Waikiki Is a Great Hawaiian Vacation Spot
In 2009 my wife and I took a trip to Hawaii. It was the first time either of us had been to the islands and it hopefully will not be the last. We spent about a week in the state, all of it on the island of Oahu. Oahu has many attractions to see and visit, including Waikiki beach which is where we stayed.
Upon arriving in Honolulu we took a bus to our hotel. The bus offered a deal that for a sum of money they would pick us up at the end of our stay and take us back to the airport. We opted not to take this offer because we didn't want to be forced into only one method of getting back to the airport. This ended up being a poor decision. At the end of our stay we took a cab back to the airport which cost us about $40 more than the bus would have cost.
We stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village right on Waikiki Beach. The Hawaiian Village is a sprawling, 22 acre complex that features 6 pools and 20 restaurants and lounges. It was beautiful. It also helped that our room was on the corner of the hotel on the 15th floor. On one balcony we had a view of the ocean, and on the adjacent balcony we had a view of the mountains. If you have never been awaken by the sights and sounds of the Pacific Ocean then you must find a way to have this experience.
Our hotel was within a couple of miles of the main entertainment areas of Waikiki. It was very touristy and reminded me of a cleaned-up Las Vegas. People everywhere with every kind of restaurant and shop imaginable, many of them high-end. It was a great place for when we just wanted a night out on the town.
We of course had to take in a luau. I wasn't sure what to expect but we had a good time. I am glad we did it, but I would not do it again. It was very festive with lots of games and activities to do. Once the sun went down the fun began with all of the dancing and fire twirling that you would expect. However, the food was just ordinary. I would suggest making time to go to a luau if you have never been to one. They give a rich history of the Hawaiian islands and actually are fun. But for the time and money spent, I would rather be doing something else.
North ShoreCredit: Cory Dugan
Although we were on Waikiki we made sure to visit other beaches. We decided to visit the North Shore where we heard the waves were bigger. Neither of us were brave enough to try surfing, but we were looking forward to some fun with big waves. The North Shore definitely lived up to its billing. The beach we found featured the biggest waves we saw during our vacation as well as a giant rock that people (including us) would climb and leap from. If you're staying on Waikiki, I would definitely suggest making your way over to the North Shore.
One of the more breathtaking views of the entire trip was during our trip to Diamond Head, an inactive volcano on the eastern side of the island. In the early 1900s the volcano was converted into a coastal defense station. Today, Diamond Head is a part of Diamond Head State Monument where visitors can make what seems like an easy 0.8 mile stroll to the summit. But, the hiker also ascends 560 feet over rough terrain and steep steps. This is not something to do without proper attire or water.
For those that make it to the top, it is well worth the effort. The view from the summit is breathtaking as you can look out over Oahu. Without a doubt, if you are in condition to make the trek you should do it.
Hanauma Bay is located on Oahu and is a fantastic snorkeling destination. It is tucked into a cove which can cause some rough seas, but you will see loads of fish immediately. This was my first time snorkeling so I did not get too adventurous, but for those of you who are more advanced snorkelers, our friends were able to go find some sea turtles.
I would definitely recommend Hanauma Bay. The only downside that I remember is that everyone knows this is a great place to go so there are a lot of people. There weren't so many to make our visit unpleasant, though.
Kualoa Ranch is on a very large tract of land and provides tours via horseback, ATV, and buses. The main attractions of these tours are locations of famous movie scenes. Remember Hurley's golf course in Lost? You'll see that location. Remember where Adam Sandler would wait by the side of the road for Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates? You'll see that location. Jurassic Park also had scenes filmed at Kualoa Ranch.
The bus tour is fairly inexpensive and if you enjoy the movies that were filmed at Kualoa Ranch it might be something worth checking out.
Pearl Harbor is a must-visit to all who visit Oahu. The site does a tremendous job of preserving the history and memory of the Japanese raid on December 7, 1941. The climax of the visit is a trip to the Arizona Memorial, which sits on top of the battleship Arizona. The ship is not far below the surface of the water and its turrets can easily be seen. Oil also continues to flow out of the ship and can be seen on the ocean's surface.
Do not pass up a chance to visit Pearl Harbor. I did not expect it to affect me as much as it did. In addition to serving as a memorial to the raid, there are several weapons and submarines from the WWII era on display.
While Oahu and Waikiki do not have the seclusion of other islands such as Maui, they are still fantastic places to visit when taking a vacation to the Hawaiian Islands. The only negative that I remember about our Waikiki vacation was the amount of people and the traffic. But everything else was beautiful. But really, when you are in Hawaii, does it really matter where you go? Aloha!