Come along with me on two visitor-requested Hawaii vacation outings.

It’s been a great summer for me because I’ve had family visiting – family I haven’t seen in well over a year (one disadvantage to being from the East Coast). So when they do come, I become one of Oahu’s biggest advocates. I want my visitors to love it as much as I do, and I want them to miss it when they go home.

So, down to Waikiki we went to do all we could. Probably at the top of the request’ list is going out on a catamaran ride off the shores of Kuhio Beach. I honestly can’t remember how I first heard about this, but I’ve done it about half a dozen times so far, due to popular demand. There are several companies that provide this ride – all are set up in a row on the sand in front of Dukes and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. The one I’ve used most often was Na Hoku – the big red and yellow vessel. In the summer these tours are very popular, especially the evening sunset cruise, so reservations are imperative. During the day, I’d make them too, but chances are better for doing a walk on. The daytime cruise on Na Hoku is about 90 minutes, all drinks are included, and is fun for experiencing the beautiful clear water and possible turtle and dolphin sightings. It’s $30 per person, cash only. Dress to get wet. The sunset cruise is extremely popular, but they steer the vessel so you don’t get wet, and they stay out till the sun goes down. Sometimes you get a lively group which makes it more fun, and sometimes it’s just laid back and quiet. This time when we went out it was fairly windy, but it made for a really fun amusement park-type ride cruising up and down the large swells offshore. Oh, and don’t wear a hat you love, you might lose it (from personal experience). One known problem with Na Hoku is their reservation system. It’s not always reliable via phone. Try to catch the guys on shore and watch them write your name down.

looking back on Waikiki, my niece, and wonderful blue water.

And then there is the International Market. Yes, some of you may groan if you’ve been there, while others may give hardy approval….it just depends on what you want and how you want to get it. But there is no doubt the price is right there, especially if you like to haggle. This time around though, and I hesitate just a bit in saying this, I think I saw a kinder, more gentle marketplace. Some visitors I’ve taken have been intimidated or put off by pushy shopkeepers. But when I strolled through during the early evening hours I noted a change once you get past the very first stalls. There definitely were more male merchants at the kiosks. I took note of this and watched them. They were polite, helpful, and most importantly, let you go if you were not interested. And while I like it when a woman vender can offer good input when trying to decide between two pieces of jewelry, I also very much liked this new found ambience of the market. It may have been a fluke, but I hope not. And as usual, my guests found some very nice items at a good price.Their favorites? – rope length (40+inches) fresh water pearls in all colors, and short, fringed, brightly colored sarongs to wear wrapped at the waist or around the neck and shoulders. And no one goes away without some sort of dangle shell earring. I also discovered that on Thursday evenings there is a farmers market of sorts there, selling decently priced produce and prepared foods from different cultures. We tried the fresh, fried banana and it was delish!!

international fare – pearls, buns, and sarongs.

So wear your suit and cover up to the beach, shop, ride the waves, and pick up a fresh pineapple or red curry at the market afterwards. That’s a full day’s worth of good deals and fun.

Video: my sister modeling a sarong at I.M., aboard the NaHoku

3 COMMENTS

  1. I agree, every once in a while, Waikiki can be a fun time, especially with visiting friends or relatives.  I too, love the catamaran rides, and usually go on the Mai Tai Catamaran.  Lots of catamaran choices and I'm sure they are all good fun.  I must admit, that my Waikiki visits are usually only the Honolulu Zoo and the Aquarium.  I have lots of grandchildren, so annual passes are a must.  We go to the Zoo very often.  Its really looking good with the recent facelifts!

  2. While Waikiki does have some 'must do's' for visitors, I have to say that I like to take them there for these, plus some person favorite restaurants, and then take them windward or North, so that they get a chance to see what a lot of tourists don't see.  and they actually appreciate these outings better, once spending time in busy, crowded Waiikiki.   the whole island is worth experiencing… so I try to do it all.

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