Tuesday 1/14 Through Tuesday 1/28/2020
The temptation to pay $650 or higher per night for an oceanfront hotel room is almost always short lived. Car parking, healthy food availability, cost, laundry, privacy, noise, security and crowding are among the concerns.
Cost comparisons between hotels and condominiums have been fairly straightforward. Around $2,500 for two weeks of condominium or $9,000 for a most modest room with a sketchy ocean view in the Royal Hawaiian (pink building on the water in the above picture), my someday bucket-list beachfront hotel.
Over the past 15 years, we have stayed in condos for at least eight of our Hawaiian vacations. On Oahu, we have been using Captain Cook Resorts as the vacation rental provider, always booking the vacation rental on the Internet.
The last four times on Oahu, we have stayed in a Four Paddle Condo. Each condo in the Four Paddle has an assigned off-street parking spot. Our vacation rentals included full kitchen, living room, bedroom, bathroom, balcony, Internet, cable TV, phone and washer/dryer.
Views depend on individual rental units. Since the Ritz-Carlton Residences were built across the street, the ocean side view is not as grand as it once was.
This year we flew on American Airlines from San Antonio, Texas to Honolulu, Hawaii. First, we flew from San Antonio to Dallas, Texas. That took an hour. The gate for the flight from Dallas to Honolulu was in DFW’s International Terminal (Terminal D). This was my first time ever on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner airplane. Nice ride. This leg of the trip took eight hours.
My only complaint about the 787 is the lack of normal window shades. The window shades are not mechanical as in you don’t pull them down. The windows aren’t exactly clear. They are tinted with a material that can be made darker or lighter using electricity controlled either by the passenger activating a switch or the airplanes crew. Regardless, the windows are always tinted and the tinting gives everything outside an ugly blue/green tint.
The crew started and ended our flight with the windows tinted. Those are the best times to look out the window. What a waste.
From the baggage claim area of the Honolulu airport, Linda called our representative at Captain Cook, Michele Vergara. Michele told us when she could meet us at the Four Paddle for check-in and where to park when we arrived. With luggage in tow, we headed off to the car rental agency to get the car.
For some reason, most GPS mapping software likes to take travelers along the crowded and crazy freeway to Waikiki. Instead, we take the back roads into Waikiki to avoid traffic and stress. Coming out of the car rental lot, turn toward the Nimitz Freeway which runs underneath the freeway H1.
Our arrival instructions were fairly straightforward. Michele would find us if we parked in the condo’s short-term guest parking area. We weren’t parked for five minutes before Michele’s smiling face came into view.
We followed her into the lobby and into the elevator. As we approached our rental unit on the seventh floor, Michele began to explain how to use the code to get into the condo and ensure the door locked when we left. She handed us a building access fob that got us into the building and the off-street parking garage. Since we were repeat customers, all of this was familiar. Inside, our condo, Michele covered a few details, asked if we had questions (we didn’t), encouraged us to call her if any issues came up and then left. As is usual with Captain Cook managed properties, no issues came up and we didn’t need to call Michele.
After Michele left, I went back to the short term parking and moved the car into our assigned spot. The next step was to visit one of the many convenience stores in the immediate area for a light dinner.
Something we always struggle with after landing in Hawaii is the time change. Four hours. We had been up since midnight Hawaii time and had arrived at our condo before 4:00 in the afternoon. Our plan was to stay up until 8:00 in the evening which turned out to be difficult but we made it.
Waking up early, we headed over to the International House of Pancakes on Kuhio, a short walk from the Four Paddle. After a large breakfast, we were ready to make a stock-up trip to the nearest Safeway, a decent grocery store on Kapahulu.
Scattered all around Waikiki are a number of convenience stores that generally fall into one of three brands: Coco Cove, ABC Stores and Whalers. The prepared foods in Coco Cove are much better than the ABC or Whalers stores. However, ABC and Whalers are much easier to find.
There is a bus stop on Kuhio Street in front of the Four Paddle. Buses are noisy and can be heard inside lower units situated above the bus stop when the windows are open. Fortunately, the buses don’t run all night so we never found this to be a problem.
Having a bus stop is not necessarily a bad thing. The buses serving Waikiki pass through Waikiki on Kuhio. From bus stops on Kuhio, travelers can get all over the island. The Bus offers different options for paying. We have purchased four day passes before and traveled all over the island on previous trips. Bus passes are much less expensive than car rentals. For certain trips, depending on where the destination is, buses can be more convenient as parking around Honolulu can be a real pain.
There is plenty to see and do in and around the Waikiki area. The fancy entertainment and/or educational venues will be covered in subsequent blog posts. Visitors can keep themselves entertained just by taking walks.
Ala Wai Boulevard (street on the right in above picture) parallels the Ala Wai Canal and forms the island side Waikiki border. Ala Wai is a one-way street.
The Ala Wai Boulevard sidewalk shown above is relatively wide. A fast walker can walk from Kapahulu Avenue to McCully Street and back in about an hour. The walk is peaceful just after sunrise and just before sunset.
Kalakaua Avenue is another main road through Waikiki. It also runs one-way. Ala Wai Boulevard runs in the opposite direction to Kalakaua Avenue. Kalakaua is where the action is. In places, the ocean side of Kalakaua is literally on the beach.
There is lots to look at on the ocean side of Kalakaua. Duke Paoa Kahanamoku is a historical figure best known for his surfing. He is much more than just a surfer.
A restaurant, named after Duke, is in the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort on Kalakaua Avenue.
Duke’s Restaurant is on the beach and has seating inside and outside. Its easy to get into the restaurant for lunch. At dinner times, reservations are recommended. They have a desert called Hula Pie. Super good. We split our Hula Pie and half a Hula Pie was still a pretty large serving.
Kalakaua Avenue continues south beyond Waikiki and ends just past the south end of Kapi’olani Regional Park. In and around the park, walkers will see the Honolulu Zoo on one side of the street and the Waikiki Aquarium on the other side.
Kalakaua ends in a quiet neighborhood at Coconut Avenue. Left on Coconut and the right on Diamond Head Road.
Makalei Beach and Leahi Beach Parks are along Diamond Head Road. To a high degree, these neighborhood beach parks are insulated from Waikiki making them a nice quiet place to hang out during the week. On weekends, expect these parks to be busy.
Further along Diamond Head Road is Diamond Head Lighthouse. The lighthouse is still operational. Diamond Head visitors that climb to the top of Diamond Head have seen this lighthouse before.
Diamond Head Lighthouse was my turnaround point. It took just around two and a half hours to walk from the Four Paddle to the lighthouse and back. There are more cool things to see further down Diamond Head Road. I’m sorry I didn’t walk further.
Another peaceful place to walk is around the Ala Wai Boat Harbor. The harbor is located on the northwest corner of Waikiki next to Hilton Hawaiian Village.
Past the lagoon toward the ocean, visitors will see more of the harbor/marina before coming to a parking lot for Kahanamoku Beach on the left.
The beach is at the south end of the parking lot.
Kananamoku Beach is north of Fort DeRussy Beach (and Fort DeRussy Park). Both of these beaches tend to be crowded at times.
Checkout on the last day is easy. After loading up the car with all our luggage, we left our building access fob on the kitchen counter and keyed the exit key into the condo’s electronic door lock. We made our way back to the airport.
The trip home was uneventful. Since we flew home through Las Angeles, we didn’t have an overnight trip. We were back in San Antonio just after midnight.
Hope to see you on the road ahead!