conditioning school bus for this tour. However early in the day it wasn’t so bad with the window’s down we got a nice breeze but it was a pretty bumpy ride. The good thing about this tour was the tour guide, Lani girl. She made the tour interesting and amusing. Although her stories were long, they were educational as well. For the kids this was great but for parents it may be boring however I found some of the stories to be quite interesting. We stopped at Waimanalo, Kailua, Kane’ohe, He’eia, Laniloa & Kukaniloko (the birthing stones). All sites were very interesting and the views from each were amazing. You could also do this drive on your own, the only thing lacking would be someone telling you about some things that may or may not have happened at each spot. Overall, other than riding in a school bus this was a great tour. We left about 7:30am and returned about 4:30pm.

•Sheraton Waikiki Performance – The girls performed in the Lobby of this hotel (as this is where they were staying). All sticky and muggy fresh off the bus, no costume change and only a hair touch up the girls were only suppose to sing, however they ended up dancing as well.

•For a late dinner (since after the circle tour we returned to our hotel to freshen up and rest a bit) we tried to eat at Duke’s for dinner however the wait was about an hour long. So we tried to go upstairs to the Hula Grill but that too had a long wait. So we headed back downstairs and opted to get a light dinner at Dukes (not in the restaurant area but in their bar area where they serve appetizer and a light dinner menu and drinks). This was nice as we sat in the patio where you could still see the moonlight off the beach waters. A little noisy but we didn’t mind and neither did our 2 year old. We shared the calamari strips, beach fries and chicken burger. And I had another LAVA FLOW. Overall this place is happening and a great place to hang out.

DAY 8

•Breakfast Buffet @ the “Shorebird” (Outrigger Reef Hotel) and get the coupon in the “Best of Oahu” booklet. You’ll pay $9.95 instead of $10.95. The food is good, not great but not bad either but with the view of the beach it’s worth the money.

•We hung out at the Outrigger Reef Pool and got poolside massages. Warning though, the massage we received was unlike any massage I have ever gotten before, and this was my husbands first time getting a massage (an anniversary gift from me). It just happened the masseuse did more therapeutic massages than the spa kind of massages. So to make a long story short my husband and I were getting stuff cracked left and right. And I have a low threshold for pain so this was a bit much for me. However, I will admit that eventually I felt more relaxed. The next day though my back was still a little soar. Originally I wanted my husband and I to do the couples massage they offered at the Serenity Spa located at the Reef but because we always had the kids with us (with no daycare or babysitter) there was no way we could’ve done it together. At least this way, poolside he went first while I stayed with my daughter and then we switched. And for the price it was cheaper than going into the spa too. They have a couple of massage you can choose from but the one I chose for my husband was 30 minutes @ $40 and an hour for me @ $75. Not bad considering if we actually went to the spa location would have cost us about $50 more.

•We then headed over to the Sheraton Waikiki’s pool as my oldest daughter was set to hang out there for the day. We sat poolside and had some calamari rings (a bit chewy) and some LAVA FLOW’s. The Sheraton actually has 2 pools, one that is less than 4ft just for the little kids. I would say that even though we weren’t lucky enough to stay here, my daughter was. And its just footsteps way from the beach too.

•Ala Moana Shopping Center – this place is huge (I guess for HI standards but compared to the malls here in CA its average size) we mainly went here to support my daughter’s halau as their band was playing on the main stage. Afterwards we did walk around a bit and only a found a few stores worth shopping in. The HIC store (Hawaiian Island Creations) has the most COMFORTABLE slippers out there. Plus you can mix and match the bottoms and straps and they make them there for you. A little pricey at $9.50 but it’s worth it as they feel as though you don’t have anything on. They also have a Longs Drug Store there too. We were also able to find another brand of slippers that we like, Locals here. And for cheap too. We bought quite a few pairs for family and friends to take back home ranging in price $4 - $6. A lot of people told us that they also have a huge food court here, and they weren’t kidding. At the time, we weren’t hungry so we didn’t really even bother to look and see what we had, and now I regret that. I wish I had remembered about the food court on the nights my husband and I were contemplating on were to eat. I heard that there is a variety of eateries at inexpensive prices. Should we (or I should say when we) return we will definitely have this on our “to do” list again.

DAY 9

•Iolani Palace – (NOTE: kids under 5 are NOT allowed on the palace tour but are allowed in the theater and gallery)

When we arrived we watched a 15-20 minute video which I found interesting as it tells you about the history of the palace. And since my 2 year old wasn’t allowed on the palace tour my husband stayed with her and walked around and walked across the street to the King Kamehameha Statue (because the tour is about an hour long). I would highly recommend this place especially if you are interested in the history of the royals that lived in Hawaii. I found the tour extremely educating and historical as much of the pieces inside the palace are original pieces. It was just amazing to see how royalty lived in those days and how exquisite all their furniture and art works were, so simple yet very detailed (right down to the door hinges on each door). The palace tour is obviously a guided tour given by volunteers. They even give you little booties to put over your shoes prior to the start as to protect the hard wood floors of the palace. After the tour, they have a gallery below the palace to display more artifacts from that time period. Again, I left this place in awe of its beauty and historical meaning.

•For lunch we stopped at my favorite place (yet again) Rainbow Drive Inn for some chili rice and loco moco.

•We again went to the Sheraton Waikiki pool and hung out with our daughter and other parents who were also there visiting their daughters.

•For dinner we ate at the Sheraton Waikiki’s Terrace Buffet. Pricey at about $35 for a steak and lobster buffet but it was totally worth it. The food was exceptional. A wide variety of foods to choose from. And if you have the “best of Oahu” booklet you will find a coupon for 15% off. I think they have a different dinner buffet each night but we were there on a Saturday night. Overall it was a nice dinner but then again we were there with like 32 other people however, it was still worth the $.

DAY 10 (last day)

•For breakfast, we ate at the Shorebird (again) we just really enjoyed the food and the view. And this being our last day wanted to take it all in before we left. And this time we used the coupon.

•Although our flight out wasn’t until 11pm we still had to check out early. Because my daughter was checking out of the Sheraton early due to a performance they had, we figured it would be best for us to check out as well since their performance wasn’t due to finish until after 1pm. And at the Ohana Islander they didn’t have any kind of hospitality room where we could store our luggage, all they could offer at best was a late checkout at 1pm and charging $10 an hour after that. So we opted to just take everything with us in our rental car. Of course we were weary about leaving it in the car as we still had some places to go but what else could we do. Luckily it wasn’t a problem (however, I avoided opening the trunk often as to avoid anyone who could be watching to know that we had it in there).

•Ward Warehouse (off of Ala Moana) my daughter had a performance here. They have quite a few stores, like a mini stripe mall. Didn’t really have time to look around each store but browsed a few and most are all unique little shops. They have a few places to eat. I don’t know if I would have come here had it not been for my daughter’s performance.

•Ala Moana Beach Park – Magic Island

My daughter’s study tour ended here with a picnic for the girls and their families. We really had a good time here. And for my youngest who didn’t spend much time at the beach (she actually didn’t like it) during our trip she actually had A LOT of fun jumping and splashing around. I really liked the beach here because the water was so shallow and still clear. My oldest daughter was able to go out pretty far and still have the water go up to her neck. Had I known about this place earlier we would’ve come here to have my little one adjust to the beach. The only downside is parking. They have a huge lot but if you go during the weekends (like most parks) it gets crowded. We drove and sometimes just waited for parking close to where the picnic was (due to all our stuff being in the car) for about 30 minutes and eventually people leave and you find a spot. Maybe mid week it’s not as crowded.

•It’s about 4pm when we decided to leave the picnic to do some last minute running around prior to going to the airport. We figured we had at least a good 3 or 4 hours before we had to get there. We first drove to Costco to pick up our 9 rolls of film we had dropped off the day before (do the one hour photo as regular time takes 2 days) then filled the rental car up with gas (as it was cheaper to do here), we stopped by Chinatown to pick a few fresh leis to take home, as they are much cheaper here than at the airport. However it was late afternoon and most shops had closed but there were still a few flower shops still open. I went to one that came highly recommended “Lin’s”. Prices are not bad at all, they had fresh plumeria lei’s for $3.00 and some nicer ones ranging in price $5 and up. Also because my husband and oldest daughter were obsessed with finding “Dog the Bounty Hunter” office (hoping to catch a glimpse of him or something) we did that too. We looked up his office (Da Kine Bail Bonds on Queen Emma St), which was in the vicinity of Chinatown. We found it without much problem. Of course there wasn’t anyone there but that didn’t stop them from taking a few photos in front of the property. After that, we really didn’t know what else to do. We had pretty much done and see all that we wanted to. And yet it was too early for us to go the airport. And since we ate at the picnic we really weren’t all that hungry. However, we stopped at a little strip mall to pick up some Jamba Juice, and kind of freshen up prior to arriving at the airport. Eventually we became bored and just gave up on doing anything else (at this time I wish I could’ve remembered Ala Moana Shopping Center’s food court) and headed for the airport. Of course you read my Budget rental car experience above. And that was our trip. We waited about another hour and a half just waiting to board the plane. You better believe that my 2 kids were pretty much asleep before we even took off. Considering this was our first vacation ever, we had a great time. We miss Hawaii already and are already talking about returning again next year. We are looking forward to having a lot less hectic schedule and just take more time to go the beaches and bathe in the sunlight and hang out at the pools.

Well I hope that you have enjoyed reading my experience. I know it’s a bit lengthy and ongoing but I guess that’s just me. I have really learned a lot from my frequent and obsessive visits to tripadvisor.com (I will miss it but I will still check in every once in awhile). You better believe that from now on I will be using this site to plan any trip that I make. All of the advice and recommendations I received from people here on what to do, where to go, what to eat (my favorite) and what to see really help my family and I enjoy our trip.

Some last minute tips:

•I can’t stress enough that if you can rent a car do so because it really was nice to be able to go out and venture outside of Waikiki. I didn’t mention the few times we got lost (which was nice anyway because you got to see stuff you didn’t know existed had you not accidentally stumbled upon it). But by the 3rd or 4th day, I was able to navigate myself pretty well.

•Also I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the book Oahu Revealed this book was a lifesaver and came in handy (the maps are very easy to read).

•Find and use all the coupons you can, you think its not that much off but later on you will think man, I could’ve saved some $ by using that coupon.

•Buy film prior to your trip and lots of it. We didn’t buy enough so when we got here we had to buy more. I paid double for the same thing I paid before I left. Go to Costco and just buy a lot, better to have more than to run out and spend more $.

•Just beware and really look at your bill before you pay for anything so that you don’t end up paying for anything you weren’t supposed to.

•ABC stores are on almost every corner and have everything you may need that you forgot to pack, as well as snacks (although pricey) and last minute souvenirs. If you have the time to browse do so because not all stores carry the same things, as we stumbled across some unique items in each store.

•Have FUN and be SAFE. ENJOY AND GO WITH THE FLOW.

I will try to post pictures of our trip as soon as I figure out a way to do so (any suggestions?). I have already posted a review for the Ohana Islander Waikiki Hotel as well as some photos of our stay there (take a look if you’re curious). Until next time, ALOHA and MAHALO!

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1. Re: Just returned - 10 days in Oahu... My Review (WARNING: LONG)

Thanks for the trip review...sounds like you had a great time (except the episode with the rental car lights/battery).

Vancouver, Canada
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2. Re: Just returned - 10 days in Oahu... My Review (WARNING: LONG)

Thanks for your post! Really enjoyed reading it and you gave lots of great info. We leave on Wed. for our first trip to Oahu too. I kept smiling reading your post when you mentioned "Lava Flows"...I got the feeling you really liked these! Thanks again!

Michigan
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3. Re: Just returned - 10 days in Oahu... My Review (WARNING: LONG)

Thanks flew...Enjoyed reading your review. I forgot what it was like when the kids would just fall asleep in the car. I miss those days. I see you did a lot of things we didnt have enough time for. We were there for only 8 days and its impossible to do it all. Everytime i read someones post i find something else i need to back and do. Maybe we will someday.

Lisburn, United...
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4. Re: Just returned - 10 days in Oahu... My Review (WARNING: LONG)

Thanks Flew for your smashing review. It brought back many memories for me since my trip in May.

Glad you enjoyed it. John.

Derby, UK
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5. Re: Just returned - 10 days in Oahu... My Review (WARNING: LONG)

Great review Flew - thanks for taking the time to write in such detail. Reading other people's reviews really brings a place to life...

Philadelphia...
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6. Re: Just returned - 10 days in Oahu... My Review (WARNING: LONG)

FANTASTIC trip report!!!! I never knew the pool at the Reef was salt water!! I HATE pools because I hate chlorine! I'm going to have to check it out the next time I go. Mahalo!

Washington, DC
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7. Re: Just returned - 10 days in Oahu... My Review (WARNING: LONG)

Wow! This is one of the best trip reports I have ever read. I am so impressed. What a wealth of information you gave us here. Makes me so excited about my upcoming Oahu visit. SO grateful to you for so much effort expended to help others.

Lubbock, TX
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8. Re: Just returned - 10 days in Oahu... My Review (WARNING: LONG)

Bravo! Mahalo! Fantastic report! Leonard's, Giovanni's, Matsumoto's, and the Oceanarium all on your second day. I perceive that you are married to a foodie or chowhound, and may be one yourself. My kind of people.

long beach, ca
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9. Re: Just returned - 10 days in Oahu... My Review (WARNING: LONG)

Glad you are all enjoying the review...

: )

2 weeks back and we are still longing to be back in Hawaii...and are hoping to return next year but different season...possibly winter time to see the waves at North Shore.

And yes, I am a food junkie! I LOVE to eat good foods...and I really have no complaints with the food in HI...however, here in LB I am still longing for some chili rice from Rainbow Drive Inn!

: )

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10. Re: Just returned - 10 days in Oahu... My Review (WARNING: LONG)

Flew, the longing never leaves you :)