First-Time Oahu Visitors’ Trip Report– Part 1 of 2

We love reading trip reports – especially from first timers . Our friend, Erin Jones, has kindly agreed to share her Oahu trip report with us. This trip was her first time on Oahu, but her second visit to Hawaii. She and her husband traveled to Oahu in February.

Erin and her husband split their Oahu time between Waikiki and the North Shore. So, we’ll follow suit and split her trip report into two parts as well.


It has been well over a month since our trip to Oahu, yet I’m just now getting around to writing about the amazing experiences we had there. Why? Mostly because this post means that I’m home and no longer on vacation. After a week in Hawaii, we learned that a week is not enough!

We planned our trip around Pubcon Paradise, it was a great excuse to enjoy the conference and plan a quick vacation to explore the island a bit. The trip started in Waikiki, and after the conference ended, we packed up and moved to the North Shore for a few nights at Turtle Bay. What a change from Waikiki! It was a great way to get to know two very different sides of Oahu.


Only having been to Maui, Waikiki was a big surprise to us. We got in the day before the conference started and spent the first day there exploring a bit. We found endless shopping and dining options, and were blown away by how many people there were in such a small area. Our first stop was the Hula Grill for some crab and macadamia wontons. We’d discovered the Hula Grill while staying in Whaler’s Village in Maui, and had been looking forward to those wontons ever since! In case you’re wondering, they did not disappoint. We went back for seconds, and thirds, before our time in Waikiki was up. We quickly learned to follow those wontons up with a pineapple crème brulee. Perfection! (a little tip: pupus and dessert at the Hula Grill is a perfect meal. Not too little, not too much. Juuuust right!) We also enjoyed some time cruising around the shops and people watching.

The conference was great, as expected, and it was the perfect combination of learning, socialization, and relaxation. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort, and I decided to walk to my meetings in the morning. Just under a mile, the walk there and back each day was a nice way to prepare for and unwind after the day’s sessions. Some days we walked along the busier downtown area, and some days we opted for cruising along the beach. The beach is undergoing a major renovation right now, so it did take longer to go that way, but when you’re enjoying sun and sand, who’s complaining?

If you’re looking at staying in any of the beachfront hotels in that area, you may want to check and make sure that there will be a beach there during your stay, just in case. Several of the hotels are currently beachless, and are in the process of bringing sand back in to rebuild the beach areas. There was a large dredge out in the water pulling sand up and pumping it over to the shore to rebuild the beach. [Sheila’s note: this Waikiki beach widening project is supposed to complete in April, though sometimes projects like these can’t be precisely predicted.]


Also beware, ocean view rooms are not always in beachfront hotels. Although it was advertised as an oceanfront hotel, the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort was actually across the street from the beach. Not a big deal, but it was a minor annoyance. Our room had an amazing ocean view, however, and we were able to hear street performers and see the action from our room.[Sheila’s note: check our Oahu: Where to Stay page for a list of all the oceanfront Waikiki hotels.]

The Hyatt had a gorgeous open-air lobby, with the main floor consisting of shops. The hotel lobby was on the second floor and had a nice beach view. The spa, several restaurants, and pool were several stories up, also allowing for great views of Waikiki.

Overall, our stay at the Hyatt was great. The room was a bit dated, with a very small bathroom and vanity area, but had nice furnishings and some very cool traditional Hawaiian photography. The staff at check-in and the bell staff were very friendly and helpful. We were a bit surprised at some of the merchants in the area, however. Many times, it seemed as if what we were looking for wouldn’t directly result in profit, they had very little helpful input on what we were looking for.


Our favorite things from Waikiki:

• The dining. There is an abundance of dining options, many with Japanese influences. I didn’t realize how much of the area was influenced by the Japanese culture until we got there, we were thrilled with the abundance of fresh seafood and sushi.

• The shopping. Everything from high end designer boutiques to small knickknack shops. We came home with clothes, coffee, TWO ukuleles, a gorgeous handbag, and a variety of Hawaiian treats.

• The beach. Need I say more? The beach was great, even during construction. Our room had great sunset views, we also enjoyed just sitting in the sand watching the world go by whenever we got the chance.

• People watching. If you go to Waikiki, don’t miss out. There’s always something interesting going on!

• Photo ops. All of the above combined for some awesome photo ops. I took nearly a thousand photos during the trip, and could have taken many more!

• The history. Oahu is rich in history and culture, two things I will never tire of. We saw as many hula performances, musicians, and sights as we could. Because Waikiki is so busy, there were street performers on nearly every corner.

• Pubcon. The conference was wonderful. They did a great job incorporating Hawaii into a traditional search marketing conference. Seeing familiar faces and making new friends is one of my favorite things about this conference. Being there with a Hawaii expert like Sheila only made it better. I got to experience coco puffs from the Liliha Bakery, get some one on one beach photo instruction from Andy, we got some seriously amazing restaurant recommendations, and spend some time visiting with them. Living on opposite sides of the country made this a rare treat!

Things that we weren’t thrilled about:

• Waikiki is BUSY. We do not go to Hawaii for the nightlife, and did not get the relaxation while there that we experienced in other places we’ve visited in Hawaii. The streets were busy from early morning well into the night. However, if you’re looking for a party atmosphere, you’ll love Waikiki.

• The shopping. Yes, this was one of my favorite things about the area as well, but we were a bit overwhelmed by how much retail space they crammed into four city blocks.

• Rude vendors. Again, this didn’t happen often, but we did encounter a few people that would be better suited for work in a secluded office than in customer relations jobs. On our first night there, I asked four people for advice on dinner, and not one was helpful. One lady told us to go to Pizza Hut or Subway behind the hotel. Not exactly what we were looking for, but thanks for trying I suppose. I will never understand why someone that doesn’t like people would take a job in customer service.

• Not enough time. There is never enough time on trips like these! I have a list of things that we missed out on that I’d love to go back and experience.

  1. Erin or anybody that has visited Maui – I would appreciate any suggestions for great restaurants – hula grill will be on our list now – must-see stops along the road to Hana??? Ziplining is on our list of many things to do but can’t decide which one to go with – anybody have any experiences to share?? We are staying in south central Maui in a condo and getting married on the beach at secret cove in south Maui – any suggestions for brunch after a beach wedding on the south end??

  2. Hi Christi,

    I’m sure Sheila will have some great ideas for you! Our favorite restaurant in Maui (and possibly the whole world) is Mama’s Fish House. Their fresh catches and beachfront dining room are so amazing. We really didn’t have any bad dining experiences while visiting Maui, although the prices got frustrating. Make sure you enjoy some fresh pineapple, POG juice, a lava flow cocktail, shave ice, and as much fresh seafood as you can handle!

    Aside from the many short hikes and waterfalls just off the Road to Hana, our favorite stop was Waianapanapa Park -there’s a gorgeous black sand beach, a blowhole, and is a great stop for a snack or picnic. We loved that just about anywhere we stopped and got out to explore along the trip, there were things to see. A quick hike here, a waterfall there, and lots of photo ops everywhere 🙂

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