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. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Ilikai Experienceย 

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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 KiMOBEANย 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 Spaceย 

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

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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 โ€“ 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 โ€œmagic lanternโ€ software which is a hack for Canon cameras. You don’t have to touch the camera to take a night shot โ€“ 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.. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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. ๐Ÿ™‚ Great work Diane!

We had booked the Roberts shuttle to pick us up and take us to the airport โ€“ 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 โ€“ 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 โ€“ 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 โ€“ 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 โ€œmishapโ€ of our trip โ€“ 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 โ€“ 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.

Magokoro – Totally Awesome.

This post will be long and contain a lot of photos of the menu, and then some photos of the sushi which will likely make you very hungry. I make no apologies for this. Just go here, and eat here, if you like sushi and even if you do not, try one of their “sets” like Teriyaki Chicken.
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If we had to list a top five of meals we had on Oahu, the dinner we ate at Magokoro would be 2nd on the list for me. The sushi here was more like art on a plate, absolutely delicious and the best sushi I have eaten in.. well.. this might be the best sushi I have ever eaten.

We visited Magokoro on the night of Friday the 8th of November, after our twilight tour at the zoo and then dropping back the rental car. I do not remember whether we had already eaten or when we last ate but we were pretty hungry by the time we got here.

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Todays special list. This will be presented to you with your menu.

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Sashimi menu

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More menu.

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And more menu.

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And yet more menu.

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I like the sound of Ginger Pork Set, but we were here for sushi!

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Sushi Roll Menu

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Nigiri Sushi menu.

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At least it is not Spite. ๐Ÿ™‚

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We decided to try the Mai Tai.

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And here it is, looks almost exactly like on the menu!

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The sushi chefs were extremely busy making sushi for everyone. I took a few photos but did not get a single one in which the chefs were not blurry! Speedy sushi makers!

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And speaking of speedy, here arrived our first sushi. California Roll. Bigaln2 and I were sharing, so we each got 3 each of these serves.

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California Roll and Spicy Tuna Roll. One thing I liked about the sushi was that it is bite sized, not too large like sometimes sushi can be.

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The other half ordered Teriyaki Chicken Set.

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Rainbow Roll – this is so gorgeous we did not think we should eat it, if you can believe it, this tasted even better than it looked.

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Some more closeups of the Rainbow Roll.

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So at this time we had everything we had ordered – we also ordered Gyoza but none of us took a photo of that – small brain fail. We were still hungry, so we ordered up some more sushi and some tempura.

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Vegetable Tempura

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Vegetable Roll

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Philadephia Roll

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We did not order.. whatever this was. But it sounded very interesting – I am still not sure if they were trying to say this is low class liquor or if it was very high class rare distilled liquor. Then again if the low class liquor means love is good.. well, who knows what the heck this is all about..

The Mai Tai was more than enough for me and it was packed full of booze, whether low class or high class, it was the equivalent of 3 drinks for me. We walked out of here full of food, and quite drunk to boot, after only one drink! And the cooking was made to feel very tastily!

I did not feel any oil or fat component. But I did feel a need to stop in at the ABC store very near to Magokoro on the way back to the Ilikai and pick up some more lip balm, and there I watched a man much more drunk than me trying to pay and epically failing. Even with one very strong drink in me, I navigated the US Dollars with talent and skill.

And here you see the bill, which is extremely reasonable for the huge amount of food we ate.

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We tipped generously but I forget exactly how much. I know it was in accordance with the feeling of that day, which was a very happy one. (Bigaln2 will note here that the tip was 25%, or about $23 :))

We truly loved this place, and would have returned over and over, if not for the fact that we had very few days left. Next visit I predict at least 3 meals being eaten here, and one time I might get the ginger pork set.

If you like what you saw in the photos here, I strongly recommend a visit. See Magokoro on YelpSee Magokoro on Tripadvisor (with a review from our much loved Harleynut)

Magokoro is atย 1831 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu – you will find it between the Ilikai and the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

The wonderful Amberloo on the TripAdvisor Oahu forums recommended this place in the Amberloo and Food thread on Tripadvisor, which you should read in full before visiting Oahu. So we and our stomachs would like to say a huge thank you to Amberloo for this recommendation, we *loved* Magokoro.

Magokoro on Urbanspoon

Round Table Pizza

It is finally time for some more food reviews to appear here on the blog. Yays! I hope you are hungry for Pizza today. ๐Ÿ™‚
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We visited the Hilton Hawaiian Village location of Round Table Pizza. There are a couple of tables outside and quite a few inside where it is air-conditioned – I personally find it extremely cold in there and lovely outside – so we were lucky we were able to find a seat outside.

I have eaten at Round Table Pizza on my last 3 trips to Oahu and I love the pizza here. We also had lunch here on one occasion in 2010 where we had salads and they were awesome too.

On this occasion we ordered three pizzas to share knowing there would likely be leftovers to take back to the condo. We ordered small pizzas, but when you get there, you’ll see sizes on the wall that let you know what size each pizza is.

You’re going to get two photos of each pizza – first up one from me with the Panasonic Lumix, then one from Bigaln2 with his Canon PowerShot ๐Ÿ™‚ His photos are the better ones, this time. Yes, each time, one person must win, lol.

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Hearty Bacon Supreme – creamy garlic sauce, three cheeses, bacon, ham, Italian sausage, tomatoes, green onions, chopped garlic – this normally comes with mushrooms but the other half does not like them, so we took them off. This was quite awesome.

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Kalua Pig Supreme – red sauce, three cheeses, Kalua pig, pepperoni, Italian sausage, Portuguese sausage, tomatoes, white and green onions, chopped garlic. This was pretty awesome.

But now, for my very favourite – this is the pizza I always have ordered, and the one I most love.

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King Arthur Supreme – Pepperoni, Italian sausage, salami, linguica, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, black olives on zesty red sauce – We added anchovies and also asked for extra mushroom. This pizza is supremely awesome.

What I most love about this pizza is there is not too much cheese and masses of awesome toppings. If you get pizza to take away, they give you packets of parmesan and you can ask for parmesan if you are eating in – I recommend adding it, it is da bomb. ๐Ÿ™‚

This will always be a place that we visit when on Oahu. There are other locations as well, if you are not down this end of Waikiki there are a few others you can visit – browse locations here.

Round Table Pizza on Urbanspoon

Beauty.. and a curse?

The part of the Mauna Kea Summit & Stargazing tour I loved was when we stopped at a lava flow to get out and have a closer look at it. While standing on the lava, under my foot a piece of the lava broke off.

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Curious, I picked it up and on one side it was just black crusty looking stuff โ€“

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On the other side when I turned it over, there was the most gorgeous colours and it was all sparkly. It was like someone took a rainbow and embedded it in the lava. What if I had not turned it over, and just put it back down?

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I so wanted to take that rock home with me but we have this life rule โ€“

take only photographs, leave only footprintsย 

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I called the other half over and we took a lot of photos of that rock and I hoped that maybe one of them could do it justice. However though you get an idea of the beauty of it, not a single one comes close to the amazing brilliance I held in my hand that day. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Sometimes the rules we live by are difficult to keep to but we have to live by them. Sure I could have made an exception for this but where would that end?

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I hoped we might find one of these rocks that I could buy somewhere โ€“ perhaps suspended in resin because I thought it was pretty brittle โ€“ that was until the next tour we took the next day, when I learned of Pele’s Curse.

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So if you are visiting areas with lava flows, when you stop to look at the lava, make sure to bend down and flip one of the broken pieces over, you might see something that stuns you. I suspect it has started a renewed interest for me in rocks and minerals. I have always loved them โ€“ when I was a child my favourite Grandmother would take me to the museum and I would be stuck in the minerals room for hours on end, just looking at them and learning about them.

The museum at the town I grew up in (Adelaide) and spent all that time in has a huge collection of rocks and minerals and they have installed a mineral wall with every colour of the rainbow represented. I have photos of it somewhere but I can’t find them right now – here is a picture you can view.

There were quite a few parts of this tour I did not love, but that is for another day.

Royal Kona Resort

This post is a copy of my TripAdvisor Review, with a few more photos included here.rkr6

On arrival on 29th October we headed to reception. There was water with lemon and other citrus (not sure did not try this) where guests arrive so you could grab a drink while you checked in, if you wanted to. We did not, having had POG on the short plane ride over.

Diane checked us in and she was lovely, and asked us if two doubles would be ok. Probably they would have but being used to a king at home we asked if there might be a king bed available. After some tapping on the keyboard Diane came up with room 360 in the Lagoon tower which was the tower I most wanted to be in having read the majority of the reviews here.

Diane gave us a map and showed us where to head to, booked us a taxi to take us to Hawaii Forest and Trail the next day after we asked what would be the best way to get there and wished us a pleasant stay.

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The view from our room 360 @ Royal Kona Resort

Off to our room which was.. how best to describe it? For the price we were paying which worked out to about $110 per night this was fantastic value.

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Our balcony

Yes, the resort is a grand old dame and in some places showing her age but it is in a great location and the waves crashing into the lagoon is so restful and helpful at bedtime to send you off to sleep. Pretty much everywhere you go in the room you can hear the ocean.

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I especially liked what I call the “Survivor Africa” cabinet which the tv was placed on.

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The wooden shutters used for window coverings

The wooden shutters were gorgeous if a little heavy to move and as they were the only window covering if you wanted the windows covered you had to use these – the furniture was excellent.

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Our room 360 in the lagoon tower

The bed was comfortable, perhaps slightly firmer than I would usually choose. The bathroom looked like it had been recently renovated with new faux marble wall panelling and a bath which had a shower in it โ€“ the shower was wonderful after the long flight as it had that great stinging spray โ€“ why have I not read of the awesome water pressure in reviews here previously? – is everyone taking baths here? The shower water pressure was fabulous!

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A view of the pool and one of the towers at night.

There is only one down side to this hotel โ€“ there is a smell of mould in the room. Knowing about this ahead of time via reading other reviews was important for us because I am allergic and the other half is more so than me. However we came prepared with antihistamines and did not have a major problem with it. Sorry, bathroom photos are among the missing pics.

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The small kitchen area with coffee maker, fridge & sink

I could not find any actual mould in the room at all except for one tiny patch in the bathroom behind the toilet where nobody would usually spot it unless they were looking for it and I did let housekeeping know it was there before I left. My suspicion is that mould is actually in the air conditioning system, and one night I did turn it off for a bit and it seemed to me like the mould smell vanished for that time, so if you can live without aircon here you should try to do that.

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Koi in the pond in the internal courtyard of our tower

Ok, there is one more thing I was not a huge fan of but this one is so easily fixed it isn’t funny and if I were the person in charge I would put this high on the to-do list โ€“ the towels are small, there are only two of them in the room plus a floor mat, two flannels and two hand towels, and none of them are especially inviting or awesome.

Yes, I could have brought my own or gone down to the ABC store and got some of those Hello Kitty velour beach towels but we were travelling light and had to make do. It is do-able but why not get some larger, fluffier towels? If I had a magic wand I would magic this place some new towels as a matter of urgency. In the meantime if you like your own towels best to bring them.

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The lagoon pool

Back to the positives, I love the shape of the building, the grounds are gorgeous, the pool is warm and inviting, the lagoon pool would be an excellent place to spend time if we’d had it, we found a green gecko on one of the palm trees (which sadly vanished before we could get a shot of it). I wish we had more time to spend in the grounds, this was a quick trip for specific purposes for us and so our time at the hotel was limited.

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The internal courtyard

The thing that most surprised me โ€“ and hopefully will now not surprise you when you see our photos -was the internal layout of the towers. There is a courtyard with a fish pond in the middle and all the rooms are accessed via this courtyard.

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Stairs in the internal courtyard

I did look at a lot of the photos on reviews on TA and I do not recall seeing a shot from this angle and me being someone who likes to look for shots that other people did not take, made sure to get a few of the inside area.

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The Pride Of America anchored just off Kailua Kona – this ship is a regular visitor

Most days of our stay there was a cruise ship anchored out in the bay which you could see from near the reception area when you went to leave in the morning โ€“ if there is one docked there, you want to try and get to the breakfast places a little earlier. Tenders start coming in anywhere between 7-8am depending on the ship and the passengers then can take a tour, rent a car for the day or wander the streets of Kona.

We checked out on the 1st of November. The wonderful Diane helped us once again and she remembered us and asked how our tour went. That is so lovely. ๐Ÿ™‚ Great work Diane!

We enjoyed our stay here and would happily stay again.

Hawaiian to Kona, Kona First Day

Previously, in my trip report – we flew from Australia to Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines, got through immigration and customs, and got ourselves over to the inter island terminal. Here is my last sentence from the previous trip report –

Not long after arriving in the Inter Island terminal, having decided we did not want to eat anything, we are sitting in the waiting area for Kona with a Starbucks in our hands.

This was my first chance to watch the Hawaiian gate staff who are absolutely incredible and so organised. All the flights were full so standby was not an option, though some people were lucky enough to have their names called out for the earlier Kona flight. Then two b717’s right next to each other were simultaneously pushed back, like synchronised push back. It was amazing to watch and I firmly believe this should be an Olympic sport and if it were, the Hawaiian Airlines staff would win every single time. Gold medals akimbo!

There does come a point though where we realise we must be at the wrong gate โ€“ we were checked in for the inter-island flight when we checked in for our flight in Australia, many hours ago now. So off to a service desk and we were sent to a new gate where they asked us to volunteer for the exit row. We did, and the extra legroom was nice but it meant I had someone next to me because it is 2-3 on a 717 and we ended up on the other side of the plane. We had booked 2 seats together in row 15, for just us. The change put us in row 17.

And I thought 2 Boeing 717’s pushing back together was incredible. I had seen nothing yet. We were at gate 49 at the Inter Island terminal and this particular gate has one of the longest push backs at that terminal. We were going backward so fast, I look out the window and there was a guy in a golf cart travelling along beside waving the marshalling wands like some kind of man possessed.

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Google Maps image of gate 49 with pink line of pushback drawn on (thanks to Bigaln2 for the pink line)ย 

My already huge respect for the Hawaiian Airlines staff was doubled – no, tripled – in this one pushback. Incredible work these guys do. I do not normally recommend visiting other islands because I love Oahu so much but I now would recommend it just to experience inter island travel with these guys.

On the other hand, by this time, we had been up for well over 24 hours and we were getting pretty exhausted. If you can sleep on the SYD-HNL leg and you have an onward flight my feeling is you should do whatever you need to do and take whatever you may need to take in order to catch those zz’s.

We had prepared with Restavit which is basically an antihistamine which will make you drowsy – usually that works for me, we tested it beforehand. On this occasion it did not seem to make me drowsy at all. It could be that there was a lot of bushfire smoke we had travelled through and I was having a bad allergy day so maybe the antihistamine was diverted towards that instead of towards making me drowsy.. whatever happened it did not work and no sleep was had.

Travelling from the South Coast up to Sydney, dropping off the cat, travelling to the airport, waiting for the flight, flying for just under 10 hours, standing for over a hour to get through immigration, finding our bags, dropping them off again, getting through security, waiting for the next flight.. it had been a long day.

The flight is very quick. 45 minutes gate to gate with something like 15-20 minutes in the air. This time we did not get to be last to board though we tried. The only thing served on this flight is a small container of POG or water. The other half kept nodding off during and then waking himself up – he tried the POG and declared it awesome, then nodded off some more.

Landing in Kona is just bizarre, the landscape there is so unusual. I would show you a photo of this, as well as other photos I am certain I took, however they are nowhere to be found. I do not know what happened to these photos or where they went. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

The airport is built on a lava flow. Everything is like a dark moon landscape with some small golden grasses. We were met by Roberts shuttle who helped us find our luggage and had us at the hotel in short order โ€“ there were a couple of other people on the shuttle but that did not bother us.

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The first thing that struck me about the Big Island was the riot of colour in the midst of all the lava flows caused by the Bouganvillea which is planted at the airport and along the roadside on the way into Kona in what seemed to be lava fields – though I am no expert on that stuff – it was gorgeous to see.

Once we checked into the hotel (more on that in my next trip report post)ย we took what was meant to be a quick nap of an hour or so but ended up lasting a good couple of hours meaning we missed the Kona sunset. As it was now evening, absolutely pouring down with rain, and the one thing I really wanted was a Lava Flow, some of that Bubba Gump Southern Fried Chicken plus the fact that Bubba Gump was quite close to our hotel, we headed out to grab a quick dinner.

Not wanting to dirty up a pair of my very precious planned out to the minute underwear, I threw on my bathing suit under my purple dress. Good thing too –ย By the time we got to Bubba Gumps we were dripping wet. It was raining incredibly hard and we did not have an umbrella. However it was still warm and humid and we dried off very quickly once we sat down. My Lava Flow came to me, and all was well with the world.

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The chicken was just as good as I remembered. The corn was sweet and juicy. The gravy was great and the mashed potatoes.. my favourite!

Again my photos of this actual meal are somehow missing, I know I took them. What you see there is actually a picture of a later Southern Fried Chicken Bubba Gumps meal on Oahu. Lucky I had it twice during our trip!

Back to the hotel and an early night was much appreciated after our long day of travel, especially because we had a big day planned for tomorrow – our Mauna Kea Summit tour.

Coming up next – the Royal Kona Resort review with photos, then after that more about Kailua-Kona, and our trip to Mauna Kea Summit.