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“Beautiful and peaceful setting”

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Pililaau Army Recreation Center
Reviewed November 14, 2012

We selected this Army Recreation Center because we wanted something right on the ocean but not quite as bustling as Honolulu. We were willing to spend a little but we preferred something more economical. Though only my husband and myself we opted for one of the two bedroom cabins directly facing the ocean rather than a smaller cabin. I had read many of the reviews for Pililaau and felt we would be happy with this choice and we were.

Some folks had mentioned the housecleaning but we did not have any problem. We had clean sheets, clean towels every day and the cabin was clean enough when we arrived. There is a full size refrigerator, microwave and a coffee maker. One evening, my husband called me from the little shoppette and asked me if there was a toaster. I checked and found one in the cabinet! There was also a broom in the little kitchen so I was able to sweep up anything we dropped or tracked inside the house.

Every morning we would have our coffee on the deck and watch the ocean waves. We saw dolphins and sea turtles and enjoyed watching the folks on the paddleboards. They do have equipment rentals (Kayaking, paddleboards) but we didn’t use these. The AAFES Shoppette on site is small but does have the essentials. The café on site has decent enough food but the view is spectacular. They also have live music (I believe Thursday-Saturday). The night we were there I felt very comfortable and it was very family oriented. In fact, a few of the children were dancing to the music.

We drove to Pililaau on a Monday evening after staying with family on Ft. Shafter. We had estimated 35-45 minutes but it took us an hour and a half leaving at 4:00 PM. Timing makes a difference so if you are coming from the Honolulu area I would try to leave before 2:00 PM. One other comment on driving here – it is not well marked. The sign for ‘Pililaau Recreation Center’ is back a bit from the road (some sort of regulation). When you get to the town of Waianae, the left on to Army St is right after the Aloha Gas station. If you get to Waianae High School, you have gone too far.

It was dark on our way in and the town looked a little dicey with a lot of rundown looking buildings and not much in the way of stores. In the day light things looked a little better and definitely I always felt safe on the base itself. Less than a mile away from the recreation center there is a Long’s Drugstore, a City Mill (like a small Home Depot) and a grocery store.

Wireless is only available near the café from 8 AM - 8 PM

We stayed here four days and took a trip out towards the North Shore one of those days. If you want to take day trips just keep the traffic patterns in mind. People are traveling towards Honolulu until about 9 AM and they are returning beginning at about 2 or 3 PM.

Best was the closeness to the ocean and the view, the relaxed atmosphere and the cost. Negatives would be the traffic getting in and out (at least until you learn how to avoid) and what could be a negative is the quiet and lack of activities. It wasn’t a negative for us but it could be for folks looking for a little more excitement.

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank Sharrie B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed October 30, 2012

If you are traveling on a budget and need a nice relaxing place to stay, away from the fast pace of the busy city, this is your place.

We spent 2 weeks here and used it as a base of operations for our stay in Oahu. We were 2 couples traveling together and were looking for a reasonably priced place to stay for our first visit to Hawaii. It served that purpose well and is staffed by helpful, polite people willing to help out with suggestions and ideas.

We were in Unit 39, the last cabin next to the party cabin and state park. It was quiet, relaxing, clean, and the sunsets were spectacular. Ours was a 2 bedroom unit with bathroom/shower. The kitchen was small but useable with stove/fridge/microwave and sink and included dishes and pots and pans. The living room furniture was a small couch and one easy chair. The dining room furniture consisted of a small round table and 2 chairs. There was a round table and 4 chairs on the small deck (which was traded out for a new smaller table and 4 uncomfortable chairs during our second week).

The beach is divided into 2 parts by a stone getty. Ours was the swim side and was small waves and sandy bottom. The surf side beach had bigger waves and more rocks. The water was clear and the fish plentiful. Almost every morning we sat on the deck and watched the dolphins and sea turtles ply the waters of the bay and play with the paddleboarders and kayakers that ventured out to see them.

On-site is a small PX with beer/soda/food snacks and some other necessities. There is a small laundry facility for use too. They also have a lifeguard stand and you can rent sea kayaks, paddleboards and other watersports equipment. There is also a small open air canteena/bar that has live entertainment on weekends and serves food (not always the best prepared, but handy for days you don't want to cook or use the bbq grills provided.) Also, there are outdoor showers to rinse off after swimming in the ocean and restroom facilities along the sidewalk. There is 24 hours security on site by the MP's and DoD Police.

The downside of this facility is that it is 30 minutes from many of the activities one would like to do while on Oahu. Schoefield Barracks is that far away (where the ITR office is and a huge PX and Commissary and Class 6 store!) and Honolulu is probably 45 minutes away. The other downside is that it is not located in the best of neighborhoods. Getting there you will pass some pretty dilapidated neighborhoods with fences and security screened businesses and alot of clutter. The parks along the waterfront are well maintained and plentiful from what we could see from the roadway. But aside from the looks of the neighborhood, once you pass through the gate of the facility, it is quiet, clean and relaxing.

Room Tip: We loved cabin 39.. End of the line next to the state park.
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  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled with friends
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3  Thank Donald C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 28, 2012

We didn't stay at the Army Recreation Center, but went there for dinner one night and breakfast over the weekend on a Saturday. It is very popular for dinner on the weekends and the locals as well as those staying on the property fill the restaurant! Right on the water ... a live band ... reasonable prices ... who could resist? Breakfast is served only on weekends ...very good and a beautiful setting! Even though it is an Army Recreation Center, the restaurant and bar are open to others, and you must go through a guarded gate, but there is no problem getting in. Kind of nice, actually, to have the guards .. a little jewel that not many tourists really know about ... the band was really good ... people were dancing ... happy talk ... the sound of the waves ... what could be nicer? We will definitely go again ... and we love the leeward side of the island!

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank BornInHawaii
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 5, 2012

Cabins were really close to the beach and off set from each other. Price was fair. Nice layout of the interior but the housekeeping crew needs retraining on how to clean. Cobwebs, dirty walls and floors, etc. No pride or care in cleaning. Good to see the military police doing walking patrols.

  • Stayed: August 2012
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5  Thank JJ4Dice
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 24, 2012

I am very late in writing this. We were here several years ago and it was fantastic. I was skeptical because a relative of mine booked this for us and I knew nothing about the property. Our balcony looked out over the ocean and I could see dolphins in the morning as I drank my coffee. The rooms are old, but very quaint and comfortable. Tons of room. We had a full kitchen but didn't need it. There is an affordable restaurant on site as well as a fun little bar. I felt very safe. We did have one person wander up from the beach who was not a guest. I called security and within seconds, a guard was there escorting them off property. They have lots of floats, kayaks, etc. and I even saw a turtle while I paddled around. We drove all over the island each day, but I couldn't wait to get back to our lovely beach bungalow.

Room Tip: Beach front for sure.
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  • Stayed: July 2011, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank naturalinokc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 20, 2012

We stayed in February 2012 in a 3br condo. My mother and aunt were there for 3 weeks, and we joined them (My family of 4 plus our exchange student from Colombia) for the last 10 days.

If you are looking for a resort experience, this is probably not the place for you. If you are looking for a safe, family getaway- this might be perfect.

Our deck was maybe 20 feet from the sea wall to the beach. My 11, 13, & 16 year old kids could play on the beach while we hung out on the patio with a clear view of their activities. The beach was nearly empty almost every day. The day we went to Aloha Stadium for the swap meet, upon our return 'home' the neighbors were having a party and my youngest wanted to know "why are there people (there were three of them!) on my beach?" It really did feel like our own private paradise.

Staff were all very friendly-- but housekeeping is no more than clean towels daily and sheets every other day or so upon request. Units come with dishes, pots & pans and all needed cooking/dining paraphernalia- so even with the higher prices of food compared to the mainland, (We shopped at Costco and the Army PX) our stay here was not much more than it would have been had we stayed at home. I think we ate out fast food twice and once out to Chili's for dinner on our trip.

It was truly a relaxing vacation and I for one can't wait to return!

  • Stayed: February 2012, traveled with family
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13  Thank crewcrews
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 5, 2012

Nice getaway from downtown HNL and all the crowds. The beach is ok, but there are far better on the island. I liked the fact that they had a commissary which was small, but had just about everything. You can get everything in town a few blocks away. They had a nice outdoor lanai cafe and we enjoyed having a few drinks and a meal. Wifi is spotty, but does work depending on the moment. I rate it down in the accommodations. I wanted to take out some spic and span and clean the place. It felt a little creepy to me. The floor was mopped, but when walking on the tiles barefoot, my feet were filthy. The counters had all kinds of little ants, but I do expect some bugs in HI. I've been a few places on the island with military accommodations and I think the navy accommodations at Pearl are the best. We won't be coming back here.

  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled as a couple
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9  Thank inluvwithAK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Pililaau Army Recreation Center

Address: 85-010 Army St Bldg 4070, Pokai Bay, Waianae, Oahu, HI 96792-2435
Location: United States > Hawaii > Oahu > Waianae
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 7 Specialty Lodging in Waianae
Number of rooms: 39
Also Known As:
Pililaau Army Recreation Hotel Waianae
Pililaau Army Recreation Center Hawaii/Waianae, Oahu

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