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Something I love and hate about my husband is his fear of being late to things; I’m one of those people that hate to be late too so it works out. There are times though the husband gets his times a little muddled and we end up being places way too early. Such the schedule creator he is, we ended up being at the airport about 2.5 hours early for a domestic flight. We actually walked right up to check our bag into United Airlines, something that never really happens at O’Hare Airport. To give him credit though, during breakfast at the hotel we looked out the window and there was extreme storms in the area. During intermittent blackouts, the meteorologist stated there were tornado warnings in the area. So, better safe than sorry I guess…

After 10 hours on our direct flight to Honolulu, Hawaii, we finally touched ground on the rainbow state. We were really fortunate to get window seats and have a fantastic pilot. It was one of the best flights I have taken and I have taken many in my years. We exited our plane and immediately noticed the drastic difference between Hawaii airports and mainland ones. Firstly, the airport is stretched out and easy to navigate. Secondly, it has an open architecture plan which allows weary travelers to walk out the airplane gate and straight out another door into the sunshine. It is not like mainland airports where one must walk in AC for what seems like blocks but rather around the airport on a walkway outdoors. The restaurants were even on an open plan where birds were munching on loose French fries and such right “inside” the airport. A girl that dislikes AC could really get spoiled with Hawaiian airports.

It took us from the farthest end of the airport to the baggage claim only about five minutes worth of walking. We got our check bag and again walked right outside to the taxis service area. Taxis service wasn’t our style though and we walked across the street and entered the open kiosk for our pre-paid Budget car rental. The service was easy to get to however it was a bit annoying to wait in line while a group in front of us decided which rental car they wanted and then how they wanted to pay for it. It got a little tiring after a long flight to have a booking and then wait for people to walk around looking at cars to rent – yeah, they walked around looking at them and the rental associate didn’t want to let us go in front of them. It took a good 30-40 minutes before the group got finished and we could get to our rust colored Jeep Wrangler soft top (the only way to go in Hawaii). As for the rental service, I wasn’t that impressed considering the rental was not in the best shape and wasn’t cleaned before we got to it. But, it was a vehicle so we were off on our way to experience Oahu for the first time.

Once on the road, we were presented with palm trees (which I have this unexplained fascination) and fresh ocean scented air. We had prepared ourselves for congested traffic thanks to the Hawai’i travel books. Thankfully this wasn’t the case and we hit very little traffic compared to Cleveland. Only once did we hit traffic the entire trip actually and that was one H1 going towards Honolulu at 4P.M. One problem we did encountered throughout the trip was parking. Something we aren’t used to living outside downtown Cleveland is paying for parking. We have paid for garages but that was no more than $15-20 a day for special events or an occasional meter parking. Our hotel ended up being one of the highest priced parking garages and only valet was available. We ended up paying $30 a day for parking in our hotel. We searched for cheaper parking but most other garages were already full and/or no overnight parking. We gave up and paid; you win some and lose some.

Checking in was a breeze after we finally found the entrance to the hotel. The Hotel Inn Beachcomber Resort is placed right in the main shopping area next to the beach in Waikiki. If you choose this hotel, make sure you have GPS ready because its very hidden among the many stores and will lead you going around and around looking for it. Maybe it was just us but seriously we searched each time we returned. Our hotel room was easier to find thankfully. After a long trip to the islands, we were thankful to kick our shoes off and look out at this amazing view. Maybe not full ocean view but still gorgeous looking at the ocean on one side and mountains on the other…

Our stomachs were yelling at us after the long flight with not even a package of peanuts from the airliner- when did they stop that? We had preplanned a pub/restaurant within walking distance called the Yard House. They have a veggie burger that we were looking forward to beforehand. We were amazed and thankful for our server that actually knew what veganism was and suggested what to eat. Basically you can make any of their burgers vegan with a few slight alterations. Ours had grilled mushrooms and onions on top and a side of French fries. We also had a salad which was actually large enough to eat alone. The meal was amazing and well worth the money. Additionally there was a great free performance outside while we waited in line.

Our bellies were filled to the brim and we were biting at the bit to get to the beach. I love the ocean and could live on one for the rest of my life and not get bored. We managed to walk a few blocks to the beach just in time to see the amazing sunset. The beach was busy but gorgeous to sit on the sand and watch the waves in the dimming light. Once it started to get dark, we decided to “walk the streets” and see the stores that are open just about all night. Waikiki is the place to be if you love shopping (not really my thing). My husband was thrilled at seeing the Ferrari store. I was thrilled to see Hello Kitty walking the streets alongside us.

Once our legs could walk no more, we walked back to our hotel and listened to the waves as we slept. A balcony is definitely nice to have if you love to listen to the loud waves.

If you’ve been to Oahu, what was your first impression?