Day 1 – Arrival, Chinatown, downtown, International Marketplace, Waikiki shops.
We spent the afternoon looking through Aloha Tower shops, Chinatown and even wandered into downtown Honolulu. Sounds like a bit of a stretch but with the aid of Frommers Chinatown walking guide and TA advice we knew where we wanted to go. We had some nice treats in Chinatown and purchased a fresh flower Lei from one of the florists to wear at the final Hawaiian theme dinner and Hula show on board the ship that night.
Our first night in Hawaii was aboard ship and we were checking into our hotel the next day but we also had a helicopter flight booked for 10am so needed to beat the disembarking crowds. We rang the Renew Hotel and asked them if they would mind stowing our luggage overnight. They were more than happy to accommodate us. So after the evening shipboard show we got a cab to Waikiki and dropped the bags off. We then spent the evening walking around the International Marketplace and the shops at Waikiki and were back on board by midnight.
Day 2 – Check-in, Blue Hawaii Helicopter, Atlantis Submarine, Spam Jam, Banyon Court, Dukes, Society of Seven Show.
Walked off the ship with a small backpack and caught TheBus to Renew Hotel. Checked in by 9:50am. The room was ready so we had a quick peek. Gorgeous! We loved this hotel and you can see our full review at
OK, that link was a pain. In future I will just note that I have done a separate review and you can see them at www.tripadvisor.com/members-reviews/OzBrian or by clicking on my name and following the links.
At 10am we were picked up by Blue Hawaiian Helicopters and taken for an 11am, 50 min flight around the island (review available). This was one of the highlights of the trip. They dropped us back at the HHV for the Atlantis Submarine tour (review available with photo). The sub was OK but I really could not recommend it. After the Sub we went to the Spam Jam and had a hoot. We then got dressed for dinner. We started the night at the Banyan Court for cocktails at 5:30pm, then Dukes for Dinner at 6:30pm and then the Society of Seven Show at 8:30pm.
The Banyon Court was lovely and entertainment started at 6pm. The Beach Bar was already packed at 5:30 so we sat up on the veranda looking at the entertainers side-on. The Beach Bar crowd were not interested in the entertainment and drowned out a lot of the performance. Still, it was a lovely start to the night. I had rung and booked a table by the rail at Dukes six weeks previously and it was ready on time. Sunset was lovely but too far to the west to be spectacular. We started with some more cocktails (my favourite was the Lava Flow) and then a pupu and a main. The food was good but not great. The salad bar was pretty ordinary. We were too full for desert. With 2 cocktails and the meal the tab came to about $100. Overall I was a little disappointed with the quality of the food for the price but the location made up for it. After the meal we wandered over to the Society of Seven show. This was very entertaining and had us in stitches. I did a mini review in another post recently. After the show we wandered back up the strip to the hotel, stopping at shops along the way.
We were picked up promptly at 7am and given tickets to the 9:30am movie and ferry BEFORE boarding the bus. This is contrary to info we received on TA. There was no queuing on the day as we received our tickets beforehand. The Arizona memorial was emotional but well worth doing (review available). I would recommend anyone wanting to do it, to do it as a tour. At $20 per person there is no lining up, no waiting for public transport, cheaper than a cab, plus you get the city tour and Cemetery. The bus driver dropped us at the Ala Moana shopping centre and we got some shopping in plus priced up some of the bigger ticket articles we were expecting to get at the outlets the next day. Ala Moana is a great shopping centre.
At 4:30pm we were picked up for Germaines Luau (review available with photo). This was a great night and excellent value for money.
Days 4 & 5. Shopping, Beach
We took the PG Plover $10 return shuttle to the outlets. There were some bargains to be had but we found Sears at Ala Moana cheaper for things like Jeans and some shoes. Example – Levi Jeans at the outlet were $45. At Sears they were $54 less 25%, then a further 15% off for multiple items. So the same style ended up at under $35. In Australia more like $80. Some jeans were as low as $19 but we were after specific styles. The outlets were great for the grandchildren’s clothes, etc. but if you were shopping for something specific sometimes the other shops were a better buy. Generally we found VAN and NIKE shoes were less than half the price we would pay at home.
As well as The Outlets and Ala Moana, we visited Don Quixote (thanks Amberloo) and Wall Mart. Don Quixote was our favourite shop. I bought some shoes for myself at Nordstrom – that is a lovely shop.
We picked up a KitchenAid’ mixmaster for $180 at Macy’s that is valued at about $700 in Australia. Once home I picked up a small $40 transformer for it – works perfectly.
When we could we snuck in a few hours for the beach. The renew hotel have free boogie boards, towels, mats, etc for guest use. The water was beautiful. One day we took an outrigger canoe ride where they take you out and you catch three waves for $15. That was great fun and I would highly recommend you do it. No bookings necessary.
The International Marketplace was worth visiting – despite what some people have written it was clean and we felt very safe, it had quite a good ‘feel’. Most shops sold the same stuff but we found some nice souvenirs. We had a seafood plate that cost $23 (we had them add extra prawns (shrimps) so we could share the plate. It was lovely and one of the best lunches we had.
Day 6 – North Shore in a Mustang Convertible. Dinner at Hau Tree
The Hotel organised the car and hotel pickup. The rental company used was Enterprise.
We had a Mustang convertible and had the roof down most of the way as it was a beautiful day. First stop was Hanauma Bay for a snorkel. The Bay is one of the prettiest we’ve seen but the snorkelling was quite poor (review available with photo’s). We stopped at the blowhole, Chinamans hat, various shops and beaches, including sunset and pipeline. We had a great late lunch at Giovani’s shrimp truck and stopped at the Dole Pineapple Plantation for a dole whip. Traffic back in Honolulu was terrible but we made it back before the rental company closed. They then drove us back to the hotel.
A quick shower and then we walked up to the Hau Tree Lanai restaurant (full review available). This was by far, the best meal we had on Oahu. We watched a brilliant sunset over Barbers point and then the lights of Honolulu come on. A perfect spot and a perfect meal. It was great to finish our trip on such a high.
The Flower Lei from Day 1 had been in its pack in the fridge and was still in excellent order, so my wife wore it to dinner. On the way home we placed it on the Surfer boy and Seal statue across the road from the Hotel.
Day 7 – Departure
After packing we were picked up by Mark from Hawaii23 transport.
Booking was quick and easy via his web site and we had excellent email feedback when we asked a few questions. Mark picked us up on time in a comfortable A/C’ed van and loaded our not insubstantial luggage (a week of shopping will do that) into the back and unloaded it for us at the airport where he gave us a tip which saved us waiting in queues for about 45minutes. Prompt, efficient, cheap and friendly service. Highly recommended.
The Honolulu airport shopping and food court are very basic so don’t expect to do much duty free shopping or eating here.
We did a LOT of walking around, two things that I remember were the number of homeless people and the fact that after rain, water doesn’t drain away very well and we were walking across roads in 6” deep water a couple of times.
Food. Dukes was ordinary as already stated, Cheesecake factory food was ordinary but huge servings. Seafood platter at the International Marketplace was great. Shrimp plate at Giovanni’s on the Nth Shore was great – especially the garlic one. Mexican in the Ala Moana food court was spicy & nice. Masaladas from Leonards were surprisingly good. I was expecting a simple donut without the hole. We ordered 2 and the girl gave us 3 and refused to take any money for the extra one. My wife and I were both eyeing off the third one. The pineapple whip at Dole plantation was lovely. Overall the restaurant food was dearer and not as nice as we were expecting. Hau Tree made up for it all on the last night.
All tours we did were great and so professional. Hawaii Discount is a must site to visit for pricing – we booked 3 or 4 things through them. All tour buses, trolleys for the entire week turned up within a minute of the scheduled time and the drivers were all great.
Shopping was our focus and we were not disappointed. If I were to go back for a day I would do Ala Moana over the outlets. If I was back for a week at self contained accommodation I would use Don Quixote as a one stop shop. Overall, prices in Honolulu were much cheaper than in Australia plus we were getting an exchange rate of $1.06. So having arrived in Hawaii with two check-in bags we left with four.
TheBus was quick and easy – forget catching cabs. Fare was $2.50pp to anywhere. You can ask for a transfer ticket that will allow you to continue your journey on another bus with a 2hr time limit. Buses were clean and all drivers very helpful.
We loved Hawaii and will be back.