view of Waikiki Beach, and its forest of high-rise
hotels and condos, from a guest room in the Aston
Waikiki Beach Hotel.
location and luxury. Thatís what I got when I
hotel-hopped my way around Oahu recently, overnighting in
three very different places which, together, offered
something for everyone.
stayed at a Waikiki high-rise hotel, a secluded deluxe
resort and a laid-back bungalow. The common denominator:
All three of these Oahu lodgings were oceanfront because,
really, thatís the best way to stay in Hawaii, within
sight and sound of the magical, warm ocean.
oceanfront, however, meant none were budget stays. For
cheaper sleeps, look for chain hotels back from the beach
or vacation rentals through agencies such as Airbnb.com.
Still, I was able to nab decent discounted prices at two
of the three places (and at rates available to the public
since, yes, The Seattle Times pays its own way for travel
a look at each place, with pros / cons and tips for
finding similar places on other Hawaiian islands.
WAIKIKI BEACH HIGH RISE
place: Dozens of high-rise hotels and condos are packed
into Waikiki, along the famous stretch of white-sand beach
that offers excellent swimming, people-watching and
the beach, Waikiki is full of restaurants, bars and
stores, from outdoor markets to luxury designer shops. If
you like urban bustle and convenience in a tropical beach
setting, Waikiki is your place.
hotel: I stayed at the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel, an older
645-room hotel thatís been recently refurbished. Watch
for online sales. I got a Cyber Monday (post-Thanksgiving)
sale rate of $158 a room, a good deal since rooms easily
can cost $200-$250 a night and up. It included a room
upgrade and parking; my 27th-floor room had a stunning
view of the Waikiki cityscape and of surfers bobbing in
Excellent location on the beachfront Kalakaua Avenue, at
the somewhat quieter southeast end of Waikiki Beach where
thereís a breakwater that creates a protected swimming
area. Reasonable rates compared with other Waikiki
beachfront hotels. Comfortable, although not fancy,
compact refurbished rooms. Continental buffet breakfast
included (plus an insulated lunch bag so you can take it
back to your room).
Expensive parking, $27 a night (so I was glad to get it
included in a special rate). Little, no-frills pool. Daily
amenity/ resort fee of $23 (for things like, hmm, using
in-room safe and coffee maker as well as breakfast and
Ask for a high-floor, quiet room (not a standard-category
room) to get a better view and get away from the loud
music of the hotelís open-air restaurant and breakfast
Waikiki info: See the stateís tourism website,
place, another island: Itís certainly not as urban as
Waikiki, but the Kaanapali Beach area of Maui is full of
amenities and resorts that stretch along three miles of
beach. Iíve enjoyed the Sheraton Maui for its big pools
and idyllic stretch of beach.
info at the Kaanapali Resort Association,
kaanapaliresort.com. For more lodging listings, see
NORTH SHORE LUXURY RESORT
North Shore of Oahu is the islandís surfer-life
epicenter, blessed with seven miles of beach and massive
waves in winter where world-class surfers play. Low houses
hug the beach ó there are just a few places to stay and
a scattering of shops/ restaurants ó and many locals
want no further development. Go here for the laid-back
beach life and beauty, not for entertainment or nightlife.
hotel: Turtle Bay is the only big hotel on the North
Shore, a luxury 452-room destination resort thatís
recently undergone a massive (and much-needed) renovation
of guest rooms and public spaces. The resort has new
owners after cycling through Hyatt and Hilton management
and facing foreclosure and local controversy over possible
its main building just yards from the ocean (you could
build that close to the water back in the 1970s when the
hotel opened), Turtle Bay is a place you could hide out
for days, with miles of undeveloped shoreline to walk;
tennis courts; two golf courses; horseback rides; a
reef-protected swimming beach; several restaurants; and a
got an oceanview room for about $250 a night, thanks to a
buy-in-advance rate and an upgrade (offered at check-in,
and, no, they didnít know I was from a newspaper). Such
rooms usually cost about $325 and up a night, although
rates vary widely.
Spacious, comfortable and calm rooms (in many shades of
beige), with big balconies. Lovely, peaceful oceanfront
location with classic views of sun, surf, palm trees.
Self-parking is included (or pay for valet parking).
Bayís Ola restaurant is a casual but serious-about-food
restaurant right on the beach, with some tables planted in
the sand and lit by candles and the moon. Youíll pay for
the romantic beauty, with dinner entrees starting around
$30 (but the melt-in-your mouth butterfish was worth it).
Very slow and balky in-room wireless when I was staying
there. (Why do the more luxurious hotels seem to have the
worst and most expensive Internet access?) A hefty resort
fee of $32 a night. Hotelís restaurants, while good, are
pricey, and itís about a half-hour drive to restaurants
in the little North Shore town of Haleiwa.
If you can afford it, get a room in the east wing for the
best views (the hotel has three wings).
your roomís minifridge with soft drinks and snacks to
avoid the high hotel prices (breakfast oatmeal from room
service was $12).
place, another island: The Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel on
Hawaiiís Big Island is, like Turtle Bay, a big and
comfortable beachfront hotel. Itís peaceful, far from
any town, with golf, tennis, pool and an excellent beach
ó it fronts the broad and half-mile-long Hapuna Beach, a
state recreation area and one of the best beaches on the
Big Island. Like Turtle Bay, itís a very comfortable
destination resort without the stratospheric $500-a-night
prices of some luxury Hawaii resorts. Hapuna rooms start
around $235 a night, but vary by season. Packages such as
the current fourth-night-free offer cut costs.
NORTH SHORE BUNGALOW
a completely different way to stay on the North Shore, Ke
Iki Beach Bungalows are in the heart of the North Shore
residential area, tucked between the beach and a narrow
two-lane road ó the main drag on this side of the
youíre looking for a low-key, get-away-from-it-all
vacation where you can spread out, make your own meals
(units have full kitchens) and where the biggest
excitement is watching the sun go down, then this is the
place. Donít expect hotel amenities or service; this is
more like having your own vacation cottage once youíve
checked in at the managerís in-home office. A
one-bedroom beachfront unit is around $200; a two-bedroom
around $230; not many deals are available, as Ke Iki is
small and popular.
hotel: Ke Iki has 11 units spread through 1.5 acres in
small, single-story or two-story buildings. Some are
oceanfront; other units are garden-view, amid a lawn and
shade trees. The one- and two-bedroom units have living
rooms and full kitchens.
Units are spacious and simply but comfortably furnished.
Barbecues, picnic tables and hammocks are outside.
bungalows are just a few steps above the lovely,
white-sand Ke Iki beach, which adjoins Sunset Beach. Walk
the beach for miles or watch the expert surfers play in
the curling waves of whatís called Banzai Pipeline.
Swimming can be lovely in summer (although in winter,
massive, dangerous waves can pound the North Shore
Soundproofing was lacking in the main garden-view building
where I stayed; I could hear my upstairs neighbors rather
cleaning fee is additional, roughly $60 to $75 per visit.
Get a beachfront unit for the stunning views (and sounds)
of the waves. And sunsets.
well ahead, or watch for cancellations, since Ke Iki has
devoted repeat visitors.
place, another island:
a bigger operation, and more polished, but Waimea
Plantation Cottages on Kauai have a similar down-home
feel. Dozens of former plantation-worker cottages have
been refurbished and are set amid an oceanfront 27-acre
coconut grove on Kauaiís quiet and relatively
untouristed western shore. The one- and two-bedroom and
larger units have full kitchens.
Oahuís Ke Iki, itís a low-key place, although it has a
pool (the ocean is murky for swimming) and small
restaurant. Prices vary depending on time of year and the
cottage; rates of about $160 a night can be found, but itís
mostly in the $200s and up. astonhotels.com
find places to stay in Hawaii, I check travelersí online
reviews (mostly on TripAdvisor.com); hotel ads for deals;
and Wizard Publicationsí "Hawaii Revealed"
series. For each island thereís a guidebook and online
info, at hawaiirevealed.com, with excellent hotel and
vacation-condo recommendations plus aerial photos so you
can really see a hotelís overall layout. For Oahu, the
guidebook is "Oahu Revealed" by Andrew Doughty
(Wizard Publications, $18.95).