Thanks for the positive comments so far! I am really trying to provide a detailed, honest description that is helpful to other travelers.
Sunday Nov 28
We walked down to have breakfast at the Hau Tree Lanai, on Sans Souci beach at the Otani Reef Hotel. Again, it was OK. It’s supposed to be one of the best places in Honolulu for outdoor dining and breakfast, but it was a really tiny, cramped patio. The Hau Tree is in the middle and many tables are under it, which ours was, but it was actually kind of scary due to the aggressive birds and worry of tree matter falling into your food. There weren’t a ton of breakfast options, and many were weird but in line with what I was quickly learning to be typical Hawaiian cuisine (like the corned beef hash, loco-moco thing – it makes no sense to me). I had the mac nut French toast, though, which was really good. The service was horrible, though. We waited 15 minutes for our coffee, and longer still for our order to be taken.
We then, again, spent the day at the beach, grabbing a sandwich for lunch while on the beach still.
For the evening we walked down to Nobu at the Waikiki Parc for dinner, grabbing a cocktail and a couple appetizers in the lounge – Nobu has an EXCELLENT happy hour from 5-7 Sun-Thursday. We had the Jalapeno Yellowtail Sashimi and then the roasted Japanese eggplant with dashi sauce. The service there and then at dinner was impeccable. For dinner we had scallops with asparagus and wasabi-pepper sauce and miso-marinated black bass. The scallops were delicious, and the bass was AMAZING. The texture was so buttery-tasting, even though there was no butter. We had a fantastic dessert of a mascarpone gelee-type thing with passion fruit puree, olive-oil/brown sugar crumbles, honey ‘caviar’ and edible gold leaf. A truly excellent meal.
Monday Nov 29
We spent the morning at the beach, then checked out of the hotel (leaving our bags with the bellhop) and took the bus to downtown Honolulu and Chinatown. We wandered around King St. and Bishop St. and saw the Iolani Palace, the King Kamehameha statue, and then walked through Chinatown to see the sights. We just grabbed lunch at a food court area on Bishop St., filled mostly with people who worked in the area.
We were picking up our rental car near the Waikiki Beach Harbor area so we bussed back to there and killed the 30 minutes until the reservation time by walking around the area. We checked out the Hilton Hawaiian Village (it REALLY is a village – it’s huge!) and the new Marriott EDITION hotel nearby, which is really cool and trendy with a gorgeous pool area.
Picked up our rental car from National … we decided to go with a Prius (a rare option, for sure) since we planned to do a lot of driving and I had read that, with the traffic and winding coastal/mountain roads, you don’t drive very fast – ideal for a hybrid. It’s a good thing, too: we ended up driving about 360 miles on 6 gallons of gas!
We headed to our rental in Kailua (after stopping back at the hotel for our bags) by driving along the Southeastern coast (route 72, I think – the Kamehameha Highway there, which wraps almost around the whole island but has several different numbers). We took it all the way from Waikiki around Diamond Head and up past Haunuama Bay. Shortly after Diamond Head the surroundings changed, getting rockier and windier – and gorgeous. We stopped at most ‘scenic points’ to just observe the rolling ocean waves, the wind and the rocky landscapes. We saw beaches from the road that I wrote down to visit later. It took about 45 minutes or so from Waikiki to Kailua, near Laniki beach.
Once we checked in there we drove down to check out the beaches and then get groceries. Kailua is a lovely little town/suburb with gorgeous beaches. We intended to go to Safeway but discovered Don Quijotes next door, and what an awesome place that is! (Can a Hawaiian explain why it has that name even though it’s totally geared toward Asian shoppers?) It’s a grocery store with a little more ‘stuff’ and tons and tons of unique Asian (mainly Japanese it seemed) products. There were so many things that had not a big of English on them. We thought it was pretty cool. They had an excellent fish selection and then my husband discovered his favorite thing about the trip: all the varieties of fresh poke (usually raw fish and seafood preparations, kind of like ceviche but not chopped as tiny). We made a dinner of that and some packaged udon.