Grand Waikikian by Hilton Grand Vacations

Grand Waikikian by Hilton Grand Vacations

On just about everyone’s travel bucket list is Hawaii. We have seen scenes from Hawaii in movies, and countless TV shows over the years. Before you ever go, you expect you already know what it looks like.

Once you see Hawaii firsthand, you realize that no TV or movie screen can do the beauty justice. The most recent movie I saw was Descendants and there were some amazing shots in that movie. But believe me, when I tell you nothing, prepare your heart for the real thing.

The plants and flowers alone will melt even the calmest soul’s heart. No location has been seen more on TV and in the movies than in Waikiki. Waikiki is on the South Shore of the Island of O’ahu in the area called Honolulu. The beach here is a thing of legend and for good reason.

Come with me as I journey back to Hawaii for the ultimate dream vacation.

Day One Travel and Arrival

I have said it before, and there is no way around it. The flight to Hawaii is a long one. I am on the East Coast, so for me, it is even a little longer. But if I am going to spend 15 hours in the air, this is likely the only place on Earth I will do it for.

The travel is long but most flights bring you in right about the time for check-in. You may even be 1 hour after a standard check-in time, but that works out great because you can get settled, take a nap, then get up for a nighttime meal and start having fun.

I would not go to sleep for the night once I get in, set an alarm and wake up after 1-2 hours and then go get something to eat, and do something fun. You do not want to throw off your biological clock trying to stay up, or by going to sleep and then getting up too early. But a nap is just what the doctor ordered. Now if you can actually sleep on the plane, you may not need one, but I can never do that myself.

After a 15-hour series of flights, I was a bit like a zombie, but I still appreciated the resort as I arrived. When I woke up refreshed, however, my mind was in better shape to drink it all in. The sun had gone down almost the entire way before I woke up.

When you are in Hawaii, you want an ocean view if you can get one (most people). They have nice ocean-view options here. My room was a 1 bedroom suite since it was just me this time. So I opted for the Ocean View room that had a king’s bed. Since I was solo on this trip, that was perfect. The view here is either a partial or full ocean view, but it is one that is between several resorts. You do have a nice view of the massive pool lagoon as well as the ocean view.

Villa Amenities

  • Balcony/Porch
  • Blender
  • Cable TV
  • Coffee Maker
  • Dishwasher
  • Ice Maker
  • In-Room Safe
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Refrigerator
  • Stove/Range

Then the resort itself offers all of these options.

Resort Amenities

  • Free WiFi
  • Outdoor Pools
  • Business Center
  • On-Site Restaurants
  • Fitness Center
  • Concierge Services

The rooms with the city view are nice as well since they have a bit of a mountain view and the plants and flowers make that view dreamlike as well. If you are lucky enough to get the penthouse view, you see an even more expansive view of the area.

The mission that took over my mind at the moment was to get something to eat. There are several restaurants on-site and I chose the Aoki Japanese Grill because I love the fresh meat and seafood grilled in front of you Japanese style meals, and I was starving. I chose a meal of Grade A5 Miyazaki Wagyu striploin, lobster tail. I also washed everything down with some hot sake. If you have not had Miyazaki Wagyu, you may want to treat yourself. The meat is amazing. During the cow’s life, they are given beer and massaged daily. This makes the beef the best in the world with fat marbling that looks like little dots in the beef instead of long strips. The result is the most flavorful and tender meat you will ever have.

The chefs here are the real deal. The Japanese love Hawaii as much as Americans do, so Japanese food on the islands is usually authentic, and wonderful. This meal was no exception. By the time I was seated at my table for dinner and the cook started his work, it was dark and the sun had left for the night.

Be aware in this blog about the trip to Hawaii I will share some of the more pricy things to do on the island. If you are more budget aware, never fear there is also a more affordable approach to Hawaii. I am sharing the more over-the-top options this time, but in previous blogs, I have shared options within everyone’s reach.

For any of the tourist-focused things, Hawaii is expensive. Tourist funds support the entire economy here so it makes sense that meals and entertainment here are more expensive than in less visited parts of the United States. If you want a more affordable trip, focus on thinking locally. Instead of staying in the high tourist areas like Waikiki, venture out to where the locals go on the island.

Other than petty theft and auto theft, the islands are fairly calm and crime-free. So anywhere you go is safe and nice in Hawaii. In the Caribbean, by comparison, it is not so. There are places you can go in both the Eastern and Western Caribbean that are sketchy. Hawaii is one of the safest travel destinations you will find anywhere. The crime rate is almost half of the national average, and a 3rd of the crime rate is found in many tourist destinations. To avoid crime in Hawaii, just lock things up well, and do not leave items exposed and in the open for petty theft.

I mention that because if you travel a great deal as I have, it is natural to avoid some unknown local spots because you may be worried about walking into the wrong place. That is something you do not have to worry about in Hawaii. The people are lovely, just like the environment.

Day Two

Today I wanted to wake up and see the sunrise. This was easy to do because, after my dinner and sake last night, I found sleep easy. I set my alarm because I wanted to wake up to see the sunrise on the beach.

Given Waikiki’s position here, you find that the Sunsets are life-changing events, but the Sunrise is still nice. There is just something about a Sunset where you see the sun disappear below the ocean waves in the distance that will take your breath away. A sunrise comes from behind you on the other side of the island. You can get up early enough to make your way to the other side of the island for a better sunrise view, but unless you are over on that side for another reason, most will not venture out.

Today I have a great beach view or setting. I like to do that at least once on vacation, but in Hawaii the sunsets are emotional. They are so perfect. When the weather is right, you can see a vision of mother nature that makes you certain of intelligent design no matter what your spiritual belief. You can be on the beach and look around and see tears roll down the faces of grown men. It is that special.

The video here does not do it justice because no film or video can capture it for you. But you can see how many people stop whatever they are doing to watch this amazing view.


Since this is my over-the-top visit to Hawaii, I will see the sunset from a helicopter as I do a tour of the island by air, finishing after the sunset. You can also take ocean cruises to see the sunset on the water too, which is a nice option.

First though, after the sunrise today I want a good breakfast. Again there are many choices at the resort, so I will try another restaurant here on site. They serve breakfast starting at 7AM so it will work well for timing.

Here are the service hours.

Breakfast: 7:00 am-10:30 am

Lunch: 11:00 am-4:30 pm

Dinner: 5:00 pm-9:30 pm

For breakfast, I chose the meat lover’s omelet which was very good. The food was good but Hawaii is pricy I think my meal alone was around $29, then add in a mimosa and then some fresh pineapple juice and my meal was over $60 with a tip for one. I will stop oversharing on price here, but again, just remember I am going kind of all in and expenses are damned here. You can go offsite to a local spot and feed a family breakfast for that. Just like anywhere else in the World convenience has a price.

For the Coffee lovers there is also a Starbucks on-site. I will drink coffee, but I am not a daily drinker. For me, it is more of a rare treat. I just never took to the habit of daily drinking.

After breakfast, I planned to visit the Dole Plantation. I have been several times, most often with a group as a part of an island tour, but today I wanted to take my time and see everything at a slow pace. I have ridden the steam train and wanted to do that again for fun. It is a short course it takes maybe 2 miles in total, but it is informative and fun. I will also take a private tour. I asked the concierge to arrange this since it is not a normal offering. Before COVID, they offered group tours and will probably do so again, but I wanted a behind-the-scenes tour. I do not know why, but I wanted to understand more about pineapple growth. Maybe my subconscious thinks I will start a pineapple farm however, the conscious mind certainly knows better.

OK, here is some inside information on booking special things when you are traveling. Some of you may have credit cards that offer special booking services, and access to special events. Those are great and can help you enjoy things not open to the public.

However, if you are not equipped with a magic-level credit card with benefits, you can either have an assistant call and book for you or use a travel broker that specializes in VIP services. The alternative is to call yourself and simply ask nicely. Years ago I might have had my virtual assistant call, and I still do take advantage of a Black Card, or American Express booking exclusive when I see something special. However, most of the time I just call and ask nicely and mention that I am willing to pay extra for the inconvenience or something along those lines. When I do so the majority of the time, the answer is yes, and then I am set.

In rare situations where there are long guest waiting lists or limited access to somewhere, then you have to use your resources.

Often at a nice resort like this, the concierge may also have great local contacts and be able to make things happen. That is the value of personal relationships. Just remember to tip well if they move a mountain for you.

Dole Plantation

The plantation offers group tours normally, and they have a steam train ride that will show you the highlights of the plantation.

I did the train ride, and the private tour, and then ate at the plantation grill. The grill menu is simple and fun, as well as is affordable by Hawaii standards. Make sure you get a Dole Whip ice cream. It is a refreshing treat. I had a pineapple chilidog and then a pineapple float. It was fun, fast, and great tasting.

If you love pineapple, this is a great tour, and the Dole brand has been something I have enjoyed as far back as I can remember.

After my late lunch, I went through the maze, which was declared the world’s largest maze in 2018. I could see kids enjoying the maze on a visit.

I went back to the resort afterward to relax on the beach until it was almost time for my pickup for the helicopter ride.

Helicopter Island Tour

A helicopter tour of the island is something special. When you can take an already historic trip and kick the experience up a notch, you are in the amazing territory. Watch this amazing video to see more of the helicopter tour.

The tours from this provider are often longer flights with more air time and more to see. They also offer an open door which gives you the best views possible.

Day Three Circle Island Tour

It is hard to top a helicopter flight of the island that ends in a view of the sunset by air. There were moments when I felt like I was on a spiritual journey. If it was not for the sounds of the helicopter, I would have gotten lost in the experience.

Today I am going to stay on the land but see more of the island. One of the best ways to see the island and to take a circle island tour.

This video will show you the details of a circle island tour. I have had several provides for these tours over the years. All have been great, and each one offers its own take on the circle of island stops all can enjoy.

Video by Just Be Out

The tours shown in the video are the same that I took because it was over the top and private. Since the tour price was high for the first person but cheap for additional people I took a few new friends that I met on my first day at the resort. It gave them a free tour and only cost about $100 for me to treat a neat couple to this adventure.

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Make sure you book through to save on this amazing resort.


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