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O’ahu Trip Report

O’ahu Trip Report

With Hawaii reopening to tourists I decided to give it a go.  Go to the Hawaii government website for the entry requirements.  Not easy. 

Airfare was heavily discounted as were room rates.  But do keep in mind that American is premier at charging for nearly everything beyond a ticket with a random seat assignment.  So the $475 rt ticket ended up costing me about $600,  and I wasn’t impressed with their getting on and off policies   Nothing beyond the usual a year ago. 

Restaurants were open till 10pm, bars had to close earlier, so many became restaurants to extend their hours.  Social distancing and mask compliance was unbelievably good and you had to fill out contact tracing forms in every hotel, restaurant, bar and tourist attraction. 

The weather was good, the island was beautiful and the trip was well with it.  I doubt the tourist numbers were 20% the norm so nothing was crowded and from that point of view, pretty nice. 

BUT, Hawaii is so freaking expensive that this trip cost about the equivalent as a week in Europe, despite the reduced plane and hotel costs. 

Ufkak, thank you for the assistance.

Posted by
4656 posts

Hawaii is beautiful, we only visited Hawaii in 2018 on a TransPacific cruise from Sydney to Seattle. We spent two days in Oahu and one in Maui.
From what I heard in Hawaii, the big island is what is awesome. I would go back to go there.

However, having visited some very awesome places, scenic as well as historical, Hawaii didn't blow us away. We had been to the amazing Azores, the Canary Islands, Fiji, Norway, Alaska, Iceland, Bali and more that were on par or more scenic than Hawaii.

Posted by
3105 posts

James, I am glad you found a way to travel and that you enjoyed yourself.

Posted by
12131 posts

geovagriffith, I'm not very well traveled, so its not hard for me to enjoy a place I have never been. This trip was a lot of the usual tourist sticht (zip lines, scuba diving, off road a bit, lots of walking) and a lot of laying on the beach and playing in the surf. Did me good to get away, and not a half bad place for a single guy to hang for a week.

Posted by
1861 posts

Thanks for the report. Glad you were able to get away, glad anyone was able to get away. We’re still sitting tight waiting for the vaccine and things to open up. Really not much choice. Everyone who ever visits Hawaii always raves about it, that it is a wonderful vacation spot. We had taken our children, their spouses, and kids on a cruise to Alaska for our 60 birthdays and said we would do Hawaii for our 65. That is two years away and still a possibility.

Posted by
12131 posts

I guess for those tittering on the edge of going someplace or not going someplace, Hawaii might be something they could consider.

Everyone on the flight (except ironically the flight attendants) had a COVID test within 72 hours. So the flight was to some degree safer than what is apparently somewhat lower risk than a lot of activities. Once there all the tourist had to confirm and reconfirm their status. The place wasn't crowded at all so keeping distance was a snap; and mask wearing was as close to 100% both inside and on the streets as one could imagine. All in all, they have done a good job of setting rules and then enforcing them.

But always, the idea of travel for the sake of travel is sort of nuts. If Hawaii isnt your thing, why do it. It was my first trip and it met what I anticipated very well. But each to their own.

Posted by
1605 posts

hey James E
yes it is freaking expensive like some other cities. did you stay in a hotel in waikiki? looks like it was the "touristy" things, tours and food that was the bulk of your expenses.
i lived many years in honolulu, but the big island is my home. hawaii is a beautiful place, each island has their own beauty. thanks for your feelings about flying, entry do's and don'ts, covid issues, people's own perogatives about traveling or not.
glad Ufkak (does he live in hawaii?) was able to assist you and loved your review.
aloha

Posted by
12131 posts

princess:

gas for $3.15 a gallon. Its about $1.90 here.

Yes stayed on Wakiki Beach. The $400 rooms were marked down to $250.

Even the prices in the produce markets in China Town were significantly higher than anything here.

Prices felt about half way between SF and London.

But I knew what I was getting into, and its what its what I wanted to do. No complaints, just an advisement.

This is a great place to play tourist for a week. Dont kid yourself that it will be anything else. But thats not bad.

Posted by
1605 posts

hey james
not like it use to be going to farmer's markets, even here in the san francisco bay area which is more than freaking expensive. loved chinatown back then, roaming the shops, having lunch, people watching, things have changed. good thing for me is i just pay airfare and stay with my sister.
if you ever have plans on going to the "big island" hawaii, let me know. i'll give you all kinds of info: where who what when and how! you will need a car, this island can be filled with all the other islands combined, hence the name.
always like your truthful answers, it is what it is, plus it's your own opinion. cheers and a mai tai to you
aloha

Posted by
1684 posts

Glad you got some travel in. I love Hawaii, especially Maui where I lived for some glorious, footloose and fancy free years. Every day I wasn’t working felt like I was on vacation.
When I go back, I marvel at how much it has changed, but still feels like my second home. Can’t deal with the bugs though!!
Going to Molokai and Kalaupapa was life changing!

Posted by
3041 posts

FWIW: Seems to me that if one lives in the eastern half of North America then the Caribbean is so much closer (and apparently cheaper) than Hawaii so the distance (Hawaii is as far away as Europe) is too far if looking for a warm beach.

I’ve never really been to Hawaii other than 2 plane stopovers. If sitting on the left side of the plane flying from HNL to LAX there’s a slow flyover of Waikiki, Punchbowl Crater, and Diamond Head. One of these trips also included snow visible on the big island.

Posted by
12131 posts

Tom_MN

But I've never been to Hawaii, and I have been to a lot of the Caribbean.

Besides, this is no time for international travel. And I live in the center of North America.

Posted by
3041 posts

James: So would you go back to Hawaii, from Texas? I look at those 9 hour nonstops (connections of course would be 2+ hours longer) and just can't justify it. At least Delta finally added meal service to the 9 hour nonstops.

Posted by
12131 posts

The flight was less than 2hrs to Phoenix and then less than 6 hrs to Hawaii for about $600. My average European trip is about 3 hours to Houston, then about 9 hours to Istanbul and then maybe 2 hours to my first destination for about $1000.

But its about a lot more than time and money. Dont ever take a trip because its cheap and close. That silly. Take it because its what you want to do, what you think you will enjoy.

Would I do it again. No, but only because there are so many other places to see.

Posted by
3041 posts

Mostly pointing out that for many North Americans, Europe is closer and cheaper than Hawaii, for those of us more in the middle, it's more of a wash, for me nonstops to Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt or Honolulu all in the 9 hour/$1000 range (for low but not rock bottom fares). So for me it's what I can see for the same money and time investment and Hawaii doesn't win, although checking on Hawaii fares now before spring break they are running quite low. I see you are tilting a bit more than me toward the West Coast people in times and pricing.

Posted by
12131 posts

For me about 40% cheaper and 40% faster to reach Hawaii. Once there abut 40% more expensive to be there vs where I enjoy in Europe.

But its still about the destination for me. I will pay and take what ever time that my interest demands.

Posted by
2637 posts

James E, we much prefer Kauai and the Big Island to Waikiki. Although the best flight cancellation ever was in Honolulu because we were put in a hotel on Waikiki. Some places(and I include Disney World in this) are worth their high prices.

Posted by
7309 posts

Middle of a stressful winter, going to a warm destination with strict COVID measures sounds pretty good to me-- and I'm sitting in France as I write this.

BTW the European equivalent right now is Dubai--you have to have a negative PCR and there hasn't been a case in Dubai for a while (so they say). Six hour flight from Paris.

Posted by
637 posts

Glad you were able to go somewhere James.
Hawaii was not high on my bucket list, but I went for a 50+ soccer tournament in 2019 and it was beyond my expectations. Was there for 2 weeks overall, 4 days of soccer, 5 days in waikiki and around the island of Oahu and 5 days on the big Island.
I did prefer the big island for the different sceneries, lush jungle, volcanic land and beaches.
Both islands offer many hikes, and things to do. Omg was it is ever expensive. But we had a fabulous time and I would definitely go back, great option to replace the carribean for me even thought it is far away.

Posted by
12131 posts

First great meal was at Fête, where Dave turned us on to The Pig and the Lady and another pretty excellent place who's name escapes me at the moment. And some pretty decent home cooking at the market downtown too.

Posted by
12131 posts

Spent most of the time downtown and a couple of days driving around the island.

Posted by
1605 posts

hey hey james
two questions: curious who is dave?
those restaurants weren't around when i lived there but will check them out when i do go and visit nieces near kalihi.
did you try any "local" foods as in plate lunches (with 2 scoops rice and 1 scoop macaroni salad), loco moco, korean meat jun and mandoo, lau lau wrapped in taro leaf, ton katsu, malasadas-portuguese donuts, mahi mahi, saimin-japanese noodles, shave ice, liliha bakery cream puffs? i could go on and on but you get what i mean.
with all the different nationalities there and trying everything available, hope you had on stretch pants!
aloha

Posted by
12131 posts

I ate all sorts of unexplainable food.

Dave was the bar tender of at Fete. When I asked what was good on the menu he started talking like one of those television chefs; and he nailed it when we tried the food. So, I asked where he recommended. He nailed it again.

Posted by
31218 posts

Hawaii is one place I'd like to return to as soon as travel gets back to some semblance of "normal". It's a relatively short flight from the west coast and I'd much prefer that to Mexico or Cuba, especially for the WW-II history and it's a great place for a "winter sun break".

Unfortunately it's really expensive for Canadians with about a 30%+ exchange rate. One other "issue" for me is the resort fees at hotels, as I absolutely refuse to pay those! Although the flight time would be longer, it's relatively easy to get to Portugal from here (two flights under normal circumstances) so if I'm going to have to deal with exchange rates, that's an option too. I wouldn't mind spending more time exploring Porto.

Posted by
12131 posts

One other "issue" for me is the resort fees at hotels, as I absolutely
refuse to pay those!

I dont blame you. But good news, some of the hotels have dropped them for the time being.

Other choices are paying $400 a night for a room with no resort fee or $300 a night + $100 resort fee. Actually everything is about 30% off right now.

Airlines are pretty much the same. You can purchase a $600 ticket from one airline that covers luggage and a seat assignment or you can buy from a discount airline for $450 and then pay another $150 for your luggage and seat assignment.

Posted by
12131 posts

The Modern Honolulu was right at $247 a night including the "resort fee". Further up the beach the costs went up exponentially.

Posted by
12131 posts

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm, thats a depender.....

I really "need" to go to Hungary. My cardiologist and audiologist and dentist are all there and I am falling apart without them. But Hungary is a lot like Hawaii and even when the EU opens I think Hungary will fight it a bit longer. So I am not counting on it before the Fall of this year. I could always get in on a Business Exemption. I could have done that any time this year. It would have been in full accordance with the letter of the law, but not really the spirit since there isn't anything I can do there, that I cant do from home on a lap top.

My daughter and I had a trip to the Balkans scheduled around Christmas that we decided best to cancel. So at the very least that will go forward when the Balkans warm up a bit. I would guess late April or early May. I think two or three weeks in Istanbul, Montenegro (probably a week tour; Budva, Ostrog, Stari Bar, Ulcinj, Zabljak/Tara Canyon), Bosnia (Sarajevo and Mostar), Croatia (Dubrovnik). Then if Hungary is open ... off to Budapest for a few weeks. If not, then maybe a week fishing in Carpathians in Ukraine.

Posted by
1605 posts

hey James E
never heard of that hotel. probably another name and bought by another company. but of course it's been a while since i've been. happy you tried whatever dave recommended and enjoyed yourself
did you take a ride around the island? you stayed at one end of waikiki and you must have took a long walk down the beachfront of waikiki beach to almost the zoo.
you went, you conquered and came back with a great report. we all have likes and dislikes, opinions why and why not to go here and there and you nailed it. thanks
gonna watch for your next depender.
aloha

Posted by
12131 posts

From the hotel to the zoo was about a 40 minute walk .... both worth it for this quirky little second floor bar across the street from the zoo.

Yes, rented a car for a couple of days and tried to drive every road in every direction to see as much as possible. Beautiful once you get away from Honolulu and Pearl.

Posted by
31218 posts

James,

"Yes, rented a car for a couple of days and tried to drive every road in every direction to see as much as possible."

After seeing the traffic there, there's no way I wanted to rent a car (especially with the high fuel costs). I'm not sure what traffic is like now, but last time I was in Honolulu was during the Pro Bowl so it may have been busier than usual. I was just as happy to let Roberts Hawaii do the driving and that way I could appreciate the scenery and get pictures. That approach was also much more relaxing.

Posted by
12131 posts

The traffic in town was pure hell. Out of town better, but the roads were not the greatest and few with speed limits over 40mph. But an experience and worth the effort I thought.

Posted by
5623 posts

...few with speed limits over 40mph.

Why would anyone need to drive faster than 40 mph on Oahu? The Ironman bike leg distance was based on biking around the island of Oahu. The objective of driving around the island is not setting a speed record.
Ironman:

...a race combining the three existing long-distance competitions
already on the island: the Waikiki Roughwater Swim (2.4 mi or 3.9 km),
the Around-Oahu Bike Race (115 mi or 185 km; originally a two-day
event) and the Honolulu Marathon (26.219 mi or 42.195 km).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ironman_Triathlon

Posted by
352 posts

gas for $3.15 a gallon. Its about $1.90 here.

That is kind of a peculiar complaint seeing that in Hawaii, especially on Oahu, you cannot drive very far. The island is only 44 miles end to end!

And if anyone is thinking of going to Hawaii, don't go by what James said about hotel prices. A year ago, pre-pandemic, we stayed about three blocks in from the ocean at Waikiki for only $120 a night. A very quiet and pleasant hotel, not a resort.

Posted by
1605 posts

hey hey marcia
can you please name the hotel you stayed in waikiki a year ago? hopefully will visit end of year or next year and looking at places to stay for a few days in honolulu. thanks
aloha

Posted by
352 posts

James, it was White Sands Hotel - and right now they're showing prices of only $89/night. We stayed three nights, and it was clean, quiet and in a not-bad location. They even had a kitchenette in the room.

Posted by
12131 posts

Then go for it!!! Heck of deal.

I looked at Booking.com just now and they wanted a bunch more for that White Sands Hotel $159, per night (i picked a pool view room) That excluded: 10.25 % TAX, 4.71 % City tax plus US$ 25.00 Resort fee per night which takes it to $211 per night or pretty close to my room rate. But I enjoyed my 10th floor room balcony looking out over the ocean at sunset and in the evenings; and I liked that the hotel backed up to the beach and the few extra dollars that cost was worth it for me.

Still if you can be as happy as I was, and you can get it for $80 a night, go for it. Great place to get away right now.

As for the gas, I thought that was sort of obvious. But since it wasn't, gas was about a third more than where I live. As was most everything else ............ except the White Sands Hotel. And I did drive just shy of 100 miles at an average speed of 33 mph. Again, a bit pricy, but worth it for my taste at least.

Here is the place I stayed. Would I do it again? It was okay and given the uncertainty of the trip (COVID, etc,) it served its purpose well. Still, I would hunt around for better: https://www.themodernhonolulu.com/photo-gallery

Posted by
12131 posts

Ufkak, if you know that bar; i guess I messed up some preconceived notions you might have had 🤣🤣🤣

Posted by
12131 posts

This bar in particular was being extremely cautious in compliance with the COVID rules. You entered and went straight to a table. You were not permitted to visit other tables. All talk between various groups had to be done by talking loudly between the way more that 2m spaced tables. Buying food was a requirement and the bar food was "okay". The view from the second floor open wall was good, the drinks well priced for Hawaii and the service was pretty good. The other clients were respectful, well behaved and, well, colorful. I didn't go to many other bars, but I suspect most of the others will be similar as COVID compliance goes.