Just Back From 5 Days on Oahu

Waikiki Beach
Morning sunlight warms up these Waikiki Beach surfboards before their day of action begins.

Andy was invited to speak at a conference in Honolulu, so we seized the opportunity to get back to Oahu. Our schedules and commitments at home only allowed us five days on the island. Five days zoomed by quickly, but five days in Hawaii still rocks! Know what I mean?

So, what did we get up to this time around? We stayed pretty busy. Here’s a quick summary:


  • We spent the first two nights at Ala Moana Hotel by the Ala Moana Shopping Center. The hotel has been newly renovated and was quite nice, especially considering that rates start at $109 per night. We stayed here because the conference was held here. We still found that we were gravitating towards Waikiki Beach, which was a doable walk away. If you need a Honolulu hotel  that’s business friendly, the Ala Moana is a great place. If you’re in tourist mode, it’s not that convenient to attractions.
  • The last three nights, we headed out to Ko Olina (Oahu west coast) to the JW Marriott Ihilani for some relaxation. It’s a lovely resort where 85% of the rooms have ocean views. We had a great view of the lagoon from our room. The rooms and balcony (lanai) are very spacious and well laid out. This resort is in the middle of a room renovation that’s due to be complete in January. I got a sneak peak at the renovated rooms and they look fantastic. I’ll write more about the resort and renovated rooms in an upcoming post.

Activities & Attractions

  • We spent almost an entire day at Bishop Museum in Honolulu. We were particularly interested in the Hawaiian Hall and the planetarium. I’ll share more later.
  • One of our priorities on this trip was to see the Polynesian show HA: Breath of Life at the Polynesian Cultural Center. From everything we had heard, we had high expectations of this show. We were not disappointed. We loved it!  I’ll share more soon.
  • After seeing HA, we took a fun Haunted Lagoon canoe ride at the Polynesian Cultural Center. See my review of the Polynesian Cultural Center’s Haunted Lagoon.
  • We’ve been wanting to get out to Waimea Valley for a while. Waimea Valley features botanical gardens, cultural presentations and a 45-foot waterfall for swimming. To be honest, we weren’t that impressed with their gardens. We were disappointed that they don’t provide a map which would help to provide guidance of the features, distances and how to allocate our time. If you want to swim below a waterfall in a safe environment, the waterfall here is great for that. There’s are lifeguards on duty and life jackets. The lifeguards were friendly and helpful. I wish I could say that about the other employees we encountered.
  • At the JW Marriott Ihilani, there’s a new Polynesian dinner show, Fia Fia, that’s offered on Thursday nights. It was very well done with an exceptionally entertaining and talented chief who leads you throughout the evening entertainment. If you’re staying out that way, I recommend that you arrange to see it. I’ll be writing more later.
  • We indulged in a couples massage at the Ihilani Spa. Actually, the spa facility is closed for renovations, but the staff had set up spa suites for massages. Andy said his massage was probably the best he’s had at a resort.


We enjoyed dining at these locations:

  • Hau Tree Lanai at the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel on Waikiki Beach for dinner.
  • Kai Market at Sheraton Waikiki for breakfast.
  • Eggs ‘N Things in Waikiki for breakfast.
  • Naupaka Terrace at JW Marriott Ihilani for breakfast and dinner.
  • Roy’s in Ko Olina for lunch. I had a sweet Asian shrimp, bacon and avocado wrap that was very, very good. Andy definitely had food envy. 😉

So, that’s our trip in a (macadamia) nutshell. I just wanted to summarize it in case it helps you for your trip planning.

  1. You managed to do a lot in five days! Can’t wait to hear all the details but love to have on overview and be able to anticipate what is to come! :>) I thought Waimea valley was incredibly beautiful but I really wanted to know what some of those crazy plants were and there weren’t signs or you couldn’t read them. Didn’t think the employees were very friendly either. Don’t know why. Still worth going imo but it could have been even better. Did you find roselani ice cream???

    1. Thanks, Janet.

      We do tend to cram in as much as we can when we visit.

      Interesting that you also didn’t think the employees at Waimea Valley were very friendly. I think they have an opportunity to improve their customer service if they try.

      We did not get Roselani ice cream, but we did get chocolate haupia pie from Ted’s Bakery. I forgot to mention that in my list of restaurants. I toasted my pie to you before I ate it. 😉 Funny thing that day — we ate the pie and then decided to go over to Turtle Bay to Ola’s where we had lunch. We definitely ate our dessert first that day.

      1. well, I guess you can look forward to getting some Roselani ice cream next time you visit! Thank you for toasting your chocolate haupia pie to me! You can’t ( I can’t!!) go to or by Ted’s without getting pie, I don’t care what time of day it is! Two years we got to be there for my oldest daughters birthday so we got to eat cake too! Chocolate haupia cake is so good. The next time we got choc cake with chantilly frosting. Good but I liked the haupia better.

  2. I just wanted to say how wonderful it was to meet you and Andy. I hope I didn’t bore you guys with the tour I do tend to run on and on as I love the museum so much.

    How grand a time I live in with this technology that has been aforded me. I’ve met some very nice people via the web and you were part of it.

    Thank you so much for the thoughtful gesture. Not many have been so kind when I’ve taken them through the museum. I’ve never tasted that type of mint before and I must say they are delightful.

    I look forward to your reflections on this last trip.

    Karen in Honolulu

    1. Karen – It was so nice meeting you. Mahalo nui for taking the time out of your day to meet us and show us around! You did not bore us at all! You really added so much more insight than what we would have gathered on our own.

  3. Thank you for visit to the Islands and also to your visit at the Hau Tree Lanai restaurant. We greatly appreciate your comments to our boutique hotel. We hope to welcome you back again soon to Hawaii. Mahalo Nui Loa!

  4. MAHALO NUI for this lovely post !!
    To us it brings back such beautiful memories from our August trip !!
    Here in Milano it’s cold and grey … but your words brought a lot of sunshine !!!
    GLAD you two had a wonderful break !!!
    A hui hou , laura

  5. I’d take 5 days in Hawaii over 5 days at home any time! Sounds like you got a lot accomplished, given that you were there for a conference.

  6. Thank you for sharing! My family will be going to Hawaii and spending 5 days at Oahu, I appreciate the suggestion of the HA Breath of Life show. Did you also do the Luau there, or is there another Luau that you would recommend?

    1. Hi Helen — glad you found this trip report to be useful.

      I have been to the luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center and thought they did a nice job. Their luau is very convenient if you are going to check out their evening show, HA: Breath of Life. Plus, they offer some packages show luau and entry fee packages that are good deals.

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