Make the most of your Honolulu Layover

By Kate Blake- Admin Aerotravelplus and agent

Kate’s Oahu Self-Drive Tour in a Day

I visited Oahu recently and found myself with a full day with no plans. My hotel kicked me out at 11am and my flight was not leaving until 10:30 PM from the Honolulu airport. What was I to do? I opted to take a cab to the airport and pick up a rental car and head out exploring the rest of the island for the day.
I am going to outline for you a couple of nice sightseeing routes that make your last day in the islands one you will not forget.

First- take a cab to the airport- it was about $60 from where I was in Ko’lina , it is about $25-40 from Honolulu and Waikiki. Rent a car for the day ahead of time- I used and got a Jeep Compass for $65 including insurance. If I had known what a dog the Compass was ( horrible transmission) I would have opted for a Nissan Altima which was cheaper and nicer to drive. I rented through Hertz so it was quick easy and pretty much on site at the airport.

Download a drive map of Oahu

From the airport I recommend taking the H1 west and follow the signs to the north shore of Oahu- this is where the surfers go for the big waves and there is amazing scenery all along the way.
You will take the H1 to the H2 and then to the 99 and on to the 83 east. Get a map and you can see this takes you directly through the middle of the island. Just past the Schofiled Barracks you will see to the east of the road on the 99 the Dole Pineapple Plantation. This is a fun stop for snacks and to learn about pineapple farming in the islands.

Continue up the 99 and as you come over the hills you will get sweeping views of the north shore. Head west toward Waialua and out to Mokuleia for empty beaches with pounding surf and unspoiled views. You can go sky diving at the Dillingham Airport which is at the far western tip of the north side of the island. Not so adventurous? Head east toward Haleiwa and the 83. Haleiwa is a great stop to stop for lunch. There are usually tons of food trucks in the town as well as some cute restaurants and coffee shops. You can also check out art galleries.

Continue on 83 east and you will see miles of beaches- there are houses along the ways but the beaches are public- there is nowhere you can’t go. Stop and put your toes in the sand and enjoy the water.

Want an easy bit of beautiful ? Stop at Waimea Valley. There is a restaurant, gorgeous botanical gardens and the only fully wheelchair accessible waterfall on the island. There is a modest admission fee and they offer golf carts to take you up to the falls if it is really hot and sticky and you do not want to offend fellow travelers on your flight home. There is a nice restaurant on site here too.

You can take Hwy 83 all the way to the northern tip of the island then back down and around along the eastern shore. Key stops include the Kualoa Ranch where Jurassic Park and other tv and movies have been filmed. This can also be reached directly by taking the H1 to the H3 east from the airport and then the 83 north. Tours can be booked online ahead of time.

The 83 turns into the 72 which will complete your circle of the island ending in Waikiki at Diamond Head. Or you can take the H3 back to the H1 and return to the airport. I went into Honolulu and stopped at the Ala Moana Centershopping mall located just off the Nimitz Hwy and did a little shopping. Hilo Hattie is an institution also located on the Nimitz and on you way back to the airport. Get gas in town and you are ready to head back to the airport. My full circle plus 2 hours at the mall for a pedicure and shopping was about 10 hours in total.  The shops near the gates for the late night flights do not open until about 2 hours before the flights so there is no reason to rush to the airport.

Hope this helps give you some ideas on how to turn your long wait for a flight into a bonus day you will remember in Hawaii!

Source: Make the most of your Honolulu Layover

In the steps of Elvis- your own Blue Hawaii Experience

In the steps of Elvis- your own Blue Hawaii Experience
by Kate Blake
Admin Aerotravelplus and agent

The 1961 classic film Blue Hawaii starring Elvis Presley stands out from other beach movies of the era because it was filmed on location in Hawaii. Hawaii had just begun really growing as a tourist destination with daily flights from the mainland bringing tourists to Honolulu to experience the south Pacific they had heard so much about from GIs who had been through there or stationed there during World War II and beyond.

Blue Hawaii is pretty light on story but it is fun and they visited a lot of locations that are today considered iconic Hawaiian landmarks. The story started on Oahu and the Honolulu airport which was so small in 1961- you can’t really recognize the airport from then when you land there today. One thing that remains the same- any decent tour operator will make sure you are greeted with a lovely lei- this is a necklace made of native flowers.

Here is Elvis being kind of a jerk to his girlfriend who meets him at the airport with a lei courtesy of Waihila played by Hilo Hattie. Hattie is the same woman whose name graces the fun Hilo Hattie Hawaiian clothing shops which can be found on Maui, Kauai and in Honolulu at the Ala Moana Mall.

When you reserve a Hawaii hotel and cruise combo with , and WMPH Vacations- you will be met by a greeter who will drape you with a lei upon landing at the airport! Your greeters then take you to baggage claim and your driver who will take you to your hotel.
Upgrade your hotel experience to the Hilton Hawaiian Village and you will walk in the steps of Elvis! This landmark hotel has undergone a number of renovations over the years but its prime location in the heart of Waikiki remains the same. There is no place better to shop, have lunch on the beach or try your luck at surfing! Make sure you are up EARLY to ensure you can get some amazing views as the sunrises over the water.

One thing not shown in the movie- the Hilton has a fantastic tradition- on Friday nights they have a fireworks show! This is every week once the sun goes down.

Elvis’s character in Blue Hawaii Chad Gates really does not want to go into the family business and work for the pineapple company- but he does take his group of tourists to see pineapples being farmed. You can see the world famous Dole Pineapple Plantation on Oahu with a tour or it is an easy drive from the Honolulu airport and makes part of a great day trip on your own if you have a late night flight and time to kill. Rent a car and go!

Need ideas on how to spend a day driving around Oahu? See my post- Make the most of your Honolulu layover

If you want to snorkel where Elvis and Maile do in Blue Hawaii- you can go where the Obamas went just this week- head to beautiful Hanauma Bay State Park. You can get inexpensive shuttle service from Waikiki hotels so this is a great way to spend an afternoon without spending a fortune- and perfect if your hotel is not right on the beach. The snorkeling is amazing and the park looks pretty much the same as it did 50 years ago.

If you want to experience an authentic Hawaiian Luau you can spend a day at the Polynesian Cultural Center- it was featured in the movie. If you prefer a beach front luau- go off script and either book one under the stars on the roof of the Hilton Hawaiian Village or go to the west side of the island for a beachfront toes in the sane experience at Paradise Cove. Your travel agent can help you pre-book a luau- just ask.

The second half of the movie moves to Kauai. If you take a cruise around the Hawaiian islands on the Pride of America – you get to spend a day and half on this lovely island.

The Coco Palms hotel where the Kauai scenes were shot was destroyed by hurricane Iniki in 1992- this was the same year that Jurassic Park was being filmed on the island and Steven Spielberg and the cast had to hunker down as the hurricane whirled around them. There is a current project under way finally to redevelop the resort. It is scheduled to re-open in 2017.

Blue Hawaii wedding scene

Just across the road from the resort is the Smith Family ranch – you can book a luau and trip to the fern grotto where the Hawaiian wedding scenes were shot for the film. The grotto was also damaged by the hurricane but 20 years later the fern grotto is beautiful again.

Need more Elvis? You can book a night of Elvis impersonator fun in Maui with the Burnin’Love dinner show ( you do an overnight on the Pride of America cruise)
You can have a night of more Elvis fun in Honolulu at the RockaHula event at the Royal Hawaiian Theater – the Legends in Concert Waikiki includes Elvis and friends

To get in the mood- I recommend picking up Blue Hawaii on DVD- which makes a great gift for anyone heading to Hawaii for the first time or returning for the first time in a long time.

Best time to visit Hawaii? Value season is fall before Thanksgiving and the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Christmas and New Years are peak season- rates dip again after easter and through May. Summer rates from June – August are at the highest for the year when the kids are out of school. End of August is a great time for families rates drop a little and airfare drops a lot once you are past the first week of August.

To make the most of your Elvis Hawaii experiences check out a Hawaii Cruise Combo !

Source: In the steps of Elvis- your own Blue Hawaii Experience