Posts Tagged ‘Hawaii’


Day Eight – Hawaii – San Fran – LA – 19 Days, 3 kids, 1 MIL


Day Eight sees us disembark on the island of Oahu, home to Honolulu and the excitement of Waikiki. We’re staying at the Hilton Hawaiian (see Cheap Rooms for deals) and this grand old lady of the tourist game is certainly finely tuned to the tourist experience. It is bustling, huge, busy and full of shops, bars, restaurants and beach. A word of warning here, don’t be the newbie and ask the beach cabana boys top set up two banana loungers and an umbrella for you on the foreshore…unless $66 sounds reasonable. Yeah.

Waikiki…hmmm. After spending time throughout the islands the expensive and very elitist access to the so-so beach seems a touch disappointing. Waikiki may be the favored destination for mainlanders but it’s not the best or the prettiest.

That said, that Hawaiian sun, all those bars and restaurants that line the back streets of Waikiki and the oh boy shopping to be had in the Ala Moana Mall is pretty good should you hail from cooler parts in the mid west. You can eat and drink very well here and you can do it on a budget or you can spend up large. Your call.

What we loved was the options. Some of us (which gender I wonder?) loved the shopping in Ala Moana and downtown Honolulu and the seconds shopping just down the freeway, followed by an afternoon on the beach (sans banana loungers), while others enjoyed taking surf lessons, stand up paddle boarding in the lagoon and lounging on the beach all day long.

We spent a day at Pearl Harbor and this is well worth the effort. Get up early, and get to the ferry before 10 and you’ll have a relatively queue free day. Get there after lunch and good luck.
What we loved about Hawaii. The people. Charming, happy, super friendly. The beaches on the islands, the warmth of the water. The cruise itself! What we didn’t like. The super commercial aspects of Waikiki.


Day Six – Hawaii – San Fran – LA – 19 Days, 3 kids, 1 MIL


Day Six sees us on the island Kauai in the cruise ship port of Nawiliwili. This cruise is full of surprises and a big one is just how they fit a gigantic ship into a tiny bay with a soaring mountain cliff face a stone’s throw away on one side and the dock on the other.
The port town of Lihue also boasts a Marriot on the spotless Kalapaki beach, all just a walk from the ship. (See Cheap Rooms for a good deal.) The kids did some surfing lessons and you can hire a boogie board by the hour from the Marriot. The Marriot here also has a Duke’s where you can while away an hour supping on a Blue Lagoon, or a cold and frosty local brew.
Further down the coast are a series of beaches and some really beautiful scenery. ‘They’ say Kauai is the prettiest of the Hawaiian Islands, and this little tourist can’t argue with that. We did our trick of eschewing the on-board cruise activity desk and asked a nearby taxi to take us to the local highlights. Oh my! Wailua Falls is close to the town and is as pretty as a dozen selfie-pics and then on to the beaches just a little further up the coast. The Kilohana Estate is a restored 1930s plantation estate and you get a picture of how grand life must have been. These days the place runs itself as a venue for weddings and functions and a working farm. It’s an old sugar estate and the very fine rum distilled by the Koloa Rum Company is sold on site, made from sugar cane grown on the estate. Happily, we’re not driving.
Further up the coast we spend an hour or so at one of those golden sand Hawaiian beaches – a place called Lydgate Beach. The currents are tough if you’re not a swimmer but there’s a snorkelling lagoon with plenty of little fish to entertain the kids.
All in all, a surprisingly busy, active day and a happy little family hits the sheets fairly early.


Day Five – Hawaii – San Fran – LA – 19 Days, 3 kids, 1 MIL


Well, Day 5 and it’s another gorgeous day in paradise as they say. Does it ever rain in this place? Is the sky ever not a startling blue, the ocean a bath-like treat or the breeze perfumed with bougainvillea and frangipani? No? We’re on the Kona side of the Big Island, home of coffee plantations and turtles as it turns out. The ship anchors in the bay and tenders take us ashore to enjoy the day. The little township of Kona is a delight; a main drag with ubiquitous ABC stores and restaurants and bars overlooking the translucent water. Turtles frolic on the shore-line, ignored by locals, gooed over by visitors. Kona has a couple of good places to stay if you like the sound of a longer stay on the Big island (see Cheap Rooms for good hotel deals).
We stop at an ice creamery and get into conversation with the milkshake girl, who’s dad drives a local taxi. One thing leads to another and a few of us decide to hire milkshake dad for the afternoon to see the local sights. There’s a little trick that all cruisers should acquaint themselves with very quickly. There is a roaring trade in shore-based activities organised on the ship – and the prices are suitably grandiose. They take their cut, the attraction/activity place charges full whack and you get to see whatever it is on the day at a time that suits. Everybody’s a winner! But if you like spontaneity, you just walk off the ship and any number of taxis will take you where you want to at up to a fifth of the price.
We drove up to the delightful falls and botanic gardens, drove up the coast and stopped at various little boutiques and parks. Had lunch in the sun on a mountain top and wended our way through a village marketplace.
We’d booked a submarine tour for the afternoon and were suitably impressed at the tropical view from down under. It’s a genuine sub and the whole sink down, bob around thing is quite eerie unless you’re a seasoned veteran. The portholes are big and watching the hundreds (thousands?) of tropical fish dart in and around the coral is the starting point for many of the evening’s dinner conversations.
Kona is beautiful, the beach by the wharf is perfect and the sub trip worth doing.