Just got back from a relaxing trip and wanted to share some tips.
Grocery TIP- If you need to get to Walmart walk to Ala Maona shopping center and get into Nordstrom. Walmart is on the other side of Nordstrom. We did not know this and ended up walking around the shopping center.
Day 1 - We hung out at the lagoon behing The Hilton. It was very kid friendly and fun. It is definitely a nice place to hang out with family and there are plenty of activities like boating, surfing etc. You can even catch a glimpse of the Hilton luau :)
Day 2 - Due to a last minute snafu with the car rental company we ended up without a car for the entire trip. Took 'The Bus' to PCC (Northshore). The ride was smooth and the bus driver was real friendly. We took 8 to Ala Maona Mall and then 51 to Pcc very convenient.
TIP - If going by bus you can use the same ticket for transfers within 2 hours( I think) so dont throw away the tix. Also while on the bus I initially sat at the farthrest end of the bus and the seat got really really hot back there. Also found some bugs crawling out of the back seats. Please sit in the middle or front. Do not occupy the reserved seats cause further down the trip people do get on who need those seats and you might end up not getting a seat for a really long time. So sit in the middle or a little behind but not all the way to the back.
Duration of the bus ride - around 2 hours but the fun thing is -we got to see a lot of the north shore destinations we might have missed otherwise.
PCC TIP - Make sure you get a passport for kids when you get your tickets at the front office. It has activities for kids and they get a stamp once they have finished an activity. My kid loved it and wanted to get as many stamps as possible.
We did just the 7 villages and the canoe ride and were exhausted by the end of it all. If you ahve small kids my suggestion is to skip Ha show as it is too much for the little ones.
Amongst the villages - I really liked the Hawaiian and Aeroterean - got a good peek into the culture and rituals. If you want sheer entertainment then Samoa/ Fiji/Tonga are good. The 4:30 family show in Samoa is great as kids get to participate in a coconut dance less crowded and plenty of photo opps.
TIP - Only during shows they serve the pink & white fruit ice cream (yummy). If you want it later you wont get it so make sure you get that ice cream while it is being served during the show.
TIP - If you find that it is mildly overcast then finish the canoe ride first because they tend to cancel it for safety reasons in case of rain.
Day 3 - Snorkelled at Hanauma Bay. We booked our tix with Aloha Travels for 15$ / person (no discounts for kids). This included snorkel gear and ride back and forth. The masks were defogged and clean.They picked us up from the hotel lobby and dropped us back on time. It was money well spent and we were happy with the tour operator. Made bookings on the phone and it was smooth overall. Phone number is on the Oahu book that you can pick up at the airport or any where else.
TIP - When in doubt ask the lifeguards for directions on how to use the gear and where to snorkel.
Day 3 - Booked a trip on the Atlantis Sub via Aloha Travels. They charged 85$/adult and 45$/kid. We called some other companies and the avg was around 96-102 /adult. They picked us up and dropped us off. The sub ride was FABULOUS. Do not miss it. We got the see the ocean floor, marine life, sharks, tortoise , plane and ship wrecks etc . Also to me the sub coming out of water and then getting submerged was a fun spectacle.
TIP - If you have a tendency to get sea sick arm yourself with plenty of bags because the ride could get choppy.
TIP - While strolling through the International Marketplace we found ads for as low as 45$ for the sub ride. So do your research before you settle on a price.
TIP - If you have sepnt half a day at the sub ride and need something to do then take a free shuttle to Hilo Hattie (fun shop ) with a giant Hawaiian shirt :) and get dropped off at the Ala Maona center for shopping on the way back.
International Market Place - Nice place to shop but contrary to what i read it is not cheap. In fact some items are far more expensive than at the ABC stores.
TIP - After tons of research here are some guidelines
Tube dresses/ other Hawaiian frocks - lowest price 17.99
The dress that can be worn 101 ways - lowest price 25$
Kid dresses/frocks - lowest price 12$
coconut handbags - lowest 8$
lacquer bangles - 3 for 10$ is a good deal.
cell phone chains - 5 for 10$ is the lowest price I saw.
TIP - Do not shop at Duke's Market behind IMP. The vendors are rude, condescending and hurl abuses at you if you walk away without buying their wares. Their attitude is as though they are doing a favor by selling their wares. If you must shop do so at the ABC stores (nicer staff, fixed price, good selection) and you might end up paying 99cents to a 1$ extra but it is well worth it.
Last but not the least - Do not miss the show at the Waikiki mall or center (dont remember) by Derek Daniel. They are a party of three and the 20 minute show was the best I have ever seen. This place is on the 2nd floor of the IMP and is at 7pm on M,W, FR( i think)..
Have a fantastic trip and hope you have as much fun as we did.