Make the most of your Honolulu Layover
By Kate Blake- Admin Aerotravelplus and iCruise.com agent
Kate’s Oahu Self-Drive Tour in a Day
I visited Oahu recently and found myself with a full day with no plans. My hotel kicked me out at 11am and my flight was not leaving until 10:30 PM from the Honolulu airport. What was I to do? I opted to take a cab to the airport and pick up a rental car and head out exploring the rest of the island for the day.
I am going to outline for you a couple of nice sightseeing routes that make your last day in the islands one you will not forget.
First- take a cab to the airport- it was about $60 from where I was in Ko’lina , it is about $25-40 from Honolulu and Waikiki. Rent a car for the day ahead of time- I used Hotwire.com and got a Jeep Compass for $65 including insurance. If I had known what a dog the Compass was ( horrible transmission) I would have opted for a Nissan Altima which was cheaper and nicer to drive. I rented through Hertz so it was quick easy and pretty much on site at the airport.
From the airport I recommend taking the H1 west and follow the signs to the north shore of Oahu- this is where the surfers go for the big waves and there is amazing scenery all along the way.
You will take the H1 to the H2 and then to the 99 and on to the 83 east. Get a map and you can see this takes you directly through the middle of the island. Just past the Schofiled Barracks you will see to the east of the road on the 99 the Dole Pineapple Plantation. This is a fun stop for snacks and to learn about pineapple farming in the islands.
Continue up the 99 and as you come over the hills you will get sweeping views of the north shore. Head west toward Waialua and out to Mokuleia for empty beaches with pounding surf and unspoiled views. You can go sky diving at the Dillingham Airport which is at the far western tip of the north side of the island. Not so adventurous? Head east toward Haleiwa and the 83. Haleiwa is a great stop to stop for lunch. There are usually tons of food trucks in the town as well as some cute restaurants and coffee shops. You can also check out art galleries.
Continue on 83 east and you will see miles of beaches- there are houses along the ways but the beaches are public- there is nowhere you can’t go. Stop and put your toes in the sand and enjoy the water.
Want an easy bit of beautiful ? Stop at Waimea Valley. There is a restaurant, gorgeous botanical gardens and the only fully wheelchair accessible waterfall on the island. There is a modest admission fee and they offer golf carts to take you up to the falls if it is really hot and sticky and you do not want to offend fellow travelers on your flight home. There is a nice restaurant on site here too.
You can take Hwy 83 all the way to the northern tip of the island then back down and around along the eastern shore. Key stops include the Kualoa Ranch where Jurassic Park and other tv and movies have been filmed. This can also be reached directly by taking the H1 to the H3 east from the airport and then the 83 north. Tours can be booked online ahead of time.
The 83 turns into the 72 which will complete your circle of the island ending in Waikiki at Diamond Head. Or you can take the H3 back to the H1 and return to the airport. I went into Honolulu and stopped at the Ala Moana Center shopping mall located just off the Nimitz Hwy and did a little shopping. Hilo Hattie is an institution also located on the Nimitz and on you way back to the airport. Get gas in town and you are ready to head back to the airport. My full circle plus 2 hours at the mall for a pedicure and shopping was about 10 hours in total. The shops near the gates for the late night flights do not open until about 2 hours before the flights so there is no reason to rush to the airport.
Hope this helps give you some ideas on how to turn your long wait for a flight into a bonus day you will remember in Hawaii!