By Steve Bell
Imagine watching a tropical sunset from the balcony of your beach-side hotel room. Then imagine getting that room for a fraction of what guests at the hotel next door are paying.
It’s possible at the Hale Koa Hotel , an Armed Forces Recreation Center, located right on the beach in Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii.
The Hale Koa, Hawaiian for “House of the Warrior”, is located on the grounds of Fort DeRussy, a large parcel of “undesirable” beach-side land purchased by the US Army in 1906. It sits on the beach next to the many other hotels catering to Hawaii’s civilian tourists.
US military members and other qualified individuals will find rates that are about half what the other Waikiki beach-side hotels charge. The Hale Koa’s rates are based upon room type and rank so that lower ranking individuals can better afford stays.
The Hale Koa has 817 rooms in a wide range of types, everything from parking lot views to full oceanfront views. Prices range from the earlier mentioned $91 for a junior enlisted standard room to $289 per night for an official travel deluxe oceanfront room. Comparable rooms at the Outrigger Reef which is next door run from $279 to $519 per night!
Hawaiian Luaus, Shows, and More
On Mondays and Thursdays, Hawaiian tradition comes alive as the Hale Koa puts on a Hawaiian Luau. Complete with native delicacies and local entertainment, this evening of fun shouldn’t be missed. Other entertainment options include a Magic in Paradise dinner show featuring a buffet meal and a twice weekly comedy show.
Besides these shows there are a wide variety of activities available to fill your days:
- Friday night fireworks
- Garden tours
- Free concerts
- Local arts and crafts for sale
- Hula lessons
- Aqua aerobics
- Tour and travel desk which has a wide range of island excursions available
The Hale Koa offers a wide range of dining options right on the property:
Bibas opens for dinner late afternoons and offers continental favorites and a mix of island and ethnic blends. Steaks, pastas, local fish including mahi mahi, and kalua pork are but a few of the offerings.
The Koko Cake offers a breakfast buffet, a large lunchtime salad bar, weekend dinner buffets, and regular lunch and dinner menus with a wide range of items.
There are five fast foodoptions, which offer items from beverages, soft serve ice cream, and Starbucks coffee to snacks, hamburgers, fries, and hot dogs.
If you are in the mood for an adult beverage, the Hale Koa offers three bars. My favorite is the Barefoot Bar, located right next to the beach and pool area. Sip on Hawaii’s best mai-tai while watching the sunset over the Pacific.
You’ll also find that the Hale Koa has a full-service spa available for your enjoyment. Imagine starting your day in paradise with a relaxing full body massage. Just make sure you reserve your treatment well ahead of time as the spa is very busy!
If you are up for a workout in paradise, check out The Point Fitness Center. A wide variety of state-of-the-art fitness equipment, weight machines, and cardiovascular equipment is available as well as a sauna and steam room.
Waikiki outside your door
While you could spend your entire vacation without leaving the Hale Koa, downtown Waikiki with all of its dining, shopping, and entertainment options is just a short walk away.
You can spend hours exploring the International Marketplace. (I have!) It is several blocks worth of shopping featuring local merchants and interesting food stands tucked away among banyan trees.
Explore island life at the Polynesian Cultural Center.
Grill your own fresh fish and steaks at the Shore Bird Restaurant and Beach Bar, just a short walk down the beach from the Hale Koa. This was always a must do for the Air Force crews I flew with.
Named after famous surfer, Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, the father of international surfing, Dukes is just a little further down the beach. They have excellent food in a cozy island setting.
And later on, check out the nightlife at Moose McGillycuddys.
All of these options are all within a 10- to 15-minute walk of the Hale Koa.
Military-owned and operated
The Armed Forces Recreation Centers are Joint Service facilities which are operated by Army MWR for the purpose of providing affordable Rest & Recreation facilities for US military members. Besides the Hale Koa there are three other AFRCs worldwide: Dragon Hill Lodge in Korea, Edelweiss Resort and Lodge in Germany, and the Shades of Green Resort at Walt Disney World.
All of these resorts are full service hotels, offering not only low cost rooms in fantastic settings, but also great dining and entertainment options. The AFVCs all operate solely on internally generated funds; no taxpayer money is required for upkeep or operations.
Paradise is waiting
If your military family is ready for a Hawaiian vacation, the Hale Koa Hotel is the way to go. It is a first-class resort right in the middle of all the action and the prices can’t be beat!