Life is full of surprises. We weren’t planning on visiting Hawaii anytime soon -but here we are. I blame Delta Airlines. In May they started a promotion to assist their Medallion members in achieving 2022 Medallion status faster. My immediate reaction was GAME ON! The goal was to fly as far away as possible in one trip, plus find an affordable fare in the highest class possible. Both miles flown and the fare chosen affect just how big the rewards are.
Obviously Hawaii came to mind right away and I was able to find a reasonable first class ticket -but only if we left within a few days and stayed 6 days in Honolulu. Done and done.
While dealing with departure necessities, I began to realize that while Hawaii was a great choice to maximize my Medallion goals, we were going to be “Covid time-machine traveling” -backwards in time- because Hawaii still has mask mandates, social distancing, and about 50% occupancy at restaurants. Also, many of the usual little shows (like hula demonstrations at nearby shopping centers or at the beach) and other activities are canceled for now.
We also had to jump through a few hoops prior to arriving -such as signing up with the State of Hawaii to provide our travel information, getting negative Covid tests before departing the USA (and only at the approved by Hawaii testing facilities), filling out a health questionnaire and getting a Q-code from Hawaii that needed to be presented upon arrival at the airport with our other paperwork. Our hotel also wanted to see that Q code upon check-in.
Hawaii is pretty serious about all of this! The day we were traveling I saw a news story about two young ladies who didn’t follow the guidelines, and arrived in Honolulu with negative tests, but from an unapproved clinic. They were not allowed into the state and had to immediately fly back to Los Angeles for a day or two just to get the correct test before flying back to try again.
The only good news is that we don’t have to wear masks while outdoors.
I also found out that finding a unicorn in Honolulu would be much easier than getting a rental car. That meant we are more or less limited to whatever is within walking distance from our hotel in Waikiki -unless we want to sign up for a tour (not really our style) or pay exorbitant taxi/Uber fees.
The good news is -we’ve been to Honolulu before and we’ve already done most of the big tourist things – Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, driven around the island. Since this trip was really happening for the purpose of the Delta Medallion “mileage run” -we decided we’d accept the limitations we’re facing and just make the best of it by hanging around the area our hotel is in.
Because of the limitations and situation at hand, I’m mainly just going to be posting pictures of things that catch my eye day to day.
We didn’t arrive at our hotel until nearly 11PM Hawaii time. By then we’d been traveling for over 17 hours. We are staying at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani. It is across the street from Waikiki Beach, but there isn’t a beach view because the Moana Surfrider is directly across the street on the beach. Since we weren’t being fussy, I chose a room with what they called a “city view”. When we checked our our balcony the next morning, Mike joked – “Did the hotel website say ‘city’ view or ‘sh*tty’ view?
I pointed out (trying to be funny) that there ARE views if you look in the right directions (basically between the narrow spaces between buildings). Our main view is of the top of the parking garage.
However, if you lean over the railing and crank your head to the right -we have an ocean view! ha ha.
If you look straight ahead you can see the slopes of Diamond Head.
Diamond Head is a volcanic crater which was formed from an eruption between 150,000 and 200,000 years ago. The crater is 350 acres. It has been used in the past by the military for coastal defense and is now a state park for Hawaii.
Our hotel is probably a bit of a throwback to a more authentic time along Waikiki Beach. A bit faded around the edges, but still holding its own. What I like about it is it is quite open to the outdoors -which is something you imagine a hotel in Hawaii to be. Waikiki is a very bustling place and yet this feels quiet and secluded for the most part -unless there are screaming kids in the pool!
The pool is just a few steps off the sidewalk along the beachfront road in front of the hotel, but still somewhat hidden by landscaping. The entry is guarded by a large tiki statue.
On the hotel side of the pool, there’s a wide open entrance to the lobby/reception area. The entire hallway along the front of the building that faces the pool and outdoor restaurant is wide open to the outdoors.
On our first morning, the priority was finding a convenience or grocery store for a few beverages to keep on hand in our room. We used that mission as a way to familiarize ourselves with the area we’re in.
First things first -we wanted to check out the beach. I loved that people were waiting at the crosswalk with their surfboards.
The statue of Duke Kahanamoku is pretty famous. Duke Kahanamoku is considered the father of modern surfing. He was also an Olympic gold metal winner in the 1912 and 1920 Olympics and a silver metal winner in the 1924 Olympics. He is an absolute Hawaiian legend. It is popular to place a lei on his outstretched arms in tribute -even though that is discouraged because the flowers can damage the metal of the statue.
Waikiki Beach was jam-packed with beachgoers. It seemed like there were hundreds of people in the water (and almost as many surfboards) -which we found amusing when we saw this sign-
And I tried to get a picture of all the people in the water -but it doesn’t come close to really showing how crowded it was all up and down the shore.
Umbrellas on the beach with Diamond Head in the background.
Next we walked along the beach for a bit until the eroded shoreline pushed us back onto the nearest streets. We came upon a surf lessons place and Mike did a “staged” pose for me acting like he was going to run into the surfboard sticking out of a window of the shop.
We popped out of the back street near a shopping mall that we remembered from our first trip to Waikiki. We turned to circle back toward the main drag through Waikiki.
We ended up finding an ABC Store (a Hawaiian themed version of a convenience store) to buy our beverages. We’d seen the ABC stores in Las Vegas over the years, but had no idea about how numerous they are here.
Just going the very short distance to our hotel after we purchased our drinks -we began to see one on about every block -causing me to tell Mike: “ABC stores are Hawaii’s version of Tim Horton’s in Canada!” If you’re from Canada you’re probably laughing -and if you’ve traveled there you know how numerous Tim Horton’s are there (although Horton’s is a donut/restaurant type place). I got curious about ABC and looked it up: Google says that in the 1 1/2 mile radius of Waikiki, there are 34 ABC’s. I wondered if that was an up to date count of them – because there’s one everywhere we look!
Another place very close to our hotel that we remembered from before is the International Market Place. The last time we were there, it was a large craft market under a big banyan tree. There had been some live parrots kept near this sign. Now it has been developed into a very fancy mall. There’s even a Tesla dealership at the entrance!
The Waikiki area has been “upscaled” since we were last here. There are several large shopping areas with the big names in fashion. I told Mike it has been a dream of mine to go to Hawaii and be able to buy Jimmy Choo shoes steps from the beach! Oh and some Prada! (Not really, just kidding). One of the buildings we passed had an interesting facade of concrete tiles.
Later on our first day we went to check out a trivia location I found on line to see if it was somewhere we’d like to play on our regular day -Tuesday. We ended up playing trivia for a couple of hours since we’d walked that far.
We were in our room and in bed pretty early because we were still on Florida time and our part of Florida is 5 hours ahead of Hawaii.