Hi. No, that is not me being polite and greeting you. It’s actually my way of rubbing in your face that I am going on vacation today…to Hawaii (HI). Pretty clever right? We fly out this evening and couldn’t be more ready. If you don’t believe me, check out this depressing picture I took yesterday while driving…

Apparently Washington didn’t get the memo that it is July, a month made for BBQs and wakeboarding…not rain jackets and umbrellas. Fortunately, the forecast for Oahu is a comfortable 80 degrees for the next week. Warm temperatures, Hawaiian food, blue water, and relaxation…YES PLEASE!

Obviously I’m pretty excited about this trip for a few reasons.

1) Girl Ninja and I were away from each other for four months. We like to think of this as our second honeymoon.

2) Girl Ninja hasn’t been to Hawaii since she was two years old.

3) I have only been to Hawaii once, in 2009, for less than 24 hours.

4) Our entire trip is going to cost less than $1,500.

Since I like to pretend this is a personal finance website, I thought we’d focus the rest of today’s post on point four, the money aspect. Here is the tentative budget for our trip…

  • Tickets: $558 total. My ticket was $458. Since we are loyal users of the Alaska Airlines credit card, we receive a $99 companion ticket each year. The companion ticket has no black out dates or restrictions. Instead of dropping another $458 on her ticket, it only set us back a hundo.
  • Parking: $80. We are paying to park at the airport since it is about 1.5 hours from where we live. It’s too far for us to ask a friend or family member to make the 3hr trip twice.
  • Lodging: $200. This was the reason we picked Hawaii. I have a friend who lives in San Diego, but spends his summers at his parents’ house in Hawaii each year (he’s a teacher). His parents are in the Philippines this summer so he has the house to himself. We will be staying with him 7 of the ten days we are there, for free. The other three days, we were able to rent an ocean front timeshare in Waikiki for $67/night. Booya for taking advantage of someone else’s crappy time share investment.
  • Food: $400. When we are staying with our friend we will cook most meals. Excited to try some authentic home cooked Hawaiian food. We will pay for the groceries, but this will obviously be cheaper than eating out every meal. Don’t get me wrong though, we will definitely try some local restaurants. We shouldn’t have a problem staying under budget in this category.
  • Entertainment $0: Mom Ninja hooked us up big time for my birthday and got us a three day all access pass to Oahu. We literally can do a bajillion different events free of charge. If we feel like renting mopeds, petting dolphins, snorkeling, going to a Luau, visiting Pearl Harbor, or a ton of other things we can… AT NO COST TO US! Thanks Mom!
  • Spending: $???: If it were up to me, I’d put the budget at about $100, but something tells me that isn’t going to go over well with the wifey. I don’t really have anything that I’m looking to buy, but I imagine GN will want to get some clothes, jewelry, or other little trinkets. We have decided that we are going to start collecting coffee mugs from each place we visit, so we will likely come back with one of those 🙂

If you were worried that I wouldn’t be blogging while on vacation, worry no more. The laptop is coming with me and I plan to pump out a few posts from the beach…while sipping on a Strawberry Pina Colada of course. Yes, I like “chick drinks”.

Where are you vacationing this summer? Do you collect anything from your travel experiences (shot glasses, shirts, etc)? Anything we should do in Oahu?

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  1. I envy you guys. Eat exotic fruits like mangosteens and rambutans! Also for some reason, pineapples taste extra good there too. We did the standard stuff when we went back in 2007, around the island scenic tour (had a great tour guide and showed us some amazing sights in Oahu), Germaine’s Luau (tourist trap and the mosquitoes ate me alive there), and just hung out at the beach. Wish we did Pearl Harbor. We collect those annoying magnets.

  2. My work sends me to Oahu a couple times a year. I have been 8 or so times in the last 4 years. There are LOTS of things you should do.

    1. Eat at Chuck’s Cellar in Waikiki and get a steak. (hole in the wall place)
    2. Eat breakfast at Jameson’s (sp?) at North Shore.
    3. Hike Diamond head and also drive to Pali Lookout.
    4. Snorkel (there are numerous places)
    5. Pearl Harbor absolutely
    6. Eat some fresh pineapple.
    7. Skip on the tourist luau’s

    Have fun!

  3. We went on our honeymoon to Hawaii and loved it. We did a few days in Maui and a few days in Oahu. Definitely soak in all the beach time you can. We did a lot of the event stuff on Maui and used the Oahu time to just ‘beach’ it and we don’t regret it at all. There was a cool little hole in the wall Mexican place a couple blocks away from the beach (look for a Quizno’s and it’s right there) where we had awesome margaritas on top of some great food.

    Enjoy the trip!

  4. Never been there myself. But I think you can allow yourself a few hundred more on the budget if a nice restaurant or side trip comes up. One thought is to hire a driver to take you to the airport. I don’t know how secure parking is in Seattle, but whenever I’ve flown out of JFK or LaGuardia the last thing I want to worry about is having my car vandalized in the long-term parking area.

    Unfortunately no big trips for me in the past few years. I’ve been to Boston, DC, and Chicago lately, but no long flights since my last trip to France in 2005.

  5. Hi Ninja,

    I was on Oahu visiting family back in March and a few of the fun things we did there were:

    1) Hiking out to Kaena Point. It’s a very flat hike of maybe 2.5-3.0 miles along a dirt road which used to be paved.
    2) Shaved ice on the north shore, a prefect treat on your way back from hiking out to Kaena Point. I recommend Aioki.
    3) Hiking up to Manoa Falls. It’s a relatively short hike through some lovely scenery.
    4) Walking around the U of Hawaii Lyon Arboretum and Botanical Garden, which is right next to the Manoa Falls trail. It was completely free and I was surprised at how unpopulated it was.
    5) The Polynesian Cultural Center at BYU is rather pricey and something of a tourist trap. That said, we were happy to go there given that we wanted the “full Oahu experience” and this is one of those things that tourists just do. It was an enjoyable experience overall and gave us the opportunity to drive the H3 (Hawaii Interstate 3), which has got to be one of the most beautiful stretches of road in the entire US.
    6) Whale-watching in Mamala Bay.
    7) The Bishop Museum had some wonderful exhibits of Polynesian art and history.

    Have a lovely trip!


  6. My honey and I are going to go to vegas for a week in August for our honeymoon – i’ve never really been anywhere, so I’m excited! He’s done more travelling, but never Vegas!

    Enjoy your trip!

    • L-O-V-E VEGAS!! JM, you’re gonna have a blast! I’m not a gambler, but there’s lots to see/do other than spending every waking moment in a casino. It will be hot in August, but if your hotel’s got a pool, you’re laughing! Enjoy!!

  7. My wife and I went to Hawaii for our Honeymoon and it was amazing.

    My only recommendation is eat as much fresh pineapple as you can find, it tastes sooo much better there!

    The only vacation we have this summer is Labor Day weekend in San Francisco for the North American Hurling championships ( We will only really have Monday to do touristy stuff since we will be playing all weekend in the tournament.

  8. I second the Diamond Head (do a sunrise hike–amazing!), Manoa Falls, and fresh pineapple ideas. If you’re into it, check with the local fire department about surf lessons (seriously). They used to do some sort of wacky program where the off-duty firefighters would take you out to your destination of choice (hello, North Shore insane waves) and teach you how to surf/fine-tune your skills for peanuts. Best experience of my trips there, hands-down.

    I’ll doing a bunch of traveling this summer, thanks to a sweet part-time gig that sends me all over. One part business travel, ten parts take advantage of free flights and extend trip. I just got back from Napa and am headed to Vail, Cape Cod, Philly, and Toronto for free. I’m also paying for trips to Greece and Mexico (Cozumel/Contoy/Mujeres/Yucatan) in the fall. Yay for vacay.

    Have a grrrrreat time!!

  9. so jealous. I love hawaii. The wikiwiki bus is free last time I was there. Also if you go snorkeling, don’t take the tour stuff, they are kind of a rip off. You can rent the snorkel stuff or buy your own and get there for cheap on the bus (just make sure you know when the last bus runs). Also, look for the Shrimp Shack, a local fave.
    ResortQuest Wakiki Beach Hotel’s Tiki Bar & Grill had the best Luau plate(not full the luau). Keo’s is pretty famous, but we didn’t think it was all that. Go surfingor take surfing lesson, you are in Hawaii!!! Mahalo!

  10. When I travel I don’t generally get trinkets like shot glasses unless someone specifically asks me to or I know it will make them really happy. Sometimes if it’s a place I fell in love with, I will get a magnet for my refrigerator to remind me of the trip.

    Usually I try to just pick one thing to remember the trip by, and it MUST BE PRACTICAL. I went to Savannah last month and I came back with a really cute apron (something I’ve been wanting for a while). Now when I use it, it reminds me of the trip. Anything can really count- clothing, jewelry, etc. but I’ve made the rule that whatever it is, it’s not going to be something that sits and collects dust.

  11. I’m jealous for sure! 🙂 Just wanted to mention that you’ll be shocked that groceries are NOT cheaper than eating out in Hawaii. Their groceries are insanely expensive due to having to get most of them from off the island, so don’t be surprised when you go to pick up a gallon of milk and it costs $5 for non-organic. For 2 people, it can be cheaper to just eat out, which is totally counter intuitive.

    Also you MUST eat shave ice. Hawaii is the only place you can get shave ice to the quality that you do there, so get your fill of the delicious treat! 😀

  12. Hawaii has never been on my personal list. The rest of the family loves it. Several extended members live there. Can you say surfers and sailors?
    I collected coffee mugs until the last three arrived home broken. I love grabbing a mug and reliving a trip.
    Tried buying t-shirts until I decided to not repeat wearing a shirt until I’d worn them all…3 months later I realized I didn’t need 81 t-shirts.
    I can do a 3 foot Xmas tree with brass cut out ornaments. Now I rarely find them.
    My frig is covered with magnets. That has been a good choice. Cheap, weigh nothing and take up zero room in luggage.
    Enjoy your trip. Wear sunscreen!

  13. Sounds like a great trip! I’d love to go to Hawaii! We spend a week at the beach each summer – housesitting for my sister-in-law, we borrow her beach badges, cook out on the grill and have a few dinners out. Then we travel up to Saratoga springs, ny, which we love, and we stay for nearly free using hotel points I save up from business travel. All in all we get nearly two weeks vacation on the cheap. We only collect items that we’ll use everyday, so we don’t get too much clutter. I’m drinking from my coffee cup bought in Saratoga, right now.

  14. Welcome to Oahu! I’ve been here all my life, you’ll have a great time. Given that you’re staying with a local, I’m sure he’ll have you do everything that’s really good and keep you away from the tourist traps. I don’t know how active your friend is though, so just in case, make sure you do the Diamond Head hike that others are talking about, go snorkeling (either Hanauma Bay or take a drive up to North Shore to Shark’s Cove), and try surfing.

    We always try to bring home Christmas ornaments. They don’t take much space in your bag, they don’t clutter up your house, and when you decorate your tree each year, it’s like reliving all your trips as you go “Remember when we got this in…?” as you hang each one. I find that mementos that sit out year round become part of the scenery and you just stop noticing them, so the ornaments work great for us.

    Have a wonderful trip!

  15. I grew up on Oahu and my wife and I go back all the time.

    1. Go to the beaches on the North Shore – Waimea bay, sunset beach, turtle bay. Here’s a map: Parking is tough at Waimea bay but it’s the most beautiful. Jump off the big rock at waimea bay (instant highlight) Turtle Bay is a fancy resort with lots of parking, but it’s free to park if you tell them you’re going for the beach or if you get your ticket validated at any of the restaurants or bars. The amenities are also amazing (see Forgetting Sarah Marshall).

    2. Parasailing – in Waikiki near Ward Center there’s a whole line of shops that do ocean tours, here’s one: . If you shop around for about 30 bucks each you can get the best view of Waikiki for a few minutes a few hundred feet in the air strapped to GN.

    3. Iolani Palace – if you’re into history at all you can see the only throne room in America, the first palace in the world to have electric lights, and the place where the last Queen of Hawaii was imprisoned before America’s Annexation. (read Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell for more details)

    4. Ono Kine Grindz! – Hawaii has lots of very unique (and affordable) cuisines. Try the things you cannot get at home. Check out this site for the scientifically proven best “local” food on Oahu

    5. Costco – best prices for: macadamia nuts, chocolates, sushi (same fresh fish as in the restaurants), local brand clothing, aloha shirts. They have an entire aisle stocked with things to bring home for your coworkers and friends.

  16. don’t listen to anyone else but me…go to giovannis shrimp truck on the north shore…looks so shady but the shrimp scampi is the stuff.

  17. Have a blast! I’m currently planning a trip to Asia to visit my dad. That is all right now for me. Maybe make it to the East Coast to see family and friends. Who knows. And the only thing I really collect are pint glasses from local breweries, but my collection has gotten a little out of control these days…

  18. I was stationed on Oahu for 6 years – two consecutive tours.
    Pearl Harbor tour. A must.
    Dole Pineapple Plantation – they have a store and a pineapple maze and chocolate covered pineapple on a stick. Get lots of napkins – SO juicy. If it’s still there.
    **Do NOT over-eat pineapple all at once. You WILL get sick. It is highly acidic. Pace yourself.
    Polynesian Cultural Center Luau and Show IS a tourist trap, but it was a good way to see the various cultures that made/make up the islands. It is/was all students. Eat the poi. Yes, it’s purple. No, it really doesn’t taste that great. Eat it anyway.
    Yes, climb Diamond Head.
    Yes, go snorkling.
    It is expensive like you are NOT going to believe. Unless you have already asked your friend how much groceries cost, UP your food budget.
    Whale watching – research this first. If it isn’t the correct season, it simply won’t be worth it.
    Too funny – I just realized how behind I am – you are halfway through your trip. I hope that y’all are having a wonderful time.

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