Today we wake up at 7ish, and head for the plumeria farm at 8:15. It’s right before the 3 mile marker out of the main town, there’s no sign, so we have to look for the plants and the driveway leading to the house. The owner, Dick, introduces himself and takes us out to the orchard. He shows us how the flowers that are best for leis are the kind that are just beginning to open, and advises us to pick about 50 for one lei (or, until we get tired, he says).
We pick for about ½ hour, then bring our flowers into the sewing room, where Nicki shows us how to sew the leis. We chat with her as we make our leis. The whole experience takes about an hour and 15 minutes, and costs $15 per person. We get to take our leis with us. I will end up wishing we’d come another day—our trip to our hotel in Honolulu will expose them to too much heat, and they’ll end up wilting.
At the Molokai airport, we listen to a band playing at the airport.
The flight to Honolulu is quick. We wait for a shuttle, and discover we’re $3 short for the $18 fare. The shuttle driver tells us that at the last airport stop, there’s a cash machine where we can get cash. Husband runs in and gets cash. We end up purchasing the return fare too, so it’s $30 for the both of us, and give the driver a $5 tip for being so helpful and showing husband where the ATM is.
The drive to Honolulu takes an hour. Our hotel is first. I am extremely disappointed with our hotel, the Ambassador Waikiki. On the website, they show rooms that have water views for the one-bedroom suites for $105 per night. We’re on the 4th floor, and there’s no view. I call the desk and I’m told that the suites with views are on the 10th floor and up, and they’re $20 more. If I had known that, I would have just reserved the studios for $69 a night. We ask to downgrade to a studio, but they’re fully booked.
Not only is the view nothing like the pictures, neither is the room décor. It feels worn and outdated, there’s not even a bathtub or room service or breakfast. I’ll end up being rather grumpy the rest of the day. I feel their website is extremely misleading. Renting condos is definitely the way to go in Hawaii!
We decide to walk to the beach, which is about a 15-20 minute walk away, farther than I thought it would be. Along the way, we seen tons of fashionably dressed people and scantily clad women. The shops are ritzy and the beach is full. So far, Honolulu has left me anything but relaxed. I find myself missing Molokai and its laid-back, come-as-you-are feel.
It’s about 4:00, and we decide to head to Diamond Head. We go to an ABC store and get some bus routes. It looks like a #14 will get us there, so we wait for that. When I tell the driver that I want the trail-head for Diamond Head, he tells us to take a #22 or #23. By the time we get to the road that leads up to Diamond Head, it’s 5:00. The gates inform us that it closes at 6:00. This is poor planning on our part. We wait for another bus, and the first one that comes is jammed pack with people. We get on the next one, and go back to the hotel.
For dinner, we head to Keo’s Thai restaurant, which is right by our hotel. We don’t have a reservation, but we get right in. We order the pineapple curry with tofu ($12.95) and the seafood medley ($17.95) which has scallops, octopus, shrimp, mahi mahi, tomatoes, peppers, squash in a sweet and sour sauce. Both are excellent. Husband also has a lava flow, and dinner is about $50 with tip. We enjoy trying new dishes that we couldn’t get at home, and highly recommend Keo’s.
We go back to the hotel and decide to take an entire tour of the island with E Noa tours. Their royal circle tour is $65 per person. We book it for the next day.
Day 2 in Honolulu.
In the morning, the tour bus picks us up early for our royal circle tour of the island. This is our full day itinerary:
- Diamond Head Slopes
- Passing by Kahala (Beverly Hills of Hawaii)
- Hanauma Bay
- Halona “Blow Hole” Lookout
- Halona “From Here to Eternity” Beach
- Passing by Sandy Beach, Makapu’u Lookout and Waimanalo Hawaiian Homestead
- Nu’uanu Pali Lookout & Valley
- Passing through lush Hawaiian rainforests
- Moli’i Gardens, Macadamia Nut Hut & Moli’i Fish Pond at Kualoa Ranch (film set for hawaii Five-O, Jurassic Park, Pearl Harbor and other upcoming film productions) – Admission & personalized guided tour included ($10.00 value)
- Passing by the scenic Windward Coastline and the Ko’olau Mountains
- North Shore surfing beaches
- Passing by scenic pineapple & agriculture fields
- Dole Plantation (15-minute stop)
Honolulu, Last day of trip.
Today we go to IHOP for breakfast. It’s about 4 blocks from the Ambassador. I order the carrot cake pancakes with scrambled eggs, hash browns and sausage for $7.99. Marc orders the cream cheese/strawberry pancakes with extra meat for $9.99. With orange juice, our bill is around $25 with tip.
Stuffed full, we head to Diamond Head to walk it off. As we’re waiting for the #22, a cab drives by and says he’ll take us to Diamond Head for $3 each. “To the information center,” I ask. He says yes. We get in, and after a few blocks he informs us that it’s $4 to the information center. It ends up being $8. I don’t tip him since he changed the price after we got in the cab.
We get there around 9:30 am. The hike is fairly strenuous, but it feels good to be doing some hiking. On the way down, the spiral staircase is backed up with people coming up. I’m glad we came early. This is by far our best bargain excursion of the trip.
After the hike, we go back to the hotel room to shower off the sweat. Then we head to Chinatown for dim sum. We go to Legends, and we wait about 5 minutes for a table. It’s a Sunday and the place is packed. The first cart comes around and I recognize shrimp balls, shu mai and bean curd. It’s all delicious. We also end up trying chicken hum bao, bbq pork pastries and bbq pork noodles, seafood dumplings and taro puffs (which are somewhat bland, but at least we can say we’ve had taro). The guy seated next to me is helpful at translating what stuff is, as it’s difficult to understand the waitress in the din of the restaurant. For dessert, we have mango pudding. The bill is just over $30 with tip. The dim sum here is a step up from what we usually eat in Seattle; it tastes more “authentic.”
After lunch, I’m certain I’ll never be hungry again, and we consider canceling our dinner reservation at Duke’s. We go back to the hotel and vegetate for awhile. Around 5:00, we head out to Duke’s, still unsure if we should eat there since we’re not hungry. We wander around Waikiki, then at 6:30 arrive at Duke’s. The place is packed. The hostess takes us through the restaurant, the mid-section of which is so noisy, if we’d been seated there, I would have requested another table or left. Luckily, we’re on the far side of the restaurant, by the salad bar. There are fewer tables and it’s much quieter.
I get the salad bar and Marc orders the chicken. The salad bar is heaven. My first time around I have some ceasar salad and a bunch of cherry tomatoes. The cherry tomatoes are as good as those that come from our own garden. The second time around I have a spinach salad and a bunch of cherry tomatoes. Marc has a lava flow and the grilled chicken, which is juicy and delicious (the skin is on the breast). For dessert we have key lime pie. With tip, it’s about $55, our most expensive dinner.
After dinner, we wander around, stopping at the International Marketplace and an ABC store to pick up the last of the gifts. I haven’t got anything for my brothers (why are men so hard to shop for)? I end up getting them Hawaiian shirts—hopefully they will like them.
At the International Marketplace, I decide to buy a mother-of-pearl bracelet ($10, then $8), and a few shell bracelets for some girlfriends. The guy who helps me, Mike, is the only non-pushy vendor that I’ve seen. He’s very nice and chats with us about Seattle. He’s located to the left and a 1-2 stalls back from the International Marketplace sign/fishpond. I highly recommend going to him for any shopping here. We wander back to Waikiki and discover that a free concert is going on. After that we head back to the hotel and pack, then head to bed, completely exhausted. I am sad to be leaving Paradise!