Thursday, May 28, 2015

Oahu, Hawaii: Waikiki - Outrigger Reef on the Beach

Previously I blogged about our 2013 Hawaiian vacation and described some of the things we did on Waikiki.  Well, in January 2015 we visited Oahu (Waikiki) again.  This is additional information to add to my original blog post from 2013.  

We love to stay at the Outrigger - Reef on the Beach.

Outrigger Reef on the Beach
When planning our vacations it is important to us to have fun but also to do it as cheaply as possible.  This is not the cheapest place to stay but it is a nice place with a great location.  And - we are familiar with it since we have stayed there a few times.  I do want to mention that, during our search for the best rate, Outrigger was very accommodating!  Every time we saw a deal come through for a promotion that they were offering, we looked to see if it would save us more than what we had booked it for.  If it did, we called the reservations department and they would adjust the rate for us!  After doing this three times, this ended up saving us hundreds of dollars from the day we originally booked our stay!

After a LONG flight, we arrived to the resort.  My kiddos and I were all in a pretty bad mood by then.  Which was obvious to the staff that were helping us with our arrival.  But, some how it worked for us.  The staff gave us a large corner room with plenty of space to give each other a break ;-)  The room was huge compared to any other room we have had in Hawaii!

Not pictured: the large closets and nice sized restroom and mini bar area.

Two balconies!
One small one facing the city and one large balcony with seating facing the pool and ocean ("partial ocean view").

City View

City View

City View

View from our room!
Also, Kani Ka Pilla Grille ("L" shaped building and umbrellas.)

View from our room.

Shore Bird Restaurant and Beach Bar

Yep - the meat comes to you uncooked.

Bring your meat here to season and cook.
People were also grilling some bread from the buffet for something different.
There aren't a lot of options here for my kiddos and I but my husband
LOVES it so we always go for dinner once each visit.

View of Diamond Head from the resort beach.

View of the resort from the wave wall.

You can rent variety of water toys at the beach.

Something new for this vacation:  the resort offered a variety of crafts and lessons over our stay.  We had a lot on our schedule but did squeeze in two resort activities.  Although they were free and the overall experience was good, it wasn't all great....  We had a hard time figuring out where the activities were (they moved around a lot).  The staff weren't really able to help us figure out where to go, and in both cases, we ended up being a little late (even though we would have been early).  The lady that ran the activities was far from friendly and made it difficult to enjoy.  But, the kiddos loved what they ended up with.

Making a fresh flower lei!

They turned out very cool!

Hawaiian name bookmarks.

Of course we had to eat at Hard Rock!  This is a short walk away from the resort.

During this visit we noticed a lot of food truck areas.
The trucks would line up in a horse shoe shape with picnic tables in the middle.

Henry's Place:  Don't let looks fool you - this place has great fresh fruit!

Peggy's Picks - Tons of treasures - this was even on a reality tv show.
In my 2013 post I mentioned that the International Market Place was closing.  During our 2015 vacation we were happily surprised to discover Duke's Marketplace.  It's much like the International Market Place and very close to the same location!

Duke's Marketplace

Hmmm - ear cleaners for a gift/souvenir????  NO THANKS!!!

Hilo Hattie has so much "Hawaiian" to offer!  Don't forget to look for coupons!  Most advertisements have them!  You can easily get a free mug, calendar, sarong, ... There is a huge store near Waikiki that will bus visitors to and from their hotel!  We had a car so we drove.  Parking was easy!!!

They offered a variety of Hawaiian crafts that were free to do (tips welcome!):


Stars and bookmarks.

Shell leis for free when you enter the store.
Fresh flower wristlet (hair piece for girls), and leaf braiding to make a bracelet.

My kiddos decided to spend their allowance on fresh pearls.

Picking out the oysters.

Blessing the oysters.

My son's oyster had 2 pink pearl!
My daughter received one big white pearl.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Oahu, Hawaii: Chief's Luau at Sea Life Park

We took a 2nd family vacation to Hawaii in January 2015.  Our first trip was to Oahu and Maui in 2013.  On Maui, we participated in the Myths of Maui Luau.  For our 2015 vacation we only visited the island of Oahu.  Of course we had to go to another luau!  After checking out all the reviews we decided on the Chief's Luau at Sea Life Park.  I wanted something different and this received a lot of great reviews on the humor of the program.  It also offers a lot of different activities before the show that appealed to me.  Here's our experience:

When we were ushered into the luau area they took a picture of our family in this spot (actual picture shown later in post) which also included the chief and one of the dancers.  We did purchase the picture.  They were available during dinner and cost $20.  Just an FYI - during the beginning activities you can ask someone to take your families picture in this same spot for free.  It just won't include the chief and a dancer.  

We stayed in Waikiki.  This map also shows you where the Sea Life Park is located
(right side of the map, between 8 and 9.)

Map of the park.  The Luau is not pictured here but is off to the right of the map.
You do go to the parks ticket booth to get your wrist band and seat assignment.

Playing around taking pictures before the luau section was open.
FYI - the real flower lei's are ones my kiddos made at our hotel.
The tickets that we purchased for the luau (Paradise Package) included
Kukui nut lei's which you will see in the rest of our luau pictures.
Pictures before the luau.

Goofing off before the luau.

Our official family picture that cost $20.

We were assigned to tables but not to specific seats at the table.  
The very first thing we did - we sat some things at our table to save the seats we wanted.  

Fire starting lesson.

Airbrushed tattoos.
Make sure you have cash to leave a tip.

Spear throwing.

They also had a game with sticks that was pretty cool.  
I know my son was excited to show his friends when he got home!

Banana leaf weaved crown.
We needed a lot of help with this!

Hula dance lessons followed by a group dance.

Free-roaming animals ;-)
There are also many Hawaiian crafts (bags, jewelry, wood carvings, art) available to purchase before the show starts.

Tons of opportunities to take beautiful pictures!

It's time to get started!

Imu Ceremony

The meal:  There were a lot of food options and their website lists out what options are friendly for a variety of dietary needs.  The food was much more authentic than the luau we attended in 2013.  Maybe I should clarify - the food at our 2013 luau had some traditional Hawaiian food but this luau had only traditional Hawaiian food.  No kids hot dogs and chicken nugget here! But, it still worked great for us. Punch, tea and coffee are included.  We each received 2 drink tickets as part of our package (make sure you have tip money.)  Those could be used for adult beverages or soda pop.  Don't forget the pineapple cake!

We need this recipe!  Best cake ever!!!

Those that purchased the "Royal Package" were seated and their meal was brought to them plated.  Everyone else went to the buffet (I prefer.)  The buffet line seemed to go fast - but we were also the first ones in line.  

Music during dinner.
Time for the show!

You get the idea!  But, here is what you can't capture in pictures:

-The audience is involved a lot.

-There was a lot of adult humor that thankfully my kiddos were too tired to catch on.  
By this I mean: sexual humor for both opposite and same sex relationships.

-Although there are a lot of great staff on the team, the show wouldn't be what it is without the chief.

-You get to walk by the sea turtles on the way out of the park.