It takes about 13 hours to fly direct from Sydney to LA so a stop over in Hawaii is, for me at least, essential. Having spent over half a year living in Oahu over the years, I am pretty familiar with what to do. On a 2 day layover, it was all about relaxing
The humid and tropical weather Waikiki is known for was on full display and after a leisurely stroll along Waikiki Beach and a dip in the ocean with the throngs of other tourists with dubious hygiene regimes, I headed for the cool deck of Jimmy Buffett’s at the Beachcomber and had three too many chilled cocktails and the Spinach and Artichoke dip. Cooled down, drunk and bloated, I crossed the road to catch the pink flagged trolley to the Ala Moana shopping mall where it’s easy to spend a whole day drinking honey melon bubble tea and spending your life savings at Miu Miu or Chanel. The mall has over 290 stores and is the world’s largest open air mall. On the way home, I strolled along Waikiki Beach at sunset to my hotel with a Guava, Paw Paw and Mango Shaved Ice. Bliss.
The next day, I ate at Eggs’n'Things , a bustling diner that specialises in breakfast and was voted best pancakes in Honolulu, chowing down on the thick pancakes with strawberries, whipped cream and nuts ($11.95) I headed back to Ala Moana and caught the 55 bus, which for $2.50 drives you, with the locals, to the North Shore. The bus takes its sweet ass time but if you want to check out Oahu like a local, and have some spare time, it’s cheap and pretty reliable.
I then stopped at Teds Bakery which opened in 1906 on Sunset Beach. It’s famous for the Chocolate Haupia Cream Pie which is a delicious rich layer of smooth dark chocolate custard cream, filled with another layer of Haupia (creamy coconut pudding) with whipped topping. This is my favourite but also try the Pineapple Macadamia Nut Cheesecake. Now full, bloated and hot again, I caught the 55 bus down to Waimea Bay for a quick dip and sun tan. Out of all North Shore beaches, this is still my favourite. The last stop was in Haleiwa for a stroll around my old haunts before heading back into Waikiki to pack for Los Angeles.
I have loved Hawaii since the first time I visited in 2005 and it hasn’t disappointed me yet. I usually go in November through January when the surf tournaments are on – Pipeline Masters or Eddie Aikau Big Wave Comp – so this was the first time I was able to relax. Each place I visit manages to create its own playlist on my iPod – Oahu is Brushfire Fairytales by Jack Johnson (I bought the album running in to him at Pipe and his cute son Moe), and Jeff Buckley’s album Grace which I listened to on the plane to my neighbours annoyances on repeat. Seriously. Hipsters be damned.
Try to get on the destination time as early as possible. From Australia, it’s generally an 8-ish hour overnight flight with a 7-9am arrival. If this is the case, try to sleep on the plane. Even I have trouble doing this, but after a Valium and an Old Fashioned, nothing is impossible. (Even refraining from knocking out the screaming kid who is kicking your chair)
On the plane keep a pen, your passport and your ticket in a small wallet/folder in front of you for customs forms etc and quick accessibility when leaving the plane.
Remember you are crossing an international date line – I departed 29 July at 8pm and arrived 29 July at 7am from Australia.
The cheapest airport shuttle I have found is Shuttle Waikiki at $10 each way or $17 return. Most others will charge $14-$17 one way or $27/$30 return. A taxi will cost about $30 one way and they will harass you in a nice Hawaiian way on your way out of the airport.
If you are looking for a Youth Hostel and don’t want to pay over $30 a night ask for Lemon Road, there is at least 3 or 4 on that road.
If you want something on the beach but not 4 or 5 star, try Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel, Waikiki Circle Hotel (great location with Eggs n things under it but its 3 stars) Holiday Inn Beachcomber, Princess Kaiulani Hotel. Getting more expensive but in the same area; Outrigger Waikiki, Marriott, The Hyatt Regency, and the two crème de la crème – The Royal Hawaiian and the Moana Surfrider for location and price.
When you go to Waikiki what do you like to do? What would you have done in 2 days?