Don't rent a car from Enterprise!
It's not that I am against renting their cars. No! No! No! They have good service! And, their daily price is very reasonable. The thing is, once you get out from the airport baggage claim, their rental car office should be right there! But, no! You have to get out from the baggage claim and wait for their pick-up van to bring you to their office! (We wasted probably two hours from waiting the van and from checking out of our car rental). So, next time, I told my husband, we will just rent from other car rental companies which have offices at the Aloha International Airport.
Unique Suggestions: Rent from other car rental companies that have offices at the luggage claim section of the Aloha International Airport! At least, you can register and check out your car while waiting for your luggages!
Fun Alternatives: 1. Rent from Avis. Their office is at the luggage claim! Also, rent from National. The thing is I haven't rented from them so I can't tell you how reasonable their prices are. But, I know for sure, that their offices are inside the Aloha Airport.
2. Bring a car seat or at least check with the rental companies if they have one. If you have small children below five years old, you will definitely need a car seat! (That is what we forgot!) So, we have to call our relative to bring us a car seat! Ask the rental companies if they have children's car seats available and how much it cost.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
DON'T SHOP IN WAIKIKI!
Everything is expensive in Waikiki--it's a tourist trap! The locals don't and won't usually shop here unless we're forced to. Walk around, enjoy the beautiful weather and sights, but--again--DO NOT SHOP HERE! (I cannot stress this enough.)
Unique Suggestions: If you *really* need to shop in Waikiki, then the DFS store is the place to shop at. This place is very reasonable. Everyone is allowed to shop on the first two floors; however, the third floor is accessible only to International travellers. (You need to show your flight ticket.) They have a lot of good souvenirs.
If you're looking for fast-food, then go to the Jack-In-The-Box restaurant near the Hyatt Regency. This is the only fast-food restaurant in Waikiki that doesn't jack up their prices for the tourists (i.e., the price here is the same as it is as the other JitB restaurants around the island.) The Waikiki McDonalds and Burger King on the other hand...
Finally, realize that *many* of the restaurants in Waikiki AUTOMATICALLY INCLUDE A 15-20% TIP in a customer's bill!! I once took a VIP friend out and ate at a Chinese restaurant in Waikiki (which I won't name). The waiter presented me the bill; I was paying via credit card so I filled it out, including a 20% tip. The bastard waiter never even mentioned that the tip was already included to me! Only after I left and returned home did I look over the receipt and saw that the scumbag received a double-tip (40%)! I called the restaurant the next day but was told that there was nothing they could do. They did have signs explaining the already-included tip, BUT THE SIGNS WERE WRITTEN IN JAPANESE!
Fun Alternatives: The best places to do your shopping is at Ala Moana, Waikele Outlet, Pearl Ridge, Windward Mall, and the Ward Warehouse and Center. For souvenirs, Long's Drugs stores are a great place to shop. You can get all the Hawaiian macadamia nuts, chocolates, and Kona coffees you need at an inexpensive price at Long's. A lot of locals shop at Long's for their everyday needs.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
- Business Travel
Pineapples galore! at Dole Plantation
While it may provide some basic pineapple facts, it's really all about getting you to their souvenir shop. There are some really interesting pineapple plants in the back, and real pineapple facts, though many tourists never really make it back there. A pineapple plant yields approximately 3 pineapples in it's life cycle ... one after about 18 months, then another 13 months later, and again 13 or so months later.
Unique Suggestions: If you find yourself at the Dole Plantation, be sure to go in the back to see different types of pineapple that can grow here on the islands. Also, for fun though there is a $5 fee (or 2@$5 if you have a coupon) visit the "maze" to the right of the store. From aerial, the maze is a picture of a pineapple, though there are no pineapples at all in the maze.
Fun Alternatives: If you're really into pineapples, stop by the "pineapple corner" just down the road that has a large variety of other pineapples, all marked where they originated from.Related to:
Moanalua Gardens - This 25...
Moanalua Gardens - This 25 acre public garden has 2 streams, a taro patch, and ancient stone carvings.
Punchbowl Crater - In the center of the crater lies the National Cemetery of the Pacific, home to 25,000 victims of WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
Ride Around Horseback - This ranch offers well-trained horses that will take you on a unique tour of rural Oahu that starts at Waimanalo, about 30 minutes from Waikiki.
Sunset Dinner Cruise - Enjoy dinner on a catamaran, a yacht, or a larger ship.
Tiny Bubbles with Don Ho - He's still singing his Hawaiian torch love songs and is surprisingly entertaining. A night with Don is a good way to celebrate a birthday, wedding, or anniversary.
Valley of the Temples - The valley of the Temples is a replica of the Byodo-In temple in Japan. The grounds have peacocks, ponds, and a 9-ft Buddha.
USS Arizona - mostly invisible in murky water
Sorry, folks, but it IS a tourist trap. I know this is going to offend a few, but somebody's gotta say it.
It's a rusting hulk, mostly invisible in murky water, or hidden by reflections off the water. If it were not for the huge turret mounts still sticking up out of the water, most of us wouldn't be able to tell that it is a ship at all.
At the end of the monument there is a big slab of stone with a bunch of names in it. Impressive, perhaps, if you're really into masonry or engraving, or if your uncle is listed there, but unimpressive for the average citizen.
And maybe we could send a diver down to plug the leak in the fuel tanks? The living aren't allowed to pollute the environment like that, why should the dead be allowed to do it?
And, last but not least, how about a bathroom on site?
If the old kidneys start acting up you can't just hang it over the side - that would be desecrating a grave. So you've got to wait until everybody is done and the tour boat gets back to the dock.
1000+ guys gave their lives here. It could be done a lot better in their memory.
PS: for you few hyper-patriots who want to send me email to complain about this review: don't bother. I'll just delete them.
The answer to speech that you don't agree with is more speech. If you think it is great, write your own review explaining why. ( And, when doing so, please, tell us why the fuel tank can take more leaks than a living person )
Unique Suggestions: Visit the bathroom before you go.
Fun Alternatives: Just next door is the submarine USS Bowfin. You can go inside and look around. It's fascinating.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Polynesian Cultural Center
Probably it is the #1attraction on O`hau for tourists , but in my mind it is absolutely not worth to go there as it is sooo expensive and 2nd it is really boring.
the good thing is, PCC has 1,400 employees. PCC is about people and learning their cultures.
so its up to you!
For more information please visit
- Theme Park Trips
- Family Travel
Hilo Hattie is billed as "The Store of Hawaii". Well, that may be, but is is most assuredly the "Overpriced, Tourist Trap Store of Hawaii" as well! The chain has stores all throughout the islands, as well as some stores on the mainland U.S. And to be honest, they do have some decent items for sale. But everything in these stores is way more expensive than other retail shops on the islands. I can't argue with their marketing campaigns and promotional ploys to get people in their stores, it seems to work. Many hotels in Hawaii have "discount" coupons to take to the stores, but they are to the affect of "Buy $100 worth of stuff, get a free t-shirt" sort of thing. Most of the discounts offered initially require a purchase of some sort. Nice store, heck of a price!
Unique Suggestions: If you do plan on buying items from Hilo Hattie, I would suggest sticking to smaller items, small souvenirs and such. Stay away from the clothing and big items, unless it is just something you must have. This is just simply to save a little cash.
Fun Alternatives: There are endless numbers of retail stores on all of the islands that have an excellent selection of items for sale, i.e. clothing, souvenirs, etc., and for a much better price. Whichever respective island you may be visiting, just ask around, or look around for some better alternatives. Your wallet will thank you!
Intro SCUBA near Sea Life Park, north-east Oahu
If you're considering trying introductory SCUBA diving, GREAT-- there's lots of good sites in Hawaii. However, be aware that many spots are chosen for their utter SAFETY, rather than their beauty. One such trouist trap is the spot on the northern side of Oahu's eastern tip, in the space between Sea Life Park and the research pier (near Waimanalo). It's shallow and without current, so it's utterly safe... but the visibility is less than 10', the bottom's murky silt, easily stirred up into a wall of murk. There's nothing to see other than a few thumbnail-sized fish hugging a couple of coral heads.
Unique Suggestions: Avoid touching the bottom, or stirring the bottom with your fins as you swim. Look out for lionfish, which're pretty and slow-moving but have a truly painful contact poison that's been compared to having your hand over a lit candle for a week.
Bring a Fuji Quicksnap snorkelling camera. The box says "good only to 15 feet/5 meters", but it's actually good to about double that (for shooting & winding the film forward) or 45' / 15 meters for taking a single shot... then go shallow to wind the film forward.
Focal length is abotu a yard to about 3 yards. Photos will be SHADES OF BLUE, but satisfying.
Don't get the Kodak snorkelling camera. The little red shutter push-button gets pushed by water-pressure, making this camera useless at more than 10 feet under water.
If you don't mind the obvious environmental concern, consider bringing a packet of hot-dogs to mash & feed to the fish. If the fish are used to it, they'll come close and eat from your hand. If they're not used to it, they'll ignore it.
Fun Alternatives: If your scuba shop suggests this place, say NO, NO, NO. Instead, ask for Hanauma Bay (will cost more, but totally worth it) or Shark's Cove (not during big wave season, oct~may) or Rainbow Reef/Magic Island, or Electic Beach. Hanauma Bay is closed on Tuesdays, and is more expensive, but an effortless, VERY satisfying intro dive. Rainbow Reef and Electric Beach are more challenging dives, at the high end of difficulty for an introductory SCUBA, but VERY VERY pretty, with a fair chance of seeing turtles.
If they suggest boat diving near Port Lock, make SURE that you're not going to "Jan's Spot", which is at least as boring.
If you're invited to go to Turtle Alley (or anything with "turtle" in the name), it'll be a somewhat challenging intro dive from a boat. Definitely get a beach- or pool-lesson BEFORE you go, because the lessons done in deep water from a boat can be... stressful & frightening for beginners. Practice SCUBA in a place where you can stand up in the water, BEFORE doing a boat dive.
The Port Lock "intro beach dive" is a bit challenging, but moderately satisfying.
Consider doing SNUBA instead of SCUBA, if at all possible (for intro divers only...it's far easier and less stressful).
Avoid "sea walker" like the plague....it's a helmeted march on the sea-bottom, short, and unpleasant. The helmet's shaped so everything looks far away, and you don't get nearly as much fun out of it as with SNUBA/SCUBA.Related to:
- Water Sports
- Diving and Snorkeling
Sea Walker: trudging & convex helmet
"Sea Walker" looks good on paper. It's an alternative to traditional introductory SCUBA diving. You put a big fishbowl helmet on your head, and walk on the sea floor like an old-fashioned sponge diver.
The down-side is, 1) the helmet is mostly convex, so everything looks faaar away. 2) you go down with alot of people and kick up the bottom sediment, so it's hard to see through the murk you create, and 3) typically it's alot shorter than a scuba or snuba dive.
Plus, let's face it-- walking with a heavy helmet is no substiture for swimming. Swimming's effortless & dreamy, like flying in a dream. Seawalker is... like the last mile of a 10-mile hike.
Unique Suggestions: Buy a Fuji quicksnap snorkelling camera (disposable, 27 pictures, $10) at a convenience store or supermarket before you go. This way, you won't be tempted to buy the photos they sell for $10~15, and will deliver to your hotel.
DO NOT buy the Kodak snorkelling camera. Both the fuji and the kodak boxes "say" they're good to about 7 ~ 15 feet, but the Fuji's actually good to about twice or 3x that depth.
Fun Alternatives: SNUBA at Hanauma Bay, or at any other place that's got clear water & starts off in shallow water where you can stand up.
(Snuba is LIKE scuba, but has a canoe above you, with a scuba tank in it. And, the scuba gear is stripped down to its simplest components, and kids age 8&up can do it.)
Or, do snorkelling/scuba at Hanauma Bay/Molokini crater.
Or, do the stingray-petting or dolphin-petting experience at Sea Life Park on O'ahu island.Related to:
- Water Sports
- Diving and Snorkeling
All of Waikiki
Everything in the Waikiki area is overpriced for the tourists!!!!!!
Unique Suggestions: Go to the Duty Free Shops on the corner of Royal Hawaiian and Kalakaua. Everyone is allowed to shop tax-free on the first level. There are also some good deals to be had at the ABC Stores (there's one about every 50 yards).
Fun Alternatives: Better deals will be found at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet. (See "Off the Beaten Path".)
Don't expect to find topless wahine...
Don't trust all the advertisement you'll see with unspoiled white beach and topless wahine by the water.You may have a chance to find that in French polynesia...on a postcard
Unique Suggestions: Cocktails will help you spend the day in front of the hotel between German women,who knows after few drinks your dreams may come true...!
PS: I love german women too!
Fun Alternatives: Go naked on the beach others may follow...Related to:
Waikiki is a Big Tourist Trap
Waikiki, and all of Honolulu for that matter, is a tourist trap. Do a half day circle tour of Oahu, and a trip to Pearl and then head for another island for real sights to see and souveniers that are meaningful.
Unique Suggestions: Definitely see Pearl Harbour, and head to the north side of Oahu - not as commercial and populated. In Waikiki, head to Hilton Hawaiian Village for interesting sites and shopping in a relaxing environment.
Fun Alternatives: If you have to have accomodations on Oahu, try to do a day trip or two to neighboring islands.
Snorkeling trips by boat. Ask this question first
We went on the Lahaina Princess for a 6 hour+ snorkel to Molokini Crater and Turtle Reef. Told to get there at 7:30, didn't take off until 8:20.
Lahaina Princess not a very good boat, lot of diesel smoke from the engine, not good if you are at the back of the boat. Boat was old, 1979, not real clean and not that well maintained. $85 before tax.
Twenty minutes into trip to the Crater, the Captain announces there are box jelly fish there, he has called other boats that have already visited there. He says we are going to Turtle Reef first and then will decide what to do for the rest of the trip.
Turtle Reef was nice. However, it is very accessible from the beach. No need to pay $85 to be taken here. Molokini you can only get to by boat. There were some turtles there, nice coral, and an okay amount of fish. Nothing else special, but a nice place to go to.
We stayed there an hour, then went whale watching the rest of the day. I felt cheated as I paid to snorkel. I was going on a whale watch later that afternoon. I found it hard to believe they did not know there were jellyfish at Molokini before we took off.
The Island Marine company, which operates the Princess cruises, refused to make any adjustment to my charge card. I was very disappointed.
Unique Suggestions: Look at the boat first if you can. The Lahaina Princess's engines smoked and was not in very good shape.
Ask if the boat operator if they have checked on conditions at the Molokini Crater BEFORE you take off. I am convinced that the Lahaina Princess operator KNEW there were jellyfish at the Crater before we left.
Fun Alternatives: Go to Boss Frogs or better yet, the Maui Dive Shop at Whaler's Village, for a free map of good snorkeling sites. Go rent a dry snorkel, nice mask, and fins from Boss Frogs for $25 for the week. (or snorkel Bob's)
If you really want to go the Molokini Crater, check with Boss Frog's. Don't pay huge bucks for overpriced tours there. The Westin wanted to charge $118 for a tour to Molokini. Huge price variance for the same trip.
Also, we went whale watching on the Gemini catamaran. It was very nice, a good type of boat to whale watch from, not an overcrowded dirty Lahaina Princess boat that is not very well configured for whale watching. (plus way too many people to try and look over or around)
Go to Mile Marker 14 or Black Rock for FREE snorkeling, places you can get to without a boat.Related to:
- Diving and Snorkeling
Ala Moana shopping centre
It's like a swift version of hell.
Unique Suggestions: Go into the food court. Venture further in. Realise it's HUGE. Look at row upon row of Soylent Green pre-materials.
Fun Alternatives: Catch the round island bus services instead - 52 or 55 from Kona, behind the Ala Moana shopping centre, and leap off whenever you see a cute shop, like those at Hale'iwa.
Or: dodge the crowds and dive into the Crack Seed Centre to get some bubble/pearl tapioca tea -ask for a low sugar version, though, if you value your teeth. The pearls are huge black bubbles that you suck up through an extra thick straw. I can't say they're tasty, but they're unusual.
Another alternative is to grab a tray of fresh pineapple slice and head out with it towards the ocean, and wander around the pretty jogger's beach at Magic Island - a little calmer than Waikiki.Related to:
- Budget Travel
Americans are probably aware of this, but for many Europeans Waikiki is still synonymous for south pacific romance on a beautiful unspoilt beach.
Nothing could be further away from the truth. Like its mediterranean counterparts (Torremolinos, Lloret de Mar) Waikiki is a nightmarish beach resort full of ugly condo blocks made of concrete.
The beach must have been beautiful once, but now it´s totally spoilt and has the atmosphere of a public swimming pool.
Avoid this place like the plague!!!!
Unique Suggestions: If you really have to visit Waikiki (out of curiosity), have a cocktail in the beautiful Royal Hawaiian Hotel, the pink building on the beach.
Hawaii (State of) Hotels
We stayed at this hotel with a 3 month old in December of 2011. We were the last one to check in...more
We were fortunate enough to stay here on the company bill for three nights. If you can afford it,...more
2417 Prince Edward Street, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96815, United States
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