We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Waikiki Trip Report (long)

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
333 posts
143 reviews
146 helpful votes
Waikiki Trip Report (long)

Day 1 – Arrival, Chinatown, downtown, International Marketplace, Waikiki shops.

We cruised from Sydney via Fiji and Tahiti (17 nights) on Royal Caribbean’s ‘Rhapsody of the Seas’ – what a great way to get to Hawaii. We docked at Aloha Tower at 1pm and were ashore by 3pm.

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

tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60982-d5967…

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.

Days 3 Arizona Memorial and City Tour, Ala Moana Shopping and Germaines Luau.

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.

General observations

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.

Kawhia,New Zealand
Level Contributor
1,779 posts
60 reviews
105 helpful votes
21. Re: Waikiki Trip Report (long)

Hey thanks for the great report,

Very helpful indeed.

We have booked on Carnival Spirit September 2012 Reverse to your trip 17 nights.

We Have a timeshare booked on the Big Island before hand and will probably do 3-4 nights in oahu as well

California
Level Contributor
51,736 posts
19 reviews
29 helpful votes
22. Re: Waikiki Trip Report (long)

I love Macy's. And you did some smart thinkin'.

So how did you get your bags off the ship? Drug someone?

Corona del Mar...
Level Contributor
62,575 posts
442 reviews
777 helpful votes
23. Re: Waikiki Trip Report (long)

I hate Macy's, I want my Liberty House back.....

Nice follow-up Brian, it makes perfect sense to stick with what you know as opposed to jumping into the unknown when you were very content. You recognized some of the Renew's shortcomings, but they were more than balanced by the positives. Those kind of reviews are so much better then those who give a place a 5, 5 on all the categories and then the review is "loved this place, everything was great".

California
Level Contributor
51,736 posts
19 reviews
29 helpful votes
24. Re: Waikiki Trip Report (long)

<<I hate Macy's, I want my Liberty House back.....>> Ah ... Scott ... things change. Macy's is a constant for me. Need a dress shirt in NY, a bathroom in Thousand Oaks, directions in Santa Barbara ... Portland, Honolulu ... wherever? I have always appreciated their customer service. And they are BIG here in the Sacramento area as well.

I was sorting some pre-WW II slides of my dad's yesterday and ran across some oldies of the RG, MS area. I thought of you.

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
333 posts
143 reviews
146 helpful votes
25. Re: Waikiki Trip Report (long)

>>>So how did you get your bags off the ship? Drug someone?<<<

Sorry I meant to answer that question along with the KitcheAid info.

Customs came on at 1pm to clear the passengers. We declared some Vanilla that we bought in Tahiti but they said that was OK. They never checked any of our bags. After that we were free to come and go as we pleased. They did put a blue cross on our sea pass card to show that we had been cleared.

When getting off and on we still had to put everything through the scanner - the same as we did in every port.

That evening we just picked up all our bags and walked them off. They put them through the scanner but didn't ask us to open anything.

Because the Renew stored our luggage I was able to beat the crowds and just walk off the next day with a small back pack. Maybe US customs man the scanners after you dock? I don't know. It all seemed a little easy.

California
Level Contributor
51,736 posts
19 reviews
29 helpful votes
26. Re: Waikiki Trip Report (long)

I'm glad you missed the rush!

Saint Cloud...
Destination Expert
for Oahu
Level Contributor
30,397 posts
27. Re: Waikiki Trip Report (long)

OzBrian

Evidently you are correct in that you got tickets without standing in line.

Check out this thread:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60982-i38-k459359…

How sad that thousands of others that drive or take buses now have to wait more because of this!

Hopefully the park service will regain their sense & fairness.

Why on earth should anyone have to wait longer for a tour because the took a bus or drove themselves.

How sad!

Saint Cloud...
Destination Expert
for Oahu
Level Contributor
30,397 posts
28. Re: Waikiki Trip Report (long)

By the way, I sent them an email message stating how wrong it is to allow any tour group to get head of the line privilege or any other advantage.

Hopefully others will send similar emails.

It is not fair that someone who has the $$ to pay for a tour to get privilege over someone who cannot afford a tour and/or rents a car.

How sad it is that someone who has more $$ to spend on a tour to basically get head of the line privilege. This is one of the worst decisions ever concerning a national park.monument.

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
333 posts
143 reviews
146 helpful votes
29. Re: Waikiki Trip Report (long)

I know I was correct - I was there.

There are 2 ways to look at it dusty. If a tour group knows that they have 100 people confirmed for a tour, why not pre issue the tickets to the tour operator? Isn't this better than having 100 people turn up and add them to the queue creating an even larger bottleneck? The park knows those spots are taken and continues to issue tickets to walk-ups.

You can apply your logic to the movies. I buy my tickets online and jump the queue at the theatre - plus I get to pick my seats. Is this unfair on the people that don't have internet and turn up to stand in the queue?

After the original discussion, I too wrote to them asking what the policy was but I didn't get a reply.

When I thought about it I could see the logic in pre-issuing tickets.

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
333 posts
143 reviews
146 helpful votes
30. Re: Waikiki Trip Report (long)

Also, the tour was only $20. A rental car or taxi would be dearer and TheBus at $2.50 would take way longer to get there.

I think the tour with or without the pre issued tickets is a better way to go.

I can see where you are coming from but the ones who go in cars and buses are also better off with the smaller queues (the downside being less available tickets).