My last post covered all that is Oahu – “Hawaii’s Happening Island.” But, no visit is complete without a stay in Waikiki, Honolulu’s bustling international oceanfront neighborhood, chock-a-block with resorts, hotels, shops, and restaurants—the perfect contrast to the island’s more remote and pristine, natural settings, highlighted in my recent article. Whether relaxing for a few days or making a brief layover en route to another island, make sure to check out all that awaits you in Waikiki.
HERE IS A SAMPLING OF SOME OF OUR FAVORITE SPOTS:
Orchids: Located at the Halekulani, this lovely oceanfront restaurant offers an international menu with plenty of seafood and steak. Reserve a spot on the patio for dramatic sunset views, or come on a Sunday for their excellent brunch.
Alan Wong’s: Reservations are a must at Chef Wong’s James Beard award-winning, Hawaiian-regional cuisine restaurant. Its unusual location atop a non-descript office building belies the unique menu, artful presentation, and upscale ambiance that await you within.
Roy’s: Yes, it is part of a large chain of restaurants, but Roy’s can always be counted on for dependable, Pacific Rim fusion cuisine and professional service. It’s a Hawaii original.
House without a Key: This spacious, open-air restaurant at the Halekulani is a great place for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, or stop by for a signature Mai Tai and a pre-supper appetizer and listen to some Hawaiian-themed musical entertainment. The restaurant takes its name from the first Charlie Chan Noir mystery novel set in 1920’s Hawaii.
Hula Grill: This beachside eatery with amazing views of Diamond Head is the place for a reasonably priced breakfast in Waikiki. Indulge in Maui Pineapple and Coconut Buttermilk Pancakes and delicious Kona coffee. Located at the Outrigger Waikiki.
Hotels and Resorts: Here are just a few recommendations for beachfront hotels in Waikiki: Halekulani; Royal Hawaiian (The Pink Palace); Moana Surfrider (the city’s first hotel built in 1901); and Hilton Hawaiian Village. Waikiki’s beach has experienced some erosion over the years, so not every beachfront hotel features a sprawling expanse of sand; if that is important to you, make sure to do your research prior to booking.
Kallakaua Avenue & Kuhio Avenue: In the mood for shopping? These two main shopping streets are a great place to stroll and shop, from high end to kitschy souvenir shops.
Waikiki Beach Walk: Lewers Street has been completely rebuilt and transformed into a hub for all-suite and resort hotels, stores, and cafes, and yes, even a Starbucks. Stop in at Quiksilver for board shorts, Crazy Shirts for fun, logo T’s, and Island Sole, for fantastic “slippers” (that’s flip flops to us mainlanders).
Royal Hawaiian Center: Had enough of the sun? Take an afternoon stroll around this open-air, four-level shopping and dining complex with a convenient food court on level two.
ABC Stores: A convenience store and souvenir shop all rolled up in one. A great place to stock up on beach supplies, grocery items and snacks, inexpensive gifts, and health and beauty products. They are open early and stay open late every day.
Ala Moana Shopping Center: If you really can’t survive without some retail therapy, head to Hawaii’s largest shopping center for souvenirs and gifts—everything from high end to beach fashion, it’s all under one roof.
Atlantis Submarine: We didn’t have a chance to go, but this was recommended by the concierge for a view of Oahu from beneath the waves. The narrated tour gives you a close up view of tropical fish and sunken ships. To get a discount, book your tickets online. (But, keep in mind, if you are claustrophobic, this would not be a good choice!)
Pearl Harbor: My last post mentioned this moving site, but make sure to take time to visit all the stops (besides the USS Arizona Memorial): USS Missouri Memorial, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum, and Pacific Aviation Museum – all are connected by a shuttle. Pick up the excellent audio tour so you don’t miss out on a bit of history. Due to increased security, no handbags, back packs, or diaper bags are allowed, so be sure to check them at the lockers or better yet, leave non-valuables in your car.
Tour Guide: You will not be disappointed if you book with Keawe Adventures. Their experienced guides can arrange snorkeling, surfing, historic tours, Pearl Harbor tours, military history tours and more, and they will meet you right at your Waikiki hotel.
Diamond Head: Before you go home, make sure to hike to the top of this former military installation to get the perfect bird’s eye view of all that is Waikiki and help seal your memories of this beautiful place.
To complete your Hawaiian adventure, stay tuned for my next post on Maui, Hawaii.
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