First-Timer Hawaii Honolulu Vacation Review - Part 2 What to Do

Beautiful Life
When I arrived at the Hilton Grand Vacation Suite at Honolulu, I felt a little disappointment.  My picture of Hawaii (from many movies) is similar to a paradise.  Maybe Hawaii has changed?  The downtown Honolulu looks just like another popular tourist place, Santa Monica Beach, Los Angeles Huntington Beach, except that there are many Japanese tourists.  I felt like I was in mini-Tokyo.  I soon agreed that Hawaii beach is beautiful and surreal to me, a first-time Hawaii beach visitor.

Hanauma Bay

Beautiful beaches with coral (I don't know any in California)
Restaurants with excellent food
People with smiles, perfect for family, kids and friends outing and exercise everyday
Hawaii pineapples are addictive
Hawaii papaya are even more addictive
Hawaii beaches are our best memories

If you are new to Oahu island and plan to be your own tour guide, our itinerary may be a helpful reference for you.

1. Snorkeling at Lanika Beach and Hanauma Bay

iPhone 5 zoomed-in
Lanika Beach
 We bought our own snorkel and masks from  Walmart and planned to snorkel several times to  search for turtles.  First turtle encounter was at  Hanauma Bay.  There were plenty of small  fishes near the shore.  To meet turtles, we had to  swim farther out.  We saw only one, but that  was a good start.  Hanauma Bay is famous and  popular, and probably over-crowded with  tourists.   The Bay is great for kids and elders  because it is safe and has lifeguard.  Lanika  Beach is only another 30 minutes drive from  Hanauma Bay, and much less crowded.  We  snorkeled at Lanika Beach for two afternoons.  On the last day, after searching for about an hour, we found an even larger green turtle at about 10-feet deep at Lanika Beach.  Our iPhone 5 was safely protected by a water-proof pouch.  For underwater photography and video recording, the quality is acceptable for $20 budget.  The iPhone 5 button did not work well noticeably when water was warm.  I think because phone screen is a touch panel sensing human body heat.  The screen sensor did not function well when used underwater. Trick: touch on the iPhone record "button" before going underwater for video recording mode.  We may also start looking around for affordable underwater camera, as we would like to have more snorkeling in the future.

2. Hiking at Diamond Head Summit Trail

Between Waikiki Beach and Hanauma Bay, there is Diamond Head Summit Trail.  Round-trip trail is 1.6 miles ~ 2 hours of hiking.  At the top, we had a good view of the south-west side of Oahu island.  Honolulu has too much good food; we decided to exercise to balance this extra intake of food.

3. Saturday Farmer's Market at Kapiolani Community College (KCC)
Food in Hawaii is expensive.  Items in Safeway tended to be at least 10% higher price than same items in California.  Initially I felt a little strange to visit Farmer's Market during vacation time.  With strong recommendation from our hotel concierge, we visited KCC on our only Saturday morning in Honolulu.  KCC is like food fiesta with exotic and inexpensive food.  Bring plenty of cash (+$100) and go there hungry.  We easily spent 2 hours there walking and eating.  I spent only $6 for two freshly cooked abalones. (farm-raised).  Sushi, pineapples, papaya, BBQ, corn, local-grown fruits, use your imagination.

4. Tours

There are plenty of tour activities in Honolulu.  We picked two tours - Dole Pineapple Plantation and Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC).  At Dole Pineapple Plantation, I was more fascinated with the wild hen protecting eight chicks under light rain in the parking lot.  I did not see any wild dog or cat around, but several roosters were present nearby.  I asked my colleague who is from Honolulu.  He said Hawaii pineapple is not commercialized anymore.  The shipping cost is more expensive than the pineapple itself.  Therefore they are only available at Hawaii.  No wonder I still do not see them in Safeway in California.  Friends would say, if you go to Hawaii, you must check out Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC).  Its admission ticket is $40 per person + $8 for daily parking.  Luckily Budget car rental booklet has a $40 voucher for PCC visit, so we saved $40.  (Our friend decided to stay at hotel to rest after three days of snorkeling.) In PCC, make sure you watch the free Hawaii big-screen movie.  The movie shows how beautiful Hawaii islands are.  

5. Dining

I like to write a post just about dining, because, beside snorkeling, I would give big thumb up to our affordable dining experience.


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