Honolulu, Hawaii

22nd June, 2018

It took us a little while to find our feet in Hawaii, and to be honest, for the first few days I was a little unsure as to why so many rave about it. BUT, once we had our bearings and had our little ‘hood worked out, we really enjoyed ourselves.

We spent majority of our time in and around Honolulu. With the huge volcano erupting and causing havoc on the Big Island, we decided to stay put on Oahu.

Beach days, school work, shopping, wandering, exploring.
The kids were excited to be in America and were so keen to try all of the candy and visit all of the stores. Of course we had to pay a visit to Walmart too, and YES – it is amazing!

A standout day for us all was our trip to the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.
The entire memorial park is put together so well with many artefacts, short films, submarine tour and a boat ride out to the Arizona. It was a very special visit and an incredible insight into Hawaiian history.
As part of the Pearl Harbor day tour – we also visited the Punchbowl National Cemetery, Downtown Honolulu, and the boys got to try Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs outside Aliiolani Hale – the State Supreme Court.

We booked through Affordable Tours, and tickets were around $35AUD per person.

A few days after discovering much of the island during our guided bus tour, we decided to hire a car and head back to our favourite spots.
We cruised up north, stopping off at Turtle Beach, hoping to see a sea turtle or two on the shore.
We were SO lucky. There were two huge turtles there when we arrived, and another two came into beach shortly after. Spencer was in absolute awe. LIFE MADE!!!

We then headed on to explore some other parts, stopping at the beach coves and lookouts. It was a great way for us to see some more of the island, at our own pace.

We hired a car through Alamo for approximately $110AUD for the day – including all insurance, and unlimited miles.

Another fun day trip we did was to the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet.
A huge market that runs right around the outside of the stadium. Lots of great souvenirs – clothing, bags, jewellery and more, and all at about half the price of the stores in Honolulu.
The kids tried shaved ice for the first time, and loved it!

We caught a public city bus for a few dollars each.

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Recommendations:

Biki Bikes:
Bike hire $3.50USD for 30 minutes, plus a $50USD security deposit. A great way to see the city and get some exercise at the same time.

Weekly Fireworks:
Every Friday night between 7:30-8pm, the Hilton Hawaiian Village puts on a firework show over Waikiki beach. It gets very busy very quickly, so head down early to get a good spot and enjoy the show!

Restaurants:
Cheesecake Factory:
I can’t even tell you how many messages I received on Instagram telling us to visit the Cheesecake Factory. Thank goodness we listened, it is amazing. The food is fresh, delicious, plentiful and great value.
There is always a wait for a table, but lunch or an early dinner are your best bet for a shorter wait time.

Cheeseburger:
This was another gem we discovered on our first night in Honolulu.
Fresh salads, burgers, wraps, soups, seafood and a great kids menu.
There are 3 different locations in Honolulu.

Basalt Restaurant located in Dukes Market place:
We enjoyed a beautiful lunch here on our last day before heading to the airport.
I couldn’t go past a Prosecco and a cheese board in the sunshine.
Basalt runs Happy Hour from 3-6pm every day including food and beverages starting from $5.

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Best Coffee in Honolulu: I award this trophy to Kona Coffee Purveyors.
Melbourne style coffee. Strong, hot, delicious and the cafe is fitted out beautifully!

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Shopping:
Ross:
I’d never heard of Ross, but it’s a chain store packed full of brand name bargains.
You can pick up clothing and shoes by brands like Calvin Klein, Nike, Reebok and more, and less than half price. Definitely worth a look!

ABC Stores:
These are EVERYWHERE. Great for drinks and supplies. Hawaiian shirts and tees, toiletries, plush toys, souvenirs you name it, they’ve got it!!!

All the high-end fashion stores are there too: Gucci, Versace…as well as H&M, Forever 21 and surf shops- Quiksilver etc. Something for everyone’s style and budget.

Ala Moana Centre:
You can catch a quick bus for a few dollars, or walk to Ala Moana.
It’s a large shopping centre with a huge selection of dining and shopping options.

Tipping:
One thing we had to learn quickly was the tipping custom in the US.
General rule is that the tip amount is 20% of the total bill.
It is a shock to the system the first few times when you realise an $80AUD meal is now closer to a $100AUD meal.

Approximate Tipping Guide:
Restaurant wait staff: 15-20% of the total bill price
Taxi: 10% of the fare price
Tour Bus Driver/Guide: Between 10-20% of the tour cost, per person
Pool Bar: $1 per drink
Porter/Bell Boy: $1-$5 per bag
House keeping: $2-$5 per day

Hawaii was a really nice way to begin our tour of the USA.
We hope to head back some day and visit the other islands.

Next stop – Seattle.

Hang loose.
– Cxx

You can read about our Circle Island Tour here x

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