The hotel is great. Nice rooms, very reasonable price, friendly staff, good location, and some gorgeous views of the Koolau Mountains. Try to get a room as high up as you can, on Kanekapolei St. On any other side of the building, all you'll see is other hotels. They also loan out beach towels for free. Next time, I'm bringing my own radio, though, as the radio/alarm clock in the room could not catch KINE, and I really missed their great Hawaiian music on our vacation.
I put Kuhio Beach on the list because of the City's free music & hula shows every evening. Also, I thought the Duke Kahanamoku statue was there, and didn't want to have to go too far from the hotel on our first trip to the beach. Actually the statue is on Waikiki Beach, which is even closer. A cool thing to do on your first day is to stand in front of the statue, look up at the web camera, and call your friends up and act like a tourist for them. The cam is at http://www.honolulu.gov/cameras/waikiki_beach/waikiki.htm
You have to have at least one MaiTai whenever you're in Honolulu, and the Royal Hawaiian is THE place to go for it. Wonderful drinks and beautiful things to see. There was an excellent acoustic duo playing the afternoon we went there, and a really charming hula dancer. I only wish they gave tours of the hotel.
Sushi-Ya no longer exists (not at the address Yahoo! gives, anyway), but there is a great, quiet little sushi place on Kuhio pretty close to there, called I Heart Sushi (by day it's a health food place). Surprisingly cheap, yet wonderful sushi.
Chuck's Cellar is more expensive, but the steak and seafood were very good, and they had a nice jazz band playing the night we ate there. It's next door to a pizza joint, and easy to miss (it really is a cellar).
If you like to haggle, the International Marketplace might be fun, otherwise, stick with Ala Moana.
Deferring to my wife's priorities, this day was planned for shopping and the beach. Most of the places scheduled are restaurants or shops located in Ala Moana shopping mall. It's a pretty neat place, with an attractive open-air design, and nice to walk around in. Don't miss Na Hoku, which specializes in some fine Hawaiian jewelery. There are free shows at the center stage on weekends (we saw some more great music & hula, and a very strange Japanese show). We ate at only one of the restaurants I listed, opting instead to join the locals in the food court on most of our visits (if you want Peking duck, get to Patti's Chinese Kitchen early in the morning). Genki Sushi is fun, if you've never done conveyor belt dining. Honolulu Coffee beats hell out of Starbuck's, and the Cove Bar does make some good smoothies. If you need some dried cuttlefish, check out Crack Seed.
A central terminus for the bus lines, Ala Moana's also conveniently located across the street from our favorite beach: Magic Island. They have bath houses where you can change and shower, and on weekdays it's very quiet. Compare that to Waikiki...
The Patisserie is also not where Yahoo! claimed. We were told it moved to some hotel, but never could find it, and settled for a nice little local bakery/sandwich shop in the vicinity (whose name escapes me, but it's on Kuhio).
We never got around to Lassen Gallery.
This was to begin with our first excursion outside Honolulu, but we cut that short. (Despite the majesty of the scenery, the bus ride was cutting into somebody's sunbathing time.) The tranquil beauty of Byodo-In is not to be missed. You have to walk through a graveyard to get there, and by the time you arrive at the guard shack, you're already in a very pleasantly peaceful and contemplative mood. I could have spent all afternoon watching the swans and koi, or gazing up at the very impressive statue of the Buddha. There's a nice little gift shop there, but bring your own fish food. Keep your eyes peeled - we saw a mongoose.
We didn't make it to Senator Fong's. It's not easy to find, sounded like it might be a considerable hike from the bus line, and mutiny was beginning to raise its ugly head. On the way home, we passed near Queen Emma's, but didn't stop, and you don't want to ask the bus driver to stop at Nuuanu Pali Lookout. The view from the bus is spectacular enough that you don't need to rent a car just for that.
Instead of Orchids, we ate supper at a place very close to the hotel called Keoni by Keo's, on Kuhio and Kaiulani (dare you to say that 3 times fast). They have very good steak and Thai food. Breakfast there is also great, and cheap (eat outside).
This was supposed to be Chinatown day, but that idea got nixed completely in favor of more shopping and sunbathing.
In the afternoon we saw still more Hawaiian music and hula, on Kuhio Beach, courtesy of the City of Honolulu (http://www4.co.honolulu.hi.us/webcalendar/view_entry.asp?calendar_id=2&id=983). I've concluded you don't need to do one of the many commercial luaus offered. If you have an irresistible curiousity toward traditional Hawaiian food, go to The Poi Bowl in Makai Market in Ala Moana. It's supposed to have some of the best native cuisine available, and is obviously popular with locals. Great music and hula can be had all over the place, free.
We only stuck to 2 things from the plan for this day. The Bowfin Memorial was great, especially for someone who loves history and is fascinated by submarines. There is a seperate museum which has some really impressive memorabilia, but the sub itself was probably my favorite experience of the trip, and I'd have spent a lot longer there if I'd had my way.
We'd been to House Without a Key on our honeymoon, and it made a lasting impression. No better place I know of to enjoy tropical drinks under a full moon. The views of Waikiki and Diamondhead are magnificent. It doesn't get any more romantic than that.
Our last day in paradise included one last trip to Magic Island, breakfast at Keoni, and a lot of walking around Waikiki. One really neat place we ran across was the Tabora Gallery (http://www.taboragallery.com/index.html). I've never seen any paintings that capture the beauty of unspoiled Hawaii as beautifully as Tabora's. I only wish I could afford one! We ended up with one last MaiTai at LuLu's (http://www.luluswaikiki.com/), then caught some last rays and wrote postcards next to Duke's statue before catching the van back to the airport.
The only bad thing about a Hawaiian vacation is having to leave.