First-Timer Hawaii Honolulu Vacation Review - Part 1 What to Prepare

Beautiful Life

We returned from Hawaii Honolulu vacation to California on May 28, 2014.  It is our first-time Hawaii vacation.  We understand why people love Hawaii vacation now.  I don't think my readers would care about what we did exactly everyday.  So I have organized my sharing into a format hopefully more valuable to you.  If you are a Hawaii Oahu vacation veteran, feel free to skip my posts about Hawaii Honolulu vacation review.

A little cloudy at Lanikai Beach, we still had a great time

We were first-timers to Honolulu

Fifteen months after we made this reservation at Las Vegas, we wanted this 8-days-7-nights vacation to be ultra-fun.  We googled and talked to several friends who are familiar with Hawaii.  In contrast to the past preparations, we made up the itinerary plan only the night we arrived at Honolulu, trying to be free as much as we can.

Where to Stay in Honolulu, Oahu

Staying at Hawaii is known not to be cheap.  There are numerous hotels in Honolulu.  I will conduct researches about lounging options at Hawaii, as we plan to go to Maui next.  This time, we stayed at Hilton Grand Vacation at Lagoon Tower near Waikiki Beach with Isa's best friend.

Cheap Flight Tickets to Hawaii

If you can be satisfied with coach-class, companion ticket from Alaska Airlines credit card helps.  Redeeming flight tickets using miles is available, but I would likely not do it next time.  Alaska Airlines companion ticket is valid for anywhere in US including Hawaii with a flat fee of $99 plus tax.  For example, round-trip coach fare via Alaska Airlines to Honolulu from California can be $600 per person.  For two persons flying, two tickets will be about $750 including tax, or $385 per person.  If the number of people in the party going together is an odd number, then the "extra" person may want to invite another person to join to share the flight ticket cost.

What to Bring
  • Hawaii Entertainment Book. I learned about this only a couple days before we departed, too late to order one on-line.  It contains one free ticket to Polynesian Cultural Center.
  • Cash. (food are delicious, and we have encountered many restaurants and particularly farmers market accept cash only. Suggestion: USD $150 per person for 7 days)
  • Water-proof pouch (two would be useful), available from  Doubting its usefulness, I bought only one $20 iPhone water-proof pouch at the ubiquitous ABC store at Honolulu.  I just ordered one from Amazon at $10.71 after $5 discount for next snorkeling trip.
  • Isa brought her new approved Chase Sapphire Preferred card to be used for this vacation, helping to fulfill $3000 spending requirement in 3 months.  We spent about $1200 during the 8-days to cover (lots of) food, snorkeling equipment, car-rental, car parking fee, gasoline, souvenirs and a few entry fees.
  • Snorkeling set.  We planned to snorkel several times near beach, not for deep-diving, so bought three snorkeling sets, $20 each, from Walmart store in Honolulu, instead of rental.  We snorkeled once at Hanauma Bay and twice at Lanikai Beach.
  • Sun-lotion.  Use it.  With a wrong assumption, I forgot to put sun-lotion on my back during my novice snorkeling

Should we rent a car while in Honolulu?

Car parking is known to be expensive in Honolulu.  The real question would be: do you plan to stay inside Honolulu most of the time.  More than 70% of places which we planned to visit are outside of Honolulu, so we decided to rent a sedan.
  • Probably because car parking is known to be expensive, car rental price via is reasonable.  Following the same line of thoughts, a couple days before our departure time revealed a $175 for 8-days-7-nights car rental.  Overnight daily parking rate at Hilton Grand Vacation is $25.
  • Budget booklet has various coupons, with one being free ticket to Polynesian Cultural Center worth $40!  We used it.  What if you have two Budget bookets?  Budget only gives one one booklet per car rental.
  • Do not need to pay for extra auto insurance, because most credit cards used for car rental have rental car insurance coverage.

Next Post: our encounters with green turtle under the sea.

Photo taken with iPhone 5 inside the water-proof pouch

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