Travel Koncierge: Honolulu page 6
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There is only one place that we would send anyone here: Ihilani. http:
//www.ihilani.com/ You will see why when you go there. It is a place we go
pretty much every time we go here. We would recommend against going to
Waimea or Nanakuli and parts west of there after dark.
Staying Here There are two options should you decide to stay here. They
are both Marriott properties: the Ihilani Reosrt and Spa (www.ihilani.com) or
the Ko’Olina Beach Club. The former is a J.W. Marriott property that caters
to conventions and resort vacationers, so the accomodations are pretty plush
and priced accordingly. The Ko’Olina Beach Club http://www.marriott.
com/hotels/travel/hnlko-marriotts-ko-olina-beach-club/ is a standard
Marriott property but since it also has time share units, the rooms are
configured like 1,2,3 BR/BA apartments. They also have Villas. The Beach
Club besides being by the...uh...beach, also has a killer lagoon-like
swimming pool and a bunch of kids activities.
Besides the amenities that are listed above, the Ihilani Resort has a shark
pond, rays, and all manner of sea life in the ponds. Keep an eye peeled at
lunch and you might get to tag along and feed them sharks or rays yourself!
If you head towards town a short distance and exit at the Barber's Point exit
(Exit 1 as you head Ewa (West) on the H1 Freeway), you can visit the
Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park. If your kid has gotten tired of the beach
or snorkling, surfing, sailing, windsurfing, body surfing, boogie-boarding or
any of the millions of things you can do at the beach for free, and needs a
change (especially if you are in Hawaii for more than a week or so), you may
want to check out this water park. They have a good assortment of slides and
attractions for all ages. There is even a good selection of attractions for
younger kids. Next door (same parking lot), there is also a modest miniature
golf course. There is no reason to go here unless there is absolutely nothing
else to do. It is expensive ($11 for an adult), poorly maintained, and we got
eaten alive by mosquitoes. So, while you may like the thrill of the water park,
skip the miniature golf. Also, make sure you call first to verify hours. We
waited in the parking lot for an hour while the staff decided to show up.
The Ihilani has a number of lagoons that are protected from the surf. They
are absolutely wonderful. If you walk further Ewa, you will find a marine
preserve. Respect it, but you might see some interesting sea life from the
We generally go to the Naupaka Terrace. http://www.ihilani.com/oahu-
restaurants/naupaka.asp It is breezy, you are at the edge of the shark pond,
and the food and service is family friendly. If you are staying there, there is a
Roy’s at the Ko’Olina Golf Club (between the Resort and Beach Club). See
the write-up in the Honolulu section.
Lanikai and Kailua Beaches are the main reasons that people would come to
this side of the island (plus the dramatic landscape and gorgeous drive to get
there - Pali or Waimanalo - they are both amazing). We love it because the
vibe is low-key, the beach close, and family is nearby, but family aside, it is a
great place to visit with a family if you don’t want the Waikiki thing. There is
a ton of infrastructure such as stores, decent restaurants, beaches, and
playgrounds. A lot of people rent cottages, condos or homes there. The
rates are very reasonable - especially for a family. If you do, look for air
conditioning. When there are trade winds, it will likely go unused, But when
there aren't (Kona Weather), it can get oppressive during the day. A sea
breeze helps, but as you get even a block inland, that respite evaporates
Lanikai Beach is best Googled. There are multiple entry points, the sand is
like powder, the breeze gentle, and the water like glass. It is a great beach for
swimming or sand play. Canoe paddlers (Lanikai is one of the best) add
another splash of excitement to your beach visit. We heart Lanikai. You will
pass Kailua Beach Park on your way to Lanikai. It is a very nice alternative.
Further to the South on your way towards Hawaii Kai, there are a number of
beaches popular for body surfing (Makapuu, Sandy Beach, etc.). With older
kids, this is fine. With younger kids, we do not recommend it.
Hanauma Bay is just outside of Hawaii Kai or due east along the
Kalanianeole Highway you head away from Downtown, Waikiki, and Kahala.
Hanauma Bay is the place to go for rookie (and more advanced) snorkeling
and diving. The park opens at 6 a.m. daily except for Tuesday and gets
crowded fairly quickly as the buses and tours arrive at mid-morning. You park
at the top ($1 parking fee), pay a $5 admission fee (kids under 12 and active
duty military personnel are free), view a brief mandatory safety orientation
video in the visitors center (if you sign up after the movie, you can avoid
seeing it again for a year. Sign it anyway. It is worth it to not sit through the
orientation lecture again), and then you can either walk or shuttle to the
bottom of a rather steep paved hill to the beach. Equipment can be rented
at the bottom, but you may want to buy your own if you plan to use it more
than once. NOTE: Buy your mask where you can try it on. Your mask should
be able to make a good seal around your face just by pushing it against your
face without having to use the strap. If it falls off then it isn't a good fit and
you should look elsewhere. Price does NOT mean a good fit. We spent $12
on a mask and snorkle from a place called Don Quixote's in Kailua and it was
a MUCH better fit than more pricey products.
Good to know: Sun screen is a must as your back will get fricasseed if you
don't. Drink water as you will get dehydrated quickly. DO NOT feed anything
to the fish, touch anything, or take anything away. This preserves the totally
special place that you are sharing. Do not leave valuables in your car and
try to minimize what you leave on shore when you go out. Observe all safety
warnings about currents.
More good to know: As you walk down, look at the layout of the beach. There
are a number of sandy cut outs where snorkelers can walk out along the edge
of the reef and view amazing (and tame) reef wildlife. These are great for
kids. While there are lifeguards out there, no child should be left unattended
in the water.
Still More Good to Know: There is no food sold at the beach. If you want
food, bring it with you, stop at the small snack bar just outside of the park
entrance or better yet, get something at Koko Marina Shopping Center (it is
the last shopping center in Hawaii Kai before you head up the hill to
Hanauma Bay (a the corner of Kalanianeole Highway and Lunalilo Home
Road). There are a wide range of food choices that you can enjoy (probably
after you snorkle since they will not likely be open if you go early as we
recommend). A nice treat is Bubbies for ice cream.
You have many options although we would recommend a couple of places.
From this site, http://www.kailuavacationrentals.
net/kailuavacationrentals/kailuarestaurants.php, we would point out the
Cinnamons is our favorite breakfast joint. Portions are huge and you will
want to eat every bite. Rachel Ray has featured this place in her show and
celebrity sightings are frequent.
Haleiwa Joe’s (there is also one in Haleiwa) is my wife’s favorite. The
views of the Koolaus are amazing. The gardens are worth a walk before
dinner if it is light. Make a reservation as this place hops. The food is great
and everything is family friendly with a tasty kid's menu (there are also small
plates that might appeal to the youngsters as well). We love their prime rib,
but there are many other things to choose from. Again, gargantuan portions.
See Page 4 for more details.
Pinkys is a fun family burger joint. It is pretty hip, so older kids will still find
it fun. Food is also pretty tasty.
Travel Koncierge Honolulu Page Six
Updated May 28, 2009
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