Patti Maresca, CNT Travel
Leanne Swanson Sanchez of Hood Canal Travel in Belfair, WA (an affiliate of Uniglobe), says an agent needs to size up a client before booking a hotel. “Most would rather have a view and a small lanai than a huge balcony,” she says.
Of all the Honolulu hotels, she prefers the Outrigger Reef. “Their ‘aloha’ hospitality is great,” she says. The hotel has lots of options, a good pool area, and the poolside nighttime music is “fab”! In the same price range and service level, she recommends the Hilton Hawaiian Village, which also offers plenty to do and a “great aloha spirit.”
Leanne Swanson, Hood Canal Travel
“For those on a lesser budget, I’d suggest Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel,” she says. “The hotel’s location directly across from the beach is good, the rooms have views and the amenities make guest stays comfortable.” The new Aqua Park Shore Waikiki gets lots of repeat customers, she adds, as its rooms come with views and good pricing. Also, the location allows for easy in-and-out of Waikiki, and leaves everything just a walk away.
Oahu also offers plenty of activities for guests. “I think a must is taking a tour of Pearl Harbor and learning about the history,” Sanchez says. First-time visitors should take an island tour to discover there is more to Oahu than just Waikiki. “I tell customers to always pick up This Week or the ‘Gold’ books for Oahu, to learn what activities, concerts, local festivals are happening during their stay,” she says. “I also suggest visitors walk down to Queen Kapiolani Park and check out the zoo.” A hike up Diamond Head will reward visitors with amazing views; and a stroll up Kapahulu Ave. will bring explorers to plenty of intimate cafés and restaurants.
“If customers have time, I suggest a drive up the west coast all the way up to Makaha—and even farther—for the scenery and walking/hiking trails…The beaches up there are great, too!”
Patti Maresca of CNT Travel (an affiliate of Cruises & Tours Unlimited) says her favorite aspect of Honolulu is the constant action. “There is always something to do there,” she says.
Maresca’s favorite hotels in the city are Halekulani, Ilikai and Hilton Hawaiian Village, although she also enjoyed her time at the Hilton Waikiki Prince Kuhio. “The hotel and room was basic, clean and comfortable. The staff were friendly and helpful with things to do and places to visit on the island.”
Some hidden gems in Oahu are on the east coast. “The most beautiful beach is Lanikai,” Maresca says, noting that Kailua Beach Park is beautiful but somewhat hard to locate.
For a great meal, Maresca suggests driving up to the North Shore on the East Coast Shore Road. Look for a small truck stand called Blue Water Shrimp Company. The food is nothing fancy—“just the best shrimp dinner I have ever eaten. I crave it all the time.”
Beyond that? “A must-see while in Oahu is a sunset on Sunset Beach on North Shore,” says Maresca.