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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

LLB Travels: Greetings from Hawaii! [Part I]

I've been relatively MIA for a while, life has been going a mile a minute, & here's why...

It was the end of the school year & my elementary school is being renovated for an entire year, which meant every single thing moving out of our building.   Moving everything out coupled with normal end of the year things was...woah overload to say the least...lots of wine involved getting through that one.

The week after school ended I decided to get ahead on my recertification, so I took a week long all day class for credits.  Literally, all day long, without my laptop...#help.

THEN, as soon as I ended that week long class I jumped in my car, drove up to Jersey, and flew to Honolulu to meet my best friend, Heather, and her family!  FINALLY, relaxation.  It took a while, but I finally made it to summer vacation!

Blogging was certainly put on the back burner during the month of June, but I'm looking forward to writing tons of content this summer.  I have some exciting posts coming up with Evian, Hask Haircare, and some fun new recipes to share as well.

But first, I want to share some pictures of my incredibly awesome vacation in Honolulu & Maui!  This post, Part I, will highlight the first part of my Hawaiian adventure Waikiki, while Part II will highlight Maui and Disney's Aulani Resort back in Waikiki. 

Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii 

In Honolulu we stayed at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort which is right on beach, can't get more perfect than that!  Heather's family vacations to Hawaii every 5 years to celebrate her parents wedding anniversary, this year they celebrated 40 years of marriage, so awesome.  The Outrigger is where they stayed during their honeymoon, so it's extra special, & I was so grateful to join them on this trip!
View from our room nice & early in the AM




Only the bestest of best friends will have Processo, wine, snacks, and beach essentials awaiting your arrival!

Here are some of my suggestions for how to move through, what to do, and where to eat, in Waikiki!

Transportation...
Taking Robert's Hawaii (can be found on all of the islands) from the airport to your resort is hands down the best move to make.  The round trip option, airport to hotel and vice-versa, for $30 ($15 each way) beats out any taxi or Uber price.  Also, you're greeted with a Lei upon arriving to Honolulu, a little something extra that just makes ya feel more welcome!

You can even use Robert's Hawaii for tours, such as to Pearl Harbor, for a reasonable price (lunch included).  We didn't do this, but after totaling up transportation + ticket fees + snacks at Pearl Harbor, it's a decent deal.

The Waikiki Trolly is also a great way to explore Honolulu- there are multiple lines, all of the stops are perfect for tourists, and as long as your trolly pass is valid you can hop-on-hop-off as you please.  I didn't use the Trolly at all since I was not in Waikiki long, but I've heard, and it looked, like a great transportation option.  Heather's parents used it, and they've used it many times before, and they agree!

If you aren't using Robert's Hawaii or the Trolly for transport, I highly advise using Uber.  Taxis aren't guaranteed to take credit, and when we did use a taxi it was double the price of an Uber X.  We took Reliable Shuttle Service to and from Pearl Harbor, suggested by our resort, and it was a disaster.  We made multiple stops, mostly to the airport, and it took forever.  On the way back from Pearl Harbor we were so close to Waikiki, our driver got a call from dispatch to pick people up from the airport, and during rush hour, we turned around to pick them up- making the trip back to the resort about 1.5 hours.

Activity...
Obviously, the number one stop for anybody visiting Hawaii needs to be Pearl Harbor.  I was looking forward to visiting and I know I will be back here in the future.  Couple of things to note before visiting Pearl Harbor...no bags allowed, and it costs $3 to check your bag.  If you plan on seeing all the Pearl Harbor areas have to offer, which is a lot, plan on a half to full day.  I took us about 2 hours to go through the USS Missouri alone, which was an awesome experience.  

Also, something I didn't really focus on until I was there is the prices for all of the memorials, museums, etc.  It's $7.50 to visit the USS Arizona Memorial but it is more expensive to visit the other areas such as the USS Missouri, USS Oklahoma Memorial, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, and the Pacific Aviation Museum.  There's an option to purchase all of the aforementioned spots in a bundle, which is def the way to go instead of paying for it all separately (does not include the admission to the USS Arizona).

Double also, there were quite a few individuals around us who apparently just did not understand where they were or why it was so important to be reflective and oh I don't know...QUIET.  So, that was frustrating and, if you know me you know this is totally true, I almost turned around and told them to shut up.  However, after 20 seconds of consideration, rather then being disrespectful to the purpose of my visit, I just did the bitch face stare down instead, and I think that worked.  Point is, you will probably run into some people who are not so respectful (this apparently happens often), so don't be alarmed.


Overlooking Pearl Harbor 
Enjoying a relaxing catamaran ride aboard Kepoikai II Catamaran for $25 is a total must while in Waikiki.  The boat was nice & well kept, an on board Mai Tai was strong and inexpensive, and...WE SAW DOLPHINS.  LOTS OF DOLPHINS, enjoying their perfect Hawaiian dolphin life.  We had excellent views of Diamond Head and the hour and a half ride was great.  Also, there's a dog crew member on board, so I mean, it was destined to be perfect.  Bonus: day and sunset cruise options.

I love learning about history, especially if that history involves ghosts, so Heather's sister had the bright idea of taking us on the Myths & Legends of Waikiki walking tour, which I loved!  It was over 2 hours long, but filled with tons of stories and historical facts about Hawaii, along with creepy ghost and spirit stories of course.  We started our tour at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, which is a super cute area of Waikiki to walk around and go shopping or grab a bite to eat.  If you're looking for a cute fun thing to do, this is perfect for any age.
Sunset during our tour near the Hilton.
Dining...
Breakfast
Moana Surfrider's Veranda has an awesome breakfast buffet and menu for those of us who prefer to order à la carte.  They also have a Canella blood orange mimosa, and it was so very tasty.  This hotel is incredible and I need to stay here one day.
Breakfast views, too bright so you can't really see, but that's the ocean right in front of me!
Duke's Waikiki, a restaurant in our hotel, also had a great breakfast buffet for only $17.  Everything was fresh, hot, and tasted delish.  They also let us watch soccer at 7am while drinking mimosas and screwdrivers...something I'm pretty sure D.C. doesn't allow.

Dinner 
Heather's parents had their vows renewed by the Captain of the Star of Honolulu, where we had an awesome surf & turf, steak and lobster, dinner.  It wasn't your average dinner cruise, it was upscale with an added Luau type show, a super fun night to celebrate an amazing accomplishment of 40 years of marriage!! 

I'd never taken apart my own lobster, but I think I did an okay job??

This is how we always take pictures.
Before our Legends of Waikiki tour we had happy hour at Doraku which is a great sushi place, no frills, great drinks & food, perfect price point.  The Lomi Lomi roll & Spicy Tuna roll were great, and Heather & I loved the hot options on the happy hour menu, although I can't recall any of the names of the dishes now!  Also, hibiscus vodka is incredible.

Drinks
One night Heather & I decided to grab some after dinner drinks back over at the Moana Surfrider's Beach Bar, which is a much more upscale beach bar than what one is typically used to.  The handcrafted cocktails were excellent, and we split the Ahi Nachos, which were also pretty good, although Heather noted the ahi wasn't as fresh as it could've been, but I still thought it was yummy!

Final verdict is, everyone should go to Waikiki, NOW. 

Stay tuned for my next post on my week in Maui! 

XO.
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