Finding paradise in Waikiki: Day One
We stayed at the Queen Kapiolani Hotel. The appeal of this somewhat diveyabode on the eastern border of Waikiki is its location: across fromlush green Kapiolani Park and only a block from the beach. Our roomwas tired but clean and had an incredible view of the surf. And wegot a great deal; two nights plus tax came to $160.
A nicer (and a bit pricier) alternative is the Park Shore HotelWaikiki, next door. There are plenty of other budget hotels inWaikiki (prices bottom out in the $60-$70 range), but the appeal oflocations varies.
After checking in, we made the quick walk to Queen's Surf Beach,the eastern extension of Waikiki Beach. Refreshed by the bluerollers, we took a five-minute stroll east down Kalakaua Avenue tothe Waikiki Aquarium ($7 each), which arguably has the world'sbest live coral exhibits, with stunning reef environments.
Heading west across Kapiolani Park, we happened on the free Friday Bandstand Concert at the park's new copper-roofedstage. Local singer Keahi Conjugacion was crooning oldies like"Little Grass Shack."
Kalakaua Avenue is Waikiki's main drag, and something isalways going on there. Ambling down the sidewalk looking for aplace to eat, my wife was drawn to the sounds of a young Tonganchoir belting out nightingale-sweet gospel tunes in perfectharmony. Midway down Kalakaua we pulled up a couple of rockingchairs on the peaceful veranda of the Sheraton Moana Surfrider. The oldest hotel in Waikiki, thisalabaster-pillared gem has the mellowest interior courtyard in theislands, complete with a spreading Banyan tree and moonlit huladancers.
Hungry, we staggered into the spare confines of Yabusoba, austere but comfy in the way of a classic Japanesenoodle house. We ordered chilled somen noodles with crispy tempuraand hot udon in pleasantly salty fish broth ($27.44); both were excellent.DAY'S BUDGET
$330 in pocket
Two nights at Queen Kapiolani Hotel: $160
Sun, stroll, and swim at Queen's Surf Beach:FREE
Watch reefs at the Waikiki Aquarium: $14
Catch local music talent in Kapiolani Park: FREE
Kick back on the Sheraton Moana veranda: FREE
Window-shop Kalakaua Ave.: FREESomen and udon at Yabusova: $27($129 remaining)