Having gained some very useful tips from other people’s trip reports I thought I would try one of my own. I’ll do a separate one for each island we went to.
We flew American Airlines from LAX to HNL, and apart from being pretty basic in comparison with the Virgin Atlantic flight from the UK to LAX, it was fine. Our Dollar car was in our hands after only a short wait and we were off to Waikiki.
We stayed at the Royal Grove, just two blocks from the beach and pretty much in the middle of the beach. I’ve done a full review of the hotel but to sum up – its run-down elements may not appeal to everyone but we thought it was fantastic value for money, with a decent sized room and a full kitchen. The girls were pretty tired from the flight plus time difference so we just got KFC for dinner.
Next morning we were up early (by teenage daughter standards) and set off to Pearl Harbor. Even with the time difference from LA, I realised we were never going to get there at 7, as some people suggested to avoid the queues, and I’m glad we didn’t try. We got there about 10, and had a one hour wait for our tour, which was exactly the time it took us to do the museum. I strongly recommend the audio tour – well worth the money and it added a lot.
The museum is very good, telling me a lot I hadn’t known before, and the film and memorial are very moving. As a counterpoint we went to the swap meet at the Aloha Stadium, and whiled away an amusing hour without buying much, though if you want souvenirs there’s certainly plenty of choice. Not having seen a proper supermarket in Waikiki (turns our Safeway was near the hotel, but in a direction we hadn’t been in) we drove up to Pearl City and drove past loads of strip malls before finding a mainly Japanese supermarket that was good for crisps drinks and breakfast and supper ingredients.
In the afternoon we planned to climb Diamond Head, and as we could see it was only a mile from the hotel we decided to walk there. Big mistake. Diamond Head may only be a mile away, but the trail head is way further, and realistically you have to drive or get the bus. Once we realised we decided to just stroll along the sea shore a bit, which was still enjoyable.
The next morning the girls went shopping while I went off to do the Manoa Falls trail. It’s a nice easy walk, although a bit slippery in places, but sadly the falls themselves were a bit of a disappointment because of the lack of rain. Someone who arrived just after me said they should be renamed the Manoa Trickle. I tried to find a side trail that was supposed to link to some other trails, but saw no sign of it.
In the afternoon we had one of our most eagerly awaited bits of the whole holiday – the Kos Hummer Lost tour. All three of us are big Lost fans, and after a lot of research I chose this tour over the others, and I’m very glad we did. As a strange coincidence, we went to the Quiznos near the hotel for a quick lunch takeaway, and two guys wearing Kos Lost Tour t-shirts were sat outside drinking coffee. I said hi, and it turned out one of them, Scot, was our driver.
We had a personal tour, with just three of us plus Scot in the Hummer, and this meant we could spend longer on the bits we were most interested in (basically Lost and Jurassic Park) and less time on the bits we weren’t (basically most of the other films). I’ve written a full review, but all I’ll say here was that we had a great afternoon, seeing tons of locations, having lots of interesting chats with Scot (like being told which juice bar Evangeline Lilley goes to each day – shame they weren’t filming when we were there!) and getting lots of other good tips of things to do. We also learned a bit of Hawaiian history. Apparently they are planning an all day tour, which would include the various Lost beaches on the North shore, which sounds the ultimate treat for any Lost fan.
Next day we were up brightish and earlyish for a visit to Snorkel Bob’s to hire gear for each of us for a few days. We realised too late that there was no point getting three lots of stuff. Because we had car keys (with quite a few valuables in the trunk) plus wallet, Blackberry, phones etc we didn’t want to risk leaving our possessions alone on the beach, so we only ever had two of us in the water at a time. Snorkel Bob isn’t expensive, but that was still the price of a few shave ices wasted.
We drove up to the North Shore and after visiting a few Lost sites – seeing Camp Erdman look exactly as New Otherton does on the program was a bit spooky – we went to Sharks Cove for some snorkelling. Tricky getting down to the sea in bare feet as it’s very rocky, but the snorkelling was really good. No turtles but loads of fish. Towards the end of the afternoon we went to the Waimea Audubon place to walk to Waimea Falls – another Lost location – but the lady said the falls weren’t running because of the lack of rain, and as it was near closing time we decided to save our 10 bucks a head.
Instead we drove back to Waikiki and climbed Diamond Head. We took the flashlights they say you should but didn’t need them – the tunnels are a bit gloomy but certainly safe enough without extra lighting. It’s not too strenuous and in late afternoon it wasn’t unpleasantly hot, though we did get through a lot of water, and the view from the top are certainly pretty good. We treated ourselves to a shave ice as our reward
Our last day on Oahu before going to Big Island was supposed to be another snorkelling day, but we were rather thwarted by some very heavy winds overnight and in the morning. After an abortive visit to the Halona Blowhole (viewing area closed for resurfacing) we set off for the Makai Research pier, as recommended by Snorkel Bob and on Trip Advisor, but the massive crashing waves suggested swimming was not a good idea, and this was pretty much true of everywhere else we tried.
We gave up half way up the east coast and instead visited the Japanese Buddhist temple, which apart from being another Lost site is very beautiful in its own right. Make sure you ring the bell – it sounds fantastic.
As it is so protected we decided to see what the snorkelling was like at Hanauma Bay. The parking lot had been full when we drove past around 10am, but at 4 there was loads of space. There weren’t many people in the water when we got down to the bay, and the water was very calm, but the earlier high winds and waves had stirred up a lot of mud and so visibility as poor. We did get to see a turtle though, very briefly, and that was cool.
In the evening we had our one proper meal out. There was a 45 minute wait at Dukes, so we went to the Cheesecake Factory and had a really nice, good value meal, and bought a slice of fantastic cheesecake to take back to the hotel with us.
Next morning we were up early to fly to Big Island – report on that shortly. A few photos can be found here www.facebook.com/album.php…