My better half knows how much I love to get away and travel, even if it is for only a few days, and he did not disappoint by surprising me with 6 days in Honolulu for my birthday this year. The only catch…he had to work… ‘so, take a friend’ he said. I say it was a ‘catch’, however, this sort of quick trip is pre determined to be ‘shopping trip’, so a female companion is a much better option!
I chose my mum.
Ok, so 5 days in Honolulu with the main priority to shop. The shopping in Honolulu is fantastic. The outlet mall, the luxury shopping strip, the department stores, the Ala Moana Centre…there is an abundance of retail stores and all with a bargain to be had. And with our seasons being opposite to the US, there is also the opportunity to buy the sale stock at ridiculous prices.
Day One : We landed at 10am and caught a taxi straight to the hotel. I chose the boutique hotel Wakiki Parc for this trip. Located 200m from the white sands of Waikiki, it was a cost effective 4 star hotel with good amenities and ocean views..and close proximity to everything we would need. IE..Shops. Without a thought of the non sleeping 11 hour night flight we had just done…we freshened up and headed straight out to the main strip and started shopping within 30 minutes of checking in.
First stop : H&M
H&M opened its doors on the Waikiki Kalakaua Ave shopping strip, in March 2014. This on trend, ‘disposable fashion’ store is well priced and has literally hundreds of items to choose from. We spent 3 hours in this store. That is almost embarrassing to admit, but both my 75 year old mother and myself, selected many pieces of well priced, seasonal pieces for each of us..plus my 3 daughters. Coats, jackets, gym tops, jewellery, t-shirts, shirts, sweater, pleather pants…it was pretty endless. I had 3 bags full of clothing and walked out with change from $300. H&M is way cheaper than Australia and has a much better variety.
We then ate at a late lunch – early dinner Il Lupino. Friends of mine had recommended this Trattoria Wine Bar located just in the Royal Hawaiian Village. The village winds itself through a 3 section shopping mall connecting the Sheraton Waikiki and the Sheraton Royal Hawaiian Hotels. And apparently this is one of the best Italian restaurants on the island. Apparently that is correct. Food amazing, wine amazing, ambience amazing. Perfect way to end day one as jet lag started to creep in.
Day 2: Outlet Shopping.
The concierge at the hotel booked 2 seats on the shuttle to the famous Waikele Premium Outlet at 930am and that was the only plan for the day. Located 30 minutes form Waikiki, it is a $15 round trip. If you are not familiar with shopping in the USA, most states have outlet malls. These malls have discounted designer stores with either end of season clearance or overstocked items at massively reduced prices. In my previous post from my last trip to Hawaii in 2013, I wrote about how we came straight from the airport to the Waikele Outlet upon arrival into Honolulu at 9am. Now that was a very ambitious effort! This was mainly due to the check in times being after 2pm at most hotels. Now, with so many early morning arrivals from Australia, most hotels offer early check-in, especially if you mention you are flying Jetstar.
I think it is a good idea to hit the outlets first, before you go to the regular strips or malls. This is where the bargains can be picked up..and then once you have exhausted the discounted option..you can then go and pay full price.
When you value the thrill of the hunt, you know nothing feels better than bagging a good deal. Waikele Premium Outlets, stacked with discount retailers like Banana Republic, Coach, Guess, Tommy Bahama, Tommy Hilfiger and my favourites, Michael Kors and Nine West.., plus refreshments to keep the spree going. We spent most of the day here and left with way too many parcels, but each and everyone of them were a bargain. Guess Boots marked down from $195 to $34, Nine West stilettos were $169 down to $49 and the steal of the day..a Ralph Lauren Polo mens down puffer jackets were $249..scanned at $24.95! (needless to say the $249 tag is still on the jacket..a gift for my generous man who funded the trip..he doesn’t really need to know how much I saved..does he??)
Dinnertime and we were on the hunt for a Mexican Cantina…and and it didn’t take long. Off the main drag of Luxury Row and down a side street we saw the bright lights of La Cucaracha Mexican Cantina.
America sure knows how to turn out the Mexican food. I was craving a taco salad after my energy (and $$) were spent at the outlet. I love a taco salad. Sounds simple enough, but in Oz we don’t seem to include this in our Mexican restaurants menu often enough.
It is this; A deep fried flour tortilla shell, filled with beans, chilli, lettuce, tomato, guacamole, jalapeños, cheese, cilantro and sour cream. I could eat this every day of the week. All 7 days. Washed down with a traditional Margarita..and I was done. Shopping and taco salads…really, could it get any better?
Day 3 : Mall Shopping
Today was all about a run along the glorious shoreline of Waikiki, watching an episode of Hawaii Five0 being filmed on the beach at the Hilton Waikiki, swimming in the stunning blue lagoon water…and then..shopping.
So we headed to the biggest open air mall in the world and the premier shopping centre in Hawaii, The Ala Moana Centre. Commonly known as Ala Moana to its friends. And now we are friends. The Pink Line Trolley runs from various pick up points through Waikiki and for $2 and 10 minutes travel time you are safely deposited at the entrance to the mall. This is where upmarket reaches its pinnacle. Drool inside Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci and Fendi. Wander through Nordstrom, Macys and Neiman Marcus. Get made over at Sephora or Mac and get flirty in Victorias Secret.
In total there are 290 stores onsite and it will take you most of the day to get through it. Luckily there are also many fine restaurants and bars to help your energy levels stay up and keep you hydrated….oh, and and did I mention..they do a fantastic Taco salad in the food court!
Day 4: Luxury Row District Shopping
Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu. Luxury Row represents an exclusive gathering of some of the finest names in international fashion. Imagine 111,000 square feet marked by palms and these breathtaking boutiques: Bottega Veneta, Chanel, Coach, Gucci, Hugo Boss, Tiffany & Co., Tod’s and Yves Saint Laurent. And one block from the beach!
The exterior is similarly sophisticated, a streetscape and viable streetscape that is at once inviting and built. Open-air – the essence of Hawaii shopping – accentuates the experience. Slender palms stretch upward and sparkle with fairy lights by night. Needless to say..this was a window shopping day only, but it was still fun to wander the street unhurried and take in all the luxurious surroundings.
Day 5 and 6 Mall and H&m Shopping – again.
We pressed repeat. Just in case we missed anything. We didn’t.
A birthday dinner at my favourite restaurant, The Beach House, at the stunning Moana Surfrider, which is now part of the Westin chain, topped off an incredible few days. What a great birthday!
I was especially lucky to have taken this quick vay-cay with my mum, who has more energy than most 75 year olds..and most likely more clothes from H&M as well! What special memories I have and I will be hard pressed to find a another shopping soul mate with as much stamina and bargaining power as this one!
This trip was amazing. I can honestly say, 5-6 days in Waikiki would be the greatest shopping trip to take with your mum or girlfriend. Its a ‘hit the ground running’ 5 days but achievable and well worth the effort. So, next time there is a airline sale…Just do it.