|Hawaii... has to be one of the top spots for any one wanting to 'get away from it all' on a totally relaxing holiday. It offers so much more than many other Pacific Island destinations. You are made to feel at home with the "Aloha" spirit by the hospitable local Hawaiians and it is like being on a really good East Coast, NZ beach in high summer. You are in a very familiar Polynesian place but also in America on islands which are a main trade route to Asia. From the minute you step off the plane and inhale the fragrant tropical air you know you are in paradise.
Think glorious sun, some of the best warm water surfing and swimming beaches in the world and for wannabe shopaholics on a budget enough shops and shopping centres to rival Singapore, New York or Montecarlo.
You can laze under a palm tree all day reading, swim in the turquoise sea, snorkle over tropical reefs or shop til you drop seven days a week. After three holidays in Hawaii in five years I have to confess our family is addicted to this particular tropical playground. It is in a safe country, offers everything we could want in an all round family holiday and so much more. We still have not fully explored Oahu let alone all the other islands in the group and we keep returning for more.
Blissfully, if you are travelling with young children, for all practical purposes is effectively in the same time zone as us. (There is a 23 hour difference as you cross the International Date Line enroute.) Your children don't pop up wide wake and in your face at 3am. Their body clocks remain on time. Our children often marvel at flying up to Hawaii on a Saturday (with Air New Zealand) and arriving in Honolulu the night before - on a Friday. Needless to say they get to have another Saturday. The overnight flight home is a bit of a chore but bearable - especially if you live in Auckland or have a short connecting flight home.
While Hawaii used to be thought of as only the exclusive playground of Americans, honeymooners and the rich and famous, and well beyond many Kiwi's budgets, times have definitely changed. If it is good enough for our Prime Minister and his family then why not the rest of us? Our PM was a a highly successful international investment banker and knows a good value post 2010 holiday destination when he sees one. The now much higher Kiwi dollar against its US equivalent and the relatively cheap accommodation costs make Hawaii, and particularly Waikiki, increasingly inviting - even compared with holidays just over 'The Ditch' in Australia.
Appreciating the growing market from Downunder, this year, Hawaiian Airlines has followed Air New Zealand's lead to provide regular direct flights - several times a week. Honolulu - which has a population of just under 1 million, is only 7072.26km or a relatively comfortable 8 and a half hour direct flight north from Auckland.Check both airlines prices before you commit to a carrier as often the connecting internal flights in New Zealand will determine who you fly with.
Cheap deals via Sydney and Melbourne to Honolulu are also available with some Australian carriers such as Qantas and Jetstar if you want to crunch the numbers. It is It is 8,169 km roughly a 10 hour flight up and 11 back from Sydney. In turn if you are an international traveller inbound to New Zealand from North America, Great Britian or Europe - visit Hawaii on route. Even Alaska Airlines flies there.
Anytime of the year is a good time to visit Hawaii weatherwise. Summer, is between April and November, is warmer and drier (average temperature is 23dC-31dC) while winter, between December and March, is slightly cooler (20dC-27dC). Trade winds keep things comfortable year-round. The good news for us Kiwis is both our April and October school holidays are an ideal time to visit falling either side of the main US holiday season. Year round occupancy rates are well down on Hawaii's heyday making things very laid back and restful. Everything is also on island time and there is little or anything to stress out about. While the state capitol, Honolulu regularly appears to have showers according to our national daily newspapers these showers are often welcome relief to the heat of the day, cooling everything down in a refreshing way. If you are travelling to Hawaii with young children especially for the first time we highly recommend that you get someone else to drive you to your hotel or apartment. Take a shuttle or taxi. Driving around on the wrong side of the road trying to navigate around in another hemisphere late at night can be very deceiving and frustrating - unless you have an in car navigation system.
Alternatively, if you are prepared to rent a car, there are better pricing deals at the airport rental locations and you can catch a free shuttle from the airport with your luggage to the rental car locations and drive to your hotel (make sure you organise parking at your hotel before you travel).
While costs on the Hawaiian Islands might be more than the US Mainland they only have a five per cent local sales tax making your daily expenses only slightly more expensive than actually being at home. Is is a welcome relief after our 15% GST rate. (Tip: The Hawaiian sales tax is often not quoted on the price of an item - unlike being included as it is in New Zealand! If you visit some stores and show a passport they may even waive the sales tax. )
Finding accommodations is easy especially with the advent of the Internet. Aside from the well known hotel chains, luxury resorts, and charming vacation rentals, there is a virtually inexhaustible range of holiday apartments to choose from. Many of these are privately owned, fully furnished and have access to swimming pools and other amenities. They often even come with beach towels, buckets, spades and boogie boards!
It is astonishing what good deals you can find renting a hotel or apartment a block or two from Waikiki Beach. Also, you can lease on a weekly basis and get a lower rate. We have even found them cheaper than a three star motel in Hamilton and the prices have remained relatively stable in recent years. (Tip: If you want to cook for a young family in an attempt to reduce costs make sure you get a full kitchen and not just tea and coffee making facilities.
Most Waikiki hotels are high rises but are within easy walking distance of a supermarket and, if you don't chose to hire a rental car, the local commuter buses are regular and convenient. We even took one right across Honolulu from Waikiki to the Aloha Stadium.
If you want to fully explore any of the islands, especially Oahu, we recommend hiring a rental car and driving. There is only one main freeway (ironically called an Interstate on a island. An interstate to where?) and the whole island is only 30 minutes drive across and 90 minutes to drive around.
Getting your smart or cell phone connected is always useful, to keep in touch with your travel companions, texting, or emails with those at home and for using the internet. 'Sim' card deals are available and there are even better deals on internet surfing at affordable pricing. You can get a great package from 'Hoku Wireless' located at 2255 Kuhio Ave #109 in the ground floor shop or contact them on the net at http://www.hokuwireless.com .
While we have grown up thinking Waikiki is one of the world's best surfing beaches it is actually more of a swimming beach from a Kiwi perspective. The real big surf beaches - the legendary Pipeline and Sunset are up on the North Shore. In winter the waves are huge but the rest of the year it feels like a 'surf's up' in Whangamata NZ - especially when you are walking around the historic town of Haleiwa. Big surf does run on Waikiki in the right conditions but it is primarily for paddle boards, long boarders and swimmers. A lovely safe swimming spot for anyone with young children is nearby Kuhio Beach which with its protective concrete seawalls. This is just past the Duke Kahanamoku Statue heading towards Honolulu Zoo.
The restaurants around Waikiki are a delight. Some have a tropical ambience , others take the characteristics of the cultural cuisine offered and if you would like that famous down home American hospitality you can experience this also.
Examples of the tropical ambience include Dukes - with its open air ground level vistas of Waikiki's central beaches, palm frond umbrellas, teak furniture fittings and cladding and surfing memorablia, under the sway of comical Hawaiian palm trees where you can revel in a breakfast buffet that includes tropical fruit, toasted muesli, ready made eggs benedict! , scrambled eggs, english muffin toast, pancakes and to cap it off ....an omelet custom cooked by two attendant chefs at a six hob stove taking your order and cooking it under 3 minutes before your eyes while you wait...! Oh...and the service at your table includes that ever popular attendance to your 'downhome' endless refill of your American filter coffee...sensational ! Dukes is located in the Waikiki Outrigger on the Beach hotel entry from the Street on Kalakaua Street, Waikiki, or from the beach next to the large pink hotel the famous 'Royal Hawaiian Hotel'.
For Dinner you may wish to try a cultural cuisine....'Keonis' is one example serving delicious Thai food also with open air seating and attractive palms and bronze sculptures. Try the Massaman curry or the Mahi Mahi fish curry....superb! Keoni's are located close to the corner entering on Kaiulani Ave just off Kuhio Ave, Waikiki.
The Shorebird restaurant is at the Waikiki Outrigger Reef Hotel, on the ground floor facing the beach and is another great experience where you can cook your own steak or local fish on a large grill with other patrons...surprisingly easy (there's even a supportive attendant chef on the spot to give assistance if you require) and the restaurant provides a well stocked buffet to garnish your plate.
If you are in a mood for some down home American surroundings there is the ever popular Denny's chain, with a variety of classic menu items. They have a restaurant on Kuhio Street in the Mirimar Hotel building and a restaurant on Lewers Street.
For special fine jewelry or crystal gifts for your loved one visit LC Creations. They have beautiful displays in the Waikiki Shopping Plaza building at 2250 Kalakaua Ave, Waikiki and can provide you with a choice that will be loved and remembered.
Waikiki also has a variety of attractive gift shops and convenience shops such as the abc chain in addition to world renound top designer shops, clothes shops and restaurants. The International Marketplace is a must. We recommend shopping on Kalakaua Avenue, Kuhio or an all day visit to the Ala Moana Center in and around Waikiki, Honolulu.
The famous Ala Moana Center is a must for shopping. Filled with 290 shops at all levels of the shopping spectrum located in a modern lavish triple level mall building with an open air setting it has shops for your family, spouse, a leading edge foodcourt, ambient upper level cafes, and the full strata of amenities including information kiosks, post office, department stores, child entertainment arcade and regular trolley car,bus and taxi stops to get you to and from your hotel at Waikiki. There is 'pink line' trolley car service that runs between Waikiki and the Center 7 days a week every ten minutes for $2 each way.
Keen bargain hunters might also want to set aside and book a bus to the Waikele Factory Outlet Center. It is well worth a trip across the city if you strike a public holiday weekend or a 75% off sale in these global brand stores. Visiting Dressmart in Onehunga NZ will never be the same!
Before you arrive in Hawaii do your homework and work out what you want to see and do. Reserve a few days to just relax on the beach, another couple for shopping and then keep adding more days. We would recommend at least 10 days to a fortnight per visit. Aside from Waikiki, Honolulu and the North Shore we would recommend driving through the legandary Pali tunnel to the windward northeast part of the island to explore Lanikai and Kailua - for the warm turquoise sea alone and the spectacular mountainous backdrop right out of a Jurassic scene. The drive up around Kaneohe Bay is breath-taking. A day at Hanauma Bay, a long time marine reserve with excellent snorkling is a must as is a drive out to the land of pineapples and home of Dole Plantation. There is Pearl Harbour to visit, Diamond Head to climb,a dinner cruise and show, even a world class magic show and even a submarine!
Atlantis adventures offers a once-in-a- lifetime experience. Where else would you get the chance to travel in a submarine and experience the wonder of sea life and sunken treasures around the beautiful underwater vistas on the coast of Waikiki beach? Come experience all this and a guided tour in state-of-the-art modern submarines.
The Magic of Polynesia is an award winning, polished show, featuring leading illusionist John Hirokawa. The show is filled with astonishing magical acts smoothly choreographed with Hawaiian culture and wonderful stage sets of volcanoes and dancing with a truly magical ambience. At the show you are served by the attentive dinner staff with your choice of 3 options 'Dinner show', 'Deluxe dinner show' or 'Show only'. The show is located in the Holiday Inn Waikiki Beachcomber Hotel at 2300 Kalakaua Ave. We have seen this show three times and highly recommend it.
There are a few dinner cruise and shows available and the Ali'i Kai cruise is a treat! Ride an enormous catamaran,along Waikiki and enjoy the delicious buffet and welcoming atmospehere. Later, enjoy a show of traditional hula and dance from different islands around the Pacific - fun for the whole family! Tip: See if they still have the collectible polished coconut cup with swing lid and the cruise logo on it, available at the bar on board and you can order a soft drink in it and have a special gift to remember your cruise by!
We also loved our time at the Waikiki Aquarium which was breath-takingly beautiful and educational. The list of things you can do is endless.Everywhere you get the feeling that you have just stepped onto the set of of some TV show and, guess what, you have! Occasionally you might even catch a glimpse of a red Ferrari.
One more really startling thing about Oahu that we discovered is there are no, I mean no, seagulls to bother you on the beach. Aside from a few dusty pidgeons and little quaint turtle doves, there were no flying beasties in evidence. No flies, no sandflies and no coach roaches. There was not even any danger of falling coconuts (How do they they manage all that?) Apparently seagulls have never made it to Hawaii? Aloha Hawaii..., here come your Pacific whanau (families) from Downunder.
|Copyright nztrip4u Limited, 2000 - 2013.|
|Been 3 times and really love it..2014? --Napier,NZ|
|Copyright nztrip4u Limited, 2000, 2001, 2002 - 2013|
|Fly from New Zealand to Hawaii via Auckland International with either Air New Zealand and now also Hawaiian Airlines.Cheap deals via Sydney and Melbourne to Honolulu are also available with some Australian carriers such as Qantas and Jetstar. If you are inbound travellers to NZ from North America, UK or Europe, fly to Hawaii on route. Even Alaska airlines flies there.|
|Copyright nztrip4u Limited, 2000, 2001, 2002 - 2013|