Hawaii’s been on my short list to visit for a while, and my birthday was the perfect time to enjoy some fun in the sun! With an ideal combination of culture, food, and outdoor activities available, Oahu was the perfect place to enjoy some downtime.
Day 1 – Thursday
Queen Kapiolani Hotel
At first glance, this hotel was awesome. The front desk personnel were very friendly, the newly-renovated hotel was clean, modern and bright and the hotel seemed well set up, though a few of the amenities weren’t available during the renovation.
Not long after check-in though, I realized this place has no coffeemaker in the room (they removed them when they remodeled — can you believe that?!) , no microwave, ice and water machines only on certain floors (not the floor I was staying on), the tub drained extremely slow causing you to have to stand in a pool of dirty water while showering (gross!), and the traffic noise is noticeable at night on lower floors.
There are also no drawers to store clothes in — only open shelves. And the closet only has 5 hangers in it. The only good thing about this place was the view. The stay was tolerable, only because of the friendliness of the staff, but I most definitely wouldn’t stay here again at the prices they charge. I need my coffee maker in the room folks! I know it would be mediocre coffee, but with the amount I drink per day, I’d rather have an abundance of free “ok” coffee, than have to pay $4-$7 every time I want a cup.
This hotel would be fine for people who prize the Diamond Head / Ocean views, the fact that it’s newly renovated at the moment, and the proximity to the beach.
I thought it would be a good idea to find my bearings by walking around the Waikiki area of Honolulu since a lot of the activities I planned either were in the area or had a starting point at one of the nearby hotels.
Most noticeably along Kalakaua Avenue (the main street that follows the beach) were a variety of clothing shops and restaurants, sooo many ABC Stores, and tons of people! Being the off-peak season, I wasn’t expecting such crowds walking around early afternoon on a weekday, but there were quite a few people out and about.
Dinner at Duke’s
Duke’s came highly recommended and I was excited to check it out! This was my first meal stop after arriving in Waikiki, and I wanted it to be good because I was left very unsatisfied by the previous 10 hours of only airplane food.
I could tell this place was popular by the line of people waiting and lack of any available space at the bar. I opted for a table in the restaurant rather than stalking the bar for the first space to open up, and ended up waiting only about 15 minutes for a seat with a little bit of an ocean view.
I ended up ordering the Duke’s mai tai, which was an amazing way to start my first night off in Waikiki! It was fantastic to sip that drink while listening to the live music on the patio and waiting for my meal. I opted to add the salad bar since it was only $4 to add on to the meal, and it was surprisingly well-stocked! Not only with a variety of vegetable and pasta salads, but also desserts and bread too. If you go… get the salad bar! It could have been a meal in itself.
For my main dish, I ordered the seasonal sauteed mac nut and herb-crusted fish, which had a panko/parmesan crust, basmati rice on the side, and was topped with lemon caper butter. I’m not a fan of capers no matter how they’re incorporated into a dish, but despite that, I loved this dish. It came recommended by my server and was a stellar choice.
When I come back to the Waikiki area, I would definitely include Duke’s on the agenda again and maybe just brave the wait to check out the bar menu next time.
Kuhio Beach Hula Show
The free Kuhio Beach Hula Show was a nice way to end my first day on the island. The performers offered a lot of history of Hawaiian culture and put on a good performance. Unfortunately for me, the jet lag kicked in real hard by mid-evening and I missed the last fifteen minutes or so.
Being a free event, it was packed with people starting at least a half an hour beforehand. If I attended again, I’d park myself right in front of the stage a full hour before the show and just bring a picnic dinner to eat while waiting for it to start to get a better view.
Day 2 on the next page