We recently went to Honolulu, specifically Waikiki, for a five day vacation.
Now, I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii, but never once considered Waikiki. It’s too busy, right? But Chris had a few friends who liked going there, so we looked into it. And we’re always on the lookout for places that might be fun to move to, especially now that San Francisco rent is so crazy. (People kept saying, “But Hawaii is so expensive!” I wanted to laugh. Or cry.)
So, over the years I have refined our method of travel and visiting.
1) Use a good airline. Get decent seats, even if that means paying a bit more. (Avoid going crazy with this.) Not first class, unless for some reason it’s cheap. But a bit of an upgrade is a lot better for us than being uncomfortable for hours. I also get a lot of work done on planes.
2) Stay someplace with a nice view. Doesn’t have to be fancy, but looking outside while we talk about our plans and what we’ve seen is good.
3) Pick out a few neighborhoods to visit. Locate walkable sections using Walkscore.com or Yelp.com. Take local transportation there, walk around, visit cafes and shops and restaurants. Transit back.
This method has been foolproof in many cities. Even Los Angeles, where everyone told me the transit was terrible, and I was afraid it would be too hot and smoggy.
However, this method largely failed in Honolulu.
1) I booked through Hawaiian Airlines, which is a nice airline, and has nice planes. However, I booked a package deal, including the hotel, which meant that my seat requests didn’t show up on the airline’s site. I have no idea why. I panicked and requested some (further back) seats on the way there, but on the way back I decided to let the request go through… and instead of what I asked for, we got put way in the back, where the plane is curved and narrow. Not good for my 6”4’ husband. I called and requested a seat change, which they assured me would go through, just talk at the airport. Person at the airport saw the request but said we couldn’t have those seats. ARGH. So we upgraded to the “Premier seating” ($40 each) which is right behind First Class. And that turned out to be great! We will do that in the future.
2) After a lot of waffling about the tradeoffs between luxury, view, and cost, we settled on an oceantfront room the Waikiki Aston Circle.
The Aston Waikiki Circle. Isn’t it cute?
I’d seen pictures of the view, and it looked amazing. It was:
However, I had not quite pieced together what it meant to have a window facing southwest, in the tropics.
For most of the afternoon we couldn’t have the curtains open at all.
Too much sun!
Well, no problem right? Who stays in their hotel room anyway?
3) There were a few problems with getting out to investigate neighborhoods. First, Waikiki is an isolated resort area. While a lot of busses come and go, and Honolulu has a great bus system, the traffic in Waikiki and nearby areas is horrendous, and the busses get very full. Though the locals were all extremely friendly, and the bus drivers unbelieveably cheerful, it still got time consuming and wearing to get around.
Ala Wai Canal, backside of Waikiki
Worse, though, was the sun. From 10 am to 6pm, we could not handle being out of the shade. Now, in the shade it was beautiful. Perfect temperature, constant breeze, great fresh air. Coming from San Francisco, neither of us was used to the heat and sun load. We did slather powerful sunscreen on, so managed to stay unburned, but it was still arduous. And Chris got sunburned ankles.
Random Honolulu high-rise condos
The smart thing to do is just stay in the neighborhood (in the shade!), but we had plans, and we went out anyway. I did investigate a bunch of different neigborhoods, and met some Facebook friends. But every day we were exhausted by the end of it, and it took three days to recover when we got back.
So, we definitely will go back, but with a different strategy.
Mirrored from Amberdine.