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jcislanders Trip report - Makaha: the Good and the Bad

Vancouver Island...
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1,294 posts
39 reviews
47 helpful votes
jcislanders Trip report - Makaha: the Good and the Bad

Yup, even after reading the reviews we still chose this as our home for two weeks.

Our budget of $2500 was either 1 week in Waikiki with eating out or 2 weeks in Makaha with a vehicle and eating in. It was an easy choice for me.

Yes, it is a fairly long drive if you are going in to town every day. Traffic can be awful. There are crazy drivers out there. On the other hand, the scenery is gorgeous and it really didn’t seem too long once we past Ko Olina.

Makaha is a far cry from Waikiki. This is where the lower income folks can afford to live. Along with that comes loud stereos in beat up cars, rough looking folks drinking from paper bags at the bus stop, dogs, chickens and sirens at all hours of the day and night etc. etc. However, I didn’t feel threatened or uncomfortable at any time. People were friendly and helpful, greeting me with a smile and Aloha. This is their life, and they seem quite happy to live it.

Not far past Makaha there is a stretch of road where the “homeless” people have set up a tent community. I hesitate to call them homeless since these folks obviously regard their tents as homes. There are many of them and they are not temporary or new. Again, I wasn’t concerned for my safety and they certainly have chosen a beautiful place to live. The weather is agreeable, scenery is amazing and if it wasn’t for the garbage and abandoned vehicles everywhere it would look like a nice campground.

Would I choose to buy a home in Makaha and live here? Probably not. Will I go back again if finances dictate/permit? Certainly.

Vancouver Island...
Level Contributor
1,294 posts
39 reviews
47 helpful votes
1. Re: jcislanders Trip report - Makaha: the Good and the Bad

We booked a 4 door Jeep through DiscountHawaiiCarRental and paid $700 for two weeks, 3 drivers including tax etc. I have full insurance on my credit card so we opted out of that. The first Jeep we were given had a broken zipper on the top and they immediately exchanged it for another one. No complaints about service or the vehicle. We also brought our GPS from home and were very glad we did.

All loaded up and on the road by noon. FIrst stop was the Leonards truck at Waikele shopping center to try the malasadas then we stumbled upon the Outlet shops. The malasadas were hot and yummy but probably not the healthiest lunch substitute. I am not a shopper so have no review of the outlets. Excited to get settled in to our condos we didn't stay too long.

30 minutes later we pulled up to the gated parking lot at the Hawaiian Princess. We were met by the security guard and the manager and got a brief introduction. I booked the rooms through VRBO and had one on the 12th floor, one on the 5th. 13 nights, including tax was $1800 each. The units were clean, roomy, fully stocked and had amazing views, along with boogie boards, snorkel equipment, pool noodles, chairs, coolers, everything needed in the kitchen, phone, internet, tv etc. We lacked for nothing. After a quick look around and some time to check out the beach we headed back into Barber’s Point to Costco for supplies, an easy 20 minute drive. We had an early night after another long and busy day.

Wed we stayed put and took advantage of the beautiful beach right out in front of our building. There was hardly anyone on the beach and we swam, snorkled and lounged for the entire day. The fish were plentiful and it was easy to get in and out of the water, just perfect. Late afternoon we took a drive out to Yokohoma Beach and walked part way along the trail towards Kaena Point. Used the community BBQ at the Hawaiian Princess and ate burgers while watching the sun set from our lanai. Wow!!

Thursday we took off to the North Shore via H2/99 through Haleiwa and drove part way around the island. Stopped at Shark Cove where it was too rough for safe snorkeling but we tried anyways, Kahuku Farms for fresh coconut, peanuts and corn, Laie at McDonalds (really can’t explain that one after driving right past a number of amazing options-no one listens to me!!!) then headed south and across on H3 and back to Makaha. Another BBQ meal and fantastic evening on the lanai.

Friday was a day I have been waiting for since we booked the trip. The guys dropped us girls off at the end of the Farrington Highway at the beginning of the trail to Kaena Point, and we hiked the 2.5 miles out to see the bird sanctuary and Monk seals. Then we hiked 2.5 miles along the north side where the guys picked us up and the end of the trail. It was long, hot, dusty and amazing. I brought lots of water and drank it all. For the afternoon we went into Haleiwa to check it out, then took hwy 705 back, stopping in at Waikele Outlets for another look around. Yet another BBQ meal and listening to the waves on the beach from the lanai. This is getting to be a habit.

Saturday we hiked to the top of the hill right beside the Hawaiian Princess. It was very narrow, challenging and had a wonderful view from the top. After that I deserved a lay on the beach/snorkel afternoon. Of course, followed by a BBQ dinner etc. Gotta say, the blender got a workout. Fresh pineapple, coconut milk, rum.....

Sunday we drove into Diamond Head and got some exercise. 30 minutes up, 30 minutes down. There was a fair bit of traffic on the trail and lots of opportunity to rest and enjoy the view. Next stop was Teddy’s burgers in Hawaii Kai, followed by an afternoon at Hanauma Bay. We arrived around 11:30 and there was plenty of parking. The beach was quite busy but we found a nice spot and swam around for a few hours. I preferred the snorkelling at the Hawaiian Princess without the multitudes of people and cloudy water. I don’t think it helped much that it was quite windy and the waves were stirring the water up. After the bay we drove up the East side to the Pali Hwy, then into Ala Moana Center for the shoppers and Bubba Gump addict. I see why so many people rave about the shopping. What an amazing place. The food at Bubba Gump was just ok. Not my thing really. Everyone else loved it.

Next week, PCC, Pearl Harbor, Aloha Stadium.

Burr Ridge, Illinois
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4,307 posts
104 reviews
13 helpful votes
2. Re: jcislanders Trip report - Makaha: the Good and the Bad

Interesting TR to read this morning while saviribg coffee in paradise.

Glad to hear positive VRBO comments as I see that as the future of travel (or perhaps the present).

Frisco, Texas
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1,594 posts
56 reviews
65 helpful votes
3. Re: jcislanders Trip report - Makaha: the Good and the Bad

Great report. Although, I love the windward side since it's home to me, I agree that the entire island is beautiful and half the battle is having a fantastic attitude no matter where you are. I'm with you...I'll take an extended vacation with less expensive lodging anyday!

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76,747 posts
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4. Re: jcislanders Trip report - Makaha: the Good and the Bad


I agree...great info for folks thinking of staying there.

Victoria, Canada
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4,028 posts
2 reviews
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5. Re: jcislanders Trip report - Makaha: the Good and the Bad

that's what I love about Oahu... the diversity and the beauty

Your TR is awesome jc :)

Edited: 5:37 pm, November 17, 2011
Level Contributor
29,245 posts
79 reviews
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6. Re: jcislanders Trip report - Makaha: the Good and the Bad

Great report so far, really enjoying hearing from that part of the island. We have never even been over there in like 20 or 25 trips.

Kapaa, Hawaii
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55,761 posts
3 reviews
5 helpful votes
7. Re: jcislanders Trip report - Makaha: the Good and the Bad

Thanks jcislanders, great report. My dh in all his wisdom has decided that Makaha Beach is THE place to snorkel on Oahu!!

Oahu, Hawaii
Destination Expert
for Oahu
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30,615 posts
8. Re: jcislanders Trip report - Makaha: the Good and the Bad


Mahalo for your report.

You have seen and done a lot of interesting things.


Edited: 7:18 pm, November 17, 2011
Kauai, Hawaii
Level Contributor
2,594 posts
9. Re: jcislanders Trip report - Makaha: the Good and the Bad

It was my favorite beach when I lived in Kaimuki - used to make the drive quite regularly, but tried to avoid weekday rush hour.

Nice to hear some positives about the West Side.

Vancouver Island...
Level Contributor
1,294 posts
39 reviews
47 helpful votes
10. Re: jcislanders Trip report - Makaha: the Good and the Bad

Thank you all for your comments. We really did enjoy our time in Makaha and found that the scenery, weather and people were wonderful. Being at the Hawaiian Princess (plenty of full time residents and seasonal owners in residence) in Makaha we felt more like guests/visitors than tourists.

Driving around the island took us through some pretty lush, green country and it was gorgeous. We also loved the hustle and bustle of Waikiki and Honolulu. However, we come from a place that gets a lot of rain and we really enjoyed soaking up the sun.

If I could remember how to post photos I would share some. This winter I will spend a few months in northern Alberta so I made myself a 15 minute video of the sun setting. It will sure be a welcome sight when the snow is blowing.