You will never be bored in Honolulu – there are simply too many things to do. I’m a compulsive planner (my Pinterest board for you is living proof) so naturally, I over-planned in the activities department.
Here’s what we did:
It might not seem like a lot for 7 days, but with the wedding stuff and meals thrown in, it was all too much. ST recommended that we keep it to one activity per day next time with at least two days of free time so we don’t get too exhausted.
STUFF WE’LL DO AGAIN
Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay - I got really excited about Hanauma Bay because there’s lots of wildlife there – turtles, fish, sea urchins, and coral. We purchased two snorkel sets and brought them to Honolulu since we didn’t want to rent them. Tía Kim bought hers from Walmart when they got to Hawaii.
Hanauma Bay is a hassle to get to. When we went, the parking lot was full and closed by 9:30 am. We had to find a residential area, park, and then trek a half mile to the visitor’s center. Then we waited 15 minutes to buy tickets and another 10 minutes to watch the mandatory movie about the preservation of Hanauma Bay.
This was the crazy long line to buy admission tickets.
We see didn’t turtles, though other people did. Boo. I prefer snorkeling in Mexico though, where aquatic organisms are plentiful, colorful, and unafraid – they bump right into you. The water in Hanauma Bay was cold and shallow – I scraped myself a few times on the rocks.
Cruisin’ on Rented Mopeds – We had so much fun doing this! Next time, we’ll rent a car on an as need basis (unless you’re with us, of course) so we can ride mopeds half the time. Riding a moped is very easy to learn (took our whole group of 7 about 10 minutes) and we rode to Diamond Head and through random neighborhoods for 4 hours on them. They are also pretty cheap to rent – $25 for the whole day.
Renting Jet Skis – I have a need for speed and this activity satisfied that need. The boat ride there is under 5 minutes and we zipped around for 30 minutes. I would recommend bringing goggles or at least sunglasses because the constant salt spray stings your eyes. Even though we paid for two people, ST wouldn’t/couldn’t do it due to his motion sickness
Paddle Boarding - This is really fun, but only for an hour. We rented a paddle board at tía Winnie’s hotel (Hilton Hawaiian Village) and shared it. It cost $32 per hour and you don’t need lessons to use it unless you’re out in the ocean. We were in the Hilton Hawaiian Village’s man-made lagoon, which was calm and full of little fish.
Surf Lessons - SO FUN! Refer to my previous post on this.
Tour Pearl Harbor - The Pearl Harbor exhibit is comprehensive and educational. You can tour submarines, take a ferry ride to the memorial to those who died, and walk through two large exhibits dedicated to the events leading up to the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
The most interesting part was touring the USS Bow Fin. I couldn’t believe how small the living quarters were. The arrangement of the kitchens actually reminded me of a typical NYC apartment.
The exhibits were informative but kind of depressing. Also, they would do well to focus more on the Chinese- and Japanese-Americans who were killed by friendly fire after the bombing as well as the discrimination of Asian Americans in the aftermath of the bombings.
Parasailing – This was a rough experience due to your dad’s seasickness. You need to ride out pretty far on choppy waters in a small boat. I don’t usually get motion sick but this was enough to make me puke. Also, once is enough.
Side note: Whenever a company offers to take pictures for you – DO IT. You can’t predict what could happen to your camera. Always bring a laptop and SD card reader to back up your photos at the end of the day. We wouldn’t have any parasailing pictures had we declined this service.
Kayaking – This was just a catastrophe. I had signed up for Groupon Honolulu as soon as I booked our trip and was delighted to find a Groupon for a half day kayaking tour for $48. I immediately purchased it and was excited for the tour, during which we’d visit various islands and see turtles in Kailua Beach. We rented the kayak at 9:15 and brought it back by 10:05. The waves were really rough and the rental company gave us no instructions whatsoever on getting past them. I got hit in the head with the kayak, hit on the side of my face with an oar, our camera got ripped off my wrist, and we STILL hadn’t made it through the waves.
Germaine’s Luau – I was a bit disappointed with Germaine’s Luau. It’s rated as one of the best in Honolulu but it just wasn’t what I had expected. The luau was in a kind of shady part of town, next to what looked like junk yards and a landfill (nothing new to me, having grown up on Staten Island).
The luau itself looked pretty outdated (most things do in Honolulu) and consisted of two bars, a stage, and a bunch of picnic tables. Your grandparents complained audibly about the food, which was nothing special at best. The entertainment was pretty good though – their schtick is a tour of Polynesian islands.
Dinner was served on fancy Chinette. It was pretty bad – your grandparents complained about the cafeteria-esque food the entire time.
The view of the sunset was pretty spectacular though.
Luaus aren’t very fun for children. It seems like if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.
Can’t wait to go back!