Choosing – Part 1


Waikiki is enormous.

You have a huge range of options to choose from when it comes to accommodation. If you asked me to list all the hotels and condo buildings you could choose from, I suppose I would give it a try, but it would take a good couple of weeks of work to make sure I got them all!

The first choice to make is – do you want to book a hotel room, or a condo?

We Aussies would call a condo a self catering apartment. It usually has a kitchen and a bit more space than a hotel room would, which is important if you plan to shop til you drop. So you really need to ask yourself some questions about what kind of holiday it is that you want to have, and what kind of accommodation is going to be best for you. Here are some of the questions I suggest you ask yourself.

How many people are travelling?

This is a *key* question. In Waikiki there is a fire code which says you cannot have more than 4 people in a standard hotel room, no matter how old they are. They do enforce this pretty strictly – and there would be nothing worse than suddenly having to pony up for a second room as a result of this! So if you are a family of 5, eg 2 adults and 3 kids, or more than 4 people travelling, you are going to find it difficult to book a hotel room unless you book a family room or a family suite.

But stop and think a minute – if there are 4 of you in one room, where are you going to chill out? Most of the standard hotel rooms have beds, one chair for the desk, one chair for sitting in. There might be a couple of chairs out on the balcony but these are probably going to be difficult and heavy to bring inside.

Condos tend to have a little more space, the bedroom will often be separate from the living area which can be great if one person wants to watch tv while the other(s) sleep, and the bathroom will sometimes be larger too. You can check out some condo floor plans here.

Hotels have lobbies, and most of those have couches. Me personally I love nothing more than to sit in the lobby and people watch, but it is unlikely kids will be greatly amused by this. ๐Ÿ™‚ So you need to think about who is going with you and what they are going to be happy to do, which brings me to the next question –

How well do you know these people you are travelling with?

If this is family and you have lived together, staying in a hotel room should be perfectly fine. Sharing a bathroom should also be ok – and remember most hotel lobbies do have a bathroom for those *ahem* toilet visits you do not want to inflict on your nearest and dearest. It happens to us all, when we travel weird things happen to our insides.

But if these are acquaintances, people you have not travelled with before, you need to take a moment and think – how comfortable will you be sharing one room with these people? Do you know if they snore? Do you know if *you* snore? What are their sleeping habits? – there would be nothing worse than sharing a room with someone who likes to sleep late when you are a get up at the crack of dawn type person.

How about sharing the bathroom? What happens if one of you is in there taking a shower, and someone else needs to use the bathroom? If in doubt about any of these questions, it is possible two separate hotel rooms or a 2 bed 2 bath condo might be your best bet.

What star level suits you?

My sister is the kind of person who rarely deigns to stay in anything less than 5 star. Me, I am happy as long as I have a comfortable bed and a bathroom that works.

Where do you normally stay when you travel?

Do you have a favourite brand of hotel? Do they have a hotel in the place you want to stay? Are you a member of their points program and will you earn points for your stay?

What is your budget?

How much money do you want to spend on the room? Are you splitting the cost of this with others? If yes, will you be splitting it equally – if you are paying more than someone else this can often end in arguments and tears.

What is your budget for food?

Me personally I like to budget $100 per person, per day, for food. This is probably higher than I will spend – it is higher than most people will spend – but the good news is leftover monies can go towards the shopping budget at the end of the trip, and you can plan a couple of high end “special” nights out without feeling like you are breaking the budget.

Low Food Budget = Kitchen Might Be Awesome. Condos Have Kitchens.

If you have a low budget for food, then you might want to think about what a condo kitchen could do to help you maximise your $$. You are going to have a bigger fridge *and* freezer. If you have kids, you can keep plenty of cold juice boxes and snacks in the fridge. You can also keep bottled water in the fridge so it is cold when you need it.ย Your freezer will likely be bigย enough to put a couple of bottles of water in to freeze which can be super handy in Hawaii if you are wanting to take a picnic lunch out in a cooler bag, plus ice trays for ice for your drinks, and maybe some ice-cream.

In a condo, you will also have cutlery, plates and bowls, glasses, etc, provided with the kitchen. You can do a cold or cooked breakfast. You can make sandwiches for lunch – either to eat in or take with you. You can keep dips and snacks for “drinks hour” or drinks evening if that is how you roll. You can cook dinner. You can tip yourself for the awesome service, if you like. ๐Ÿ™‚

What Can I Cook In A Hotel Room?

Hotel rooms generally have a small bar fridge, a couple of glasses, a tiny freezer in the bar fridge, maybe a couple of coffee cups. You will not be likely to find bowls and spoons though some hotels will provide these for you if you ask – your best bet if you wanted to have cereal for breakfast in the morning you can pick up some disposable bowls and spoons fairly easily, but that is probably the extent to which you are going to want to cook in a room with no kitchen.

This means – all lunches and dinners will probably be eaten out. In the US, this generally means tipping at 15-20 percent if the service is good, on top of the cost of the food. Bear in mind US portions served to you in a restaurant will generally be too big to eat in one sitting and you might feel bad leaving leftovers behind – and you probably won’t have the space in your bar fridge to bring them back to the room.

There is a lot of great fruit available on Oahu. You can get pre-cut-up fruit from the ABC stores and it will be some of the most delicious fruit you will ever eat. You can visit farmers markets and buy fresh fruit, too. Sometimes you will probably not feel like a full meal (I found sometimes all I wanted for lunch was fruit) and you could probably make do with something you would find in the ABC store for a meal.

Does anyone travelling have food allergies? Are they vegetarian? Vegan?

If yes, eating out might be slightly more difficult for you. There are some excellent options for those with food allergies and some great vegetarian/vegan options.

How often am I going to be in the room?

If the answer is rarely, then you should consider whether you really need a 4 or 5 star hotel. There is often great threads on Tripadvisor about budget hotels – the kind you can get for between $100-150 per night. Ones I hear mentioned and recommended regularly are – Royal GroveThe BreakersWhite SandsWaikiki Sand Villa. Less money per night, the more nights you can stay!

How important is location to me?

Do you want to be on the beach? Or would you be ok with a bit of a walk? Do you want to be in the heart of the action, or is a little distance from the action ok with you? Do you want to be near the Ala Moana shopping centre? (Most of us Aussies will probably say yes to that one, a short walk for a shopping trip = awesome). If you want a beachfront condo, there is only one option within Waikiki and that is Waikiki Shore.

A lot of questions..

which only you can answer – it is your trip! Once you have answered them, you can begin to get a sense of whether ย a hotel room is going to suit you, or whether a condo might be worth looking into.

Next time in part 2 – we will talk about places where you can find and compare hotels & condos, reviews of both, how to interpret reviews, and how to begin making a short list.

Booking Spree

Let me give you a potentially useful tip. ๐Ÿ™‚

When you are planning your holiday, as you find things you want to do and you work out which provider you want to book with.. it is better to make the booking once you have decided than to leave it all to the “last minute”.

I just did a booking spree – booked 3 tours and one airport transfer. This sounds like such an easy thing to do, right?

Ok, one of the tours was 100% easy. Oahu Photography Tours has long been on my want to do list, ever since I read MrsCombs post about it (which you can read hereย and you can see some of MrsCombs photos here). So it was simply a matter of deciding which of the three tours we wanted to do. We chose the complete tour.

The Big Island tours are another story.

First up, let me talk about our decision not to rent a car on the Big Island. We would be driving an unfamiliar car on the wrong side of the road, and on our second day we would be driving it up to the summit of Mauna Kea which is over 13,000 feet above sea level.

I have never been more than 2,000 feet above sea level, apart from on a flight where the cabin is pressurised so you are not affected by the altitude and lack of oxygen. I am a bit worried about how I will be affected by the altitude but to be honest am somewhat more worried about the other half.

My understanding is that roughly one car each week is rescued from Mauna Kea for one reason or another. Here is a post from one of the Big Island bloggers who works at the summit with one such example. That prompted this letter to county officials.

We would much rather take a tour where someone else who is used to the altitude and the roads etc can worry about the driving. So that was a big part of the decision.ย Plus most rental cars cannot be taken to the summit at all.

We are only there for 3 nights and we would like to take a Circle Island tour – again where we can sit back, relax, look out the windows while someone else worries about the driving.

All of these are choices we made for our own holiday, I am not saying they are better than the other options available, I am saying these are the things *we* wanted to do. To each their own. ๐Ÿ™‚

First up we had the Mauna Kea Summit Tour. I had narrowed these down to between Hawaii Forest and Trail, and Mauna Kea Summit Tours. We took a look at the reviews for these tours and chose Hawaii Forest and Trail.

Price wise there is not a lot of difference, there is not much difference in the tours themselves, the major difference is in the dinner provided and either of these tours had an option which would suit. ย So we spent a while trying to pick between the two. I remember I made the decision a few months ago but I couldn’t remember which one I picked to book!

By this time I was starting to get a headache.. then it was time to book our Hawaii Circle Island Tour for the Big Island. After much debate, we chose Roberts for the tour, and I booked the airport transfers at the same time.

I’m now looking at possible options for a morning snorkel tour before we leave the Big Island.

Our holiday is getting closer, I am getting pretty excited. ๐Ÿ™‚ The itinerary had to change around a little to fit the Oahu tour in.

Harbor VS Harbour

Or, why there are times when you should ignore spellcheck on your computer.

Please note, Pearl Harbor is spelled without a U in Harbor.

We Aussies have a problem in that there is an issue for us with words that end in or. Most of our words that end in or we have been taught to spell our.

It is not meant to disrespect anyone, it is what we are taught to do in school, and we now have the added issue of spelling check software in our browsers telling us that or words are spelled incorrectly, they will appear with a red line underneath and if we right click it will tell us Harbor should be spelled Harbour. Like this –



Some people get very upset when they see the name of a place they consider sacred spelled incorrectly, and sadly they will hassle Aussies about it when we are only doing what we have been taught to do.

Our bad for following what has been trained into us since we were kids in a classroom – but their bad for not understanding this is a British English VS American English issue.

A thought going forward for those people who feel the need to correct others – perhaps contact someone by private message to gently correct them rather than make a post on an internet forum. Just a thought. ๐Ÿ™‚

You might also want to consider, people have been mispelling Pearl Harbor on Tripadvisor since.. well.. since Tripadvisor began to exist. Most of the people who hang out there know this is a British VS American spelling issue, and hold off on making comment on the spelling as a result, instead focusing on the actual question asked, which is the whole point of Tripadvisor in the first place.

Interestingly we do have at least one one Harbor in Australia – Victor Harbor in South Australia.

Victor Harbor, Southern Australia, seen from G...

Victor Harbor, Southern Australia, seen from Granite Island (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Despite the fact that harbour is normally spelt with a u in modern Australian English, the name of the city is spelt Victor Harbor. This spelling, found in several geographical names in South Australia, including Outer Harbor, is the result of spelling errors made by an early Surveyor General of South Australia.[5] Conversely Victor Harbour railway station is spelt with the u.