Tree TIme

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Across the road from the fruit stands on the North Shore, there is a little path which leads to this tree. I cannot look at this photo without tasting the Banana Lumpia I was eating while here.

We’re coming up to Christmas which is a really busy time of year for everyone, so don’t be surprised to see less posts from us over the next 2 weeks.

On top of that, we – that is Beedoo747 and her other half – decided to give another kitty a forever home for Christmas and we are struggling a bit with the introduction to our older cat.

I did get a lovely invitation from the Hawai’i Tourism Authority to fill in a visitor satisfaction survey after filling in a visitor questionnaire at the airport, and I will take some photos of this to share with you sometime this week.

Our Holiday Condo – Ilikai 1925

We rented our condo via VRBO and you can find it here – Beautifully Remodelled Ilikai Gem. This will be a photo intensive post – we did take a lot of pictures of the condo and the items supplied. I will put the text at the top and try to save photos for the end, unless the photo relates to the text.

About the unit

This is a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom unit. Each bedroom has a queen sized bed with a memory foam topper. One bathroom is an ensuite with a shower over the bath, the other bathroom is a separate bathroom with a separate shower and no bathtub. There is a full size kitchen with stove, microwave, fridge, and dishwasher.

Also a note – When you contact the owner via VRBO she will put you in touch with Marina Hawaii Vacations who manage this unit.

Why we chose this unit

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Dining and lounge area – somehow I forgot to take a closeup of the lounge area!

The main reason we chose this unit over other units available was the lounge furniture. We most wanted a comfortable lounge setting which was solid enough to handle my good friend who as you may already be aware is a person of magnitude at just over 300 pounds when we travelled. So we ruled out all units with cane lounges – and there are a lot of those with this being Hawaii!

Out of the units left once we narrowed down the choices and ruled out the cane stuff, this unit had availability for our dates plus had the advantage of 2 bedrooms and 2 *separate* bathrooms.

Would we stay here again?

Absofreakinglutely, in a heartbeat. This unit was everything we thought it would be, and more. Plus we loved the Ilikai – more about that later though.

Just one negative for us

As I always like to do, lets get the negative out of the way first. Unit wise, I felt there was only one negative to this unit and some people will actually find it a positive – the curtains in the bedrooms are not block out curtains. This is the only thing I would change if this unit belonged to me.

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The bedroom of bigaln2

For me, because I do work night shift, my bedroom is usually a bat cave – very dark. So I find it a bit harder to be able to sleep when there is light. Then again, you are in Hawaii, who wants to sleep, right?

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Our bed in our bedroom – very comfortable when it was time to sleep

Some street noise

There was some street noise because this unit – although it is on level 19 – does look out over Ala Moana Boulevard. However for me this was not noisy enough to be considered a negative. The one thing I did notice most noise wise was theBus – when it stops it makes a beeping noise. From our bedroom we did have a view over the Hilton Hawaiian Village lagoon and we could see the ocean too.

There was also some noise when the Hilton were holding their Luau, however this was such a great thing not a bad thing, we usually went out onto the balcony and enjoyed it.

If you want a totally silent dark bat cave to sleep in, this is not the right unit for you to rent.

What we did love

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Living and dining area.

I honestly loved everything else about this unit including the amount of light that comes in during the day when you are awake and not wanting to sleep. The decor is very neutral and isn’t going to disturb anyones peace of mind, which is great when you are on holiday. There is nothing there which seems old and certainly nothing ugly.

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The glasses cupboard.

I loved that there were large plastic tumblers – glass and me never works out well in the kitchen. However there were also glass options if you did want to go that way – the best of both worlds.

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Desk Area

There were plenty of coat hangers in the cupboards, plenty of drawer space, a lovely little desk for your laptop, some beautiful art on the walls, and there was even a night light in the ensuite. Towels and linen were provided and I have to say were excellent, the bed sheets and quilt provided were extremely comfortable. The memory foam topper was *awesome* and the beds were extremely comfortable.

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Kitchen Drawer Contents

I could tell that the owner of this unit has spent some time thinking about what people are going to need to use cookery wise, the cupboards were full of useful kitchen items.

Air Conditioning

The unit had you covered 100% air-conditioning wise – there is a split system air-conditioner head unit in each bedroom *plus* a split system air-conditioner in the main living area directly across from the couches. The owner has not done this on the cheap either – they have put in reliable units which provide only white noise and the occasional water pump sound. I cannot tell you if each head unit has their own outside unit or not, I did not investigate that further.

I often found the air-conditioning too cool and would turn the unit(s) off until one of the *ahem* men (That would be the one from the cold climate!) noticed it was off and would turn it back on. I would usually only leave the main living room unit on when we went out and would go around turning the bedroom ones off as we left. Hey – I am in Hawaii, I like it warm.

Marina Hawaii Vacations

Our experience with this company was fantastic – with one tiny exception and that was that they moved from Level 2 down to the lobby right before we visited and so we had some trouble finding them to begin with – the maps said level 2, my paperwork said level 2, we got to level 2 and found the original office which had a note on the door that they had moved to the lobby and we had to walk around a bit to find them. Nobody we asked was sure where the new office was.

With that said, the new office is absolutely gorgeous and the staff were welcoming and helpful. We were not there for very long because we had already paid the full balance a week in advance (to test out my new credit card) and so we were given the key cards, some paperwork with instructions, and told the most important rule which is not to hang towels or other items from the lanai – this is not something we would ever do anyway. 🙂

The Ilikai Experience 

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The Ilikai Lobby

We loved The Ilikai overall. The lobby is beautiful, there are plenty of places to sit and chill if you wanted to do that, there is a lovely chair outside where you can wait for your car to be returned to you by the valet, the lifts were responsive and generally fast, the location is spot on for we Aussies who shop.

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The laundry – two washers, two dryers on each floor.

There are laundry facilities which we did make use of on a couple of occasions.

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Internal Corridor.

The one small downside is that the internal corridors are like saunas. It gets very warm in there and there seemed to be no air-conditioning there.

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View of The Ilikai from the Discovery Bay Center across the road.

There is a bus stop very close by and this also happens to be the stop where a lot of pickups tend to happen e.g. PG Plover out to Waikele – you are usually the first picked up and the first dropped back to your hotel on any tours which is a bonus. This is also one of the better theBus stops for people wanting to go to KCC Farmers Market and get a seat on the bus.

We already mentioned the awesome KiMOBEAN for coffee, breakfast, and free wifi nearby in the Discovery Centre – there is also the great ABC Superette a short walk away on the corner of Ala Moana Boulevard and Hobron Lane for all your snacks, treats, and general ABC shopping type needs. If the Superette doesn’t have all of the items you’re looking for, there is another ABC store located just up Ala Moana Blvd. by Magokoro.

The Ilikai Pool

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The Ilikai Pool Area

If you read the reviews for the Ilikai from time to time you will hear about the people who live in the condos being extremely possessive and somewhat territorial when it comes to the pool. Having been in the pool, I now get why they might be like that – this pool is heated to a temperature of such perfection rarely encountered in the world. I have been to many hotel pools as well as regular swimming pools during my time on this planet and I have to say – this pool is my most favourite, ever. That is saying something huge.

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The Ilikai Pool Area

We did not experience the territorial stuff because we always went to the pool right before dinner, about 6:30pm, the pool was not used a lot at that time, it closed at 7:30, and I think the most people we ever encountered there were 4 kids plus 2 adults.

There is a staff member at the pool who gives out towels, who would often tell kids not to run – the staff member would also assist the kids when they needed help with things and kept a very close eye on the happenings at the pool making sure rules like no diving were obeyed which if I were a parent I would be pretty happy about – but please note there is no lifeguard on duty here.

So Much Space 

I don’t think it would be very easy to go back to staying in a standard hotel room after this condo experience. We had so much space to spread out – the living room area was where we spent a lot of time chatting and planning our plots of action. In a regular hotel room you wouldn’t have that couch area and extra space. I’m definitely sold on condos from now on, and I do have quite a long list of favourites for future trips.

Some more photos

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The entrance area with shoe rack

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Main Bathroom

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Main Bathroom 2

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Ensuite

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Ensuite 2

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The art above the desk

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The kitchen and dining area

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TV, Aircon, Honu wall art

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Lift area at the lobby

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Excellent fridge space, plenty of room!

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Plates and bowls plus martini glasses

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Rice cooker, blender, and more glasses

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Dishwasher

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Pots & pans

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Tea towels and pot holders

Large Feet..

You know what they say about people with large feet.. they have large.. shoes.

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Christian Siriano Violetta Shoe – $29.99

Payless Shoesource are fortunate to often have fashion designers create shoes exclusively for them – Christian Siriano is a regular designer for Payless, in past years (2011) (2012) I have seen shoes by designers like Isabel Toledo and Lela Rose.

Me personally I wear size 10 or 11 depending on the shoe.

Unfortunately in Australia it is a bit difficult to find these large shoes, especially in pretty styles. But on Oahu? You will be spoiled for choice. Usually the section for size 11 is tiny – have a look at this size 11 section at Payless just behind the International Marketplace!

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Here are some size 10 shoes at the same Payless –

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These are not all of the size 10 shoes in the store – the boys were rushing me through here and I did not get to take all the photos I wanted to..

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They have a pretty decent range of boots for a warm climate state!

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This is just one store. You will find most of the shoe stores stock most styles in size 10-11.

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The shoes on Oahu are very reasonably priced and there is a large range to choose from.

You can get a preview before your trip of the available shoes at Payless Shoesource by visiting their website – they sadly do not ship to Australia.

Happy Shoe Shopping!

Leaving Kona

This starts just after the end of our Circle Island Tour mentioned here part 1part 2

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On the way back to our room we checked out the pool area – though I never got to swim in it this area would be a great place to spend some time and the pool was quite warm for Hawaii. I usually find them way too cold.

We took some night shots from the pool area of the Celebrity Millenium leaving, and then some night shots of Kona and the other half showed me his “magic lantern” software which is a hack for Canon cameras. You don’t have to touch the camera to take a night shot – you just wave your hand near the screen and it uses the face proximity sensor to take the shot once you have waved a certain amount. It also can switch the text on the screen to red for astronomy photography.

We headed to Quinns Almost by the Sea for dinner. I chose the deep fried Ono with pineapple slaw, and the other half chose.. a burger, I think. He loves a burger. The photos of this are among the who knows where they vanished to.. 😦

Some more wandering about after dinner, dropping into a shop or few.. then back to the hotel to pack and then for a well earned sleep. Packing was difficult because we had packed very light to begin with but we had purchased some items and we had to make room for them. Plus, we had worn our boots, jeans, and heavy stuff for the flight over from Australia which meant there was not room for them in the luggage. So we left our outfits for tomorrow out which was going to be some quite warm wears for the very warm Kona.

That next morning we were to leave and for some reason I woke up around 4:45 and couldn’t get back to sleep so I took the laptop out onto the balcony for some typing time and wow it was gorgeous out there. The moon was up, then the sun rose, and the whole time the waves were crashing, it was just a lovely spot to be.

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We wandered down to our favourite coffee place to use the free wifi while caffeinating, then to Splashers grill again for another wonderful breakfast. The water glasses were a gorgeous shade of blue. The location is perfect for people watching and on the days a cruise ship is in, watching tenders arrive and offload the cruise people.

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If you are looking for good coffee, Splashers is not the place to find it if you want espresso – they do not offer this. If you are ok with filter coffee (we call it filtered sock coffee, not huge fans of it!) they do supply that for free.

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We found the coffee downstairs at Kona Farm Direct to be the coffee we were looking for and had our coffee downstairs before breakfast soaking up the sun and enjoying the free wifi KFD offers. We ordered juices and water at Splashers instead, plus the KFD wifi does work upstairs in Splashers.

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Both times I chose the Kona omelette with bacon cheese and topped with avocado but the second time I added mushroom, this may have been a step too far.

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On this last visit the other half chose the Ham and Cheese omelette with hash browns.

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On the previous visit he had the Pancake breakfast.

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The bill was extremely reasonable for us who are used to Aussie prices, and as the service was excellent we tipped appropriately.

I would recommend this place for breakfast and seeing some of the other reviews, I wish we had tried it for dinner as well.

Walking down to Splashers there was cloud cover but by the time we sat down the sun had come out and I knew it was going to be a warm walk back to the hotel. We SMS’d my parents and told them to go watch the Konaweb webcam so they could see us. A bit of lack of skill on their part with page loading caused some confusion at first but they did manage to spot us on the webcam and we waved hi.

On the way back we stopped in at a rock and mineral shop I had spotted because I was hoping they might have a piece of that lava rock encased in resin or something. No such luck but I did find some bluestone and an opalite dolphin which spoke to me.

More wandering, an ABC store browse then back to the hotel to check out. The wonderful Diane helped us once again and she remembered us and asked how our tour went. That is so lovely. 🙂 Great work Diane!

We had booked the Roberts shuttle to pick us up and take us to the airport – the shuttle bus was early and we were the only ones on it. So basically we enjoyed a private ride to the airport on a 15 or so seater minibus. And this my friends is where the enjoyment abruptly ended.

First of all we could not use the check in kiosks – possibly because our booking was online from Australia, I was missing a code or barcode on the paperwork. So we had to check in manually, which we waited 20 minutes to do.

There were only two staff checking in, one was for general cattle class and one was for first class and once she was done with her check in we were not invited to be checked in by her, and by this time the other staff member checking in had discovered some sort of issue with something which required all three check in staff to go and gaze at her computer and totally ignore us for at least 10 minutes, until a different staff member came out and checked us in. Pretty poor service right there.

Then, having stood in an open air airport queue for over 20 minutes – having brought no water because you are not allowed to take it through security, we then waited over 40 minutes to proceed through said security. No water, nobody offering anyone any water considering there was a long wait, and no place I could see to get any water – I did not venture out of the queue because we did not want to lose our place.

This was pretty frustrating, I’ll be honest. And all the way along this queue, there were conflicting signs giving different information about what was allowed in and what was not, and what had to be removed and what did not have to be. A poor effort. The security people were nice enough once we got to them, and once past the first checkpoint the process was fairly quick. I have no idea why they needed to see our passports which I had put away as well as our drivers licenses for interisland travel but whatevs. Who knows the whys, it just is.

Once through security we could get some water at last which we demolished pretty quickly. Again Hawaiian showed their talent and skill and the organisation level for their whole operation is mind bogglingly amazing. We were there super early so sat around and no free wifi sadly, we got an SMS from Bigaln2 who was flying into HNL that day letting us know there had been a shooting at LAX and he was now in Salt Lake City and would be delayed, which he was, eventually arriving into HNL around 10pm rather than 5pm. This was probably the only real “mishap” of our trip – all our flights and tours were otherwise on time.

We tried to be the very last people on the plane, a difficult task I will admit when everyone is on Hawaiian time. Sadly we failed and a group of kids heading to camp got on behind us, and that was it. On board, take off, fly for I believe 15-20 minutes and get served some POG – the rest of the time is taxi-ing. Back to the Inter Island terminal, we arranged the Speedi Shuttle while waiting for the luggage to appear, then off to the Ilikai with a full bus load of people. We chatted to the people next to us who were fascinating (as I find most people travelling to or in HNL to be) and were the first drop off.

Next time – Our condo in detail, a surgical shopping strike.

Hawaiian Airlines Fleet

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This was our plane from Kona back to Honolulu. The Boeing B717 is a pocket rocket of an aircraft and one I love to fly on. It is also quite roomy and very cute to look at, as far as planes go.

Hawaiian Airlines currently flies a fleet of 18 of these B717 planes. They also have 13 Boeing 767s and 3 other 767 in storage in Phoenix, Arizona.

They also presently have 14 Airbus A330-200 – by 2015 they will have 22 in total – and in 2017 will start adding brand new Airbus A321neo to the fleet – across 3 years, they will take delivery of 16 with an option for 9 more.

You can read Hawaiian Airlines press releases here.

Pacifikool Ginger Drinks

If you go to the KCC Farmers Market, or some of the other farmers markets or food events, you may stumble across the wonderful folks from Pacifikool. The stand will look something like this –

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They have quite a few different drinks that they make with their absolutely stunning Ginger syrup.

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On this occasion Bigaln2 chose the Berries and Ginger, while I went for the Pineapple and Ginger. What you get is the Pacifikool Ginger Syrup with various additions (e.g. mint, lime, lemon, berries) and then mineral/soda water on top. They give it a good stir with the special spoon.

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As with all times when you are in a group and you choose different things from the menu, one person has to be the winner and get the best, most awesome tasting item. On this occasion it was sadly not me. We tried each others drinks and the Berries and Ginger was far and away the most awesome.

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We actually had two each of these while at KCC – we grabbed the first one while we walked around and looked at everything, and a second cup when it was time to sit down and eat. Unfortunately when we went to grab the second cup they had sold out of the Berries and Ginger, so we had to both get the Island Ginger Ale. It was still awesome! It is just the Berries option took this drink to a different and much higher level..

You can find out where you can buy the syrups to make your own drinks and where Pacifikool will be while you are on island by visiting this page. You can also order the syrups online but they ship to US only at this stage. The syrup needs to be refrigerated and has absolutely zero preservatives, or artificial flavouring and colouring.

If you like ginger beer you have to try this – it is seriously awesome.

Note from bigaln2: We did buy a bottle of the syrup while at the KCC, but we did not have an opportunity to give it a try while in Oahu. Because of that, I did take it home with me. I have only made the basic island ginger ale so far, but they do include with every bottle a recipe card that tells you how to do different drinks. You can also get the recipes online here.

At one point in time I will have to get the Thai ginger to give some of the other options a go, but I am also curious to try out maybe some different citrus juices in the drinks like lime in the pineapple ginger ale. 🙂