Trip report-things I learned in Oahu (tips for your vacation)
1.Don't cross against the light or jay walk you get a ticket HPD is waiting for you
2. don't buy your medicine or beer or anything else in Waikiki head over to King's street to Long's
3.at Sushi Sasabune you do not need to sit at the bar to get Omakase you can sit at a table. If you sit at the counter you have to pay for what he gives you. The couple before us told us they spent more than they had and they were not allowed to refuse it so we sat at a table and had the same thing but had the freedom to stop when we wanted to. We actually met this couple on the "sushi circuit" they went to all of the same places we did.
4.go to Hanauma Bay after 2 PM it is empty no need to rush to it early in the morning only to be turned away. It was beautiful and empty. We mostly had it to ourselves and snorkeling here is super easy.
7.Out Rigger on the Reef's beach has a fresh home made ginger ale stand (which helped me tremendously) and it is so refreshing, along with a beach front enterprise that rents umbrellas and chairs for at least half the price of the other parts of the beach, also they have a cute poi dog there. You can also take pictures with tropical birds right at that spot with Diamond head in the back ground.
8.We found better bargains (than the Swap meet) at Coco Cove and Long's and even the International market place and you do not have to drive. I even found a lady who made fresh leis and having been to Maui twice and Kauai once I have had several fresh leis but these lasted the longest by far and were made in a way that were stronger and tighter than others I have seen. Though the Swap meet does have a nice Hawaiian music booth. We got CD's there on sale of Hawaiian music we were looking for, for a while. Next time if we are fortunate enough to go to Oahu we want to spend more time at the beach and not driving to the Swap meet. Though we are glad we got to see a lot of what was suggested to us.
9. 3.50 leis in China town.
If you are from NYC or SanFransisco, Honolulu's China town is very small, not as dirty as NY (we have 4 China towns, all filthy) But not as clean as San Fransisco's China town. We have been to most of the China towns of the world and this is one of the smallest as small if not smaller than DC, or Philly's China town. The food in China town is just o kay and we went to the 3 most popular there. Next time we will skip China town. We can save a lot of time by not going.
(my DH is Chinese and cooks home made gourmet Chinese food and we have been to most of the top Chinese restaurants in the country) So for us it was a waste to go to eat there but for others they might like it. We were pretty bored with dim sum in China town Honolulu but if you have not tried Dim Sum in NY or San Fransisco or Kong Kong then give it a try.
10. I would choose a better option than Duke's. Duke's is a mad house. Hula Grill is better. If you save your receipts from Hula Grill you get a free fruit platter.
11. We choose to get an umbrella but you don't have to you can sit under a palm tree. Being from NYC we did not find Waikiki beach to be as crowded as we expected based on reviews. (though we did go at low season) We loved it ,it was easy for both of us to swim and my DH can't really swim. This is the easiest beach to swim at that we have been to anywhere in the world!
12. Suntory and Tokurri Tei are great Japanese restaurants. Suntory is right in the Royal Hawaiian shopping center. The location could not be better if staying on Waikiki beach.
Though my DH was disappointed that it did not have draft beer.
http://www.yelp.com/biz/tokkuri-tei-honolulu- it is moderately priced.
13. we loved all of the restaurants at the Halekulani. We suggest Orchid's for breakfast and it is worth every penny, House without a Key is beautiful and has great photo opportunity's with Diamond head as a back drop.
La Mer is good. Was it worth the money? Yes because of the ambiance and full experience. On food alone we do not think it could stand. The food did not blow us away. But for the full experience it was worth it.
14. Eat local food that you can not get in your home town. I can't imagine why anyone from the US would eat at chains that are in almost every state. I do get why over seas tourists would want to try the Cheese cake factory and PF Chang's but if you live in the US why not eat local Hawaiian or Hawaii regional cuisine? There are really cheap options at the food court at the Ala Moana center and up Kapahulu street for plate lunches and local foods.
15.funniest experience was some local surfers telling my NYC born husband to go back to Maui and called him "Maui boy"
LOL! When they said to go back to Maui he said "if you insist!"
16.make friends with your hotel staff, tip house keeping every day, show respect and you will be treated with respect and get all of the upgrades and perks you ask for. To this day we are still in touch with hotel staff from our first trip to Maui and they are on our face book page. We still exchange gifts and cards at holidays.
17.have a big lunch and eat a small dinner to save time and money.
18. I hate to burst anyone food bubble, but I got sick at Alan Wong's and also the Pineapple Room. Alan Wong has left the building. They are the only places I got sick at on Oahu. We won't be returning
19. Don't compare one island to the other if you can help it enjoy each island for what it has to offer.
20. we did the hikes which we were not planning on doing and did not regret it!
21. we did end up spending a lot of time outside of Waikiki and loved the entire island. We found it to feel very safe and less crowded than we expected and found ALL of the beaches at this time of year to be easy to swim in.
22.driving- My DH said driving is quite easy and local drivers are very good.