Summer in Hawaii; Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Oahu

Aloha!  In my previous post Summer on Kauai; Waimea town, Canyon & surrounding areas, I talked about week one of our Honeymoon,  in the beautiful and rugged Waimea area on Kauai.  For the next half of our trip, we left our little sugar plantation that had become home, and headed to the bright lights of Waikiki!

I’ve now been lucky enough to visit Oahu & Waikiki several times, and in this post I’ll give some recommendations & reviews of where we stay and favourite restaurants in this bustling coastal city.  There are are also much quieter and more remote parts of this beautiful island and Waikiki is a perfect base from which to explore..

How to get there

On our last couple of trips to Hawaii, we have stayed first on Kauai, then spent a few days on Oahu, before flying home to Europe (via Los Angeles).  Hawaiian airlines fly inter-island, and the trip from Kauai to Oahu is very short – around 30 minutes. You can also fly direct to Honolulu International airport from many US mainland cities.

We then hire a car and drive to Waikiki Beach, which takes around 30 minutes or less.

Where we stay 

Marriott Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa

Situated at the Southern end of the famous Waikiki Beach towards the zoo and Kapi’olani Park, the Marriott is in a perfect location for exploring Waikiki and surrounding areas.  It’s a large luxury complex with swimming pools, cocktail/snack bar, restaurants, spa, and a large semi-covered lobby area with souvenir shops, jewellers and convenience stores.

The hotel is on Kalakaua Avenue, which is the main road into downtown Honolulu, and home to a seemingly endless array of shops, malls, restaurants and bars. Everything from the local ABC convenience stores to Gucci and Vivienne Westwood.  This is the Rodeo Drive of Honolulu!

The pool area as seen from the balcony, and hanging out in the lobby!

We have stayed each time in a lovely corner room on a high floor, with stunning ocean and beach views from two sides, and a good sized balcony.  It has always been very clean and the beds are some of the most comfortable I have slept in. There’s a definite air of Aloha around the hotel.

Some of the rooms are a bit “tired” looking, but the hotel was going through a full refurb the last time we stayed, and many new guest rooms are due to be available in 2019.  The one negative for me is that all the rooms we have stayed in have had adjoining rooms, separated only by a door.  We have often been woken up by very loud people on the phone at 6am, and you can hear the TV in the other room very clearly.  However, that aside, there’s something about the vintage feel of this Marriott that I really enjoy.

The Marriott comes highly recommended for a luxury stay in Waikiki, in a very convenient location.  

Dining out 

On some occasions, if we’ve got an early flight the next day, or we’re tired from excursions to the North Shore, we’ve opted for room service at the Marriott – which is always very good – and watched the world go by from our balcony.  Sometimes you just need a Marriott burger!

However, with such a huge selection of restaurants in the Waikiki area, you must drag yourself away from the hotel complex and hit the town.  Here are a few eateries that we’ve really enjoyed..

Hy’s Steak House

Hy’s has been an iconic fixture in Waikiki for over 40 years.  I always look forward to coming here.  I think it’s been owned by different companies over the years, but has retained it’s old world glamour and excellent service.

For a fantastic steak and extensive wine list, in elegant surroundings, this is hard to beat. I would compare it to the Savoy Grill or the Wolseley in London.

I have had the filet mignon on two occasions and it’s been perfect.  In a country where huge food portions are the norm, it’s also nice to find somewhere you can get a European sized steak!

Champagne with Charlotte in Hy’s, and a nice Brunello!

Highly recommended for a glamorous night out in Waikiki or a special occasion.

Plumeria Beach House @ The Kahala

The Beach House is situated in the Kahala Hotel & Resort, on the other side of Diamond Head, around a 20 minute drive from the Marriott hotel.

We booked this at the last minute, when looking online for a restaurant for the evening, and we were pleasantly surprised.  We got a taxi out to the resort, which is a nice drive through the Kilauea & Kahala areas.  You’ll pass by some pretty expensive looking houses!

The Beach House is situated downstairs, and at the back of the resort.  We had a fabulous outside table – right by the ocean, with incredible views, dotted with plumeria trees.  It was a really peaceful and elegant place to dine.

Island Girl at the Beach House!

The staff were friendly and knowledgeable, and the food was excellent.  I had swordfish for a main, which was cooked perfectly.

If you fancy escaping the bustle of Waikiki for an evening, I highly recommend the Beach House for an elegant meal in a romantic and relaxing setting.  It felt like we had travelled to a completely different island for a while. 

Beachhouse at the Moana

The Moana Surfrider hotel (now a Westin Resort), has been a famous and well-loved part of the Waikiki beachfront since 1901, so I had wanted to check it out for a while.  We booked the Beachhouse, again last minute, while sitting around the pool wondering what to eat (it’s a hard life).

On first entering the hotel and restaurant area, compared to the Marriott and the Kahala resort, it was very busy, with live music coming from different areas, and big groups of diners.  There was also a wedding going on in one of the main rooms next to us.

We were seated on the veranda, which according to the website, is only open for dining during the day, so I think we were in the overspill section from the main restaurant.

Enjoying a nice glass of Pinot on the veranda

Firstly, I will say that the food (I had a steak) was excellent, and perfectly cooked, and our waitress (I think I’m supposed to say “Server”) was really professional.

The negative aspects were, as I mentioned, it was very loud and crowded.  It was also a very humid night, and there were no fans or air conditioning in the semi-open veranda area. There were ceiling fans further back towards the main section, but they weren’t on.

So.. highly recommended for fantastic food in a 5* setting, but not overly impressed with the seating arrangement on this occasion.  I would be interested to return on a quieter evening, when I think the atmosphere would be more refined.

P F Changs

From a 5* restaurant to P F Changs.. a US chain, but well worth a mention on my recommendations, as they do pretty decent Asian & Chinese food.  I also think it’s relatively authentic, but that’s only my British opinion!

I wasn’t feeling too well on the night we dined there (I think the jet lag, change in water and food and too much sun had caught up with me!).  The Asian food at P F Changs turned out to be just the ticket.  I had a really good spicy chicken noodle soup and we shared some other dishes. The ginger chicken was really tasty.  Again, the restaurant was too hot, but I guess you can’t complain when you’re in Hawaii!

One of my new favourite places for a quick and tasty dinner!

Don’t miss..

The Cheesecake Factory

Another US chain of restaurants.  Absolutely ridiculous menu with every food in the world, and huge slices of cheesecake of every flavour imaginable.  Until later in the evening, there are people queuing outside for a table.  We went around 9:45pm/10pm after the 4th July fireworks, and only had to wait around 10 minutes.

The portions are huge.  If you’re not used to American portion sizes, you only need to order a starter, and then share a cheesecake.  You would probably still be able to take home the leftovers and feed your family for a week!  Unless you’re very hungry, or you’ve been out on deployment for a few months.. then go for it!

4th July fireworks and cheesecake!

Leonard’s Bakery

Another fixture in Honolulu since 1952, selling traditional Portuguese malasadas (plain or filled doughnuts).

They are amazing.  You must go here.  We each ate two malasadas and then had to go for a hike to try and work off the calories!  I’ll be talking about hikes on Oahu in one of my next posts, so stay tuned..

I hope this has given you some ideas about where to stay and dine in this incredible Island city 😊

In my next posts, I’ll be writing about day trips from Honolulu, including the North Shore, and other activities and hikes we’ve enjoyed.

As ever, I would love to hear your views or comments on this or other posts on my site.  Or let me know if you have specific questions on any of the destinations I feature.  To be automatically informed of new posts, please follow me using the buttons below. You can also follow my Instagram and Twitter feed to see what other adventures I’m up to.

Mahalo for now and travel safe!

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