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Photos from Makani Catamaran in Oahu

Diamond Head Crater

The Makani Catamaran was part of our Go Oahu Card deal. We did see turtles and several types of fish; I just didn’t get them on digital. Read more about our tour and see other links at our Oahu page. Find out if the Go Oahu Card is worth it.

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Waikiki Grand Hotel by Castle

Waikiki Grand Hotel by Castle from Diamond Head Trail

The first thing you need to know about Oahu hotels is that many of them have similar names. “The Waikiki Beach” hotel isn’t descriptive enough. You need to know the whole name. We were almost dropped off at the wrong hotel until I was able to qualify by using the entire name.

The Waikiki Grand Hotel by Castle is located across from the Honolulu Zoo and less than a block from the Kuhio and Queen’s Beaches. If it’s the beach you’ve come to see, there are few better locations and possibly none that offer such a great price. Just put on your flip flops, walk to the light, cross the street, and you’re there.

While the balcony we had faced the city, we used it and enjoyed it a lot. Mornings for breakfast with fresh fruit in the fridge and coffee in the 4-cup maker, the balcony made for a nice place to sit and eat while breathing in the warmth and fresh air. Evenings after the sun went down, it was a nice place for dinner or a snack, and with the buildings lit up, it was pretty to look at.

The view from our hotel room at the Waikiki Grand by Castle
The view from our hotel room at the Waikiki Grand by Castle

For the budget conscious, the combination of cooking amenities, utensils and dishware made it a lot easier to be okay with our food choices. The ABC Store located at the corner of our building offered several tasty items that only needed to be opened and eaten or microwaved.

The staff at the hotel is friendly and fun. They seem to enjoy their jobs and do their best to make sure guests have a good visit. The front desk staff is top notch.

There is a small lending library on site, so if you need a book for your beach trip, you can find one on their shelves for no cost! My wife and I found four books between us! We only read two, though.

For people who are light sleepers, be sure to bring earplugs. The birds in the morning can raise a ruckus and the slat windows do nothing to block out any vehicle noise.

The hotel charges a cleaning fee, so if you’re not booking directly, you may get a surprise at the amount. (It’s not $95 like Hotels.com said.) In fact, it was over $15 a night, and I got a lower price because of the number of nights we were staying. Apparently, this is a common practice in Hawaii. The cleaning staff comes in about once every three days, which is nice because you rarely have to worry about whether or not you can sleep in.

Every hotel has a concierge desk. Use it and avoid scams and bad deals that may be found on the street. At Waikiki Grand Hotel by Castle,Clayton was the most helpful for our budget and our time there. Overall, I was super-happy with the location and service at the hotel.

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Waikiki Beaches: Kuhio and Queen’s

Sunset at Waikiki beach

The beach at the end of Kapahulu Avenue in Waikiki is divided by a concrete walking area that extends out into the ocean and provides great views for sunset. On the right-hand side of that walkway is Kuhio Beach.On the left is Queen’s Beach.

From the concrete walkway
From the concrete dividing walkway

Kuhio Beach has a retaining wall, which provides some protection from the waves and creates a calmer beach area. You never want to turn your back on the ocean, but the retaining wall provides a good place for weaker swimmers, children and their parents to enjoy the beach with less worry. If you want a gentler beach experience, this is the place to set up. The water nearest the retaining wall has rocks under it, which means the deepest part of the ocean on this beach never gets above six feet under normal conditions and in most tides.

Queen’s Beach is the wild side of the surf. The waves aren’t huge, but the sand drops off quickly into the water. People body surf, boogie board, snorkel and surf here. One person reported that he had seen puffer fish and several kinds of trigger fish just a few feet off shore. Beach volleyball is also available.

There are lifeguards stationed in the area. They cleanup at the beginning of the day, so make sure you take your trash off the beach when you leave. They have more important jobs, including flagging signs to indicate dangerous conditions. The current can be strong, and jellyfish may be present. An orange flag indicates some sort of danger; check the sign for more information.When in doubt, don’t go out.

Behind the beach areas is a grassy knoll. If you don’t like sand or want the shade of a palm tree, you can sit here. Some people even setup hammocks in the evening.

There are a lot of legends about where Waikiki sand comes from. The answer, according to Hawai’i Magazine, is Hawaii. There were shipments in the 1920s and ‘30s from California, but Waikiki stopped importing sand for the beaches in the 1970s. It now gets the sand from a nearby ocean floor.