E Komo Mai! (Welcome)
So you have decided to take your yearly vacation and live it up in Hawaii! What a great choice you have made! There are so many things to do and a variety of places to see. Whether you are just wanting some beach time, want to have a destination wedding, want to learn how to surf, relax or just be by yourself, there are many different venues that may attract you. Maybe you are on a strict budget, like a lot of others. What will you be able to do in Hawaii that won’t cost you an arm and a leg?
Your most frugal option if you are planning to get married here in Hawaii, is to get married on the beach. I was married here on the beautiful beaches of Oahu in 2007, and yes, I was on a strict budget myself! After paying the outrageous prices for airline tickets, I had to save money elsewhere. My husband’s family were born and raised here, so I had to purchase invitations, and really do some web searching for a reception hall that would hold several hundred people, find a good caterer, pick out a wedding cake, and purchase a wedding gown! Preparing for a destination wedding was not easy, and I won’t tell you that it is. You want the picture perfect wedding and Oahu has some of the most beautiful, picturesque beaches in the world to help you achieve this. I was married at 8 a.m. in the morning, and the photos came out beautifully. I wanted to find a somewhat private beach to get married at, so I chose one that was centrally located to family and friends, so they wouldn’t have to travel so far to get there. I researched photographers and found one that was also licensed to perform the ceremony! I was extremely lucky in that respect. But if you are looking for something very private, I would have to recommend “Captain Howie” as he is called. The web link is posted below if you are interested in his services. You can create an ala carte package of your own or choose the pre made packages that they have listed on the site. You can view some of the couple’s wedding photos here too. It really is a great value versus obtaining a professional studio to do what you need. Just an idea!
Budget Friendly Ideas for Fun in the Sun
First off, do your research on things to do in Hawaii that are both fun and something you couldn’t do anywhere else. For instance, if you like hiking like I do, try hiking Diamond Head on Oahu, but make sure you bring plenty of water to drink as there aren’t any places to stop by for a drink. Take your time hiking and don’t overdo it, as it can be very hot once you get going. I hope you are in shape for this, because before you reach the top, you have a series of steps to climb! The hike is only a little over 1 and a half miles round trip.The first set of steps, if I am remembering correctly, are 74 steps that lead you to a 3 story spiral staircase and then to reach the top, you have to climb another daunting stairway of 99 steps! Diamond Head is an extinct volcanic crater that provides you with great exercise and a 360 degree view of the islands. Allow yourself at least 2 hours for a leisurely hike. As always check with your doctor before doing anything strenuous; the air gets thinner when you are approaching the top, so it may feel like you can’t catch your breath. Hiking Diamond Head is very cheap, only $5 per carload, or $1 if you just walk in to the park itself, and once you reach the top, there is a man selling t-shirts that say, “I Hiked Diamond Head”. Great souvenir! Tip** Go early in the morning as it’s cooler and the park opens at 6:00 a.m. You will be glad you did, the view from the top is phenomenal! You’ll overlook all of Waikiki and can see as far as the Wainae Mountain range in the West. Happy Hiking!!
- Check out the Byodo-In Temple in Kaneohe. It is a very beautiful replica Buddhist temple of the original one located in Japan. There is a little tourist shop there that has a few items that may interest you. Feed the ducks and the Koi fish, but watch out as there is some stiff competition with the other birds also wanting to eat, as you toss the pellets! The pellets can be purchased in the shop.
- Aloha Tower Marketplace- plenty of shops to look around, places to eat such as Don Ho’s restaurant, but truthfully, you can get the same items at Aloha Stadium’s swap meet on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at a much cheaper price! But it is nice to relax and just listen to some of the entertainer’s and watch the ships pass by in the harbor.
- Aloha Stadium Swap Meet- You really must visit here at least once! The deals are great and with some vendors, you may even be able to talk them down in price just a little! Drink coconut water out of a coconut, snack on some of the foods offered, but there is one place I just cannot pass by- the lady that sells Li Hing Mui sprinkled pineapple! It is a local favorite and personally, one of my own! This is the place to come if you want to send souvenir’s back home to family. Kukui nut leis, shell jewelry, Hawaiian jewelry- especially the Hawaiian bracelets are super expensive as the price for a 10 mm bangle type bracelet goes for almost $2000! But it’s an heirloom of sorts and all the locals wear them, or should I say MOST of them.
- Take ukulele or hula lessons at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center- good fun!
- Fly a kite or take a plate lunch to Kapiolani Park in Waikiki; the beach is right across the street! Beaches are my favorite place to be.
- Watch a polo match at Waimanalo Polo Grounds, pick a team and have fun!
- Enjoy the many different festivals and events throughout the year including AT&T’s Hawaii Dragon Boat Festival, celebrate the Chinese New Year and see the lion dances and over 100 other events
- Learn about the history of Waikiki by taking the Waikiki Historic Trail walking tour.
- Honolulu Zoo
- Walk through Chinatown for a fascinating look at noodle factories, markets and gift shops
- If you are visiting Waikiki, near the Duke Kahanamoku statue, at sunset, you can witness the culture of Hawaii by viewing the torch lighting and hula dancers, or just listen to the drums playing.
- Take a scenic drive to Pali Highway and go to the Nuuanu Pali lookout for a beautiful view. Wear a light jacket as it gets really windy at the top- keep hold of your camera because the wind can blow it right out of your hands and keep an even closer eye on your children- granted there is railing, but people have been known to be blown off the side of the mountain. Be very cautious!
- Visit Pearl Harbor and USS Arizona, I visited the USS Missouri and spent the entire day there, learning and taking pictures! A great educational experience.
- Go snorkeling at Hanauma Bay and check out the beautiful array of colorful fish.
- Visit the beaches of Lanikai and Kailua for a more serene experience, plan a cookout at the beach and just enjoy the day with your children and family.
These are just some of the things you can do, there are plenty more things to see and explore!