Arrived with Westjet and other than issues with flight delays we were only an hour late. Pick up was with Hawaii-23 and they were a few minutes late due to our flight problems. Stayed at Hyatt Place and can’t rave enough about the place. Super clean and very helpful staff and the free breakfasts saved us a bundle. It was close to the beach (less than 2 min stroll) and close to everything on Waikiki. Diamond Head end of Waikiki much quieter (this is really relative) than the other end of Waikiki. We also lucked out on an Ocean View room which we didn’t pay for but appreciated. One thing to remember with this hotel is they don’t have a courtesy day room so book a room if you have a late flight out and do it well ahead of time as they seem to always be full.
The first day we walked 50 mins to Ala Moana Beach Park for July 4th fireworks. It was very well done and had great seats. Coming back there were about 40,000 people walking out and traffic was halted or re-routed. There is a huge police presence at Waikiki but there were a lot of cops directing traffic and just strolling the street that night.
We spent all of the next day at the Polynesian Cultural Center. This is so well done and we still can’t stop raving about it. We took their transfers and booked the Ambassador Package on their website. The bus was absolutely the right call as the “cousin” driving gave a great one hour narrative on Hawaiian history as well as comments on the views and locations on where various shows were filmed (Jurassic Park, Lost, 50 First Dates etc). Once we arrived, “Cousin David” took over our group and looked after us for the remainder of the day. He was the guide that took us to each venue and he made sure we were at the highlights of each village. I’d highly recommend this package and the transfer as it was a very enjoyable day. We paid for the Alii luau and were given preferred seating due to the Ambassador Package (and one of the first up for the buffet). The entertainment during the luau was very good. The Ha Breath of Life evening show was extremely well done. Pick your seats ahead of time on their website but there really isn’t a bad seat. If you have the Ambassador Package, sit near an aisle as the ice cream coupon (worth 5$ pp) can be redeemed near the end of the aisle by the stage during intermission. Our guide and the young people at each village work very hard but no one takes a tip – however if you leave a comment at Customer Services, they get a free ice cream.
We hiked up Diamond Head the next day. Very young children from what looked like camps were going up without a problem. It isn’t an “easy” hike as it is a bit steep but it does have a few “lookouts” as rest stops and water breaks. Wear proper footwear (not flip flops) and take water. We went about 10 am and it wasn’t super packed but it was busy. Stop for an ice and cool off near the entrance when leaving. We took the bus and from Diamond End of Waikiki it took about 30 to 40 mins.
The fire works on Friday nights on the beach side of Hilton Hawaiian Village was okay – nothing compared to July 4th but still decent. We enjoyed it a lot.
The next day we went to Pearl Harbor. It took about an hour and 15 mins by bus from the Diamond Head end of Waikiki. This was very sombre but informative tour of the USS Arizona. We did not do the other tours. Tickets were bought online ($1.50 each) and we arrived an hour early to pick them up. This is the best way to go if you don’t want to return in case it’s sold out for the day.
Hanuama Bay was our next stop. This is about 20 mins by bus from the Diamond Head end of Waikiki. The film was actually not bad and the bay is beautiful snorkeling with lots of tropical fish. Near the bottom of the steep walk down, there are posters of the various fish you might see. We had fun identifying the fish when we were done. Take lots of water and some snacks as the closest snack place is back up the steep hill (about a 3 to 5 min walk). Watch your belly as it scrapes across the coral. We tended to see more near the edges of the coral so really there was no need to walk on the coral. We took water shoes as we prefer this to flippers and watch out for ¬¬sea urchins. We saw a great variety and enjoyed our half day here. This is a great way to see varieties of live coral without having to go out deep. I did wear a snorkel vest as I’m not a great swimmer but it isn’t absolutely necessary.
We spent the rest of our time enjoying Waikiki with a little bit of shopping. Best prices were at ABC stores (everywhere on Waikiki) and International Market Place. At the Diamond Head end of Waikiki, there is a wall you can walk on across from Queen Kapiolani Park (about 2 feet wide) where people jump off with surf boards. Along this wall there is decent snorkeling and lots of crabs along the side of the wall. The walled in area for swimming just down from the Hyatt Place was a favorite place for us to swim as we didn’t have to worry about being decapitated by beginner surfers and the waves weren’t an issue.
Best places to eat were Wolfgang Puck and the burger place beside the police station. Try their Kapahulu burgers – delicious. We had ice cream at Hagan Das (find the coupons in the free “Oahu” booklets) and McDonalds.
We deliberately did not rent a car and found we really didn’t need it. TheBus took us everywhere (4 day pass from ABC store for $25 pp) and it was enjoyable watching the scenery. We also took the free gifts from ABC store – each $100 gives you a choice of a coffee mug, reusable bag, or calendar. Save your receipts.
This is definitely a holiday we’d consider again as it was relaxing and enjoyable.