Last month we flew over to Honolulu for the weekend. I used a combination of sale fares and miles for the flight, points for the rental car, and a dear friend comped us for two nights at her time share. Cost for three people for a weekend in Waikiki: $300. Sweet.
I haven't been to Oahu in about 15 years. We used to fly there regularly, until we traveled to the Big Island once. Then it was all over for us.
While expensive, it is very easy to travel inter island by plane. The airports are convenient and generally well run. Hawaiian airlines has a great on time reputation and I always feel like a little kid when they serve you juice on the flights. Hilo to Honolulu is less than an hour and you get to see every other island on the way up the chain: Maui, Kahoolawe, Lanai, and Molokai. Sweet.
We took an early flight Saturday morning and arrived in Honolulu before 10 o'clock. Thank you Hertz. You may be a bit more expensive, but you are hassle free. Our first stop was Royal Kitchen. Amazing managua (pork buns) and pork hash. Actually, they fill their buns with many different things (curry chicken or purple yam, for example) and we bough enough to nosh for the whole weekend.
The girls headed off for a day at the Ala Moana mall. Boy has it grown! No more Sears (and of course, no more Liberty House). It is a great place to spend the day shopping. We walked all three levels and went in to many stores. The mall was busy, but not overwhelmingly crowded. Sephora, Lush, Nordstrom, Apple: we did it all. We didn't go into Bloomingdale's. I guess we're saving it for next time.
Magnolia Bakery has an outpost here and the cupcakes are great, but I think Sift's in Sonoma County are better. I do highly recommend their Red Velvet Cheesecake. Oh wow! There's also a night kiosk and umbrella-covered chair area in the middle of the second level that's great for sipping iced tea and letting your dogs rest. Here's a shot:
The second day we headed to the north shore and stopped at one of the trucks in Haleiwa for garlic shrimp. The north shore was busy on a Sunday and the traffic when we got back to Honolulu was 70% stop and 30% go. Maybe 80/20. Traffic in Honolulu is gridlocked much of the time.
Sunday night we hung out in Waikiki and tried to find the hotel we stayed in twenty years ago. Yeah, it's changed that much. The Nuuanu apartment building (on Beachwalk?) was still standing. I looked it up on airbnb or VRBO and some of the apartments are available for vacation rental. I remember seeing that building years ago -- such a tiny hold out in the midst of tall hotel buildings. I think we'll stay there when we go back in November for a long weekend. It was fun to walk around at night and see all of the shops. I'd like to try a few more hole-in-the-wall eateries, particularly the ramen shops. The only really odd thing was how much real grass is being replaced by astro turf, both in Waikiki and at the mall. Pave paradise and put up a parking lot.
If you go to Waikiki and you like Korean food, I highly recommend Yakiniku Kuhio tucked back in an alley just off the corner of Kuhio and Seaside. Very yum.
Here's a last shot of the fountain/koi pond at Ala Moana Mall:
Next time we'll skip the rental car and rely solely on walking and Uber. While you can rent a car cheaply, the parking garages in Waikiki are still a royal pain in the ass and you really don't need one unless you are venturing out of Honolulu.
We just got back from a weekend in Kauai and I'll share that with you soon!