I'm just back from an exciting and fun filled nine days on O'ahu. I've got lots of exciting news to share with you about the places I stayed and things I did.
In future features I'll report in detail on all of the places I stayed and activities I experienced, but for now I'll summarize some of the highlights of my trip.
Outrigger Reef on the BeachThe Outrigger Reef on the Beach has done a fantastic job in renovating the property. The new lobby is exquisite. I love the Herb Kane paintings over the front desk. All of the rooms in the Ocean Tower have been renovated by taking three previous rooms and making two. This means that even the standard rooms are very large with all new furnishings, fixtures and flat screen TV's.
The two restaurants at the Outrigger Reef on the Beach are both excellent. The Ocean House Restaurant is the resort's fine dining restaurant with fantastic Pacific Rim cuisine and great views. The prices are surprisingly reasonable also. The Shore Bird Restaurant & Beach Bar quickly became a favorite. Their $13 breakfast buffet can't be topped and I love the "grill you own entree" dinner feature. It really keeps the cost down and it's great fun as well.
Best Western Coconut Waikiki Hotel and The Wyland WaikikiI also stayed at the Best Western Plus Coconut Waikiki Hotel (an Aqua Hotels and Resorts property) and The Wyland Waikiki (since renamed the Courtyard Waikiki Beach). I was impressed by both. Both hotels have undergone extensive renovation and both are offering very affordable rates for the fall and winter.
Aloha FestivalsIf you've never attended the annual Aloha Festivals Parade you've really missed a treat. It's two hours of female and male pa'u riders, extravagant floats with cascades of Hawaiian flowers, hula halau and marching bands. It's a photographer's delight and I'll be posting lots of photos in the upcoming weeks.
Pearl HarborI spent a full day at Pearl Harbor visiting the USS Arizona Memorial, the Battleship Missouri Memorial and the USS Bowfin.
Both the USS Arizona Memorial and USS Bowfin now offer audio tours which are well worth the price. The Battleship Missouri offers several types of guided tours and I highly recommend that you take one.
I'm really looking forward to the new USS Arizona Memorial Visitors Center which should start construction soon. Security in the parking lots is much better than my last visit. They now have security guards on bicycles patrolling the lot.
Kos HUMMER Movie/Lost Adventure TourI went on several great tours while I was on O'ahu. The 5-hour Kos HUMMER Movie/Lost Adventure Tour was easily my favorite day I've ever spent on O'ahu. It's a must for fans of the ABC series LOST and great for others who want to visit many of the places where other TV shows and motion pictures have been filmed on O'ahu.
We were really lucky on our tour since LOST was filming at Kualoa Ranch and we saw several sets for the upcoming season and even had sightings of the actors who play Sawyer and Locke.
Hina AdventuresHina Adventures is owned and operated by two young women who do a really fine job in offering cultural and historical tours on O'ahu. I went on their Storytelling, Legends & Sacred Sites of Windward Oahu and their Star-gazing, Star Legends & Secrets of the Polynesian Navigators tours.
The knowledge of the two owners of Hawaiian culture, mythology and history is unsurpassed. Their tours aren't for the casual traveler but a definite must for anyone interested in the culture and ecology of O'ahu.
Honolulu SoaringI also took a half-hour glider ride from Dillingham Airfield on O'ahu's North Shore with Honolulu Soaring - The Original Glider Riders. The weather wasn't great because of heavy vog from the Big Island's Kilauea volcano so photos were difficult, but the experience of soaring through the air and only hearing the sound of the wind made the trip well worthwhile. I can't wait to do it again on a clear day.
Oahu Ghost ToursI really enjoyed the evening I spent in the historic area of Honolulu with Oahu Ghost Tours. While I didn't spot any ghosts or orbs while wandering the city at night, it was fun hearing about all the ghosts that still are said to haunt some of the most historic sites. The downtown area is beautiful at night and that alone made the tour worthwhile.
Waikiki Lu'au on the LagoonI also got to experience the new Waikiki Lu'au on the Lagoon at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. The location is perfect and the after-dinner show was one of the best I've seen anywhere in Hawaii. It's the only lu'au currently operating in Waikiki. All of the others require a bus or car trip to other spots on the island.
Polynesian Cultural CenterFinally, I spent a whole day the Polynesian Cultural Center in La'ie. It was my fourth visit to the PCC, but I enjoyed it as much and even more than ever before. The cultural presentations are always fantastic, the staff warm and friendly and the Canoe Pageant one of O'ahu's must-sees.
Their Ali'i Luau was much better than I remember from a prior visit. The food was excellent and the show was equally good. They include a lot of keiki (children) in the luau show which makes it a great family experience. The evening show Horizons remains one of the top shows of its type in the islands. They're transitioning to a new show next year and already include several elements of the new show intermixed with the existing show.
My ThanksI tend to cram my schedule really full when I'm in Hawaii so that I can bring you the most up-to-date information on what's hot. I couldn't do it without the help of my many friends and business associates in the islands. My thanks for making this trip so much fun go to Amy, Cynthia, Dan, Dara, Joanna, MaryLou, Nancy, Rachel, Rebecca, Sandi, Sonja and, of course, Erica, who's no longer in the travel industry, but with whom I spent a great couple of hours in the park over lunch with her two keiki.
Look forward to detailed features on reviews on all of the things I've mentioned here over the upcoming weeks and months.