Waikiki Stopover

Waikiki reminded us a lot of Las Vegas. Lots of high-end retail stores, lots of people walking around. The beach is nice, though a bit crowded for our taste. It was a nice weekend but we wouldn't want to spend longer than that here. 

Day 1: Home to Waikiki

Our first day brought us to Hawaii, where we’ll spend a couple of days before continuing onto Australia. We spent the first afternoon checking out the beach and the neighborhood and stretching our legs after the long flight from Michigan to Oahu.

I love trying new foods, though sometimes it can be stressful when you don’t understand how things work. We’d never tried tonkatsu (Japanese fried pork) before and conveniently there was a well-recommended restaurant, Tonkatsu Ginzu Bairin, right across from our hotel. (Okay so I had that in mind when I booked the hotel.) When we told the server that we’d never tried tonkatsu before, he kindly and patiently helped us understand the menu and order, and explained how to put our sauce together by crushing sesame seeds and adding sauce ingredients. It was great fun making our own sauce! It came with rice and some slaw that you dip in dressing and then a miso soup that you drink out of the bowl. Well, the Japanese do anyway. So we did too. AND ate everything with chopsticks. A different and tasty experience.

Day 2: Wandering Waikiki

We’re staying at a little place called The Breakers. It’s been around for a while, since one of the women we talked to today said she and her husband have been coming here since 1995, and a guy sitting across the pool has been coming here since 1949. It may have last been remodeled then. It’s very homey and tranquil and removed from the bustle of Waikiki.

Our first morning we got coffee and gorilla bagel from the Gorilla in the Cafe, which our hotel recommended for a quick breakfast. The gorilla bagel is a cinnamon raisin bagel with peanut butter and banana. The local sparrows were intrigued. We walked on the beach and around town a bit. Off and on rain but still people on the beach. Then we came back and checked out the pool, which is almost as cold as a lake in Michigan this time of year. The other guests said didn’t we wonder why no one was in the pool? Poke bowls from Coco Cove for lunch. A nice relaxing day.

While we were walking around yesterday we met an Aloha Ambassador. They’re people that basically stand around and help visitors. He told us about a new restaurant that had opened up that served Hawaiian style food so we checked that out for dinner. The loco moco, which is a burger on top of rice with gravy and two eggs, is pretty common here. Neither of us had tried one before. This particular burger was half bacon and half burger. We also tried Kahuku style shrimp, which was basically like shrimp scampi, with mashed potatoes and a salad. 

Day 3: Beach and Poolside

Another lazy day. Another walk on the beach. It was really crowded, there was some kind of Hawaiian canoe race going on with different police forces and other groups and the streets were pretty crowded too. Reminds us of Las Vegas with a beach, because there are tons of designer stores. 

Speaking of Vegas, we went to The Yard House for lunch; the other one we’ve been to was in Vegas. We had a burger and some funky tacos. One was “vampire style” with pork and bacon, and the tortilla had crunchy cheese on the outside. Also a Korean beef taco, with pickled vegetables. 

We went down by the pool later to have a beer. There were some other guests at a table on the other side of the pool singing along with guitars; old songs like I Did It My Way, Unchained Melody, Stand by Me, Diana. A peaceful and relaxing way to end our weekend in Waikiki.


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Things are a little scruffy – like peeling wallpaper – but they’re clean and they work and the people working here, and the other guests, are incredibly warm, helpful, and welcoming. It’s one of those places people keep coming back to, and the prices are hard to beat in Waikiki. The location near the beach and restaurants was great; everything was walkable.


Your biggest problem will be choosing which of the many restaurants you want to eat at. And finding a seat. 

Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin
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The food was great, particularly the fried pork itself, which was outstanding. A great experience. Very popular; they take reservations.
Gorilla in the Cafe
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Great coffee and gorilla bagel, a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with peanut butter and banana.
Coco Cove
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More of a market than a restaurant with a counter serving great poke bowls.
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The loco moco and Kahuku style shrimp was pretty good. The service was disjointed, with long waits.
Yard House
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Interesting mix and match tacos, one with crunchy cheese on the outside.


We used hawaii23 to get to (and from) our hotel, and it worked very well. They were waiting for us when we arrived, let us reschedule our return trip, and it was a flat $23 for the two of us each way. The rest of the time we walked.