We arrived Sunday night around 7:30 pm after an 11 hour direct flight from Newark. I was lucky enough to have enough frequent flyer miles to make the trip feel much shorter and more comfortable. The first thing you notice is that many things are outside in Hawai'i including airport terminals and hotel lobbies. Most structures are open air because it is just that comfortable all the time. It was a noticeable change from the cold we left in New Jersey.
Our hotel was in Tapa Tower, part of the huge Hilton Hawaiian Village complex in Waikiki (see my review).
So many people had told me to stay away from Honolulu/Waikiki, but it was just the most convenient place to use as a home base to take flights to the other islands and to pick up my brother after work. Even though he is in the Air National Guard, there wasn't enough room on Hickam AFB, so he was staying at the Pearl Harbor Naval base just next door. Well despite the warnings, I didn't find Waikiki to be too overcrowded. The traffic between Honolulu and the airport can be very bad at rush hour, but otherwise it was fine. Just don't go toward Honolulu during the morning commute or away from it during the evening commute. O'ahu really isn't that big. You can circle most of the island in less than 3 hours without traffic. I say most because the roads don't truly go all the way around the west side.
We used our first day as leisure beach day to recuperate from the long trip and rest up before heading out to the big island the next day. Our hotel was on the outskirts of Waikiki, so its beach was wide, long and sparsely crowded. It's a great place for a family or just some peace and quiet, but not as good for people watching as the Waikiki Beach proper. You quickly find out how intense the sun is here. The sun will find any spot you missed with suntan lotion and give you a little reminder. Oddly enough, the only places I got burns were on the top of my left hand and my left elbow. That was possibly due to driving around with the window down as well.
The most memorable part of the first day was that Mark and I were sitting next to two young girls on the beach, and one of them was from the same small town in Virginia where my mother grew up.
We had simultaneously asked each other where we were from. When they said Virginia, I mentioned that I was born there. So they asked where, and I said Roanoke. They looked at each other in surprise, and the one girl says "Have you ever heard of Franklin County". With a look of shock on my face, I replied "My parents are from Franklin County, and most of my relatives still live there". I actually lived there as a baby myself. The town my father is from is even smaller and it turned out this girl's mother is an elementary teacher there. Just goes to show you what a small world it is.
Waikiki Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Nice view especially during sunset
We picked up my brother from the naval base and brought him back to our hotel complex so he would get to see the beach and Waikiki for the first time.… read entire review