Ah, Hawaii at last! We walked from the terminal, along the outdoor walkway (how cool is that?) to the baggage claim area. It was overcast, but warm and not raining. Since it has snowed in Massachusetts the week before we left, we were not complaining about the weather…plus, we were in Hawaii!!! Months of planning had finally paid off when we reached this moment. Our bags collected, we followed the signs to the taxi stand…and here we found no cabs. The line of passengers grew and still no cabs. During the course of my research I had considered booking a car service, but agreed with the posters I saw on Trip Advisor that basically said why bother when there were ample cabs ready to take you to your hotel (if you booked a service you had to call them and wait for them to come get you). Hmmph. So much for lines and lines of waiting cabs. We ended up waiting about 10 minutes when a lady with a walkie-talkie dashed over and started ordering up cabs. The wait actually benefited us as we ended up sharing a cab with a gentleman who was going to the same hotel. Sweet!
Our hotel was the Marriott Waikiki Resort and Spa. I’d booked nearly a year ago (as soon as the booking window opened) and secured a AAA rate of $169 for a partial ocean view room with balcony. I always do this…book early and if the price goes down I re-book, but usually the price goes up. In this case the price would climb by $70 per night just a couple of months after I booked and stay there. Booking early costs nothing (I don’t do non-refundable rates unless I’m booking at the last minute) and usually saves us a mint!
I really liked the location of this hotel. It was across the street from Waikiki Beach, but with nothing obstructing your view. (Further down the street there was more congestion and being across the street meant you were staring at another hotel.) This end of the beach was also a bit quieter and there was always plenty of space to grab a slice of sand if you wished. We walked into the spacious lobby; again open air, which just thrilled me. The last time I experienced a climate so temperate was our honeymoon in Jamaica! We went to check in and were told that our room was not yet ready. However, if I wished to upgrade to a full oceanview room, they had one immediately available. I swear they always have upgrades available to take advantage of weary travelers. It was still less money than I would have paid for our original room had I booked later and we were weary travelers, so we took it.
Our room was a nice size. We loved having a balcony and love that the Marriotts have an empty fridge for you to stock with your own items rather than a mini-bar. We freshened up and left the hotel to check out Waikiki and grab some lunch. We walked around our little slice of beach, mostly just doing a Hawaii happy dance, and taking the first of many, many pictures (we’d take over 1,600 through the course of the vacation). Lunch was at LuLu’s a place recommended by a friend of mine (actually she was hoping we’d check out the band playing there on Friday night, Manoa DNA). It was decent pub food (actually DH was quiet pleased with his ahi tuna sandwich) and the restaurant overlooked the beach.
Over the next few hours we walked down the beach until we ran out of sand. We then walked back up Kalakaua Avenue, poking into shops and hotels along the way. Ultimately we ended up back at our hotel and the Moana Terrace, the roof-top tiki bar there. We whiled away happy hour, enjoying the sunset and a couple of appetizers for a light dinner. By this time the time difference was really hitting us hard (6 hours earlier than the east coast) and we were fighting to just stay awake until 9:00, but we made it!