Dan and I spent our latest vacation in Oahu with a couple friends from New York. Maybe it was like a movie that gets over-hyped, but neither of us was too impressed with our week there.
We stayed at Hotel Renew in Waikiki. It was rather chic and we had a nice view of the ocean (and the sunset every evening). Though, we did have some problems: A clogged drain, a leaking shower and music blasting from the neighboring hotel at 7am. It was also a block from the gay bar, Hula's. One of my highlights of the trip was a Saturday afternoon gay catamaran trip, sponsored by Hula's. If you're there on a Saturday, definitely partake: You get to drink maitais and see the island from a beautiful perspective offshore.
One of the best parts of the trip was the golfing. We found a military-run gold course in the middle of the island named Leilehua. It was just $38 for 18 holes: You can't beat that! It's a well-manicured course and is a tranquil respite from the high-trafficked beaches and tourist traps. The trick is, as visitors you can only reserve a tee time the day-of. But we got a tee time every day we wanted one.
The snorkeling was average. We went to the overrun Hanauma Bay. There was lots of (mostly dead) coral and tons of fish. But with so many novice snorkelers, it was sad to see them stand on the coral and grab at it. Touching coral kills it; It was a wonder there was any alive. We also snorkeled Kahe Point on the West Coast, and that was very good. Lots of fish and coral, and we even saw three turtles! I've heard this is one of the best snorkeling spots on the island, and it didn't disappoint.
Pearl Harbor was a bit of a letdown. The experience entailed standing in line for a half hour, then waiting around for over an hour, then watching a half-hour video, then taking a boat for 15 minutes, then visiting the memorial. The memorial itself is very plain. With the video, they try to get your emotions flowing (and it worked with me). But for some reason the stark white memorial didn't translate.
The weather was probably the biggest disappointment of the trip, mainly because of how windy it was. It made the snorkeling in some great spots impossible, and it wasn't super hot for lying on the beach. Late November isn't the time to visit Hawaii.