Aloha from Hawaii – Wendy’s 40th birthday present

Aloha!  For my 40th birthday in October I wanted to go somewhere special – that place was Hawaii (particularly after watching The Descendants multiple times).

I booked very cost effective flights from Melbourne to Honolulu on Jetstar and used my Virgin Velocity reward points for a return flight for Scott and I from Adelaide to Melbourne.

When travelling to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program you need to apply for authorization via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization.

With lots of research and questions to those people that I knew had holidayed in Hawaii I had a long list of possible activities and places to visit.

As I prefer flexibility with accommodation I chose to book an apartment at the Outrigger Regency on Beach Walk which was located a street back from the beach, near the Halekulani, Outrigger Reef on the Beach, and the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Enjoying the Luau at Paradise Cove

The flight arrived in Honolulu around 8.00 am on 15.10.13 (we departed the afternoon of the same day as you cross the date line).  I’m a gold QANTAS frequent flyer member and so when travelling international on Jetstar we were able to access the international business class lounges plus skip the queue when boarding.  An easy and cost effective way to get to the hotel was via Speedishuttle and we bought a return ticket so didn’t have to worry about getting back to the airport a week later.

Tired after the flight we were able to check into our hotel and then sleep until early afternoon.  Feeling much better we went for a walk to explore our surroundings, along the beautiful beach and to get something to eat.  In the next street over (Lewers St) was Waikiki Beach Walk with shops, restaurants and entertainment.  We found the Yard House and as it washappy hour (which goes for a few hours) we had chicken nachos and a half yard of cider.  On the lawn outside the Yard House we watched an excellent hula show with local musicians and there were many opportunities to see hula dancing for free.

Walking down the luxury strip in Waikiki (Kalakaua Ave) we came across Louis Vitton, Gucci, Victoria Secrets and the list goes on.  A couple of blocks later gave us a good sense of the place, where the markets were and then we walked back along the other major road called Kuhio Ave which is where you mostly catch the bus from.  On our first night we found Moose’s Waikiki where we went upstairs to the club and they had dollar drink night.  From marines to University of Hawaii students, people were very friendly and polite plus we saw some really cool dancing.

The next day we bought 4 day bus passes from the ABC Store which was $25/person and allowed us to get on and off any of TheBus’.  We caught the bus to the Ala Moana Center which you’ll enjoy if you are looking for designer labels.  From the center we caught the bus to Manoa Falls.  From the bus stop there is a walk to the start of the trail which then takes around 45 minutes to get to the falls.  The path isn’t easy as it’s wet, slippery and uneven although you are rewarded with the scenery, very lush, green and dense forest.  After the trek back to the entrance we bought our first shaved ice (sugar free and strawberry) which was so nice especially as we were really hot by then.  Back on the bus to the center we had dinner at Bubba Gump and then after catching the bus back to near out hotel we found the International Marketplace.

After a sleep in we took the bus to the Diamond Head State Monument and after walking from the bus stop through the tunnel we bought tickets for entry into the park.  You walk across the base of the extinct volcano where the vegetation is more like a desert.  It was a very warm day and I think we should have picked a cooler time to do the hike as the path is long, difficult to walk on and winds up the side of the old volcano peak and through tunnels in the head.  The view especially over the sea is beautiful and once back down at the base we enjoyed another shaved ice.

A taxi at the bottom of the head to Hanauma Bay seemed like a good option at the time although it ended up being pricey so we learnt our lesson and didn’t use a taxi for the rest of the trip.  We got to Hanauma Bay mid-late afternoon where entry to the preserve for both is us was $15.00 and then we hired snorkelling gear.  The view from the top of the walkway down to the beach and the beach itself looks like Hawaii – picture post card.  I really enjoyed snorkelling as the reef is only a few meters from the beach and we saw many different, brightly coloured fish from rainbows to stripes.  After catching the bus back to the hotel, we explored the Royal Hawaiian Center and tried a ‘plate lunch’ for dinner (I had Loco Moco) at Kenny’s Hawaiian BBQ.  That night we saw a live band at Kelley O’Neils and bumped into a couple of Aussies who loved it when the band played I come from a land down under.

On Friday we did a lei making class at the Royal Hawaiian Center and they have many free cultural activities from hula, quilting, ukulele and performances.  After lunch at the Yard House, we hung out at the pool at the Outrigger Reef and Fort DeRussy beach.  That night we had a cocktail at Rumfire and then caught the bus to Uncle Bo’s  as we had heard great things about this place and we really enjoyed dinner here.  Lulu’s was a quick stop for a drink, then the bus back to watch karaoke at Shorebird.

For Saturday we slept in, did some shopping (love Ross Dress for Less) had a buffet lunch at Shorebird and then got ready for our afternoon-evening out.  A Luau was a must on my itinerary and I’d booked tickets to Paradise Cove.  Pick up from the Sheraton was at 3.45 pm with cousin Rich who memorised all the guests’ names and stories – he was a fabulous host.  The Hawaiian Luau Buffet included shell lei, mai tai greeting, 2 drinks and buffet dinner.  Activities at Paradise Cove included spear throwing, rolling stone disks, flower lei, temporary tattoo (Scott got one), shower of flowers, outrigger canoe and Imu ceremony (unearthing of a roasted pig).  Scott was chosen as one of the men of the luau and in a grass skirt he and about 6-7 other men did a routine down on the edge of the water which was hilarious.  The Luau feast included Lomi Lomi Salmon, Kalua Pig and Haupia.  After dinner, our host Summer introduced performers from Hawaii and Polynesia including a fire twirler.  I went up on stage to learn hula and I want to find somewhere back home where I can learn to hula.  This was a fantastic night – one to remember forever.

Sunday saw us try sea kayaking at Fort DeRussy beach, learn the ukulele (free lesson), have Hula Dog for tea, more shopping, and gelato for dessert from Aloha Harmony Tea House.  We had a drink or two at the famous Dukes on Waikiki Beach Sunday night and took it easy on the last day (Monday) with a late breakfast at Cheeseburger Beachwalk, final shopping and sight-seeing, watching the sunset by the Duke Kahanamoku statue, and shaved ice on the beach.

With a few hours sleep we were picked up by our shuttle bus and arrived at Honolulu airport around 4.30 am on 22.10.13 – thankful we had access to the QANTAS club before an 11 hour flight back to Melbourne.

I think Hawaii was an ideal place for my 40th birthday present to myself and Scott.  It is very affordable with cheap flights, food, drinks and clothes although accommodation was on the higher side.  I mostly loved the combination of Hawaiian/Polynesian warmth with an American positive attitude.  We experienced great customer service, felt very safe and enjoyed every moment in Hawaii, Mahalo (thank you)!

“We had a fabulous holiday and thanks Scott Perry for doing all the activities I want to tick off including being one of the men of the luau and lei making x PS see u soon chooks Aimee Perry and Jess Perry.”

Here’s a link to the photos.

Written by Wendy Perry, 1 November 2013.

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