Hey there, an O'ahu girl chiming in... the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet
is the place to be to pick up all kinds of goodies, both local and very touristy. It's located in Aiea (eye-A-uh), about 5 minutes away from the airport, about 20 minutes away from Waikiki, 15 if you drive real fast
If you've been to the Arizona Memorial, it's just across the highway a little ways north, you can't miss it. It's held in the parking lot of a stadium and costs $1 to get in. It's open Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Sunday is the best day to go since it has the most vendors, but if your visit only allows a Wednesday or Saturday visit, that's OK too. I would plan on wearing lots of sunscreen and a hat--I even carry an umbrella on sunny days . Stop at a 7-11 and buy bottled water before you go in. You can get nice "Hawaiian" stuff (made in the Philippines
) housewares, stuff for your kitchen, aloha shirts, hawaiian print dresses and cute necklaces for cheap. They sell cheap luggage there as well, so in case you buy too much stuff, you can always find a bag to bring it home in. Don't forget to pick up some local and Asian snacks to try from Lin's. There are several booths there at the swap meet.
The Ko'olina lagoons beach on the west side of Oahu is beautiful and adjacent to the Ihilani hotel and Ko'olina marina. Parking is very limited, so go early and park for free, or go down toward the marina end and there is pay parking. I think you can even valet your car at the timeshare condo but it is pricey at $10, but it has great access to the lagoons. If you want a real beach experience (vs. man-made) do the Kailua or Lanikai beaches as suggested above, or even Ala Moana beach, right across from the shopping center. Lots of free parking there. I prefer Hanauma Bay for snorkeling (yes, even I, the non-swimmer have been snorkeling
) and just laying in the sun.
I would definitely try to take in the Polynesian Cultural Center, it is a day trip since it is in Laie on the north shore and only opens at 12 noon. I loved this place as a kid and still have to take my son there since he's never been yet (he's 8). It basically has little villages of all the different polynesian cultures (Samoan, Hawaiian, Tongan, Maori, Tahitian, etc.).
The Honolulu Zoo is much improved in recent years, although still small compared to mainland zoos. But it's right in Waikiki and is relatively inexpensive. The male lion was just euthanised due to ill health a few days ago, he was 21 years old, so pretty long in the tooth for a lion, but there are other great exhibits to see as well.
I've seen Beth, Tim and Duane Lee shopping around town in different places, but I've never seen Dog in person. I'm always on the lookout for SUV's on the freeway in case they are on the road, and I admit, Leland is hot for a young'un. We have the same birthday
I was watching an episode once and they were chasing a guy down near a park in my neighborhood, one of the scenes shows them making a phone call sitting in their car and they were parked right in front of my next door
neighbor's house! But I digress...
Are you much of a shopper? I'm sure you've been there already, but Ala Moana shopping center is right outside of Waikiki, there's also the Waikele Outlet stores in Waipahu. Pearl Ridge shopping center is another mall near Pearl Harbor but kind of small.
Try some restaurants along Kapahulu Avenue right near Waikiki. Lots of ethnic places to try--if you're not doing the Paradise Cove Luau like someone mentioned above, try eating at Ono Hawaiian Food in Kapahulu. A real small place, but the food is great, especially the laulau or kalua pig. There's also Genki sushi or better yet, Tokuri Tei for the real deal sushi and sashimi
. Tons of eating places around so just grab a tourist guide on the streets of Waikiki or at the airport and see what's out there. Lots of good restaurants right in Waikiki too... let me think about that one and come back later.
Someone was asking about Maui? I'm a tourist there also, but I really liked the Maui Ocean Center. Drive up to Haleakala to see the sunrise--you've got to head up there around 2 a.m. though
Drive up through Wailuku and beyond to Kahakuloa
(you know where the rental car maps say not to go?) and visit my friend Auntie Lorraine at Lorraine Shave Ice. Rest up a bit and enjoy the shave ice and the view. Tell her I said hello and pet her Pug Ilio Mai for me
I know I'm rambling but those are just a few of the things I'd do while visiting. If I think of more local experiences I'll post more later. Have a great time.