Waikiki Travel Guide

After Sydney’s endless summer, autumn has finally decided to show up. Except it’s more like winter because it is freeeeeezing. (It doesn’t help that our house doesn’t have heating yet either.) Last week, in the midst of a cold day, Jetstar released their annual birthday sale. For the past couple of years, we have always tried to book these birthday sale flights and organise subsequent holidays but it never eventuates because the flights sell out so quickly. Not this year though. I was stalking that website like the eagle stalks Kevin the dog in The Proposal and it finally paid off. I texted one of my besties, Holly, to see if she wanted to go to Hawaii in November and because she finishes her Bachelor degree in October, she agreed to go! Mahalo Jetstar for the return flight to Honolulu for $440 (I’d definitely recommend checking to see if they have any birthday sale fares left)! After booking our flights, I was searching accommodation options online when it dawned on me that I never ended up writing about my last trip to Honolulu. Better late than never, right?

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Stay

We stayed at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort, and we could not have been happier with this option. There are a number of reasons why we chose this resort, including its central location to everything that is on offer in Waikiki (mainly the shops and the Honolulu Cookie Company!), the beachfront access, room configuration, affordability and other guest’s reviews. In terms of the room, we stayed in a partial ocean view room with two double beds and a double sofa bed, which was perfect for the three of us. As Australians, I think many of us get used to hotel rooms having certain amenities (such as kettles and fridges), but these are considered luxuries in hotels and resorts in the United States. This was something to be mindful of when booking our accommodation and the Outrigger had both, not to mention a balcony, which was a bonus! At the time we stayed, the Outrigger also didn’t charge a resort fee (which most hotels in the USA do), so that was another benefit of staying there as it saved us about $30 USD a day. However, they have since introduced this fee. The Outrigger resort is also home to Duke’s Waikiki Restaurant that serves the best waffle fries you will ever have.

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The view from our balcony.

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Eggs and coffee with a view? Yes please! Breakfast at Hula Grill Waikiki at the Outrigger.

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Funny story about this photo! On our last day, we realised that we didn’t have a photo of the three of us. We were in the lobby of the hotel and asked a man walking past to take our photo. Turns out, he was a photographer with the National Geographic, so he crouches down, tells us to look away and then on the count of three to look at him and smile. The result? Well, you can see for yourself (I look like I’m crying because I was. Crying of laughter.)

Eat

  • Afternoon tea at the Moana Surfrider. As a little treat to ourselves, Prudence and I enjoyed afternoon tea under the banyan tree at The Veranda. It was a lovely afternoon and I’d highly recommend it. Tip: order less than you need. We ordered 2 serves of afternoon tea but we should have just ordered one + an extra tea because the servings were huge.

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  • Duke’s Waikiki Restaurant for the aforementioned waffle fries.
  • The Cheesecake Factory restaurants are located all around the United States, but it’s an affordable and delicious eating option. Tip: the lines at traditional lunch and dinner times are crazy! People can wait up to 2 hours for a table, so we went at around 4:30pm, we beat all the queues and could choose where we wanted to sit. The servings at The Cheesecake Factory are huge, so I would definitely recommend sharing. Prudence and I got a meal each but only ate one between the two of us. My favourite cheesecake? Hands down, the Caramel Pecan Turtle Cheesecake.
  • Honolulu Coffee. Finding coffee in the USA that is up to Australian standards is difficult but we loved the coffee at Honolulu Coffee. The cafe was outside the Moana Surfrider and next door to the Outrigger, so we’d pop in before we started our day.
  • Honolulu Cookie Company. My gluten intolerance goes out the window when I am visiting the Honolulu Cookie Company. Their white chocolate and coconut cookies are the best. They have free samples in store, so feeling a little peckish? Drop by! (Also conveniently located next to the Outrigger.)
  • Issy popped over to Waikiki for the weekend and was adamant we go and eat pizza from this guy in a carpark. Whaaat?! My thoughts exactly. At the time, I had no idea what it was called or where it was located because we just walked a few blocks back from the beach and walked until we found it. I have since done some research and discovered it’s called Agostino’s Pizza. It’s such a funny little set-up. It’s completely outdoors in a carpark with a tarp overhead, plastic tables and chairs and paper plates and cutlery. The line was huge and it was incredibly delicious. Definitely worth the walk to the carpark if you want a pizza fix in Waikiki. From their Facebook, it seems like it is permanently closed but the address I found is 2463 Kuhio Ave, Honolulu. I’m praying it hasn’t permanently closed down.
  • Bills Hawaii. We didn’t get to eat here, but from eating at Bills Sydney and Granger & Co. in London, I expect nothing but the best with a side of Aussie-made coffee. I’m excited to try it in November!

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Prudence and Issy at Agostino’s Pizza.

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Honolulu Coffee.

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Huge servings at The Cheesecake Factory.

Do

  • You can’t go to Honolulu without visiting Pearl Harbor. What an incredible and eye-opening experience to be able to tour Pearl Harbor and the various memorials. My number one tip for Pearl Harbor is to do your research! We were advised that the only way of going to Pearl Harbor was to do a tour, and because we all really wanted to visit, we paid over $150 USD each for a six hour tour (which also included a tour of Honolulu city). It was convenient as the coach picked us up from our hotel and drove us directly there and we were able to easily go to each memorial and site. We had trouble when visiting the USS Arizona memorial though, as the wind was too strong to hold guests, so we were unable to see it. The USS Arizona memorial is only accessible via boat as it sits above the sunken USS Arizona and is included in all guided tours. Due to the weather, we had additional time at Pearl Harbor and Prudence went to speak to guest services about ticket prices. The shock to us though, was that admission is free, but because it’s the most popular site in Oahu, they sell out incredibly quickly. Pearl Harbor itself suggests to visit on a guided tour as you’re guaranteed entry to all memorials. I’d read all of the information here before organising your visit.

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  • Hire a car and drive around the island of Oahu. Little villages and towns scatter the coastline. The North Shore of the island is home to Turtle Bay Resort, which is a gorgeous place to stay or just to spend the day. We had a lovely lunch there before exploring the resort. It’s a completely different atmosphere to Waikiki, so I would recommend spending a few days here if you can. Another must on the North Shore is Scoop of Paradise ice-cream store in the historic surf town of Haleiwa. Scoop of Paradise serves homemade ice-cream with freshly made waffle cones (RIP me). Get the pineapple flavour! It’s the best ice-cream I have ever had. I’m salivating just typing about it. It’s worth the drive to the North Shore for this ice-cream alone.

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  • Hike Diamond Head and wear appropriate clothing. Lots of climbing and stairs! Go as early as you can because it gets incredibly hot, but the views are absolutely worth every step.

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  •  A trip to Honolulu (or anywhere in the United States) would not be complete without shopping! We were lucky that the dollar was incredible when we last visited Hawaii, so the deals were better than ever! Honestly, I have never seen such amazing sales. The US economy is stronger because of us (they can thank us later). We literally shopped all day, every day. It also helps that the majority of shops stay open until midnight every night. A dream come true for shopaholics like Prudence and myself. In terms of shopping, there are three main destinations I would recommend. The first is Kalakaua Avenue, Waikiki, which is the main street in Waikiki. This street backs onto the beach and is where the main hotels and resorts, restaurants and shops are located. There’s everything from Chanel to Sephora to ABC convenience stores. A quick fifteen minute ride away on the pink line of the Waikiki Trolley is Ala Moana Center, Hawaii’s premier shopping and entertainment precinct. Many of the shops at Ala Moana can also be found on Kalakaua Avenue, but as we experienced, the shops stock different items. At one stage, we went back and forth three times until we found what I wanted (#soznotsoz). I have saved the best until last! Waikele Premium Outlets! My word, these outlets are my happy place. On one of our first days in Honolulu, we went quickly for the afternoon so the boys could buy their Nikes. Prudence and I used this hour to go around the outlets to suss out what was there and to figure out our game plan for when we would go back for the day. I am so glad we did this as we were able to get a grasp on the cost and what was available at the outlets versus what was available in Waikiki. We hopped on a shuttle a couple of days later and spent the whole day there. From Polo Ralph Lauren to Nike to Adidas to Calvin Klein to Coach to Converse, everything was there! The bargains at these American outlets are unmatched to those in Australia. In Adidas alone, I bought a pair of sneakers, three pairs of tights, a jacket and a gym bag (which still goes unused ha!) for $123.00. Not joking. The whole day was like this. Our shopping took up six seats on the shuttle going back to the Outrigger. Across the road from the outlets is a traditional American mall with stores such as Target (different to and better than Australia’s), Gap and Old Navy. Tip: As soon as you get to the outlets, head to the information desk and show your passport. They will give you a visitor booklet with extra discount coupons!

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I like to workout and by workout, I mean shop. This was just from one day at the outlets.

  • Relax! Honolulu’s laid back atmosphere provides its visitors with the perfect conditions to sit back, relax, drink mojitos and eat waffle fries. Waikiki Beach is incredibly accommodating and most resorts have chaises, umbrellas, beach chairs and inflatables to hire as well as surfboards and paddle boards.

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Well, this post is longer than I originally thought but hopefully it helps you on your next trip to Honolulu! I’m super excited to head back in November and add to this guide. Honolulu offers the perfect combination of shopping, sightseeing, relaxation and adventure; there is something for everyone!

Have you been to Hawaii? What would you recommend or add to this guide? I’d love to know for my next trip! Mahalo!

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