24 hours in Waikiki Beach

On the way back from my work-related trip to Hawaii, I decided to stay an extra night in Honolulu/Waikiki Beach. I had to take advantage of the opportunity to see a tad more of the islands and I am so glad I did.

I only had about 24 hours and thanks to some really great recommendations from some lovely blog friends, I really made the best of it.

I arrived at Honolulu Airport at 9:15 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I had reserved a shuttle that would take me to the hotel in the center of Waikiki Beach but since it was too early to check-in and go to my room, I just checked in my bags at the hotel and then headed out again to start my sight-seeing. “TheBus” is a pretty well-working public transit system and I had no problems mapping out my tour and finding bus routes to where I wanted to go. I really didn’t want to deal with driving, finding and paying for parking while I was there and I am very comfortable with taking public transit.
My first stop was at the “Bad Ass Coffee of Hawaii” coffee house in Downtown Honolulu.


I need to give you a little background story here to understand why it was so crucial for me to find this coffee shop.
You see, we used to have a Bad Ass Café in Ventura. It used to be right next to J’s and my favorite pizza joint and whenever we got pizza there, I’d pick up a latte next door and then we would head to the beach. It was “our thing”. Well, and then, all of a sudden last summer, the Bad Ass Café was gone and I was just simply devastated, because without warning, our little tradition had to come to an end. Not cool!
So when I found out that I was going to go to Hawaii, I wanted to make sure to at least have a coffee at the Bad Ass coffee shop and get a souvenir mug to take home :)

The story behind the name of the coffee shop is pretty neat, too. I’ll quote “the legend” from their website:

For generations, the donkeys of Kona, Hawaii carried coffee beans down the mountains on the Big Island. Their bellows could be heard echoing as they hauled the heavy loads of coffee up and down the mountainside. The native people of Kona named these hard-working donkeys ‘The Bad Ass Ones’ because of their cantankerous nature and perseverance while carrying the world’s richest coffee. If you listen carefully, their bellows can still be heard today, and their legend lives on at Bad Ass Coffee of Hawaii .

After a big mug of delicious coffee and a little Internet catch-up through my spanking new iPod Touch (have I mentioned how much I love it? No? I am freakin’ over the moon in love with it! Best purchase EVER!), I strolled over to Iolani Palace to get my history fix.
One thing you need to know about me is that while I am not really a history geek per se, if I visit a new place, I really like to emerge myself in – and love to learn about – the culture and history, and Iolani Palace was just the place to do that.

Iolani Palace

I know, maybe it seems lame, but did you know that Hawaii was a monarchy not too long ago? I honestly had no idea, but I do now! :) Iolani Palace is the only royal palace that was used as an official residence by a reigning monarch in the United States and was the home of the late Queen Lili ʻ uokalani. (Oh, did you try to speak that name out loud? I love the sound of Hawaiian names!)
After wondering through the halls of the palace, listening intently to the 45-minute audio tour that I paid for, I left the palace with a sense of new found knowledge. It was interesting to learn something new, to dive head first into a completely foreign world.

From there, I caught the bus back to the hotel and since it was already early afternoon, I was able to check in and take my stuff up to my room. I had reserved a room with ‘partial ocean view’, which – as I learned – can mean anything : from a room with a pretty nice view of the ocean to a room with literally a tiny glimpse of water at the horizon between multiple buildings. When I got up to my room (after all, it was on the 21st floor), I was pleasantly surprised by the view. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t too shabby either. I went straight on the balcony to snap some pictures.


When I went back in to use the bathroom and freshen up, I noticed it. There was other people’s stuff all over the bathroom. Like, everywhere. I was taken aback a bit and a little puzzled, because otherwise the room was made up and looked freshly cleaned. So I called the front desk to let them know that there was still somebody occupying the room that they had just given me . The whole thing was taking unnecessary time away from my already short time in Waikiki, so I was not really pleased with this nuisance, but t he guy at the front desk apologized profusely, asked me to come down to provide me with a new room and key and mentioned, “and of course you’re going to be upgraded to an Ocean View room.”

Oh well, I guess this would be ok. SQUEEEE!


I got to my new room, checked out the view (even better than the one before, obviously) and then changed into my hiking gear to head out to the Diamond Head. I had to take another bus to get out there and it was already getting late in the day. I was marginaly afraid that I wouldn’t be able to do the hike, but I was still going to give it a shot. I really wanted to see the view!


(c) Wikipedia

I got to the gate around 4:45 p.m. and the gatekeeper informed me that the gates would close at 6 p.m. and that I had to be back by then or otherwise I would be locked in.
I didn’t think he was serious, but he was. The entrance to the park lies within the crater and the only tunnel through the crater’s back wall is locked up at night.
The park service was suggesting that you needed 1.5 hours for the round-trip to the top and back and I had only 1 hour, 15 minutes left on the clock. I had no idea if I could do it, but since I didn’t think that they would put out a time suggestion that only pertains to the ‘fittest’, because older people and family with kids were going on that hike, I was going to go for it. Although I knew I was definitely NOT at my fittest, I decided to just give it a try. I mean, what was the worst thing that could happen? That I would have to turn around without reaching the top, if I thought I wasn’t going to make it.

Well, I made it up to the top in 20 minutes (yay me!) and while I was definitely sweaty and thirsty, the hike wasn’t half as bad as I had anticipated. And the view… OMG! The view!


{click to see large}



It was absolutely breath-taking and I am so glad I decided to do this and quite lucky that I was able to make it in time. And I actually had quite a bit of time to enjoy being up there, as the hike down was most definitely going to be quicker than the hike up. So I sat and starred and couldn’t get enough of it.

I walked through the exit gate right around 6 o’clock and made it back to the beach right on time to catch the sunset. I had some iced coffee at a Starbucks nearby, (actually a site that had been scanned by my supervisor before – I knew, because he pointed out the very visible Starbucks sign in the data set repeatedly :) – and enjoyed a beautfiful ocean sunset. The beach and pier was, as you can imagine, completely packed with people, but it was a very cool athmosphere.


After ooh-ing and aah-ing over the red fireball, I set off to browsing the promenade on the hunt for some souvenirs for my niece and nephew. I found supercute t-shirts with sea turtles on them and I picked up some other little things here and there. I walked all the way back to the hotel and by that time it was already 9:30 p.m. and I really had to think about finding a place to get something to eat.

I could have gone for some fast food from the food court, but you know? This was my only night in Waikiki and I wanted something more fancy, more memorable.
So I followed Fabulous‘ suggestion and went over to Duke’s (which was right across from my hotel). Coming there for dinner as a single person, I thought they would put me at a table way in the corner or something, but I was lucky again and snatched up a table on the patio, right next to the ‘barefoot bar’, aka the beach! :) And guess who ordered herself a cocktail? That’s right, this girl!
So just picture this: I was sitting on the patio, right at the beach with a cocktail in one hand and my camera in the other in order to capture every. single. moment. of this glorious day and night.
There were tonz of people out, there was live music and tiki torches everywhere.



After dinner I strolled along the beach and talked with J, while I was standing up to my ankles in the warm pacific ocean waters, before walking back to the hotel.

The next morning, I sat my alarm to get up early for the sunrise. Sleep is definitely overrated when you only have limited time at a place. I took a shower, got dressed and was walking along the beach around 6:30 a.m. I found a cute little restaurant on the promenade that served breakfast with an ocean view (taker!) and just marvelled at the beauty of this corner of the world, while enjoying my veggie omlette. And this was not the first time that I said to myself: you need to take J here.




You see, if I hadn’t had another work-related commitment in the week following our field trip, I’d have had my husband fly out after we were done with the survey and spend some quality time with him there (aka belated honeymoon-type-of-vacation, because, you know, WE’VE BEEN MARRIED FOR OVER 4 YEARS AND HAVEN’T HAD A PROPER HONEYMOON YET! No, and you don’t have to point out how utterly ridiculous – and also, just plain wrong – this is. I am well aware! Needs to be rectified in the not too distant future!)

The shuttle bus took me back to the airport around 11 a.m and that was it – the recap of my 24 hours in Waikiki Beach.

If you’re interested, you can find all the pictures here.

  1. Great pictures, San. I went over and looked at them all! I so want o go to Hawaii!
    .-= Maribeth´s last blog ..Just Breathe =-.

  2. Ahhh. :) Memories. Many a late night on these beaches, New Years 1999 running into the ocean at midnight to great 2000….hikes to Diamond Head….I am happy I never too my five yeras living there for granted. I always woke up going THANK YOU THANK YOU :)
    .-= Fabulous´s last blog ..Pepe LePew can go F himself =-.

  3. That’s beautiful. I must admit I had no idea that Hawaii was a monarchy not too long ago. All I knew was it had great beaches and nature.
    Sounds like you definitely made the most of your day there. I hope to visit Hawaii too one day.
    .-= Karen´s last blog ..A day in France Part I =-.

  4. OMG! looks amazing!!!! I’m a little jealous right now :)) Glad, you had such a good experience!!!!

  5. Oh that sounds like a wonderful day! Hawaii is absolutely beautiful and I so want to go back some day!

  6. This just looks heavenly! I’m so glad you got to go adventuring on your own too- it’s such a beautiful place :)
    .-= Kyla Roma´s last blog ..Weekend Cuddle Time =-.

  7. Fantastic photos! I’ve been to Oahu about four times now and haven’t done Diamondhead. My brother did it in flip flops once…I wonder where I was?

    It looks like you had a fabulous time, maybe you can go back sooner rather than later :)
    .-= Kam´s last blog .. =-.

  8. That sounds like you had a great time! The pictures are a very beautiful!

    That hotel thing is kinda weird…but when hotels screw up, the really screw up! I am glad they upgraded you! I once had to spend the night with 4 people in 1 bed because of a hotel screw up….not fun!
    .-= Impossibly Alice´s last blog ..Have You Met Jane Jetson =-.

  9. What a beautiful place, and I’m so glad you had a LITTLE extra time there. Thanks for sharing great stories and lovely photos. I definitely am all about the history of places too :)
    .-= Emily Jane´s last blog ..Skin and Bones =-.

  10. Lovely pictures! I’ve never been but my mom and grandma have. I wish I could go and see all these beautiful sites in person. :)

  11. hawaii muss einfach nur traumhaft sein. ich fange schon mal an zu sparen :-)

  12. Sounds like you had a short but amazing time. I went to Waikiki years ago with my family and I too really need to take my husband there. It’s totally unlike any other place in the world and the magnificent landscape is so beautiful, it’s hard to believe it’s real. So glad you had a bit of extra time to check it out!
    .-= terra´s last blog ..Vegan for a weekend- it feels good to laugh &amp the stupid things that used to matter =-.

  13. i love Waikiki! i really recommend going to the northern part of the island if you have time and take a bus! you get to see so much of the island. also i hope you get to go surfing! it is soooo much fun!!! catch a wave for me!! hawaiian tradition is if you and your loved one catch the same wave you are destined to be together! so beautiful!

    have fun!


  14. Hawaii is on my list of places I’d like to visit someday. And your recap confirms that the islands should stay on my list!
    .-= Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks´s last blog ..Moments =-.

  15. What an incredible place. I think I would have not gotten on that plane to come back!
    .-= Jen´s last blog ..Touring Chicago =-.

  16. OMG, I love it. But I guess a flight from Germany will take forever. And I still don’t like flying that much. *sigh*
    And I am sure it would be expensive.

    But I love the pictures. Will go trough all of them later. :-)
    .-= Steffi´s last blog ..House =-.

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