Waikik, Hawaii - May 2012

It was to become what is now known as a “ThriftCation.” It wasn’t our intention when my dad and I set out on our adventure to Hawaii, but journeys have a way of directing themselves once set into motion.

Sure, when booking our hotel and air accommodations we were trying to be thrifty. We were unfamiliar with the city of Honolulu and only picked it because of an airfare special I saw on one of my many daily thrifty travel email blasts. The hotel was a “buy now and save” special on a different blast, so off to Waikiki we went.

I didn’t get leied when I arrived in Hawaii. My dad was very disappointed in that fact. It was an omen of what was to come. As we hustled to catch a cab to our hotel, we watched others receive beautiful flowers around their necks as their fancy hotel shuttles took them away to their fancy hotel. Ours was not fancy – ours was a Ramada.

Nestled on the side of a busy street at the resort end of Waikiki and above an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet was our home for the next 4 days. This Ramada is ranked a 3 star, but I believe it to be only a 2. There is no restaurant (other than the separate buffet), no bar, no lounge, and no room service in this humble facility. The pool on the 2nd floor was built directly over the Chinese restaurant with a view of the bus stop. The hotel also apparently serves as the home for Japanese Airline personnel, who reserve the “penthouse.” All quite intriguing.

Upon arrival, we immediately found a cheap bar with cheap late night eats down the street, thus inadvertently setting our ThriftCation into motion. Snapper’s Bar & Grill is a local hang out with cheap prices, big portions, and tasty food. We ate there a lot - it was a good find.

Across the busy street is the Hilton Resort, which was a selling point on picking this location blindly. It took us a bit to get our bearings, but after going out of our way around the resort, we learned our way through the resort. Our first morning we went around, but happened across Ala Wai Harbor and a kick ass pub buried in the corner of a building touting cheap eats. Harbor Pub looked more like the galley of a ship than a restaurant - we were sold on the place immediately. I had my only “authentic” Hawaiian breakfast here: 2 fried eggs over white rice, with fried spam, German sausage, and ham, add white toast and soy sauce and you have the reason why I only had it once.

That first day we wandered around, lounged on the beach, and got situated for the next few days. We had a list of “must dos”: luau, snorkel, surf, Pearl Harbor, and hike. We went about making them happen, again unknowingly immersing ourselves in our thrifty ways.
We didn’t skimp on dinner that night though. We walked downtown about a mile to Dukes at the Outrigger. This was where I had originally wanted to stay, but it was sold out. Next time – this IS where I am staying. The hotel and restaurant are on the beach, the service is impeccable, and the view is amazing. My dad wasn’t happy with his choice for dinner, he didn’t complain yet the waiter offer (offered!) to get him a new dish. The waiter did this with a smile and a no worry attitude. It was splendid. We later choose to splurge on a $2 trolley ride home that took us around the streets of downtown Waikiki. The trolley driver kept rapping on the mic and jerking the trolley, making it seem more like a party bus than a trolley ride. It really is the best and cheapest tour of the city at nighttime.

........ to be continued ......