how to make the most out of a layover in honolulu...

2 February 2014

when we finally decided to come to new zealand, plane tickets had started to climb towards the 'completely unrealistic' area of the pricing grid. we decided that we would only make the trip if we could find a really great bargain. after hours of searching for the best airfares, we found one that was about $400 cheaper than everything else - the bad news? it included 40 hours of travel on the way there, with a 24-hour layover. the good news? the 24-hour layover was in hawaii. 

(at this point i would like to mention that we booked our flights on - i've never used them before, but was really happy with the deal we got, and the user-friendly search features on their website. no, i'm not paid to write this, it was just too good a site to keep to myself!) 

before we left canada, we booked a hostel in waikiki. we found that most online hostel booking sites stated that there was a mandatory two night stay in every hostel we were considering. after a couple frustrating hours, we decided to just call the hostel, and were able to book for one night for the same price as we saw online, with no trouble at all. we also booked a shuttle from the airport to our hostel, which turned out to be a great choice, since our flight arrived late at night, when buses had stopped running for the day. 

waikiki beach

after a good night's sleep, we headed down to waikiki beach. even at 10am, in the middle of january, the sun was shining and the water was warm. we enjoyed a couple hours swimming and sunbathing, before we had to head back to our hostel to check out. thankfully the hostel had a storage room, so we would continue to explore honolulu without having to roll our suitcases behind us all day. 

honolulu zoo

ryan suggested that we check out the honolulu zoo, and it turned out to be a great way to spend the afternoon. we were there on a weekday afternoon, and there were very few other guests - we could walk right up to each enclosure and see the animals with no worries of waiting for other people to clear out. we especially enjoyed the spider monkeys and the african safari, where a giraffe came so close we could nearly touch it. the honolulu zoo has an incredible view of diamond head as a backdrop. 

spider monkeeeeeey!

kalakaua avenue

image from life in travel

after a day in the sun, we wandered down kalakaua avenue in search of dinner. many of the smaller and more typically beach-ey restaurants were packed, with a long wait for a table, so we opted for the massive (and delicious) cheesecake factory - my mom's favourite - and we were certainly not disappointed.

sun-baked and full-bellied, we collected our luggage from the hostel storage room, and caught a bus to the airport. it took about double the travel time of the shuttle we took the night before (about an hour), but it was a fraction of the shuttle price (only about $5). 

my last recommendation for a layover in honolulu is to take advantage of the massage chairs in the HNL international terminal to get rid of your last american cash - you know, because it's good to have all the knots and kinks massaged out right before you squeeze yourself in a tiny chair for an eight hour flight...

glorious massage chair

stay tuned for our adventures in new zealand! 

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