First I must say a huge "Thank you" to all of you on here who have posted such helpful information to plan our family's first trip to Hawaii. It was amazing and I can't wait to go back!
We arrived on Oahu late afternoon on October 6th and easily made it to the shuttle area to go and pick up our rental car. We stayed at the Ilikai which was a great location for us as we wanted to be near the beach however we had also planned to explore this island and didn't really want to be in the middle of all the action in Waikiki.
We were exhausted as we'd been up since 4 in the morning our time but we wanted to hit the beach and at least wade into the ocean! Our 7 year old son instantly fell in love with Hawaiian sand and spent an hour digging and building. Figuring we had better grab dinner as we hadn't had a proper meal we headed out to the street and found the Subway across the street from the Ilikai, grabbed subs for dinner and then over to what became my new favorite shopping location, ABC! We ended up in bed super early that night.
The next morning we were up at 5 so we headed over to Wailana Coffee House for breakfast. Food was good, service was good and easy walking distance from the Ilikai. Back to the condo to get ready to go Pearl Harbor.
Pearl Harbor was the main reason we went to Oahu, we couldn't imagine being so close and not going and paying our respects. We had reserved tickets, however when we got there an hour prior to our reservation, the lovely gal at the reservation desk gave us tickets to the next tour as there were still tixs available. Wow, Pearl Harbor. It was an emotional experience, I am so glad we went, to see it, to feel it, to smell it, I've read about Pearl Harbor, watched movies, and now experienced standing there feeling so overwhelmed that these men gave so much and the members of the Armed Forces continue to give so much.
On the way back we stopped at the Ala Moana Mall to grab some lunch and do a bit of shopping. My son desperately wanted to go to the Lego store and spend some of his trip money! Then it was back to the condo and the rest of the day was spent on the beach.
Another early night and early next morning. We enjoyed a morning walk along the beach, had breakfast back at our condo and then headed out to the North Shore. There was a high surf advisory so we were excited to see some big waves! We enjoyed the scenery driving up the middle of the island with a brief stop at Dole, then continued on to Halewai where we stopped at Macky's shrimp truck and headed to a beach just outside of town and ate our lunch, and played in the sand. The three of us split a garlic shrimp and a coconut shrimp and they were delicious. Then it was off to Lanikea Beach to see if there were any turtles laying around! This was an amazing beach, where we were able to see several turtles swimming around in the waves! The volunteers were awesome with lots of information and just nice, fun folks who we spent quite a bit of time chatting with. Continued on to the Banzai Pipeline as we wanted to see this famed beach and were hoping to do some big wave watching. We spent a couple hours there just watching the waves and it was beautiful. Drove the way around the north end of the island enjoying the beautiful scenery. Stopped in Honolulu for a quick dinner and then back to the condo for the night.
Starting to adjust to the time difference, we slept until 7 this morning! Another quick breakfast at the condo and then off to drive up to Diamond Head and around the south shore. More fantastic scenery, stopped at the over look at the blow hole, no luck with blow hole action but spotted a couple turtles swimming in the waves again! Continued to drive around up to Kailua and spent the afternoon on Kailua Beach enjoying more beautiful weather and some relaxation. Back to Honolulu via the Pali highway with a stop at the look out. Fantastic views! And some random chickens running around the area. Back to the condo and had dinner at the bar and grill in the Ilikai. The food was really good, great service and a new drink that I feel in love with. A lava flow. Yum, tried a few in different places during the rest of our time on Oahu and then Maui, nothing compared!
Our last full day on Oahu. My mom had told me how amazed she was when she was in Hawaii at the Punchbowl Cemetery and I really wanted to go and see it. Wow, Americans certainly know how to honor their veterans, what a beautiful, serene place. We walked around a bit and just really tried to take it all in. Then we decided to follow Tantalus Drive and saw more stunning views of Honolulu, Waikiki and Diamond Head. Driving through jungle and bamboo forests was pretty impressive! After the beautiful drive we headed into the heart of Waikiki to check out the International Market Place and just poke around in that area, found some neat shops, had a nice early dinner and back to our condo to get things packed back up to head out to Maui.
One last breakfast at Wailana Coffee House and then it was time to collect our things and head off to the airport.
I wanted to add that we used the Valet parking at the Ilikai and although it seems pricey, I think it was fairly reasonable, and it was super convenient and the valet staff were always cheerful, offering driving directions, as well as tips about where to go and what to see, drive times and weather information.