13 Great Things About Waikiki (Plus 13 Awful Things)
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Photo: Odeelo Dayondon
Great No. 5
Your Money’s Worth
Tourists disagreed about whether Waikiki was expensive or not. In general, Asians, Australians and New Zealanders thought it was a good deal, while Europeans and many Americans said it was expensive. Chinese, Japanese and Australian tourists usually told us that hotels are well priced and brand-name goods cost 30 to 50 percent less than at home. Plus, Oahu’s “sales” tax of 4.71 percent was much lower than they were used to.
“We definitely feel like we’ve gotten our money’s worth here,” said Letitia Uren and Barbara Joyce from New Zealand.
“For example, with the meals, the portions are huge compared to what we get when we go out to eat at home.”
Great No. 6
Travel agents Shen Jia Shenli, 31, and Ma Mei, 30, who live near Shanghai, were on their pre-honeymoon with a group of 50 Chinese and everyone was loving every minute. “Here is like heaven for a tourist,” Shen said. “People are friendly and the beach (is great). You can feel the aloha spirit.” Feeling safe and unrushed while laden with a half dozen bags of cosmetics and chocolates as li wu (omiyage) for friends back home, the young couple were already envisioning a post-wedding trip back.
Photo: Kristin Lipman
Relatively Close to Australia
Simon Wilkom, traveling with five others from Sydney, is on his second visit. For Australians used to long vacation flights, Waikiki was “such an easy holiday – nine hours on the plane for us. … Overall, Waikiki is a reasonable price. And it’s very safe.”
Great No. 8
Good for Business
Photo: Mary Pigao
Manu Faumuina has built Mahalo Adventure Tours over the past five years by offering shuttles from Waikiki to shopping districts like Waikele. His eight buses each hold 25 tourists; he fills them by charging just $10 for a round trip and making sure to bring his customers back to Waikiki. However, he said, some unlicensed operators “leave people stranded wherever they take them.”
How do you survive in such a competitive business? “You’ve got to hustle every day,” he said.
Great No. 9
Photo: Odeelo Dayondon
Yukihiko Kikenawa from Sendai, Japan, has been back to Hawaii 11 times with his wife since their first visit in 2001. On each visit, they take the Maitai catamaran cruise two or three times.
“We’re here for two weeks this time and never get bored in Waikiki because of the people. We like to walk around and look at the people from all around the world.”
Great No. 10
Perfect with Friends
Yume Kokubo of Yokohama, surrounded by her packages, was relaxing with friends on couches – one was asleep – at the DFS center in Waikiki, recently rebranded as the T Galleria. She was delighted with the shopping and swimming and, most of all, being able to share it with friends.
Great No. 11
Fun After Work
“I have fun every night after work,” said Jerome Emor, a dishwasher who has been working in Waikiki for a year. He can join the throng on Kalakaua Avenue and spend time with friends. Emor, originally from Chuuk, lives with his family in central Honolulu and gets to work by 9 a.m. after what he called an easy 45-minute bus ride.
Great No. 12
Daytime Parking Deal
If you use “Early Bird” parking and you’re in before 9 a.m. and out before 5 p.m., it costs just $7 to park all day at the Waikiki Trade Center, located at 2255 Kuhio Ave. That rate is valid seven days a week and requires no validation. To enter, drive Diamond Head on Kalakaua Avenue, turn left into Seaside, which is one-way mauka, and turn right into the parking garage just before Kuhio Avenue.
Great No. 13
“I do all my CHRISTMAS shopping here and a lot of Aussies do their Christmas shopping here,” said Tanya Collins from Sydney. “I come with half a suitcase empty! The T-shirts are high quality, and products in a store like Sephora cost half what they do in Australia. Plus a lot of Aussies come here for Christmas.”
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