Spirit of Aloha Catamaran
The Spirit of Aloha Catamaran is operated by Port Waikiki Cruises and was the catamaran that we used during our free snorkel trip, courtesy of Hilton Hawaiian Village.
The Catamaran is a modern 54-foot motor-sail vessel which accommodates up to 48 guests on each excursion. The catamaran is a clean efficient vessel with amenities ranging from a full bar, fully enclosed cabin with tables and bench seating, restrooms, showers and multiple stairway entry for snorkelers.
The tour starts at the pier located at the Duke Kahanamoku Beach. We made our way to the pier and boarded the catamaran for our 2.5 hour snorkel trip. I totally enjoyed our snorkel trip and we got to see some really amazing sea life. The Captain and everyone else on board were so nice, friendly, professional answering any questions that guests had.
The company offers a variety of tour options ranging in price and duration. We did the 2.5 snorkel tour which was just enough time for us. Our trip was complimentary from Hilton, but the price of the tour is $110 per person. I would definitely recommend the Spirit of Aloha Catamaran and would consider doing another tour with them.
These are the options available with the Spirit of Aloha Catamaran per person:
Hilton Breakfast Sail – 90 minutes – $90
Hilton Lunch Snorkel Sail – 2.5 hours – $110
Hilton Adventure Sail, Early Afternoon – 45 minutes – $45
Hilton Adventure Sail, Late Afternoon – 45 minutes – $45
Hilton Sunset Cocktails – 90 minutes - $90
Hilton Friday Fireworks Dinner Sail – 2 hours – $125
Hilton Moonlight Dessert Sail – 45 minutes – $60
Equipment: If you are doing the snorkel trip, snorkel gear is provided if you do not have your own. I always travel with mine when I am visiting tropical locations.Related to:
- Sailing and Boating
- Diving and Snorkeling
- Water Sports
Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay
I enjoy being out in the water swimming and doing a little bit of snorkeling. Snorkeling is a fantastic way to get to see some of the creatures inhabiting the waters below without all that heavy scuba gear.
Hanauma Bay is a beautiful nature preserve located a few miles from Waikiki. The preserve restricts entrance to protect it and if you plan on visiting to do some snorkeling, I would recommend that you get there very early or in the late afternoon.
The snorkeling here is quite spectacular. You will make your way around some coral reefs where the currents can be strong, but you'll get a chance to see some really nice sea life.
Prior to entering the bay you go through a marine education center where an introductory video of the bay is given. After viewing the video you will make your way down to the bay via a tram.
There are some spectacular views from the top of the educational center as well.
Equipment: We took our snorkel gear, but you can rent your gear here if you don't have any.Related to:
- Diving and Snorkeling
- National/State Park
Snorkeling in Waikiki
When I was getting ready to go to Oahu, staying near the beach in Waikiki, my friend who vacations frequently in Oahu expressed her opinion that I would have to travel away from Waikiki to snorkel. Since I had never tried snorkeling in Waikiki, I agreed with her. The walled in, shallow beaches I remembered didn't seem likely to be good snorkeling spots.
Since I was getting around by bus and had a month to be in Waikiki, (My husband was on Oahu on a temporary work assignment), my first explorations of the Waikiki beaches were focused on finding out if there was anywhere there that would be good for snorkeling.
I did find a great spot, but not in the walled off beaches. I used those beaches to get more comfortable with my new snorkeling gear where it was shallow and sandy. There were a few fish there to get me started.
I did find a good beach for snorkeling further down on the beach bordering Kapiolani Park. On the map the area is identified as Sans Souci state park just before where the Barefoot Beach Café is located. It can be identified by the wall that goes straight out into the water with no shelter at the end of it. The beach on the right of that wall is less steep and has plenty of rock to shelter and feed visiting fish and several sandy entry points into the snorkeling area. This is the spot where I saw the most people snorkeling on the Waikiki stretch of beaches, but there were never so many as to get in the way.
The depth is shallow out to the end of the wall so that you can stand in most places if you need to, and the wall provides shelter and food to many species, including eels. I found many kinds of fish in abundance here every time I got in the water. If you walk out on the wall you will see crabs on the rocks soaking in the surf surges.
There is a beach shower nearby, which is handy for getting ready to go into the water and for cleaning off the salt water from you and your gear when you are done.
One bonus is that the beach is less crowded this far down from the hotels but still has lifeguard coverage and bathrooms and showers available. Food is available in the nearby Barefoot Beach café, including breakfast and lunch items like sandwiches, seafood and burgers, reasonably priced.
There are some problems on the beaches with theft, so make sure you leave valuables in your hotel room. I had waterproof holders for my phone that would also hold a credit card so I could keep them with me. I got mine from Amazon.com, but they are for sale in all the ABC stores in the area.
I didn't worry about my hotel key card since there was no id on it for which hotel or which room it opened. I used a big, zippered, bright pink bag that I could check on easily from the water and no one ever disturbed it, but I would have worried about leaving out any smaller bag or purse that could be quickly slipped into a larger bag and carried away unseen. Once in my explorations further down the beach I came upon a pile of empty small purses and bags that had obviously been discarded by a beach thief, so that informed my use of a large, conspicuous bag that I kept zipped up when I was in the water.
Hanauma Bay is the best place to snorkel, but for day to day snorkeling that is free and easy to get to if you are staying in Waikiki, this is a great spot! This is a good reason to bring your own gear so you can go in anytime you want.
Equipment: Mask, snorkel, water shoes, (or fins) beach towel, sunscreen are necessities.
I didn't like my fins so I was really glad I packed water shoes. I didn't find the currents or surge too difficult to manage without fins in December and January.
You might also want an underwater camera, waterproof phone holder (purchase at ABC store), safety flotation for children or weak swimmers.
Nice to have: Beach mat, beach chair, sun hat, swim suit cover up.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Diving and Snorkeling
Kayaking in the salt water lagoon
Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon is a man-made lagoon which is owned by the State of Hawaii. The lagoon was part of the Henry J. Kaiser Hawaiian Village project which expanded the old Fort DeRussy Channel, creating the new beach and 14 foot deep lagoon. The lagoon was named after the surfer and Olympic swimmer Duke Kahanamoku.
The lagoon is located adjacent to the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor and the Hilton Hawaiian Village and can be easily accessed by walking along the beach. We decide to enjoy a little canoeing before heading out to lunch.Related to:
- Water Sports
- Spa and Resort
Swimming is the perfect activity for Oahu. Many of the beaches are calm and perfect for the casual swimmer or the lazy float in the water. As long as you are aware of currents and other warnings such as jellyfish; swimming should be a fun and uneventful experience. Our last trip in January 2014; we spent alot of time enjoying the beautiful water and jumping the waves.
NFL Pro Bowl
The Pro Bowl is a yearly football game between the NFC and AFC. The game is held in O'ahu every January before the Super Bowl game. Many football fans come to O'ahu to see the Pro Bowl, especially if they can't make it to the Super Bowl.
The Hilton Hawaiian Village has played host to the players and non-players alike and during one of our stays in O'ahu the hotel was gearing up for the players to arrive. Unfortunately, we were a few days too early to see any of the players, but the atmoshere was so jovial and everyone was excited to be a part of the Pro Bowl.
Ferni was able to purchase a limited edition t-shirt and cap commerating the game.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
Get the Surfing Bug!
If you get the bug and want to try it yourself there are loads of places that rent boards and give lessons, just look for the signs in the beach areas. Take the lessons! As in any active sport, you need to know the basics, how to get out of a difficult situation and what to expect. The worst thing to do is panic and having basic knowledge from these lessons helps a lot.
Equipment: Your trainer will advise you on what type of board to use for your height and ability. You will likely start out on a longer, wider board and advance as your skill increases. Pre-book your basic surf lesson not to be disappointed by a full group. Learn surf techniques, safety rules and surf break etiquette. Many instructors are certified lifeguards as well as surf instructors.
Prices for 1-2 hours of basic instruction runs from about $100 to be part of a group of 4-6 people and close to double that for a private lesson. Paddle board lessons are usually about $50 each for a small group instruction..
Hawaiian Surf Adventures
7192 Kalanianaole Hwy Suite D-100B
Honolulu, HI 96825
phone: (808) 396-2324
North Shore Surf Lessons
5-Star Rated Surf Lesson on Oahu!
Small Group or Private. Book online
North Shore Surf Girls Surf School
Address: 66-008 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712
Hours: 7 days a week open 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sunset Suzys Surf School - sunsetsuzy.com
Phone: (808) 780 6963
Email Suzy @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Kids Camps, mens camps, womens camps
Uncle Bryan’s Sunset Suratt Surf Academy
North Shore Oahu Surf Lessons
Learn to surf or stand up paddle (SUP)
Watch The Best Surfing
You can watch surfers on every island. During the winter, the islands’ north shores generate big swells, while in the summer, the south shores enjoy a bump in size. Oahu’s North Shore is a legendary surf spot featuring viewer friendly beaches at Waimea Bay, Sunset Beach and the Banzai Pipeline.
Many surfing competitions are held in these areas, including the World Cup Triple Crown during the months of November and December with the top professional surfers competing. This is a great place to start; on the beach watching!
Equipment: Beaches fill up in the afternoon, so keep this in mind and don't wait till it is too late to get a spot to spread out your mats on a good place in the sand to be able to see.Related to:
Take a Dip in the Pool!?
I usually love a resort with a pool but when staying on the beach with the beautiful water why would I want the pool. I can understand the kids loving the pool but we both wanted the ocean and the beach.
Surfing is "BIG" in Hawaii and who can blame them with the awesome surf conditions. Thanks to the legendary Duke Kahanamoku the sport of surfing became so popular. Surfing schools are popping up all over the place especially in Honolulu and Waikiki where tourists are eager to spend some cash to learn how to surf or maybe just manage to stand up on the board for 10 seconds.
The true surfers can be seen sleeping on their boards and waiting for that perfect wave out in the water. Whether it's the big waves of the North Shore of the tourist laden Waikiki Beach; you can see surfers everywhere.
Ko'olau: America's Hardest Golf Course! Scary!!
Golf Magazine has ranked Oahu's Ko'olau Golf Course as the hardest in the United States at times in the past, though you can rest easy now because it has currently dropped to #3. I know people who routinely shoot in the 70's that struggle to break 100 on this course. So how did I do? Don't ask! The best gauge of my score is that I lost 23 balls!!
Yes, ko'olau is hard. Every green is protected by deep bunkers and or water. You drive over huge gulleys, the fairways are narrow and the vacuum-like woods are impenetrable jungle. Hit it straight or never see it again! Often holes are just connected islands of fairway -- too long or too short and good-bye ball. You'll probably have more than one double-digit hole!
On the positive side, the course is outstandingly beautiful. Tucked at the base of the Ko'Olau range on the lush windward side, you get ocean and mountain views on almost every hole. Definitely take your camera and don't miss the view from the pro tees at 15! Helpful hint: if you want to know which way your putt will break, look atthe Ko'olau range -- it breaks as the mountains break!Related to:
University of Hawaii Football is King! Go!
Since Hawaii doesn't have a professional sports team, people go nuts over the University of Hawaii Warriors football squad. During the fall of 2007, the state was completely nuts over the Warriors as Colt Brennan quarterbacked them to a perfect 11-0 season and the championship of the Western Athletic Conference. Despie their Sugar Bowl loss, the team is still feted today. The 2008 version of the team isn't quite so good, but their run-and-shoot offense promises high-scoring games full of excitement. And, the benefit of having a mediocre team is that seats are easy to come by, so if you want to see a game you can always get tickets at the stadium on Saturday afternoon. If this is your first visit to the United States, you definitely should take the opportunity to watch America's most popular sport in person. Even if you don't like games, the tailgating experience (where fans picnic in the parking lot) is a cultural experience.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
Aloha Stadium: The Big Venue
If you drive west of Pearl Harbor on the H1, you won't be able to miss the big bowl of Aloha Stadium on the makai side of the highway. This is the largest sports complex in the islands and is the home of the NFL All-Star Game (known as the Pro Bowl) every year. It also hosts University of Hawaii foortball games, which can be quite a sight as was shown this year as the Warriors, led by Colt Brennan, went 11-0 before losing in the Sugar Bowl. Finally, Aloha Stadium is home of the recently-inaugurated Pan Pacific soccer tournament, matching club teams from the U.S., Australia and Japan with goals of broader participation in the next few years. The accompanying photos were taken during that tourney, featuring the Los Angeles Galaxy and David Beckham, but won by a team from Osaka.
Sure you can go and surf. Nobody will ask if you’ve done it before. And don’t feel embarrassed, because most of the people in the water are NOT standing on the surf boards!
I didn’t try it myself, knowing from others that the experience can be painful. So I figured this sport is not for spoiled people like me. But, I definitely enjoyed watching others try to befriend the huge surf board. Actually it can be funny watching people laying on the boards turning them into tanning bench.
So, go and try the Hawaiian sport, you won’t look ridiculous, or should I say you won’t be the only ridiculous oneRelated to:
Some of the World's Best Golf Courses
Oahu is home of some of the world's best and most beautiful golf courses. I'm not much of a golfer, but their beauty and the nice weather can even tempt me to go out for a round or two. Manyof my friends are serious golfers and they make it a point to play all the courses on the island that they can -- luckily very few are private. Even the best and most challenging, like Luana Hills or Ko'olau (often ranked the hardest course in the U.S. by Golf Magazine) are open to the public.
If you need advice on the best way to package a golf tour, you can let me know and I won't be able to help you out at all -- at least not for a year or two. Even then, my taste in golf course may run different than an actual good golfer, since the cut of the fairway matters little to someone who is rarely there. My golfing resembles more Lewis & Clark than it does Tiger Woods.
Golf can be expensive if you are a tourist -- a round can run over $100 at some of the most popular courses, like at Ko'olina. But if you are from Hawaii with ID, you can play for half price at most places!Related to:
We stayed at this hotel with a 3 month old in December of 2011. We were the last one to check in...more
2417 Prince Edward Street, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96815, United States
Good for: Business
1277 Mokulua Drive, Kailua, Hawaii, United States
Good for: Business
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