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March 12, 2009 5:35 PM   Subscribe

Hawaii (Waikiki/Honululu) redux: Some questions we haven't answered.

So, I get to go to Hawaii for work in May. Yay! Mr. Cestmoi will be with me, for fun. Here are some questions that I haven't seen answered on MeFi before.

We'll be there mid-May. We're staying at the Hilton Hawaiian Village (Waikiki). We have two full days off together, then I'll be working about 9-4 for the next 5 days.

1. We want to take a surf lesson together, neither of us have ever surfed before. I think doing this on one of the two days we're both off is a good idea. Should I make life easy and go with the surf school at the hotel, or would this be a good time to go check out another beach? Any recs on surf schools?

2. The hotel room has a kitchen. Any grocery stores (other than ABC) near there? I've heard groceries are super expensive there and would like to minimize that... we won't have a car but are not afraid of taking the bus. Also, I assume groceries in Hawaii sell beer and wine... if not, a reasonably placed place to go?

3. Snorkeling schools/lessons you'd rec? I'm terrified, but think I should try, he'll go too, but loves it. So basically, should be ok with a scared newbie but not bore someone with someone with more experience. Preferably not deeper than 6ft of water.

4. Mr. Cestmoi is a scuba dude (has scuba'd in the past, is certified, but hasn't had a chance to go in a while. He's doing this on his own. Any recs I should pass to him? I assume he has to sign up with something, not just rent the gear he doesn't have?

5. TIKI BAR!!! As old school as possible. Love dives.

6. Sunset booze cruise: I get sea sick and can't/won't do a dinner cruise, but I think a shorter booze cruise would be ok (sounds like an awesome way to see a sunset), any good for those in their mid-30s? The interwebs tell me they get a bit fratty and I'd like to avoid that.

Also, I've traveled with him while he's been on work assignments before (and I've travelled by myself, he hasn't), and am quite apt at amusing myself, but he's never travelled with me when I'm unavailable to him for large chunks of the day. I'm sure he'll be fine and all, but any advice you have if you've ever been in that situation before would be great!
posted by cestmoi15 to Travel & Transportation around Hawaii (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: For #5, I recommend La Mariana on Sand Island Road. Very old-school, and away from the Waikiki tourist scene. Too far to walk, but not very far by taxi. They've had some kind of issue with their liquor license recently, so when you walk in the door you need to fill out a "membership form", which you hand to the bartender, then you're good.

As for a surfing lesson, I think you should consider renting a car for the day, driving to the North Shore and having a lesson up there. It will be much less crowded. Set up your surf lesson beforehand -- your surf instructor will bring boards and meet you right at the beach. You can get your snorkel fix up there too.

Have fun!
posted by ldenneau at 6:04 PM on March 12, 2009

Best answer: I'd recommend just going with one of the many schools on the beach, they'll be quite a bit cheaper, and considering you're both beginners, any teacher will be skilled enough to help you out. They're pretty much all extremely friendly, as well they should be since their job is to hang out on the beach and surf.

The Food Pantry has several locations on Waikiki, and if I recall your Hotel correctly, has one location just about 100 yards from where you are. It's quite expensive, even compared to other Hawaii grocery stores. Safeway has a couple locations 2-3 miles away, not sure about bus access but in general the bus system there is excellent.

For snorkeling, you'll almost definitely be going to Hanauma bay, either on your own or in a package tour. Snorkeling only takes a few minutes to learn, and Hanauma bay is a good place to do it, light waves and large areas with less than 6 feet of water to swim in. All the companies are pretty much the same, they'll pick you up, take you there and bring you back, and give your a primer on how to use the equipment.

If your husband gets bored during the day and doesn't want to hang out at the beach, I'd strongly recommend renting a car for a day or two and going for a drive around the island to see the mountains, Pali lookout and Manoa falls (a 30-40 minute hike). I think there are tours that can take you to these also.
posted by bluejayk at 6:09 PM on March 12, 2009

Best answer: Surf lessons: Can't comment on the surf school @ the HHV, but in general Waikiki is a good area for beginners -- your actual lesson experience isn't likely to be significantly better on some other beach. That said, if you were planning to go up to the North Shore, there are all kinds of schools in Haleiwa, and it would be one more thing you could do up there.

Some others might be closer "as the crow flies", but if you're going to be taking the bus the most convenient "real" grocery store would probably be the Foodland @ Ala Moana mall.

Instead of formal snorkelling lessons, I'd encourage you guys to consider just renting the gear and getting out there. Hanauma Bay is the classic recommendation, and even though the coral is pretty beat up, if you're a beginner there's still a lot to see, it's easy to stay very safe (you have be pretty purposeful to go out where the water gets any deeper than a few feet or where there might be some current), and the bus runs out there. Another option is to look into snorkeling cruises; if you explain your comfort limits, they should be able to help you find a fit.

SCUBA -- if you guys had a car he could just go rent gear and shore dive, but otherwise signing up with an outfit that runs boat dives is going to be the way to go. Check out Aaron's; they (and most other places) will include pickup and drop off at your Waikiki hotel, as well as provide whatever rental gear you need.

If you're worried about sea-sickness, consider getting the patch, then you can do whatever kind of cruise you like.

Mefi-mail me if you want more..
posted by kanuck at 6:22 PM on March 12, 2009

Best answer: 1. I recommend Hawaiian Fire It's a very well run surf school, staffed by members of the Honolulu fire department for that extra touch of safety they will pick you up form our hotel and drive you up to a secluded beach for your lesson, one of the the most dangerous part about learning to surf is the other beginners board, and waikiki beaches beginner breaks are crowded.

2. There is a supermarket down Hobron road from the Hilton Hawaiian Village, just cross Ala Moana Blvd (The big one) and follow Hobron around the bend.

3. go to Hanauma bay (new window) and rent snorkels and decide how far out you want to go. it's protected by a reef

4. Not a diver, sorry but they are plenty of dive shops around.

5. La Mariana on Sand Island Road. it's the only one really.

6. I think the Star of Honolulu has a sunset cruise but I haven't been on it in a long, long while. there are also catamarans that are on Waikiki beach who do a 60 minute cruise just at sunset, and they normally only hold about 20 people.

He can hang out with the penguins on the hotel grounds for entertainment.
posted by kanemano at 6:58 PM on March 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: As for your #2:

Yes, grocery stores in Hawai'i do sell beer and wine, so you'll have no problem there. I'll second the recommendations of Food Pantry and the Ala Moana Center Foodland, which were mentioned above, but prices there will still be slightly higher than they will outside of Waikiki proper.

Hawai'i is expensive, period, at least relative to the mainland USA. Your best bet to minimize grocery costs is to do your shopping outside of Waikiki. Times Supermarket on Beretania Street is one option. You could also get to Safeway without too much trouble via bus. If I'm not mistaken, the closest one to Waikiki is the 64,000 sq. ft. store that opened in 2007, located on Kapahulu Avenue.

Also, Longs Drugs at Ala Moana Center often has good sale prices on grocery items - pick up their sale flyer from the Sunday Advertiser/Star-Bulletin.

Have fun!
posted by velvet winter at 8:08 PM on March 12, 2009

Best answer: Walk up to Kalakaua and get on the bus #2. Depart the bus at Pau St. and walk west to Kaheka St. There is a supermarket there called Don Quijote. Its got the cheapest groceries in town.
posted by osloheart at 3:59 AM on March 13, 2009

Best answer: My wife went to Hawaii for work in January and brought my along! :)

I did a surf lesson through the hotel w/ the "Hot Spots Surf School" and they were great.

I also set up a Scuba lesson through the hotel and the vendor was Ocean Concepts, and they were totally great.

If you want a restaurant recommendation, we really enjoyed Ramen Nakamura‎, which is a pretty short walk from the hotel. If you like okonomiki, go to Okonomiyaki Chibo.

Breakfast at the other Hilton, the Hilton Waikiki Prince Kuhio in it's restaurant MAC 24/7 was really good. For a cheaper dining experience, go to the diner at the corner of Kalia and Ala Moana (Wailana Coffee House‎).

When we were in Hawaii a few years ago, we snorkled at Hanauma Bay and found it fairly underwhelming. It was October though, so perhaps it was a seasonal thing. You can take the bus there if you don't want to rent a car.

The restaurants in the hotel (that we went to) aren't that great. The sushi place is totally mediocre.

Have fun!
posted by reddot at 7:01 AM on March 13, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks, all! So far this is awesome. I can't wait to try La Mariana on Sand Island Road and the whole supermarket discussion is way helpful.

Keep 'em coming!

For the record: I'm veg and Mr. Cestmoi is meat and potatoes, so sadly the whole seafood aspect of Hawaii is lost on us.
posted by cestmoi15 at 10:36 AM on March 13, 2009

Response by poster: I hate to be that askmefi user, but these were all really useful. Thanks all. I'm not adding the resolved tag, as I think there could still be more input.
posted by cestmoi15 at 8:41 PM on March 26, 2009

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