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Trip Report

San Antonio
9 posts
Trip Report


Booked through Southwest with a layover in Phoenix on the way to Hawaii and a layover in Las Vegas coming back. Although I booked through Southwest, the flights from Phoenix to Hawaii and Hawaii to Las Vegas were ATA flights. The Southwest flights were comfortable, on-time and the flight attendants were very good. The ATA flights, on the other hand, were small, cramped, and the flight attendants were not friendly. The planes were 100% full. It made for an extremely uncomfortable flight. Unless there is a significant price difference, I would avoid ATA.

--Rental Car

We decided to rent a car while were in Hawaii. I checked several sites on-line and saw that Alamo was considerably cheaper than the others. I wasn’t very familiar w/Alamo so I was concerned about the quality of the vehicles. I checked out the rates for 4 days, 7 days and the entire 9 days that we would be in Hawaii. The 9 day rate for a convertible was considerably cheaper at $230. I used the coupon and code in the Entertainment Book that I got on-line at www.entertainment.com which brought the total to $199 including tax. I thought this had to be too good to be true! I went ahead and booked on-line. When we arrived at the airport, we went outside to catch the shuttle to the off-site Alamo lot. We waited about 10 mins for the shuttle to come around and it took about 5 mins to get to the lot. I had my coupon, my confirmation number, my driver’s license and my credit card ready. The clerk was friendly, efficient and didn’t try to pressure me into paying for any extras. I signed the required forms and the clerk directed me outside to the parking lot attendant. She saw that I reserved a convertible. She said I can take my pick of any one on the lot. There was a VW Bug, a Jeep, a Mustang and a Chrysler Sebring – all new and all convertibles. From the time I got on the Alamo shuttle to the time I left the lot in the Sebring didn’t take 20 mins. I don’t think I have ever had a better experience at a car rental lot. When we returned the car at the end of our vacation, there was an attendant waiting to take the keys and give me a receipt. We jumped on the shuttle and returned to the terminal. I would highly recommend the Alamo car rental at the Honolulu Airport!


I knew we wanted to be new Ft. Derussy. I knew the beach front hotels w/views would be out of our price range. Although I’m retired military, there were no rooms available at the Hale Koa because several floors are being renovated. I decided on the Outrigger Luana. Only 16 floors, not a big hotel, about 200 rooms, part of their condo collection. I searched the internet for the best rates. I found that their Travel club rates were the cheapest – about half off rack rates. I contact the Outrigger customer service to see if they could recommend one of the travel clubs. They said that I could use the Entertainment Card that I got with the Entertainment Book and get the Travel Club Rates. I booked on-line indicating I wanted the Travel Club rates and just showed my card when I checked in. I booked a one-bedroom condo w/full ocean view for about $200 a night. I contacted the Outrigger customer service and requested a room above the 10th floor. Check-in was easy and they had our request for an upper floor. The room was great, the on-line pictures of the rooms were very accurate. We were in room 1507. The bedroom had a sliding glass door going out to the balcony. This view faced Diamond Head. The living room also had a sliding glass door going out to the balcony. There was a picture window on the other wall of the living room that gave a priceless view across Ft. Derrusy to Waikiki Beach. The suite was clean and bug-free. The kitchen was stocked with everything you would need if you wanted to cook. My biggest consideration was the view. As long as you are on the Diamond Head side of the build and close to the beach end of the building above the 10th floor, your view is going to be great. There have been comments about the air handlers for the restaurant that is adjacent to the Luana. The restaurant has closed and the air handlers were not on while we were there. My only complaint about the hotel room was that it was ready for a new paint job. We had a late flight back home, so we used the courtesy room. The Luana has separate facilities for men and women around back of the swimming pool. The front desk provided towels. The rooms are basically cabanas for the pools. The doors have locks on them. They have a shower and sinks. They were clean and adequate to take a shower and change for the flight home. I would highly recommend the Outrigger Luana. The price is right, the views from most rooms are priceless, the location is perfect!


The hotel parking is $18 a day. The parking for Ft Derussy is around the backside of the hotel. The parking w/military id is $7 a day. If you are staying anywhere near Ft. Derussy, use the parking lots there. They are safe, cheap and convenient.

--Beach days

We alternated beach days w/exploring the island. Highly recommend renting chairs and umbrellas at the rental stand beachside in front of the Hale Koa. This is the best part of Waikiki and you get an umbrella and 2 chairs for $30. It’s only $20 for additional days. The snack bar and restrooms at the Hale Koa are open to the public which is very convenient.


We went snorkling on the Outrigger Catamaran, beachside of the Outrigger Reef Hotel. They took us out past the reef opposite Waikiki beach which afforded breathtaking panoramic views of Waikiki and Diamond Head. Snorkling for an hour and then a catamaran ride for an hour out past Diamond Head and back. Dolphins followed us back into shore. $45 per person and they provide the gear, well worth the price.

--Driving Tour

If you have a vehicle, take the drive up to Pali lookout. Great views of the east side of the island. Also take Tantalus road to the state park at the top of the ridge. Great views overlooking Honolulu, then stop at Punchbowl. We also drove up to the North Shore and stopped at the Dole Plantation.


1. Haleiwa Joes – On the North Shore. Has harbor views. Quaint, good food, reasonably priced.

2. Cheesburger in Waikiki. Overpriced for a hamburger. Nothing special. It was late, we were hungry.

3. Cocos at Hale Koa. Good, plain affordable food.

4. Shorebird at the Outrigger Reef Hotel. 2 for 1 coupons in coupon books at the hotels. Breakfast buffet was standard fare. Dinner was cook your own meat/fish. Food was good, but for the prices, I’d prefer to have a professional cook the food. The sunset view from most of the tables was great. 2 for 1 coupons make this a good restaurant option.

5. Ocean Hose- next to the Shorebird. Higher quality, higher prices, exceptional service, almost every table has exceptional sunset views. Arrive at least 30-45 mins before sunset to get a table. Pricey, but the view, quality of food, quality of service was well worth the money. Also the best maitai’s we had on the trip.

6. Senior Frog’s at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center. Bar atmosphere, bar food, good location overlooking Kalakaua- moderate prices.

7. California Pizza Kitchen. Standard restaurant chain, stylish interior, moderate prices.

8. Keos – Thai restaurant w/American style breakfasts. Liked the breakfasts mor than the Thai food. Moderate prices.

9. Sorentos – Top of the Illikai Hotel. Beautiful views, beautiful restaurant. Fancy and very pricey. If you’re comfortable with a fancy, pricey restaurant, then this is the place. I preferred the Ocean House.


Went to the luau of the Hale Koa. Very disappointed. No buffet. The meals were nothing more than the standard Hawaiian plate lunch. The performer/emcee was an amateurish Las Vegas lounge singer. Some of the hula performers were barely past puberty. Was not impressed and would not recommend this luau.

--Early riser

If you are an early riser, take a walk down Kalakaua to the Prince Kuhio statue. Stake a spot on the benches and watch the sunrise. Look back towards the Royal Hawaiian. The morning glow on the pink hotel with the early morning surfers in the foreground makes for the postcard perfect Hawaiian view. Breathtaking!!

Washington DC...
Level Contributor
16,097 posts
310 reviews
835 helpful votes
1. Re: Trip Report

Thanks for posting such a great, detailed trip report! Shows that good planning pays off. I'm glad you liked the Outrigger Catamaran; we're looking forward to it next trip to Oahu.

Bay Area, California
Level Contributor
195 posts
13 reviews
21 helpful votes
2. Re: Trip Report

Enjoyed reading this...very informative ~ and I loved your "early riser" moment. What a sight!! Thanks!

Topeka, Kansas
Level Contributor
1,634 posts
1 review
2 helpful votes
3. Re: Trip Report

Great report! Sounds like you had a wonderful time!

Be sure to read your PM.


Los Angeles...
Level Contributor
636 posts
3 reviews
11 helpful votes
4. Re: Trip Report

Great tips, gfkinder! Thanks for your interesting trip report. Glad you had a good time.

Philadelphia, PA
Level Contributor
103 posts
5. Re: Trip Report

Gfkinder, Loved your detailed trip report

I just responded to you under divamom's trip report

I wish i could go back every birthday since I was born there too!!!Such a long flight and then it takes a day or two to get recover>>> But WE LOVED it NOW I Understand!!!!!!!!!!

Kapaa, Hawaii
Level Contributor
55,912 posts
3 reviews
5 helpful votes
6. Re: Trip Report

gfkinder: havent' read about too many people taking snorkeling cruises off Oahu. I'm curious as to how good it was, what did you see, how was the crew? Anything you can tell me will be much appreciated!!

Level Contributor
241 posts
100 reviews
25 helpful votes
7. Re: Trip Report

Everything sounded fabulous, with the exception of the ATA flight, which unfortunately we will be on in two weeks..hopefully we will have better luck!!

Level Contributor
29 posts
1 review
3 helpful votes
8. Re: Trip Report

I wish you had inquired about the Hiltons Military rate...with you ID card.. its well under $150 a night, active or retired. I got put up over easter...in the Rainbow Tower on the beach, Ocean view...for in the $140's... This is a room that goes for $450 + a night

Marriott also has military rates. NCL was offering Military families 7 day cruises for $350...

Your service is a badge of honor in our state...to many as we would not even be here if it were not our men and women who serve and served.

San Antonio
9 posts
9. Re: Trip Report

HawaiiDan, Thanks for the kind words. I really appreciate it. I had considered the Hilton Hawaiian Village, but we arrived the weekend of the Pro Bowl and the HHV was a mad house. Most places in Waikiki was a mad house that first weekend, but it settled down after the weekend. We were very happy with the Luana, because it's a smaller hotel but in an excellent location. It seemed more personalized than a large hotel like the HHV and I think we were more confortable with the more relaxed, laid back feeling of a smaller property.

msfuzz, the snorkling off Waikiki was convenient, resonable priced and the catamaran was not crowed. There was about a dozen of us. It took about 20mins to get past the reef. There were two guys/crew and they served alcoholic/non-alcoholic drinks. The alcoholic drinks had plenty of liquor in them! The fish were not overly impressive, but plentiful and there were several large sea turtles swimming in the area. We followed dolphins back into the shore. What I really liked about the trip was the catamaran ride. The views from the ocean looking back at Waikiki and Diamond Head were priceless. They do offer catamaran rides without the snorkling also if you want to just see the view. They also have sunset rides too. Any of these, I think would be well worth the money.

butterflyy2000, Good luck with ATA. Just remember it is a discount airline. They pack you in, they don't serve meals, and they charge for snacks. So bring some snacks with you. Remember that in 6 hours you will be in paradise!! Have a great vacation.

Level Contributor
294 posts
17 reviews
17 helpful votes
10. Re: Trip Report

now i am nervous also about the ATA flight. i will be on a week from today (april 4) I will just take my sleeping pill maybe so wont' know how crowded i am! Do they even have movies?

About the catamaran trip, do you need reservations for that? How far in advance?

thanks for a great post. i got some great ideas!