Travel expert Candice Anger recently returned from her first trip to Honolulu, Hawaii. In 10 days, she was immersed in exciting Hawaii culture, beautiful beaches, and historic sights. We interviewed Candice to learn more about her island escape.
How did you enjoy your stay at Holiday Inn Waikiki Beachcomber?
The Holiday Inn Waikiki Beachcomber is a 4 star hotel just 20 minutes from the airport. The location was PERFECT, about one block away from the beach. It’s right on the main strip close to lots of shops and restaurants and it’s easy to hop on the city bus trolley, or even a cab. It was just renovated not too long ago and there are no resort fees – something most hotels are doing now, so it’s something good to keep in mind. International Marketplace is literally right beside the hotel too, however it is closed and will re-open again in Winter 2016.
What was it like to visit the site of Pearl Harbor?
I took a full day tour of Pearl Harbor and it was combo’d with a small city tour for about $90.00 USD. You go into Pearl Harbor (behave yourself, this is a live active military base) and you can’t bring any purses/bags etc. on-site so they will ask you to check them (and you pay $3.00 USD per item). You get to visit the museum and see weapons that they’ve used before. There’s a submarine you can go on if you choose (for an additional cost of $10.00 USD). You go in and see a movie (about 15-20 mins) about Pearl Harbour and the attack. Then they take you on a boat out to the Arizona to see the Memorial, a bit creepy knowing the ship is right under you and there are still bodies in it. You can see oil still to this day coming from it. Then they take you over to the USS Missouri and you can actually go aboard, walk around, climb on ladders and check the ship out – it’s a very neat experience. After this they drive you up to a place called The Punchbowl (it’s a graveyard for soldiers). You get to see sights where the TV Show Hawaii 5-0 was filmed, pass Dog the Bounty Hunter’s office, and explore China Town.
What did the Island Circle City tour include?
This tour was about 120.00 USD. It’s a full day tour and a great way to see pretty much the whole island. They drive you on a nice, air-conditioned coach bus so you’re comfy while travelling. They take you up to Hanauma Bay where you can snorkel. They took us to the Macadamia Nut farm where everyone is nice and friendly. You can get free samples of the nuts and try the coffee too. We went up to Kualoa Ranch where they filmed shows and the Jurassic Park movie. They take you on a little journey to get a GREAT view overlooking the area and ocean, There’s a ranch for you to ride horses. You can do an ATV tour there if you’d like. There’s an area where you stop for lunch and choose the buffet or order off the menu (reasonable enough and portions were huge). The Dole Plantation is quite neat to see. They have a train that will take you through the whole plantation. They give you free pineapple samples and there’s a gift shop area. You can even try pineapple ice-cream and yes, I would recommend trying it!
The Paradise Cove Luau sounds like so much fun! What does a traditional Luau include?
This was about $95.00 USD and worth every penny! Paradise Cove is about 30-35 minutes away on a gorgeous setting overlooking the ocean (you’ll get to see a very nice sunset). The atmosphere was high energy and everyone who was working there was so nice. They had some activities that you could partake in before the actual dinner and luau. You could take a canoe ride, get a henna tattoo, or make leis. They danced and performed their show (hula dancing, fire dancing etc.) to local music – it was very entertaining. They made special shout outs to anyone who was celebrating anything special. They also did a pig roast and had a buffet for us. There was lots to eat and the food was good. They had a bar where you could get alcoholic drinks as well as included water, coffee and tea. The tour was about 6 hours including transportation, activities, luau and dinner/dessert.
What are your favourite things about Hawaii?
Shopping was my favourite thing (this is coming from a shopaholic though) and the shopping is endless. Ala Moana Shopping center is close by and has something for everyone, not just higher end stores. The Marketplace will be open for Winter 2016 and there are small shops all over. Across the street is the Royal Hawaiian Center with lots of free things to do there too. We did lei making and took a hula class.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can rent a surf board for about $10 USD/hour and try your luck at surfing. We went to the Aquarium for $11. There is also a zoo for $14. I loved seeing the North Shore, not only is it gorgeous but they have surfing competitions too. I loved the city tour because I got to see a lot for my first time. And, if you go to Hawaii, you MUST take part in a Luau.
Who would you recommend a Hawaii vacation to?
Hawaii (Honolulu in particular) really has something for everyone – families, couples, and even singles. I travelled with family (Mom, Grandma and Aunt) and there’s a lot of walking that you can do, so active types would love Honolulu. It’s a busy city though, so if a honeymooner wanted a mix of big city and something a bit quieter, a split vacation with somewhere like Maui would be a great choice.