If you spend a week in East Oahu, some notes:
- Wet-n-Wild Hawaii. Its a nice splash zone. Only about 40 minutes from Kailua. Just acquired and renamed Wet’n Wild. In the coupon books, get a free icey if you buy a regular admission. You don’t need the additional $5 charge for doing the wave riding thing though. Also hours are tight 1030-430, but it seems to die down after noon when the school groups leave.
- North Shore beaches. Where surfing really started. See Surf’s Up, if you want to see it as surfing came up 🙂 Of course Ehukai is the most famous (the Banzai Pipeline in the winter is ridiculous). Waimea Bay Beach Park is more sane and close to the waterfalls that you can hike to called. Haleiwa is the main beach town there and you can eat at Haleiwa Joe’s or Jameson’s By the Sea. Of if you are adventurous try Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck. $12 for Shrimp Scampi on a paper plate 😉 Or try a fancy place like Ola at Turtle Bay Resort if you are splurging.
- Kailua is just a suburb of Honolulu, but it has an amazing beach there. Try Tokoname for very decent Japanese food. Kailua Sailboard for fun windsurfing lessons and kayak rentals to get you out into the Bay. By the way the L&L next door has terrific chinese won ton mein. And Boston’s Pizza is a very decent pizza place for thin crust. The tomatoes are particularly good. And at the beach, the Kalapawai Market has great sandwiches and things. Finally, Los Garcia’s, is very decent mexican food. Their other branch is in Omaha as I recall! Finally, Buzz’s is where one president dined, although in truth, I’m not much of a steak guy and some say the quality is declining.
- Polynesian Cultural Center is the place for the typical tourist luau. The pricing structure is beyond complicated, but I’d say the best deal is the Ambassador Alii Luau because you get a guided tour. You need this because doing all the activities is really hard. Skip the IMAX and get there at say 1PM so you don’t miss the canoe parade. The highlights are the spear chucking and drumming in Tahiti and the coconut husking and firemaking at the end at Samoa. There is a logical order to it all and if you wander about you miss a bunch. The really high end Deluxe Luau only has better food (or rather more rich food like prime rib), but you lose out on the dinner show which is kind of fun. The evening show is like Disney production of Lion King in the tropics, so is fun, the ride back is slow, so plan on 1PM-10PM 🙂 A side note is that it is actually run by the Mormon Church through their BYU-Hawaii branch so everyone there is going to school there. It sets you back a cool C-note, but probably worth it at least once.
- Honolulu Sailing Company. There isn’t any small boat charters which is too bad. The best we could find is a skippered ride on a Beneteau 43″ out of Waikiki for a half day private charter. Beats just sitting in a catamaran I think.
- Gunstock Ranch. Who thinks cowboys when you think of Hawaii, well turns out on the Big Island, there are paniolo who are Hawaiian cowboys running herds. On Oahu, Gunstock does all kinds of rides. There is a the fun ride for kids over 9 or if you’ve ridden before, there is the advanced ride. It’s right next to the Polynesian Cultural Center and another taste of the country in Hawaii.
- Bike Hawaii. If you want to limit major tourism to the PCC, then try Bike Hawaii for a mountain bike ride through the Koaloa Ranch where you can see the site of Jurassic Park and Lost’s filming. They have rides through the Kaaawa valley (try to say that fast! Ka’ A’ Awa is the hint). It’s an easy 6 hour ride for 2-3 hours.
- Islander Sportfishing. Never tried it but you can get a half day private charter out of West Oahu or Kuuloakai leaves out of the North Shore.
- Kuilima Cove. Snorkling is normally at ultra crowded Hanauma Bay, but Kuilima is on the North Shore by Turtle Bay and is fun too. Lots of fish and rocks abound.