Review & Video: Moana Surfrider, Waikiki Beach Beauty

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Moana Surfrider waikiki beach front view

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The Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa is the oldest hotel in Waikiki, commonly referred to as “The First Lady of Waikiki” and rightfully so.

I stayed here at the end of summer on an absolutely stunning weekend and the photos below don’t do the natural beauty justice. I enjoyed my stay but if I had to do it again I would make some adjustments as I mention below.

I know many love the Moana Surfrider as much as The Royal Hawaiian down the road. Which one has the most memories for you?

Review & Video: Moana Surfrider, Waikiki Beach Beauty

Unique Features

If you are staying in one of the towers I recommend you take 10-15 minutes and go up the famous stairs in the historic section. The history of the Moana Surfrider goes way back and is quite a story. As you descend those stairs like so many famous visitors and brides before you, know that you experienced something special.

The Banyan tree is another site to behold, not only during the day but also when it is lit up at night. Over 110 years old and still providing shade for surfers and visitors to enjoy. Have a cocktail and be a part of history.

Booking & Check-In

I booked this hotel directly through Marriott because I intended to request the use of a Suite Night Award. Otherwise, this hotel is a part of the Marriot Luminous program and I recommend you use a travel agency that can get you the free VIP perks that come with it. I use Classic Travel out of New York for all my direct luxury hotel bookings.

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I got lucky with the SNA and was awarded a high floor with Lē’ahi (Diamond Head) views, see the room section below. This was definitely not a suite by any stretch of the imagination. But the views were incredible.

I tried to check in early, as usual, but no joy so I spend some time walking around the property and enjoying the rocking chairs out front. I did get end up with early check-in and the front desk staff displayed exceptional customer service.

Daily Resort Fees

At $42 a day per room plus tax, the resort fee at the Moana Surfrider is no joke. Here is what is included; Moana Tote Bag (I had to request mine as it was not offered at check-in), One day GoPro Hero 5 Rental per day per room, MiFi rental (Portable hotspot router), Enhanced WiFi, Daily Yoga (reservations required and limited availability), 15-minute daily surfing sand demonstration, and daily cultural activities including meditation, lei making, hula lessons, and ukulele lessons.

If you are gold or above in the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program be sure to ask for your benefit replacement on the wi-fi. I asked via the chat feature on the app and was promptly offered points as a replacement.

Parking

You can self-park at the nearby Princess Kaiulani which is right across the street for a daily fee of $45 or you can valet for $55 per day plus tip. Parking rates in Waikiki are incredibly high but don’t waste to much much of your time trying to save another $5 per day by parking far away. If anything, schedule some Waikiki-only days and see about returning or picking up the rental car in Waikiki instead of the airport.

Room

3 pictures of the room and 3 pictures of the view. What more can I say?

There is always an ongoing debate about how much time you should spend in your room when visiting Hawai’i, in the end, it’s completely up to you. I mean, it is your vacation, right?

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The room was clean and stocked with all the basics although at 6’2″ the double-sized beds just didn’t cut it for me. I did select the room from the SNA options so I will need to pay more attention in the future.

I did open the curtain behind the lounge chair, picture first below, for some amazing views while I wrote this review. It truly was and amazing, postcard view both during the day and night.

Bathroom

The bathroom was woefully small but what was really disappointing was the trickle-level water pressure. When you have to work hard to rinse your hair and stand under the shower head to get wet…. This was not a rain shower head, more like a drizzle, so if a nice relaxing shower is important to you I would consider other options.

I stayed in a high-floor room at the Halekulani which had wonderful water pressure so clearly, it can be done.

Very clean and stocked with basic amenities, maybe cut the sand sculpting from the resort fee and use it for some higher-end toiletries. Just saying 🙂

Pool

Many ask about the pools in Waikiki and which are best for kids and spending the day. Hands down the best family, kids, and adult pool are found at the Sheraton Waikiki.

That of course is an adult, or at least a teenager or higher, point of view. The kids that I saw in the pool at the Moana Surfrider were clearly having the time of their life. But the beach you say, how could you? To each his own, if the kids love the pool let them have at it.

With that said it is a small pool for a resort and the beach nearby is one of the best in the world. The Beach Bar and Surfrider Cafe are steps away not to mention the shade of the banyan tree.

Dining at the Moana Surfrider

The Veranda

The breakfast omelette was $34 before my $18 credit for being an elite Bonvoy member, which was pretty steep, no, very steep. Food prices at resorts in Waikiki are incredibly high.

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The coffee was delicious and the view of Waikiki beach was incredible. The green salad with my omelette left me a bit perplexed, is this a new trend in dining?

Review & Video: Moana Surfrider, Waikiki Beach Beauty

The Beach Bar

Under the banyan tree sipping a Mai Tai and looking out to the beautiful blue Pacific Ocean, this is what it is all about. I think a late afternoon seating that extends into the evening is probably the best 4 hours you can spend in Waikiki. Remember, you don’t have to be a guest here to enjoy the Beach Bar under the banyan tree.

The Mai Tai was ok, you will have better luck at the Royal Hawaiian or White Sands Hotel if you are a Mai Tai connoisseur.

The poke nachos ($34) was amazing! Made with won ton chips, fresh local ahi poke, guacamole, bonito flakes, kizami nori, sriracha aioli, and kabayaki. A full meal for one or two light eaters.

Surfrider Cafe

I didn’t get a chance to order from here but it is near the pool and the go-to snack spot for families and kids. It has all the salty frosty options you could hope for.

Beachhouse at the Moana

Only open Wednesday thru Sunday, 5:30-9:30 pm I didn’t get a chance to dine here either. It shared space with The Veranda but also included an indoor dining area as well. I do hope to go back for the Sunday tea service although I am not sure when.

Final Thoughts

If you really have to have the diamond head view then make sure you are in the tower and on the diamond head side, the other side (Ewa view or sunset view) won’t work for you. If you are going to spend more of your time on the beach or out exploring save your money on a non-view room and enjoy everything the island of Oahu has to offer.

Review & Video: Moana Surfrider, Waikiki Beach Beauty

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