Home > Hawaii, Vacation, Vegetarian > Off to Hawaii, Day 1 in Waikiki beach

Off to Hawaii, Day 1 in Waikiki beach

After having planned several vacations and having had to cancel them all, I took the risk of planning yet another one. This time, I had some miles, a travel cert from united.com telling me I need to book a trip – so, I went ahead, looked for tickets about a week before the actual departure date, to Hawaii!! We have, like many Indians always thought about Hawaii, sighed about it & dismissed it as far away from the path to India & hence, an unlikely choice for a vacation destination. The miles came in handy – and here, I have to give kudos to united – they do advertise that they make it easy to redeem their miles and they did make it easy – a week before the trip, I was able to book a round trip ticket to Hawaii from Minneapolis on united using 40K miles – which I think is excellent!!

Having had no clue about Hawaii, except that there was a 5 hr difference in time zone, I had booked the tickets to Honolulu. After the impulse purchase was done, I set about the arduous task of planning the activity. For some reason, I was struck by brilliance and chose the Waikiki area to stay – which, in hindsight turned out to be an excellent decision. If you are new to Honolulu, the Waikiki beach is the most popular beach areas with a fantastic stretch of beach resorts and walkways. After a lot of research (for the cheapest place to stay), I decided to book us in to the Outrigger Luana Waikiki for the night, which again turned out to be excellent!!

By the way, if you plan to stay in the waikiki area, you don’t need to rent a car – there is a shuttle service called “Robert’s Hawaii” that operates round-trip shuttles from the airport to almost all hotels in the Waikiki area for $15. It is better if you reserve it ahead of time though. (We didn’t & were able to book the return pick-up after we reached HNL).

Almost all Hawaii islands are brimming with Outrigger resorts – in general, we found these to be of excellent location, reasonable price and good service! The place where we stayed was about a mile from the beach, but close to all the great resorts and the “Beach Walk” area of Waikiki. The Hilton has built a humungous resort & named it the “Hilton village” in Waikiki – having had a recommendation, we went over to the Hilton the first evening we landed and were disappointed by the lack of vegetarian fare in their resort. We weren’t hungry and ended up having veggie spring rolls at the “Tropics” bar by the ocean. In the night, we walked along the roads over to the “Outrigger reef” hotel, which is right on the beach and is probably one of the best located hotels with one of the best accesses to the Waikiki beach. The restaurant there had absolutely no vegetarian options either – but, the views are incredible and they do boast an excellent breakfast buffet (which we didn’t try).

The next morning, Charan decided she wasn’t just going to be able to enjoy the beach alone & needed some more activity and with her ability to digest words quickly, she determined that we were to make the trek over to Diamond head.

A little bit of geographical knowledge needs to be inserted here – Hawaii, if you do not know is largely made of dormant volcanoes. All of the islands have volcanoes – the diamond head is a huge dormant crater that sits right on Waikiki beach. It is a great view from the air and the perspective from air shows diamond head looking like a mountain with its peak sawed off and a big lake in the center. Apparently, we overheard some military type person saying that diamond head used to be a military outpost years ago – sure enough, it seems to be such even now – with parts of the crater cordoned off.

We took public transport (bus) to Diamond head – the bus takes about 15-20 min and costs about $2. We trekked up the hill – Hint: start early if you don’t like getting toasted. Being an adventure in the US, this trek is dumbed down with paved paths and steps all the way to the top – it is still a good walk to the top and the view of Waikiki from the top is incredible! For those who aren’t very adventure prone, they sell certificates at the top for $2 which commemorates your trek to the top. Charan wasn’t very excited about getting that, given she has trekked 8 KM on the great wall.

We made our way down & now started looking for something to eat – here is the troublesome part. Finding vegetarian food in Honolulu is a bit hard. The majority of the places in Waikiki are standard american fare, with the steak, potatoes, etc. I had also decided I wanted to taste the fresh fruits of the islands – the guy at the Outrigger had recommended Henry’s place in the “beack walk” street – a little hole in the wall place manned by a really old Hawaiian/ Chinese person who cuts the fruits himself – I convinced Charan this was going to be good. So, we trudged over there as we passed the “luxury walk” with the Louis Vuitton, Tiffany’s etc and despite the relatively seedy appearances found the pineapples, papayas, water melon incredibly to our liking. After having devoured a couple cups, Charan decided she needed real food.

So, we started our search for real food – the restaurant in Outrigger Reef serves breakfast till 11 & then, switched to lunch at noon – both the buffet’s apparently have tons of salads – unfortunately, we were at the place at 11 AM and hungry. So, we walked out to the trump tower to find nothing vegetarian there either and didn’t get the veggie burger at Denny’s either, all of which are in the same intersection. Finally, we found the “subway” a block down and decided to get the sandwich there.

We returned back to the hotel, checked out of it, decided to head over to the beach – the guys in the hotel (Outrigger Luana Waikiki) were happy to hold the luggage & let us use the showers at the pool once we returned from the beach. they were incredibly helpful. As we checked our luggage in, it started to pour outside!!! that was disappointing. Although Hawaii is undergoing a drought, we apparently brought rain to the place – it rained for an hour and let up. We walked to the Hilton village & decided to walk along the beach and did so for a couple hours enjoying the ocean, the clear blue waters and the various resorts along the beach.


Charan in the Outrigger Reef



Charan & I on the Waikiki beach



view of the waikiki area up to diamond head


One of the other things about Hawaii is that the state law dictates that all beach resorts need to have public access to the beaches. In other words, almost all beaches are public in Hawaii. Even if there is a fancy resort, you can still access the beach without having to shell boat loads of cash. We walked all along the Waikiki beach, found a bunch more restaurants (that we didn’t try) along the beach and then, finally returned to pack up and board our inter-island flight to Big Island.

One of my colleagues told me there wasn’t much to do in Oahu but, it was better in the other islands – so, with the brief research, I decided we were to spend most time on beaches and also, visit the volcanoes in Big Island. So, we had booked to stay in Big Island for 3 nights.

So, off we go to Big Island –

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