I want to check out Wakiki, but I don’t need to stay there. I’ll have a rental car so I can drive around…assuming parking isn’t a hassle. I’m looking more for a relaxing vacation than feeling like I’m right back in the middle of a major city. I found a great deal on a vacation rental near the Kohala Mandarin, but I don’t know how great the beach is there. I love to snorkel, but other than Hanauma Bay and Shark’s Cove, no one seems to mention other good snorkeling areas. Lanikai looks nice in the pictures, but how about the snorkeling there? As you can tell, I’m doing last minute vacation planning!
Since you don’t want to stay in Waikiki, you’re definitely going to have to get a rental. Lanikai is a great place to get a rental. Kailua Beach Park near Lanikai is a very nice beach. You can snorkel there, but you may not see much. The reason Shark’s Cove and Hanauma Bay are such ideal places for snorkeling is because they are closed off from the ocean. If it’s raining a lot (like it is right now) the runoff from the mountains tends to make the water brown and murky which makes it hard to see things when you are snorkeling. If you are coming anytime soon, expect a lot of rain. It’s been raining quite a lot here in the last month and may continue. Also in some places the coral reefs may be quite a ways off shore, which also makes it difficult. Other than these two snorkeling places (Hanauma Bay and Shark’s Cove) it may be difficult to find a spot. It may be a long drive from Lanikai to Honolulu (Waikiki), depending on what time you plan on driving. If it’s during any time of rush hour it’ll take you at least 1.5 hours to get to the other side. If you are going to Waikiki you can park in the Honolulu Zoo parking lot on the corner of Kapahulu Ave. and Kalakaua Ave. It’s metered but cheap and there are plenty of spaces. Hope this helps a little.