Very short visit / Very long layover in Honolulu
September 8, 2007 7:50 PM   Subscribe

Suggestions and tips for an 11-hour layover in Honolulu (HNL), coming from Japan, heading to Portland?

Mr. Fascinated and I will be traveling home to Portland, Oregon from Osaka, Japan tomorrow. We land in Honolulu at 11AM; the HNL-PDX flight takes off at 10PM.

What is there to do in Honolulu considering our schedule? Our time in Japan has been grueling, so "relaxing" would be preferable over more sightseeing. I'd love to go to the beach, but which one? And how do we get there from the airport?

How can we avoid carrying our big suitcases with us? Will it be possible to re-check them immediately, so long before the flight out?

Anything else I should know?
posted by hyperfascinated to Travel & Transportation around Honolulu, HI (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The good news is that the Honolulu airport isn't a super long drive from the central part of town and there is decent transportation everyplace though the busses can be slow. If it were me, I'd get whatever transport was convenient to downtown Honolulu, grab some lunch and then head to Hanauma Bay ($5 to get in extra $5-10 to rent snorkel gear) which is a great beach, park and nature preserve. You can rent a snorkel and look at some amazing fish. Make sure you have sunscreen and something to wear into the water.

The 22 bus goes there but if you're not totally broke you can also take a cab or a shuttle. If you're just making a connecting flight, your checked bags should be checked all the way through, you'll just need to clear customs [I think?] and then recheck them.

If you don't want to get too off the beaten track, you can wander around Waikiki but the main drag is pretty touristy and busy, but it is near some awesome beaches. There are some weird little places though, like the Damien Museum and Archives which tells the story of the leper colony that was set up in Molokai and the priest who lived there.
posted by jessamyn at 8:07 PM on September 8, 2007

Best answer: There's probably not enough time for you to do anything of real substance, unless you rent a car or something, but the beach is definitely a feasible option.

I'm not sure about the whole baggage checkin protocol, but assuming you figure that part out, you can easily get on either the #19 or #20 bus (on "TheBus", Honolulu's city bus service), headed Eastbound. This bus will take you through Honolulu's business district, past Ala Moana, and finally Waikiki.

I would recommend that you get off at Ala Moana Beach Park, which is not as tourist-infested as the beaches in Waikiki, proper. It's also more convenient, as you can just walk across the street to Ala Moana Center to get something to eat or go shopping or whatnot. Ala Moana center also serves as a hub for pretty much every bus line on the island, so you can just take a shower at the beach, then walk right across the street and catch the bus back.

Be aware, however, that there are no baggage provisions on TheBus. So if your suitcases as as gigantic as you make them sound, there's a good chance that the driver will not let you on the bus if it's sufficiently crowded.
posted by melorama at 8:19 PM on September 8, 2007

Oh, nth'ing Jessamyn's Hanauma Bay's an incredible beach for firsttimers in Hawaii
posted by melorama at 8:22 PM on September 8, 2007

Hanauma Bay is worth a visit indeed, but it is PACKED with tourists- every inch of beach covered, kids running all over the place, long bathroom lines. It's exciting in that sense, but if you're really looking for a relaxing time (as mentioned) I'd go with Ala Moana Beach Park as someone else had mentioned.

Ala Moana is a shorter ride from the Airport (an hour max versus two hours), so you can spend the day relaxing at the beach and walking around Magic Island aweing at Diamond Head in the distance, then spend the evening after sunset lazily shopping at Ala Moana or Ward Shopping Centre, which also has a movie theatre.

If you're ok with a longer drive (about two hours) I'd totally recommend Lanikai Beach. I don't know how often the bus system runs there though, and as for after the sun sets there isn't much else in that area to pass time before heading to the airport.
posted by Jimmie at 10:01 PM on September 8, 2007

Good point Jimmie. I actually thought about that after I hit the post button. Hanauma Bay is wonderful if you're actually IN the water with snorkeling gear, but it leaves much to be desired in the relaxing, quiet, lazy, laying out on the sand department.

If hyperfascinated is looking for more of the latter, than yeah, I'd recommend Ala Moana as a first choice.

I was also thinking about Lanikai as well (I grew up in that area), as it easily trumps both Hanuama bay and Ala Moana as far as natural beauty, quiet and relaxation is concerned. But considering that hf is unfamiliar with the island, I would be hesitant to recommend a bus trip out there and back to the airport, because it requires multiple transfer points (the #57, #70 shuttle, then back to Honolulu again via the #56 or 57, then yet another transfer onto the #19 back to the airport. It's easy to get lost if you're on your own and don't plan the trip out well.
posted by melorama at 10:15 PM on September 8, 2007

Response by poster: Following up: We did what melorama suggested and took the bus to Ala Moana, where we ate at the food court and then crossed the street to swim in the ocean. Thanks so much, melorama- it was just what we had in mind: simple and relaxing.

For anyone wondering about re-checking luggage after going through customs during a long layover, they let us hand our suitcases right back over. It was no problem at all.
posted by hyperfascinated at 10:57 PM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

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