Category: 2006

Hawaii Activities

Used: 2006

Since the concert was canceled, I had to find other things to do. Well, not really, as the show would have been one night and I was there for a long weekend. I knew part of what I wanted to do, was just drive around, stopping at various beaches and just read. I couldn’t bring a folding chair with me, so I bought one there and just left it in the trunk of my car. They really need chair rental places there (business idea anyone?). I had good memories of certain beaches (Bellows and Kaaawa specifically) as well as the Bishop Museum (shrieked with joy when the museum was featured on LOST in those last few episodes where the “concert” was taking place) and knew I wanted to return.

Look familiar? Bishop Museum!

In searching stuff to do, I also found a company that did swimming with dolphins in the ocean. Since I was traveling alone, I knew I wouldn’t get much ocean time as I am super anal on so many levels (don’t like leaving my stuff alone on the beach or swimming without someone I know on the shore, just some of the downsides of traveling alone) and thought this would be a good opportunity to do something adventure filled. Unfortunately, in my internet search, I can’t find the exact company I went with. I have an idea on who it is, but I don’t want to post, just in case it isn’t. I know loads of other companies, especially Sea Life Park come up, but that was too staged (and too expensive) for me. The tour I went on was great. I added transport to my package, so I wouldn’t have to drive (the point of the car being???) and I do remember my driver. The girl was from Brazil, who came to like Virginia or something to work as a nanny and ended up getting married to some American in the army. He got transferred to Hawaii and they ended up getting divorced, but she stayed in Hawaii and was in school at the time. How nuts is that?? There were also other people on my tour that had planned to come to Hawaii for the U2 show and like me booked non-refundable tickets. I love that even though the show was postponed, the island is so tiny that things like this are still a big deal.

(Side story: When the family took a vacation to Hawaii back in 1996, Michael Jackson was on tour at the time and his only US show was in Hawaii when we were there. The place is so small, that EVERYONE was talking about it. We actually went and saw EVITA in some old theater in Waikiki and the guy next to us started talking to us, saying he was having an iconic day, seeing Madonna in the afternoon and MJ at night. Agh, I do love the small town life of Honolulu!)

Anyway, the skipper found some dolphins and we all jumped in. I remember looking down in the water, it being so warm and so clear, I looked straight down and just saw the pod sitting at the bottom near the ocean floor. That is as close as we got unfortunately. But I still had a blast!

Dolphins in Hawaii!

People say they need to get to Hawaii soon, to see the set of LOST, but to me, the whole island of Ohahu is the set of LOST. Every time I turned around, especially outside of town, I kept thinking, ohmigod, this part of the beach/forest was totally in LOST! And this is from someone from Los Angeles, where they actually do film everything around the corner from me. I loved that they could turn this island into any place in the world, that they filmed all but 4 scenes (I know one, but I am DYING! to know the rest) of the entire series on the island. The whole island is the set, in my book.

The hills are alive with the sound of LOST!

A jog from the Smoke Monster anyone?

On this trip, I hit The Bishop Museum (again), hiked Diamond Head, walked around Waikiki and drove around the Island Loop, as I call it. The place is so tiny and on off peak times, so little traffic (compared to LA) that after I checked out of my hotel on my last day, I still had loads of time to kill, so I drove back to a beach near Kaaawa, which is my favorite little spot on the Windward side and read for a few hours before I had to return the car and get to the airport. I was still wicked early.

So, now I have done Honolulu as both a kid and adult. Next up, perhaps going to the Big Island (Hawaii!) for my birthday next year.

Moral: JUST GO!!!

View from Diamond Head

Isn't there supposed to be a 4-toed statue here?

Windward side, my favorite coast of the island

Didn't someone (or everyone) get stuck in these trees?

Hawaii Details

Used: 2006

Ever since LOST came on the air in 2004, I have been wanting to go back to Hawaii. We took a family vacation in December 1996, because earlier that year my sister got invited to join a friend of her’s whose uncle lived there and my mom got jealous since it was one of the last states she had never been too (oddly, Maine was the other one and she has since been, so congrats Mom, for visiting all 50 states!) so we went as a family and my sister went twice in one year. Not bad for a 13 year old! But I split my memories into two categories, going somewhere as a child (aka: my parents paid) or an adult. And I hadn’t been to Hawaii as an adult and wanted to go back. U2 announced they were going to do a concert there in April 2006 so what better excuse to go! Unfortunately, the concert was postponed after I bought my airfare and I went anyway, mainly because I had been wanting to get back to Hawaii. U2 was kind of just an excuse.

They could have totally filmed LOST here

View of Honolulu from Diamond Head - Didn't do this as a kid!

For the first time ever I bought a hotel/airfare combo. I figured Hawaii was kind of the place that packages seemed de rigour and I think I got a decent deal. Funny enough when I was pulling up flights, Delta was one of them, but for half the flights they wanted to route me through Salt Lake City. I am in LA, but to get to Hawaii, I have to go through SLC? Unless the price difference was like nuts, I never backtrack. I probably paid $20 more (if anything, I don’t remember) to go direct. Something like that is worth it in my book. I included a cheapish hotel a few blocks from Waikiki, so I could walk there.

I also booked a rental car, since it’s just so much easier to get around the island that way. Since I was under 25 at the time, pickings where slim. I did some research and found that Thrifty had the best arrangement for under 25’s, meaning I just had to pay a little more, but everything was hassle free. It was funny, when I was at the rental counter, I got talking to the girl and she seemed like she was my age and she admitted that the rule was stupid because even she couldn’t rent from the company she worked for, without paying extra! Anyway, props to Thrifty for making all my rentals not too much more expensive, but always hassle free! Unfortunately, of all things I did on this trip, the rental car was probably my biggest mistake. Since I rented at the airport, I had to pay for parking on top of everything. If I had to do it over again, I would have just taken a taxi or shuttle to the hotel and just hired a car in Waikiki by the day, if needed, because since I had the car, I forces myself to use it every day. In town, they rent to 18 and overs, plus I wouldn’t have had to pay for parking and I wouldn’t have felt like I had to use it everyday, as one day could have just spent around Waikiki and there goes a day. I never fully regret hiring a car, but it would have been a lot cheaper doing it that way.

Moral: Hire your car on just the days you need from various rental agencies in Waikiki (only applies if you are staying in town)

Burger King, Hawaii-style

I love taking pictures of phone booths. They are getting more rare!

Used: 2006/2007

I have booked air tickets every which way. For my trip to New Zealand, I went to STA Travel, thinking I would get a good price and flexibility. I never change tickets once I buy, but I didn’t know when I was going to return, so I thought I would try STA. I bought my ticket in September 2006 for outgoing in February 2007.They just booked me on the latest return date they could at the time, which was August 2007. I was told I could change my ticket as many times as I wanted for a $25 fee per change through the website. I asked all the questions I could think of at the moment and bought my ticket. The price was just slightly higher then rack rate online, but since I wanted the flexibility on the return, I didn’t mind the extra cost. Out going was fine. Once I got settled in Auckland with a fantastic job, I moved my return date to January 2008. In October 2007, I got another job, which was now going to take me until June 2008, so I emailed to rebook my ticket for September 2008. I got an email back with dates and times and I said it was okay to cancel my old ticket and rebook the new one and that I should be getting a confirmation email back within 48 hours. When I hadn’t gotten anything back within 36 hours, I called STA (a 1800, US number I might add) after being on hold for 30 minutes (no, not a typo!) they said that I couldn’t rebook the ticket, because it was more then 365 days after my outgoing ticket. I was so mad! If I had known that upfront, I would have not bought the ticket. I closely read all my T&C’s provided by STA and nowhere does it say that the return portion has to be used within 365 days. They said it was Qantas’s rules, but shouldn’t STA have disclosed it before purchase?

Just Arrived

I was so fed up that in a fit of rage, I bought a one-way from AKL back to the US in September 2008. In another catch-22 situation, this had to be a hard ticket (what the hell is that anyway?) and they don’t mail to addresses overseas. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Luckily, I was dealing with this in October 2007 and my parents were coming to visit in December, so I had them mail the ticket to them and they just brought it to me.

In a funny turn of events a few months later when I was researching Australian visas and realized they opened up the WHV to Americans for 12 months, I ended up canceling the ticket anyway. I didn’t return the ticket to the US until I had entered Australia on my WHV, just to have proof of return to the US (even if it was from AKL) and as usual, no one at immigration cared. I mailed the ticket back to Arizona as soon as I entered Australia and got a refund minus $100, so for nearly a year I didn’t have a ticket back to the US.

Moral of the story? Ask how late you can use your return portion!