HICKAM AFB, HI - Break or stay here... you're lucky.
Billeting - We stayed in billeting in the new section which we basically one-bedroom apartments, very nice and close to everything on base.
Hotels - If you can get off-base they'll put you up at one of the Outriggers most likely. We broke for a few days, and stayed at the Outrigger Luana and Outrigger Waikiki. Outrigger Waikiki has Duke's bar and restaurant with a friendly staff and the likes. Although, if you own laptops, BRING THEM!! You have to pay for public internet access in the lobby at $0.30 a minute! Access in rooms is free. Remember, HI is a predominantly military location, so military business is very much welcomed! Restaurants all over the place, along with good bars, and good per diem. The locals on the other hand still view a lot of us CONUS individuals as people from outer space! Still a great place to break!!
Food - Free coupon books for most restaurants in Honolulu can be found in most hotel lobbies. Pacific Beach Hotel restaurant (early bird 5-6pm) has a HUGE fish tank/wall filled with sharks and Manta Rays... very cool. The Shorebird has cook your own everything, plan on dropping $20 for dinner. They give at least 10% discount (maybe it was 15%-been a while since the last time..) if you show them an employee ID from a major airline. Duke's is a good place to chill on the beach and drink. On base, there is the normal food court but try the Sea Breeze restaurant (drive towards Hickam Harbor). Four days a week there is a all you can eat buffet for $14 which is awesome and the restaurant sits right on the beach at Hickam Harbor. Moose McGillicutty's on Lewers Street (lots of military). They do 1/2 price pupus (appetizers) from 1600 to 1900 every day, but they're big enough to make a meal. Good selection of beer and reasonably priced. Ask for "Kim" upstairs...she's a sweetheart and will take of you (not like THAT, you perverts!) Web site: www.moosewaikiki.com. The Wave down on Kalakaua Avenue has more people - a younger and more diverse crowd. Both dance clubs had a cover on the weekends.
Misc - Outdoor Rec has the best rates on equipment rentals. Swimming and sunbathing - Waikiki or drive to the North Shore. Bellows Air Force station is a good bet; the water is clear, the sand is white, and the scenery is literally out of Lost and Jurassic Park (they were filmed nearby). A one-day rental four-seat Jeep Wrangler ran $72 from Dollar, booked through our hotel. Nothing beats driving along the North Shore with an open-top car. Surfing - North shore or Sunset Beach! Boogie Boarding - Kaneohe Marine Base. Massages - try "The Massage Specialists" at 1750 Kalakaua Ave. Suite 512. Phone # 941-1068. It's across from the Convention Center. If you want a Lomi Lomi Massage, which is a deep tissue massage, ask for Lei and get one for a hour and a half. It's only $60. My wife has been a massage therapists for over 12 years and is very good, but this was one of the best massages I have ever had. If you have never had a massage before I wouldn't recommend a Lomi Lomi, but if you decide to have one make sure you drink a lot of water afterwards, or you will regret it.
Flying - AMCC was very helpful and Base Ops wasn't bad. Car rental at the Pax Terminal. Plan on a STAR coming in and SID going out. Hickam is weird because it shares the runway with Honolulu Intl. If you're not ready to go when number one you won't make friends with ATC. Hickam is an uncontrolled ramp so you don't talk to Honolulu ground for engine start you talk to "Hickam Ramp." Read AP remarks or risk getting violated.
Update for you folks going to Hickam, especially you C-130 crews!! When arriving into HIK (HNL), expect ATC to make you speed it up on final. We had to keep the gear up because they wanted us to do 180! Yes you are reading this right! So we we're configured, and had to raise the gear, only to lower it again! This was on final for 8L! When you land, you have to talk to Hickham Ramp Tramp on 133.6 for further taxi. When arriving into Base Ops, you'll notice an itinerary in Command Post for all transient crews to abide by (i.e. crews show 3+00 prior to T.O., taxi 0+30, etc) otherwise they will call you on UHF and wonder why you haven't departed or why you are late. They are extremely anal! When C-130 crews depart, follow the special departure procedure paragraph in the Trouble-T section because you're climb gradient is NOT going to meet the SID climbout. ATC is pretty good about this in your clearance because there were C-130's stationed here once upon a time. Just be aware.
Just to piggy back on some comments about Hickam. It is definitely the place to break! However, Honolulu is a freakin tourist trap, and traffic is terrible! ALL TRANSITING CREWS, BE ADVISED: The baseops and command post here are extremely anal in crews departing on time. They literally have an itinerary you must follow (3+00 prior:Crews arrive; 0+30: Taxi, and so on), otherwise Command post will call you up and harass you.
Hilo, Hawaii - Naniloa 808-969-3333 was a decent hotel. Landed at Hilo IAP on a Sat. Hilo doesn't have seem to get very many military aircraft, but we got very good service from the airport. The Air Service Hawaii guys were very helpful in getting us everything they could. One word of caution, they don't have airstairs. We were able to fax our 1801 to Hickam from the FBO, and Hickam faxed weather and NOTAMS right to the hotel. We left on a Sun. The USDA inspector called us at the hotel to set up a time to meet. If you leave on a weekend and are heading back to the States, you will have to pay for the inspection. Costs about $180. We gave the inspector the address and phone number to our Finance office and she was happy with that. The hotel was decent. The rooms looked like a standard billeting room (two beds, an old tv, a table with a couple of chairs, and a small refrigerator). It has a small shop in the lobby, a couple restaurants, a pool, and a bar. A better hotel to stay at might be the Hilo Hawaiian (1 808 935-9361), although the room rate may be above the max. We ate their (Hilo Hawaiian) dinner buffet, which was pretty awesome and not too expensive, $27 which includes all you can drink of their draft beer or house wines. Both hotels are very close together and only a few minutes from the airport. We stopped at Ken's House of Pancakes on the way to the airport and had an incredible breakfast. The place was packed and looked like a favorite of the locals. We didn't have much time to explore, however you can tour an active volcano that is about 30 minutes away.
New addition - FedEx has airstairs for MD-11/DC-10 use, and only has one flight a day. These can be used, the ramp services contractor is now Bradley Pacific, contact them and they'll do the legwork. Aloha Air Cargo also has airstairs for 737 service, those will work better with KC-135 guys as the MD-11 ones are fixed scaffolding. Good food choices are Hilo Burger Joint (all locally raised beef, decent beer selection, reasonable prices for Hilo), Coconut Grille, Cronies (more expensive sports bar type place, typical Hawaii prices - 5 bucks a beer), Big Island Pizza though mostly to go since the seating area is a covered outdoor patio. For more upscale (and pricier)dinner try Cafe Pesto, Pescatore (Italian place), or Hilo Bay Cafe (in the Wal Mart shopping center). For CHEAP and delicious sushi, try Ocean Sushi downtown. For local food, Ken's is a favorite (and the only 24hr eatery in Hilo), also Cafe 100, and Verna's or Blaine's for fast-food-type local (tho they do have a good menu beyond burgers and fries). Sombat's Thai restaurant is awesome and reasonably priced, tho very small on the inside. Other choices are Maui Tacos or Spoonful Cafe (Thai) in the mall. The mall is also where the movie theater is, there's also a dollar theater in the downtown waterfront area.
Got this from a Marine bud, recommendations for things to do in Oahu; thought it was worth sharing...Cheers! M2
OK. Here we go....
1. Ala Mo'ana Mall in Waikiki; Has everything commercial consumerism has to offer. It's in downtown Honolulu, Waikiki district and the bars / restaurants are on the top floor. Be sure to go to the Jackie Chan restaurant if you haven't been to one before.
2. Pearl Harbor; Take the tour, it's as unsettling as it is wonderful.
3. Visit all the bases; if you have time see if you can sweet talk your way into watching some range time. I've done 25th airborne infantry training @ scofield, flown out of Hickam AFB twice, and MCB Kaneohe Bay has a range on it as well. All the bases are very well maintained due to the critical importance of the military to Hawai'i's budget.
4. See if you are able to reserve anything on MCB Hawaii; The Navy CB's built a TON of cottages right on the beach and it's way better than the average motel 8. Either way MCB Hawaii has a wonderful golf course and recon beach to swim/enjoy.
5. Don't go to beaches in Waikiki, be sure to visit Bellows AFB; Hands down the best beach on Oahu because the sand is natural whereas everywhere else is gritty or imported sand (Waikiki.) If not, go to Kailu Beach Park, it's got the nice white sand and you can do whatever you want.
6. Rent a Kayak from Kailua Beach Park. Prices will be ~$50 give or take but it will be well worth it. Paddle to an island and back, there are a couple "to the left" of Kailua.
7. Teddy's Bigger Burger. You have to go *once.* The burger / milkshake are worth it.
8. Hike Diamondhead, it's beautiful.
9. Visit the North Shore. If it's a weekend there will most likely be a surf tournament in place. I wouldn't swim it if I were you, it's pretty rough stuff.
10. See if you can get on a fishing charter. My biggest regret is that the one time I got offered to go on a half day, I didn't and my friend caught a giant tuna (it was taller than him.) You catch a big enough fish then it pays your way basically.
11. Check out the Dole Plantation. Yeah, it's a tourist trap but where else are you going to see a Pineapple farm in full effect plus an interesting maze. The soil is a wonderful blood red along the H2 and the Royal Hawaiian Dole plantation is an interesting piece of modern day Hawai'i history. Dole, AFAIK, helped overthrow the queen and sought statehood from the US.
12. There is a Buddhist temple in Kaneohe that is a replica of a temple in Japan. The buddha is made of Gold and has a wonderful coy pond in front of it. I would go there from time to time to lose myself after coming back from Afghanistan.
13. There are a number of trails into the mountains, one is past Kailua near Lanakai. If you can find it there is a wonderful waterfall you can hike to. You'll most likely find others there doing the same thing. There are a number of popular trails through the mountains and if you want the real deal Hawai'i experience this is where you'll find it. Be warned, bring a swim suit and full hiking gear plus some food. Those trails have a tendency to be endless :)
14. Check out the Royal Hawai'ian palace; it's the only Royal palace in the United States.
Do's and Don'ts:
Do wear sunscreen if you are prone to a burn. You'll miss a lot if you get a bad sunburn and that Hawai'ian sun burns, bad. Seriously, sunburn in an hour during midday :(
Don't call anyone a "moke." It means pig and is a slur used by most military folks towards native Hawai'ians. You really don't want to get entangled with a 300+ lb Somoan. Even if you have a squad of Marines with you. Ask me how I know :P
Do visit other islands. There used to be a ferry but scheduling a flight to another island for the weekend isn't a big deal. Maui, Big Island, and Kuai are super close and you will be able to do LOTS of stuff there. They are much more "country" if you're into that sort of thing. Big Island is a blast but I've never been to Maui.
Don't find yourself lost in the back areas. Hawai'i is a very reverse racist culture IMO and refer to most foreigners (Whites) as "Haoles" [Hay-Oh-lays.] They may be unfriendly :(
Do enjoy Honolulu or Waikiki for a day but don't spend most of your time there. It's a real pit compared to the rest of Hawaii and you want to stay out of China town as it has lots of violence, drugs, etc. I'd guess you're staying somewhere in the vicinity of HNL but be sure to make your way out of it as often as possible.
Don't try to get anywhere fast between 6:30AM-8:00AM on the H1, H2, H3 and the same for 16:00-18:00. Typically H1 is congested horribly going into HNL in the morning and reversed going out.
Do check out the panoramic beauty of Hawai'i. I never got tired of seeing those mountains and jungles no matter what so if you have a nice camera, I'd bring it.
Do swim everyday. The first couple of days you may burn, but try and get a nice ocean swim in at least once a day -- you'd be suprised how much it will invigorate you. Sea water is around 60-70 degrees during day light hours so be sure to get your dunk in. Watch out for Jellyfish / Portuguese Manowars -- it is there season and there will be signs on the beaches you visit (it's the law.)
Don't eat at L&L drive thru. It's a real dump. Instead, get yourself to go to a Luau on the westside. Yeah, it's a tourist trap but where else are you going to see a fire baton twirling show?
Do check out all the pamphlets on the base's for Hawaii recreation. I didn't get through all of them to get the full on experience after 3 years + 2 pumps and I regret it, but most service members just simply pass them by. A lot of really cool stuff to do on Hawaii that you're simply not going to find anywhere else. My biggest regret is that I never tried the chartered or fresh water fishing, pig hunting, or visiting all the islands while I was there. Live and learn. Hawaii is a very strange place but has such a weird vibrant beauty you really can't explain it to anyone who hasn't enjoyed it. Most service members who are stationed there view it as a prison and ya really can't blame them.
Hope this helps!