Waikiki is the place for action! There's lots of activities from sunbathing on famous Waikiki Beach to surfing, paddle boarding, snorkeling, or just watching the passing parade of people. The sidewalks are crowded as tourists shop in all the stores on Kalakaua. The fancy hotels line the beach, starting at the Reef, Halekulani, Sheraton, Royal Hawaiian, and others. Plan to spend at a least $400 per night to stay on the ocean side, across the street $200--300, and a block away $170--200.
For many people a trip to Waikiki is a party of sorts. They're on the beach during the day and they dine and dance at night. There's upscale shopping at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center and an bazaar experience at the International Marketplace. Don't forget The Bus can take you all over town for just one dollar or you can walk around Waikiki easily. Nearby are the park with a children's playground, jogging trails, and aquarium. Famous Diamond Head is up at the end of Waikiki and has a hiking trail. Some favorite places in Honolulu are the Bishop Museum, the Iolani Palace, Queen's Summer Palace, and the Pali, where the wind knocks you over if you're not careful. As you fight your way to the edge of the cliff you can look down over the valley for miles. One important stop is Punchbowl National Cemetery, built down in a sunken dormant volcano, where servicemen from wars of the Pacific are laid to rest. A very sobering moment as you read graves that say "4 Marines 1944".
But for many folks it's primarily a trip to see Pearl Harbor. Tacked onto the end of an outer island vacation they stop for a few days in Waikiki. Early morning is the best time to visit Pearl Harbor before the crowds stack up. It is a 45 minute drive from Waikiki to Pearl Harbor or you can reserve the trip with a minibus tour company. The Navy is the only boat that can disembark people at the Arizona Memorial. After registering and checking out the book store, guests are invited to a movie of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The tone in the auditorium becomes very serious. Then everyone pours out a side door and boards the launch to the Arizona Memorial. All the servicemen who died are listed on the big white wall here. Outside oil leaking from the Arizona still coats the water's surface after all these years. People of all nationalities sport tears. If you encounter a really old serviceman docent from that time, thank him for his service.
Wondering about going out to the Polynesian Cultural Center? It is an all day adventure. With many villages to experience, wear comfortable shoes and clothing. If you are traveling around the island in one day, there are some shrimp trucks for lunch and stops at Sunset Beach and Bonzai Pipeline, where the waves crest over 25 feet in winter. Famous surfing contests are held at Bonzai Pipeline, and some surfers use wave runners to reach even larger waves farther out from shore. Toward the end of your drive, the Dole Plantation comes into view. It's good for a cool drink or ice cream as you wander around the gift store.
What's important to remember? It's your sunscreen, number 15. Hawaii is close to the Equator and you can burn in 40 minutes. The second thing to remember in Hawaii is to keep drinking fluids. If you are outdoors, drink one glass of water or juice every hour. Carry your water bottles.
Wonder about packing? Pack cotton shorts, capris, dresses that breathe. Most of the day you'll be in a swimsuit, so you don't need much. All your clothes can easily fit in a carry on piece of luggage. I use one carry on bag for two weeks.