Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hawaii Part 1 – Hale Koa

View from our room- the grounds of the Hale Koa
Let me preface this by saying if you haven’t been to Hawaii already, you should absolutely try to get there while you can claim active duty status, because the deals are amazing!
One of these great deals is the Hale Koa, a military recreation area hotel in the resort area of Waikiki on the island of Oahu just 30 minutes from Honolulu International Airport.  While I agree with a conversation I overheard on the bus – that Waikiki is very nice but not uniquely Hawaii, it reminds you of every other resort area you’ve been to – you should not pass up a chance to stay at the Hale Koa. The rooms are standard hotel rooms, nothing fancy, but we had a beautiful view and the grounds are beautiful.  You are right on the beach, and there is everything you could want right there. We ate there both nights at two different restaurants, sipped pina coladas by the pool, sat on the beach, talked about going to the fitness center, overall, a nice relaxing start to our Hawaii trip. We also went on the Atlantis Submarines tour (booked through the Hale Koa activities desk) to see reef fish, which we enjoyed, but bring your motion-sickness meds for the boat ride out to the sub, as the water is choppy!  I also got a massage, something I had wanted to do for a while, from Paul the masseur which I highly recommend! You can make an appointment at the fitness center desk. Massages are done in cabanas by the pool, but don’t worry, they are out of the way in the shade and he keeps you covered, even when the sea breezes blow!

The Hale Koa has a luau right in their gardens, but we opted to see our Luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center (see Windward and Northshore Posting). We wished afterward we had gone to the Hale Koa’s instead after we heard from another family that it was the best one they went to, so do that if you can. 

You don’t need a car if you just want to hang out and explore Waikiki or take the bus around. However, If you do have a rental car, drive to Pearl Harbor instead of taking the one hour bus ride, because with a military ID you can drive onto Ford Island and see the USS Utah, which is not open to the rest of the public, and hit up the Pacific Aviation Museum while you’re there (which you don’t need a car for, just buy a ticket at the Arizona Memorial Entrance (AZ memorial is free) and take the shuttle bus). Don't forget to get your national parks passport stamps in the bookstore of the Arizona Memorial area, oh and just so you know, they don't let you take anything in to the memorial that doesn't fit in your pocket, so grab your camera and wallet and leave the rest in the car/hotel.  Also if you have a car, drive onto Hickham AFB and go to the commissary for some cheaper meals especially if you plan to stay anywhere with a kitchenette (Bellows Air Station Beach Cabins).  While at Hickham you can get cheap tickets at ITT – call ahead if you know of something you definitely want to do and they will let you purchase over the phone to be picked up when you get there.

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