Judging from the torrent of e-mails & PMs I've received these last couple weeks on this subject, you guys must all be freezing your butts off!
Feel free to use this thread as your place to ask "But what should I DO in Hawaii?" We'll all share our collective experience and then we'll ask the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau to send a donation to Dory's FIRECalc fund.
Originally Posted by hogtied
My uncle was stationed in Pearl. commander in CINPAC fleet.
It'd be interesting to take him through the PACFLT building these days-- I doubt much has changed since WWII. Maybe the carpet is new(er) but I bet the interior paint is the same!
Originally Posted by hogtied
Surfed at Barbers Point and the North shore all summer. That was the trip of a lifetime for a 16 year old.
No kidding-- Trombone Al, my daughter, & I will be surfing there Sunday morning.
It'd be interesting to see what's changed at White Plains Beach over the last 40 years. I suspect "not much". Of course the drive down there has changed a bit-- all the sugar cane has been replaced by houses.
Originally Posted by hogtied
Forward some 40 years until now. When I pull the plug in 1-2 years, I want to take the wife back with me. Now living in NY. Plan is to winter someplace warm and in a different place each winter for 2 months. Hawaii will be the first winters retreat spot. I've been checking sites on the internet and it looks like I can rent a small bungalow in Kailua for about $2500-3000 a month. Never got to Kailua when I was there in '67. What do you think? Are there anyother locations I should checkout that you would recommend on Oahu. Thanks.
(Some of you may recognize chunks of boilerplate from earlier e-mails & PMs.)
Kailua is a nice place to visit for its windsurfing/kitesurfing beach, and there are some nice surf breaks off Kaneohe Marine Corps Base. It's a short drive to Waimanalo ("the country") and Bellows Air Force Station's public beach. Kailua has nice golf courses, restaurants, & bars, too. But if you're looking for Waikiki-style action, your first chore every morning will be driving up over the Pali/Likelike/H-3 to get to Honolulu. The bungalow price doesn't sound too detached from reality, although it may nearly double during Nov-Feb high season.
Another issue to watch out for in Kailua is the extremely high number of unlicensed B&Bs. Many homeowners have been illegally renting out their homes for years and your neighbors may not be very happy to see you. I don't think there's any way to tell who's legit or not, but if a price stands out as too good to be true then it probably is.
I'd stay away from North Shore rentals in winter. The surfing competitions (and the surfers) drive prices into the stratosphere-- as much as $1500/week for a 10x10 concrete-block room with a shared bathroom. Even if a buddy loans you a house, the Haleiwa traffic and the restaurant/bar crowds in that limited-capacity infrastructure will make the experience less than wonderful.
"What to do" can be a tough question to answer because everyone's tastes are so different and there's so many choices. It's not very helpful for me to give you my "tropical jungle Survivor adventure" list if you're more of a "museums & bus tours" type. I've also learned that I seem to be the only guy on the board who thinks the Atlantis submarine rides are really cool.
My default recommendation is to go to the "101 Things To Do" website and pick out your top 10. (http://www.101thingstodo.com/hawaii/oahu/index.php
) We've probably done over half the list by now and can answer questions you have about best time of day/year, time to allow, & expenses. I can pick up on a theme, too, and help you find the "best" beach or luau or shopping.
If it's been 40 years then maybe you'd want to start with a week in Waikiki. There are plenty of choices and, if time is short and there are different preferences, then it's easy for one person to do their favorite activity while the other participates or lazes on the beach. You can also drive to anywhere on Oahu in under 90 minutes (except during rush hours). If you're a typical visitor, you'll buzz around for about three days and then spend the next day collapsed on the beach. If you're bringing young kids then you may only achieve a few hours a day away from the pool.
Another reason to avoid a month-long rental would be holoholo-- some visitors add a side trip to a neighbor island. You could rent a Waikiki condotel for a week and easily repeat that on Kauai, the Big Island, or Maui. Or you could day trip-- for example a travel company can pick you up at your Waikiki hotel at 5 AM, deliver you to the airport, fly you to the Big Island, bus you around Volcano National Park and Hilo or Kailua/Kona, and fly you home that night to return to your hotel at 11 PM. (Some might think it's too much to cram into one day.) Another option would be to spend a total of 10-14 days here, with 5-7 days in Waikiki and the rest of the trip in Kailua followed by a neighbor island. But I think it's hard to do two islands in less than 10 days.
There's no particular "best" time of year. September/October can get warmer than the rest of the year because the tradewinds occasionally die down and the highs rise to the low 90s instead of the mid-80s. January and February can rain for 5-7 days in a row and are less beach-friendly than the rest of the year. (We Hawaii residents are weather wimps.) High-priced snowbird season is roughly Nov-Feb. Otherwise the rest of the year's weather is mid-80s highs and mid-70s lows and the prices are roughly the same.
The activities that pop up most often are:
- Surfing Waikiki or other beaches (or canoes or kayaks or boats)
- Hiking the Diamond Head lookout
- Snorkeling Hanauma Bay (Clif volunteers here and can give you the details)
- Polynesian Cultural Center
- Visiting the USS ARIZONA Memorial, the USS MISSOURI Memorial, and/or the USS BOWFIN Submarine Museum (easily 1-2 days for veterans)
- Bishop Museum (I could spend two days here)
- Shopping Waikiki ($$$$$), Ala Moana Shopping Center ($$$), Aloha Tower Marketplace ($$), or the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet (bargain souvenirs & t-shirts).
If you have a military ID card (or someone traveling with you has one) then I have an additional list of hotels/bases you'll want to check out.
You might want to PM other board members for their "slept there did that" advice:
- Trombone Al and his wife are here now (we're surfing our butts off) and their hotel, the Waikiki Circle, is a nice low-key $150/night beach shack nestled among $500/night high-end resorts.
- Laurence has spent a lot of time in Hawaii and actually attended college on the Big Island a while back, so he knows places there I've never heard of. But I'm sure the statute of limitations has expired on him by now.
- Deserat was here last summer and met me at White Plains Beach (an hour away from Waikiki) for a surfing lesson on a "real locals" beach. I think they stayed on military bases.
- Dreamer stayed at a military lodge in Kaneohe.
- Saver has been through here, renting a Waikiki apartment and trying to live like an ER local. He learned that he prefers a more metropolitan lifestyle like NYC.
I've probably forgotten to mention other board members who've visited here. Share your experiences & your own top-ten list!