The Grand Islander by Hilton Grand Vacations
I have written about Hawaii before but never at this amazing resort. The trip to Hawaii is a long flight even after you get to California from your home state. My total flight time is over 15 hours.
Day One Arrival
Waikiki Honolulu is one of the few places on Earth that just about everyone can agree is more than worth a long flight. The views as you pull up to the resort are lifechanging. Also, the direct access to Kahanamoku Beach makes this site more than amazing.
Here the resort offers 1 or 2-bedroom suites. I had booked a 1 bedroom villa, but they upgraded me to a 2 bedroom because it had a great ocean view. My balcony had a view of a great pond area, and then the beach and ocean out further in the distance.
- Cable TV
- Coffee Maker
- Ice Maker
- In-Room Safe
Then the resort itself offers all of these options.
- Free WiFi
- Outdoor Pools
- Beach Access
- Business Center
- On Site Restaurants
- Fitness Center
- Concierge Services
After my check-in, I was called to a nap. I opened my door to the patio and blocked open the door for some of the salt air. The rooms here have many options to include mountain views, ocean views, and so much more.
I did set an alarm on my phone so I would not sleep through the night. It was around 5PM when I went to sleep so I tried to set my alarm to wake after a 3 hour nap.
Once I woke, my stomach reminded me that I had not eaten for almost 24 hours. So I headed towards Tropics Bar & Grill. I had the Wagyu Brisket as the main dish and it was perfect. Great food that made up for not eating for almost 20 hours. It felt like making up lost time and opportunity.
I had missed the sunset, but with my sleep being altered with my nap, I again set an alarm, this time for a sunrise on the beach tomorrow.
Wow, just absolute beauty of mother nature. The sunrise and sunsets in Hawaii will cause you to have a faith just by the impact these amazing scenes of nature can make you feel. No matter where you are spiritually, seeing a sunrise on the beach in Hawaii stirs your soul. I can see why some who have experienced this view have moved to the islands, or simply refused to leave.
I have been blessed to leave on or near the water most of my life. This has meant that I have seen many amazing waterfront sunsets, and more than a few sunrises. Still, nothing truly compares to the views here. I have stood on the beach with others, seeing it for the first time. Here you watch grown men cry softly, moved by what nature has to show them.
It is emotionally powerful, in a way that is hard to explain or describe. If you have not had an emotional experience observing nature yet, get ready when you come to Hawaii and specifically Waikiki.
You may not realize it, but you have seen the beaches of Waikiki many times in movies and TV shows. Mostly because of its beauty and how well it translates on film and TV.
Things to do in Waikiki Honolulu
Waikiki is the hub for tourism in Hawaii. There’s no shortage of things you can do in Waikiki. A lot of people end-up visiting and staying here by default just because it is where most people go, and because we have all seen the idyllic beaches here.
Hawaii is the name of the State. It consists of 4 main islands and 2 smaller ones. The Big Island is the largest island. The Big Island is not the Main Island. The Main Island is Oahu. It is the Island where Honolulu is located.
Waikiki is a neighborhood in Honolulu, HI. It’s 95% a tourist attraction.
There are many things to see and do in Waikiki, including beaches, shopping, dining, museums, etc. There is a trolley system that runs around Waikiki. You can take the trolley anywhere in Honolulu. Some places you can go include Ala Moana Center, Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, Waikiki Aquarium, Polynesian Cultural Center, Dole Plantation, Hanauma Bay, Koko Crater, and more!
Somewhere in my mind, there is a collision of visual memories from many TV shows, movies, and even a few previous trips. Today I am going to the Polynesian Cultural Center for the tour from their website you find this message.
Step inside our gates and enter a world of discovery and adventure. As you visit each village, you immerse yourself in their distinct and beautiful culture. Meet the people, taste the food, play, sing and dance. See why our guests call this the “best cultural experience on the island”.
In the event of inclement weather, events and indoor shows will continue to operate, including all Village presentations, the Ali’i Luau, Island Buffet, BBQ Lunch, and the Ha: Breath of Life Evening show. For the safety and comfort of our guests and staff, some outdoor events and presentations may temporarily close until weather improves and safe to resume activities.
The BBQ lunch or the Buffet will make you a happy camper. If you book tickets to the Luau or to the Breath of Life show, make sure to allow for time before the show to visit the center and enjoy all it has to offer.
Another option is the circle island tour which is one of many tours like in you can choose on the island during your stay. Tomorrow I have a tour booked through another provider who I have used before.
Today I started with the amazing sunrise and now I am going back to the resort and to the beach for the Sunset.
This video view does not do it justice,, but it is still worth seeing.
Video by Krzysztof Duda
This was again an amazing view, and after walking around all day, very relaxing and restful.
My own full circle island tour. I booked through a provider I had used before. From their website, you can see the many spots you visit on your tour.
Diamond Head–A 200,000-year-old defining volcanic structure formed the Honolulu Volcanic Series. It’s a worldwide symbol of the Hawaiian Islands.
Kahala Estates–A large concentration of some of the most expensive real estate and beachfront properties in Hawaii. Many celebrities and business moguls vacation homes in this area.
Halona “Blow Hole” Lookout–This volcanic lava tube propels water into the sky like a whale’s blowhole
Waimanalo Town–This quaint, scenic town is known for its local flavor and numerous plant nurseries and agricultural lots that extend back toward the Koolau Mountains.
Nuuanu Pali Lookout–The bewitchingly scenic lookout was also the site of the Battle of Nuuanu, one of the bloodiest conflicts in Hawaiian history. It was here that Kamehameha I conquered the island of Oahu on his quest to unite the Hawaiian Islands.
Byodo-In Temple–This picturesque Buddhist temple tucked in the Valley of the Temples is a half-sized replica of the 900-year-old temple in Japan. It has been featured in the TV series Hawaii Five-O, Magnum P.I., Lost and the 2001 movie Pearl Harbor.
Chinaman’s Hat–The basalt islet in Kaneohe Bay is shaped curiously like a hat. According to Hawaiian mythology, the island is formed from the remains of a giant lizard or dragon’s tail that was chopped off and tossed into the ocean.
Kualoa Ranch–Enjoy the Legends and Legacy at Kualoa Ranch Private Nature Reserve owned by eight generation descendants of Fr. Gerritt P. Judd. On 4,000 acres, it is one of the most sacred places on the island with their goal to protect and enhance the natural beauty of the lands.
Laie Hawaii Mormon Temple–The first temple built by the Latter Day Saints Church outside the continental United States, this beautiful complex features breathtaking lush tropical gardens of Hawaiian foliage and flowers, cascading water features and more.
North Shore Surfing Beaches–Welcome to the surfing mecca of the world! Watch out for the massive waves that have attracted so many surfers to its shores. These beaches are also a popular area for filming.
Dole Plantation–Visit Hawaii’s “Pineapple Experience,” see pineapples from all over the world and try the delicious Dole Whip ice cream. Approximate 20min stop.
Every stop on the tour could be a half a day visit if you wanted. But to see as much as you can in a single day, the tour providers are a great way to go. Most offer pick up at the resort and drop off at the end. The day starts early before 7AM for the pickup, then you are dropped back off around 4:30PM.
The tickets for most include opportunities for a meal or a bag lunch depending on the provider. I, for one, was not going to opt out of the Dole Whip Ice cream, which is wonderful. There are many great tour providers and choices, so do your own homework and check the sites live to see what they currently offer.
If you choose to go to the Dole plantation yourself, consider the train ride that takes you around the plantation. It is a neat experience to get to see it all. It is a short 2 mile tour but fun and a nice break.
No matter how you chose to spend your time on the island, keep an open mind, and absorb as much of the local culture as possible. If you are a history buff, there is a ton to see, and for those who have military connections
A trip to Pearl Harbor can be something that moves you and also makes you consider the impacts of our brave military members through many conflicts and efforts over the years. Visiting the Arizona is moving, especially as you see the oil still coming to the surface of the water from the deep below.
From the National Parks Website.
Pearl Harbor National Memorial, a unit of the National Park Service offers visitors a place to connect with national, international, and personal histories of World War II in the Pacific, ranging from events leading to the December 7, 1941 attack on Oʻahu, to continued peace and reconciliation. The memorial is a “place of remembrance and contemplation of the nature of war and the sacrifices of those who lost their lived during the Pacific War.”
Pearl Harbor National Memorial is adjacent to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and includes the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, two-world-class museums, is home to the USS Arizona Memorial, along with the USS Utah, and the USS Oklahoma Memorials (located on Ford Island), the shipwrecks; submerged resources; mooring quays F6 North and South, F7 North and South, and F8 North and South; the six Chief Petty Officer Bungalows; and other historic and archeological sites are tangible features of Battleship Row and the Pearl Harbor environs.
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