Everybody knows what Waikiki Beach looks like. Here's a different side of Waikiki!
Fly Brisbane to Hawaii. Two weeks lying on the beach in Waikiki and touring the breathtaking beauty and legendary surf breaks on the North Shore of the Island of Oahu. Then 19 days cruising back to Sydney aboard the luxury Celebrity Solstice visiting Lahaina (Maui), Papeete (Tahiti), Moorea (French Polynesia) Bora Bora, Auckland and the Bay of Islands in New Zealand.
The ultimate ‘cruisey’ holiday? Dinah and I think so! This is a great way to see the best the Pacific has to offer.
Islands in the Sun.
People ask us “You live on the Sunshine Coast in Australia. You’ve got some of the best beaches in the world. So why go all the way to Hawaii?” Its hard to explain, but there is a magic about Hawaii. Maybe its the movies (like ‘Blue Hawaii’, ‘South Pacific’, ‘From Here to Eternity’ and more recently, the ‘Jurassic Park’ series) that have been produced there. Maybe it’s the cop shows (like ‘Hawaiian Eye’ in the 60’s and more recently, ‘Hawaii Five O’) that have been produced there. Maybe its the magic of the white beaches and the five star hotels, restaurants and surfboard-hire shacks that line the foreshore of Waikiki, all the way to Diamond Head. Maybe its the romance of Hawaiian sunsets and the evening strolls along the beach in a floral sarong, or for the boys, hibiscus shirt and shorts. Or maybe its the kick you get from the 6 percent-plus craft beer brewed locally at the Waikiki Brewing Company (see above!) on Ala Moana Boulevard. Come to think of it, its probably all these!
We flew Hawaiian Airlines directly from Brisbane to Honolulu, flying time 9 hours 20 minutes. Leaving Brisbane in the evening, we landing in Honolulu just after 11.00am the following day. Perfect timing as it allowed us time to get from the airport to the hotel in time to check in after 12.00 noon. We upgraded our airline seats to ‘Extra Comfort’, offering more legroom for what is a long overnight flight. Definitely worth the extra $160 we paid. We also pre-ordered an airport pick-up, Go Airport Shuttle, which was a one way shared airport transfer mini-bus that dropped us at our hotel. Definitely better than getting off the flight and trying to organise a taxi in a city you are not familiar with. If you are not from the U.S. you will probably need a visa to enter Hawaii. Visas are issued by the United States Department of Homeland Security – U.S. Customs and Border Protection. ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation). Full information on visa requirements as well as a link to applying for a visa can be obtained online by visiting https.//esta.us/australia.html If you are an Australian, make sure you also register any overseas travels with Smart Traveller at www.smarttraveller.gov.au
Staying in Waikiki.
Accommodation in Waikiki can be expensive, with a plethora of five- star hotels, many located right on the beach. We chose to stay at the Equus Hotel on Ala Moana Boulevard. The Equus is a member of the Ascend Hotels Collection and is a boutique hotel offering everything you need for a comfortable stay in Honolulu – generous size rooms with balconies, friendly service, a pool and most importantly, a great location. It is just across Ala Moana Boulevard from the Ala Wai Yacht Harbour and a 5 minute walk to the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon on Waikiki Beach and the Hilton Hotel and shopping complex. Our host and Operations Manager Kika Llalio and staff ensured that we had a really great stay at the Equus. You can contact Kika at: www.[email protected] the Equus Hotel directly on (808) 952 5600 or at: www.equushotel.com or through the usual booking sites. A good hotel and excellent value for money.
Getting around Waikiki is easy. Walk! Or if you want to venture further afield, catch a cab. Charley’s Taxi’s go everywhere. You can call toll-free on 1-877-531-1333. From the Equus you can walk to any number of restaurants and bars or you can shop for your own food. You’ll find an ABC Shop on almost every corner selling food, souvenirs, even beer. ABC Shops are the 7/11s of Hawaii. Turn right out of the hotel, cross the Ala Wai Canal bridge and it is short walk to the largest outdoor shopping centre in the world, the Ala Moana Centre. Great shops, great food and a great atmosphere as you wander the extensive outdoor malls and explore the hundreds of shops. Definitely worth a visit.
Waikiki is of course famous for its surf and is generally regarded the home of surfing, due mainly to the pioneering surfing exploits of Duke Kahanamoku. There’s even a statue here to commemorate the Duke. Not surprisingly there are lots of surf shops in Waikiki. Being a surfer, I was keen to check out local Hawaiian long boards and surfing paraphernalia. One of the best surf shops in Waikiki is Big Wave Dave Surf Co at 2410 Koa Avenue. David (Dave) Carvalho is a legend in these parts, having surfed every beach on this island and pretty much every other island for years. I would definitely recommend dropping in for a chat with Dave or check his shop out at: www.surfwithdave.com
Touring the Island of Oahu.
Oahu is a fascinating island to explore. We took a one day tour of the island. There are any number of tour companies to choose from. I recommend you do your homework as prices and itineraries vary significantly. Our tour mini-bus picked us up just up from our hotel on Ala Moana Boulevard then took us along Waikiki Beachfront to Diamond Head. From here, we headed up the east coast of the island to Mokolil (and Chinaman’s Hat island), through Kaaawa and Hauula, stopping at the Polynesian Cultural Centre. This is a great place to gain a real insight into local Polynesian and Hawaiian culture. From here on to Turtle Bay to swim and snorkel with the giant sea turtles – an unreal experience. On to the North Shore and the legendary surf breaks of Sunset Beach, Banzai Pipeline and Waimea Bay. Then across to Haleiwa, returning via the island’s central highway to Honolulu and Waikiki Beach. Along the way we wondered in awe at the majestic mountains that form the backbone of the island (and provide the perfect location for the filming of the Jurassic Park movies), passed the location for the hit TV series ‘Lost’, enjoyed a lunch of cray fish and visited the world-famous Dole Pineapple Plantation. A day to remember.
Our two weeks on Oahu flew past and it was time to board our luxury cruise liner, the Celebrity Solstice at Honolulu for our return journey to Australia. But that’s the subject of our next blog we’ve titled ‘Love the Boat’.
Tips for the Trip
Our holiday entailed flying to Hawaii and then cruising back to Australia. And we enjoyed every moment of it. However, it did come at at price. Invariably, one-way flights are significantly more expensive that return flights. I guess the airlines like guaranteed bums on seats. So, if this is your plan, make sure that you seek out the best possible airfares. Travel agents are handy, but in our experience, you can do better if you book directly. There are any number of online sites to compare airfares, including the airlines’ own sites. One site we find excellent for discounted airfares is “I Know the Pilot”. Download the app and you will receive regular offers for inexpensive international and domestic airfares. Often it entails travelling between set dates, but if you have the flexibility to travel when you wish, you will save heaps. Link your flights with budget accommodation through one of the online booking sites (such as booking.com) and you will enjoy a great holiday at an affordable price.
Main picture: The beer coast belays the potency of this craft beer
- Looking along famous Waikiki Beach to Diamond Head
- All the best hotels are right on the beach in Waikiki
- We stayed on Ala Moana Boulevard – just 5 minutes to the beach
- Now that what I call a Hawaiian long board
- A replica of the Duke’s original surfboard
- Looking tanned and feeling relaxed!
- Looking tanned and feeling smug!
- Recognise those mountains? Think Jurassic Park!
- Keeping an eye out for turtles on the North Shore
- One of the many plantations dotted along the coast
- Beautiful sunsets are what the Islands are noted for