As we get closer to winter, we all start daydreaming about the possibility of summer, of vacation and planning our next getaway. I went to Honolulu earlier this year and whilst I’ve posted my onslaught of vacation outfit photos already, today I wanted to talk you through what we did whilst we were there! At the moment, Jetstar is doing crazy deals to Hawaii so if you want to score return flights from Sydney to Hawaii for $400 😮 😮 😮 now is the perfect time to snap them up. We went at the end of January which is Hawaii’s dead of winter but it didn’t feel like that all. In fact it might have been the best time to go! The weather was balmy without being hot, it would always be light and breezy by dinner and if you don’t mind yourself a spot of shopping, post-Christmas sales were still in full swing.
Where we stayed: We stayed at the Ohana Waikiki Malia which was within walking distance of everything we needed. Kalakaua Avenue which is the main shopping strip was about a minute walk away and had food courts, restaurants and multiple malls.
How we travelled: The best part about staying at the Ohana Waikiki Malia was that it included free unlimited passes on the buses that ran around the centre of Waikiki all day and night. This was super convenient and a huge $$ saver as well. A number of different companies run these trams/buses which are all affiliated with several hotels and resorts around the area so make sure you research into whether your hotel offers this if you aren’t planning on renting a car during your stay.
What we did: If I listed out every single place we went to this post would go on forever so to be concise, I’m going to go over my top five.
Waikiki Resorts: There are so many historically beautiful resorts on this island, I would definitely recommend paying a visit to a couple to have a drink and watch the sun go down. I swam deep into the sea one night and just lay there, it was heaven! My favourites include The Royal Hawaiian (aka the pink hotel with its own stretch of beach, shopping centre and eateries), Hilton Hawaiian Village (fireworks every Friday night) and the Moana Surfrider. Cost: depending on the activities you get up to, this can cost little to nothing!
Diamond Head Hike: After a month of sedentary behaviour in Sydney post Christmas, hiking up Diamond Head was actually super tough. When you reach the peak, the views are pretty spectacular, you can see the whole of Waikiki from the top – can you spot The Royal Hawaiian? Be prepared for lots of steps – its 1.3 km one way and 171 m elevation. Cost: About $3 USD for bus fares from Waikiki plus $1 entry per person into the park or $5 per car.
Pearl Harbor: This was a very impressive and well organised memorial and you can see that a lot of resources have been spent making sure tourists “remember, honour and understand” the tragedies of Pearl Harbor. We were shown a 20 minute video before promptly being charted off on a boat to the actual memorial site where we were allowed another 20 minutes to reflect and then had to leave immediately. Like I said, I was very impressed with their almost militant approach to the whole tour and the memorial site itself was sombre yet beautiful. Cost: Entry into USS Arizona Memorial is actually free as long as you get there at a reasonable time in the morning and are able to secure a ticket, they give away 1,300 a day from 7am. If you google pearl harbour tours, there are all these tours that can cost you upwards of $100 but if you’re on a budget, you only really need to pay for a bus fare to the memorial site. We made the mistake of joining a private tour but the tour guide took us on a round trip to Downtown Honolulu as well so it wasn’t too bad.
Hanauma Bay: I’m a water baby so this is one of my favourite things we did! I saw the most beautiful fish including this neon green and pink one that I thought was absolutely out of this world and appropriately named the Christmas Wrasse! I would recommend booking the earliest tour possible so you can snorkel heaps before the sun comes up. Cost: As you walk around Waikiki, you will notice tour groups running to Hanauma Bay at every corner. You don’t need to pay more than around $20 USD for transport and equipment hire, plus $7.50 park entry fee. You can also buy snorkelling gear at every ABC store (huge chain of convenience stores that are at every street and corner) which is what we did.
Polynesian Cultural Centre: We were not totally sure about going to the PCC but so glad we decided to take a gamble despite the mixed TripAdvisor reviews. If you have already familiarised yourself with Polynesian culture in Fiji, Tahiti, New Zealand or Tonga, this might not be for you because it can come off like a commercialised Polynesian themed park, at times. I went to New Zealand in 2015 so I had a little bit of background on Maori culture but I still thought it was a great experience and we didn’t get time to see everything even though we spent an entire day here – basically 11 am – 11pm including travel. The centre is divided into a number of islands which you hop between, watching performances and demonstrations. There is also a river parade in the afternoon and for dinner you can choose to attend a lūʻau or have a buffet at the great hall. The highlight of our package was the island evening show called the Hā: Breath of Life which traces the origins of Polynesian culture through song, dance and flame throwing for 90 minutes. Cost: I had a look on the website and like a lot of tours in Waikiki, its difficult to book in advance before you get there. I would recommend booking through a travel agent once you arrive and avoiding weekends as they are the busiest. We paid $120 a ticket which included a coach that drove us to the PCC (an hour from Waikiki), access to the entire park, buffet dinner and night show.
What I wore: If you haven’t been keeping up with what I wore, use the search bar tool on the top right hand corner of my blog to search the title of these posts. I love vacation dressing because its an excuse to bring out my brightest, most colourful pieces! Its never too early to start dreaming so I’ve linked up my favourite resort wear below. (From L-R – Iolani Palace / Sunset Boulevard / University of Hawaii / Downtown Honolulu / Stepping on the Runaway / Waikiki Beachwalk / The Royal Hawaiian / Moana Surfrider)