Oahu for a long weekend- what should we do?
October 12, 2015 5:53 PM   Subscribe

We are staying in Waikiki at the Hilton Hawaiian Village this weekend . Do we need to rent a car? What is awesome on Oahu? What should we do to maximize our 3-day trip?

We like walking, hiking, jogging, kayaking, snorkeling, walking around new places, drinking delicious things and eating interesting food (one of us eats fish but not any other kind of meat, if that helps). Where are the best places on Oahu those things? Any particularly great meals we shouldn't miss?

We haven't rented a car yet because parking is kind of expensive, we're only there for three days and we get a free ride to the hotel, but are willing to if it seems necessary. We are also willing to use the bus if it is not wildly inconvenient. Anyone have opinions on this?

Waikiki is likely way, way more touristy than what we would normally be interested in, and we are anxious we won't have much fun after loving the relative wildness of the Big Island and Kauai. We had a limited amount of time and wanted to bail out of 35 degrees and raining on a non-stop flight, though, so that's what we have. Help us make it awesome!
posted by charmedimsure to Travel & Transportation around O‘ahu, HI (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You know what, rent a car. Recent thread on Oahu.
posted by BibiRose at 6:16 PM on October 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh, good lord. I fail at search.
posted by charmedimsure at 6:19 PM on October 12, 2015

Car rentals are actually pretty reasonable on Oahu. We rented a Prius for about $30 a day (which was awesome for not paying an arm and a leg for very expensive Hawaii gasoline).

If you would like to do a luau, we loved the Paradise Bay one at Ko'Olani. Monkey Pod is also in the Ko'Olani complex and was fantastic.

Great snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, but go early. If you have the money to spend though, hands-down the coolest thing we did on our trip was a dolphin snorkel trip with Dolphin Excursions. They take you out on a raft boat and drop you near-ish to some wild spinner dolphins who come and suss you out, and swim with you. It was nice to have that experience without the yuckiness of the more aquarium-like experience where we heard the animals were not treated quite as well.

The North Shore is fun, better beaches and much less crowded than Waikiki. Great farmstands on the drive, and Giovanni's garlic shrimp truck, which was my fiance's favorite dining experience of the whole trip.
posted by honeybee413 at 7:17 PM on October 12, 2015

Yes, rent the car. The Hilton Hawaiian Village is huge, busy, noisy, and full of families and conventioneers much of the time. Definitely get off property and self-tour the rest of the island.

There's some self driving tours & many food recommendations in my response to the previous Oahu thread.

Please note: most people don't know that any swimming with Hawaiian spinner dolphins disrupts their natural daytime testing period and should be avoided.
posted by kathryn at 8:05 PM on October 12, 2015

Best answer: Go to chinatown and eat and eat and eat. That's what I did, and I've never regretted it. I bought a little jackknife that says "CLEVEREST SON'S WIFE" on it, with a picture of a woman wearing a kimono. I used it to cut up cherimoyas and other such wack fruit I'd never eaten before that was delicious. "CLEVEREST SON'S WIFE." You can get all over on the bus.
posted by Don Pepino at 8:34 PM on October 12, 2015

Best answer: Get up before the crack of dawn and hike up Diamond Head to see the sunrise. Then walk back down and have breakfast at Tucker and Bevvy.
posted by Joleta at 9:09 PM on October 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

You might try a hike. There is a network of trails in the mountains just "mauka" (as is said) of Waikiki, particularly in the area called "Tantalus." See here for more info. I'd stay away from Manoa Falls (too crowded), but Manoa Cliffs or Pu'u Ohia are good. Alternately (and what I would recommend) you can do a ridge hike. Memail me for more info if you like. Diamond Head is a nice hike, and a great view, but very very crowded (although I guess if you go early enough that wouldn't be a problem). In any event, I definitely recommend getting a car and getting out of Waikiki. There's lots of great stuff on Oahu, 99% of which is not in Waikiki, and while the bus isn't bad, it's going to be slow going.

As far as meals go, the brisket banh mi at this place is the best I've ever had.
posted by lex mercatoria at 10:10 PM on October 12, 2015

Best answer: In general, I think taking The Bus is actually really convenient for getting around -- get one of those multi-day passes or even just a day pass so you don't have to scrounge up $2.50 in exact change. I live in Honolulu and don't own a car and don't miss it. On the #2 bus from Waikiki, you can get to the Honolulu Academy of the Arts (the contemporary biennial Artists of Hawai‘i exhibit is up currently), Chinatown (aforementioned banh mi)/Downtown (Iolani Palace and Hawai‘i State Art Museum), and to the Bishop Museum (spend a half day at least here, they did a fantastic job with the renovations and the exhibits). On the #13 you can go up to University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Oh! Ho‘oulu Aina (a 99-acre land restoration project by the health nonprofit Kokua Kalihi Valley) should have its monthly community work day on this Saturday. It's way back at the far end of Kalihi Valley, so technically still Honolulu, but is a whole different vibe.

I would suggest you rent a car for one day to go up to the North Shore or Makapu‘u or anything not in urban Honolulu. Actually, a car to get to the back of Kalihi Valley is also recommended.

Honolulu Magazine has reliable food recommendations.
posted by spamandkimchi at 11:36 PM on October 12, 2015

One last thing, the annual Kava Fest is this Saturday at Univ. of Hawaii.
posted by spamandkimchi at 11:44 PM on October 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Re: getting around by bus. While you could get a 4-day pass, it's $35, which is $8.75 per day, which equates to 3 1/2 single rides per day. If you can manage that many rides per day, then go for the pass, but in my experience, I never rode it THAT much. Though it might be worth not carrying a crap-ton of quarters. Your call :)
posted by curagea at 11:47 AM on October 13, 2015

Response by poster: So! We had a really nice time despite pretty much just staying in Waikiki. Did not end up renting a car, just walked everywhere and took the public bus on occasion; this worked pretty well and the Google Maps timetables seemed to be right on. Below is what we ended up doing, if anyone cares.

Day 1- wandered around forever after getting dropped off at the hotel in the evening, ended up eating a good garlic shrimp dinner at the Blue Water Shrimp and Seafood bus on Kuhio.

Day 2- Jogged from the hotel along the beachfront around Diamond Head crater, ended at Tucker and Bevvy for breakfast, walked along the Ala Wai canal back to the hotel. Water time, then great noodles at Marukame Udon, more water time, drinks on the balcony for Hilton Hawaiian Village fireworks and Chiba Ken late-night happy hour sushi for dinner (also very good).

Day 3- took the bus out to Diamond Head at 6 AM, hiked up and down in time to get to the KCC farmers market at 7:30. Breakfast of fruit and other market stuff, walked home. Lunch at somewhere not memorable on the beach, some water and beach and a walk to Waiola Shave Ice for the softest shave ice I've ever had. Overpriced fancy dinner at Roy's.

Day 4- farmers market fruit and musubi for breakfast, bus out to Hanauma Bay for a really nice long snorkel (not tons and tons of fish, but a huge variety and really warm pleasant water). Bus as far back as Ono Seafood for a late (delicious) poke lunch, a stop at the other Waiola Shave Ice and then back to the hotel for clean up and shuttle to the hotel.

We'd probably rent a car if we were going back for more than a day or two, but all and all we really enjoyed ourselves despite only seeing a tiny corner of the island.
posted by charmedimsure at 1:11 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

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