Q: Are Oahu, Honolulu and Waikiki all names for the same place?

A: No. Oahu is the Island on which the city of Honolulu is located. The city and its suburban extensions cover a large part of the lowland areas of the Island. Waikiki is a neighborhood in Honolulu, along the famous beach of the same name. Downtown Honolulu, where the symposium will be held, is north of Waikiki, alongside the Harbor, about an hour’s walk from Waikiki.  

 Q: Will I need a car?

A: Cars aren't necessary, particularly during the conference and if you stay in a central location and are willing to take a ride share or use one of the tourist shuttles from Waikiki to Downtown. On the other hand, you would want a car if you plan to spend time sightseeing around Oahu and/or if you do not stay in a location near downtown. There will be inexpensive paid parking at the Symposium location.

Note: Know that there is very bad rush hour traffic in and around Honolulu, especially crossing to the east side and going north and west from downtown and Waikiki. Ride share cars are readily available and relatively inexpensive. There is city bus service to the airport that goes downtown and to Waikiki, though it is much slower than ride share.

 Q: I am thinking about staying in Waikiki rather than in the dorms or at the hotel downtown near the symposium location. Is this a good idea?

A: If you are coming on your own, we encourage you to stay with us in the dorms. They’ll be inexpensive, collegial, convenient, and comfortable (kind of the opposite of an expensive and stuffy conference hotel!). The location is really nice.

Couples both attending the meeting will find the nearby Aston Executive Center Hotel sufficient and comfortable, or just book a twin room at HPU and hang out with everyone else.

If you’re coming with others who will not be attending the conference, staying in Waikiki is nice if you like a busy international tourist center and want to be within walking distance of all you need. Waikiki beach, of course, is the attraction here. Waikiki to the meeting location will take an hour or more to walk.

Be very careful with Waikiki AirBnB apartments. Older ones may be musty and damp, lacking elevators and air conditioning. New ones should be fine. However, there are always many good hotel deals in Waikiki, so I don’t bother with the extra fuss of AirBnBs when visiting there. The hotels back two or three blocks from the beach or at the east end of the beach are less expensive and are generally perfectly acceptable. Be sure to do some digging in the various travel sites for deals. Airlines often offer good deals on hotels.

Note that there are many AirBnBs in Downtown Honolulu (which is not Waikiki), many of them in the same tower as the Aston Executive Center Hotel that we have suggested as an alternative symposium accommodation. Prices are similar to the hotel, so do your calculations carefully. Downtown and adjacent Chinatown is an interesting 1950s era area, lots of good new restaurants and building renovations, though it still has its older patina.

Note – most hotels in Hawaii now include an additional hidden fee called a Resort Fee or an Amenity Fee of $25-30 per night. It ostensibly covers “extras” like access to the swimming pool and in-room coffee service. It is often not quoted in the nightly rate and added only into the total charge calculation. It is never optional, and sneaky places may not advise you of the fee until you check out. Always ask about the resort fee before you reserve.

Q: I plan to stay for 2 weeks, should I visit another Island as well?

A: Absolutely, Honolulu is not all there is to Hawaii. If you plan to stay for 2 weeks, we suggest you also spend half that time on another Island. Oahu is mostly about the city, Maui has beaches, condos and tourists, Kauai is very tropical (read warm and wet), the Big Island is big and rural, with lots of interesting landscapes (you need a car there) and nice AirBnBs in out of the way places, though limited beaches.

Note: the International Rotary Convention will be taking place in Honolulu from June 6-10, after the Symposium, and many thousands of people will be arriving to participate. So traveling to another island is a great idea!