I was going to do a trip report, but instead I will give my recommendations and opinions on the various things we experienced.
We flew SYD-HNL via Jetstar. You get what you pay for. We didnt pay much and Jetstar delivered. Not saying it was awful, but we only paid AU$550 inc each R/T, so dont set your sights too high. Feel sorry for all those QF punters that pay top dollar for low cost carrier service.
ABC limo airport transfer was excellent. So glad I found out about them thru here. Highly recommeded.
We stayed at the Waikiki Banyan. We booked thru VRBO, listing #167152.Owner Micheal is a very nice helpfull chap, although his agent in HI needs a bit of prodding to get going. Nice clean comfortable accommodation. Well located 1 block back from the beach. Excellent for families with young kids (ours are G11 and B6). The 6th floor "rec deck" is great with the pool, jacuzzis, tennis(I think), basketball, putting green, playground, snack bar and BBQs. There is a mini mart in the lobby as well as a funky coffee shop. Our accomm included free parking and it was always easy to find plenty of stalls on the upper floors.
We hired a car from budget at the Hyatt. Service was good although it was very busy at 9:00am on the day I picked the car up and therewas a bit of a wait. I recommend you hire a GPS with the car (if you dont have one with Hawaii maps) as it was very helpful, and most touristy locations were already loaded on it. Speaking of cars, we got a Buick Lacrosse. No wonder GM is going broke! What a POS! The ride was so wallowing my daughter was physically ill in the back seat and needed travel sickness pills everytime we went out in it.
The Waikele Outlets were great (for Aussies anyway) especially Guess for my wife and daughter and Vans for me. The Kmart across the road we cool too.Much different to Aust Kmart. They even have free internet there! Good to check the footy scores on!
The Ala Moana trolley stopped just over Ohua st from the Banyan, outside Hilton Prince Kuhio. They run from about 9:30am to 9:30 pm. Payed $2 each, one way instead of buying a pass and I reckon Im still ahead.
We drove to Pearl Harbour on a Sunday. Arrived at 7:45am, got tickets for the 8:30 "show". There is some construction going on at the moment till Dec 2010 as they build a new visitor centre. I dont know if this will impede on anyones visits during that time. Bought a cool souvenir, a US flag that has been flown over the Arizona Memorial. Did a tour of both Missouri and Bowfin, both very interesting. Also visited the Swap Meet. As has been said on here previously, its lots of the same stalls repeated over and over around the car park. Its very hot, and the goods and prices can just about be found elsewhere.
At least one "lap" of the island should be undertaken in a car. The Dole plantation, North Shore beaches, Giovannis Shrimp Truck, Eastern side of the island and Pali Lookout were all highlights. If you want some great New York style pizza, try Spagetini(sp?)in Haleiwa, delicious.
Our best day was not in Honolulu at all. It was our day trip to Hilo. We booked on Mokulele Airlines and hired a car from Budget. Visited Rainbow Falls, Boiling Pots, Richardsons Beach Park (Black sand beach), Volcano and Kalapana. Walking out of Volcano House and seeing Kilauea steaming and smoking in front of us, is a sight I will never forget. Drove all aroud the caldera, as much as the roads allow.Also did some short hikes off road to see steam vents and sulfur banks. Thurston Lava Tube is another fantastic experience. Head to the stairs at the end, then go thru the gate into the unlit section. Very eerie. Dont forget your flashlight. Drove to the end of the road at Kalapana. Stopped at Pahoa to get some food. The fish and chips were excellent and inexpensive. Once you come to the lava at the end of the road, its a single lane strip of ashphalt over the lava to the carpark. make sure you have a flashlight to navigate back to your car in the dark. Although there are numerous stalls selling flashlights, food, photos and souvenirs and about half a dozen portable toilets. The walk across the lava was about 3/4 mile. Very uneven and not for the frail. The walk however is woth it for the view of the lava into the water. Bear in mind it is flowing into the sea about a mile away, but still looks spectacular in the dark.
Back in Honolulu, the baseball at UH Manoa is a great, cheap night out. And just like the majors, they have beer and hot dogs.
The shopping at Ala Moana was excellent too,loved Sears and Old Navy. Unfortunately my 6 yo son bought a RC helicopter from a stall there and we naively didnt test it before we left. Yep, you guessed it, DOA when we got it home. Now they wont answer my emails, but thats another story.
The Zoo is also an excellent day out, the kids loved it. Great variety of animals and cheap entry. The food however is astronomical.
We felt very safe walking both Kalakaua and Kuhio at night both on my own and with the family, although I think the homeless has increased since my visit last year. We werent hassled by anyone, but there are a lot more folks sleeping rough.
If anyone has any questions about anything I have written, I am happy to reply.