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“The Beach @ Poka'i Bay makes it ALL WORTH IT!” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Pililaau Army Recreation Center

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Pililaau Army Recreation Center
Bismarck, North Dakota
Level Contributor
77 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 70 helpful votes
“The Beach @ Poka'i Bay makes it ALL WORTH IT!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 10 January 2012

We stayed @ PARC in a 3-bedroom cottage on the "swim side" for 5 nights over Christmas. We arrived late on Christmas Eve but everything was in order when we arrived at the Guard shack (the Gate Guard had our reservation info and keys in an envelope). Travel time from HNL was maybe 35-40 minutes tops; not bad at all as far as we were concerned.
The pros:
+ Location: the beach cottage was literally 15 steps from the beach on beautiful and quiet Poka'i Bay.
+ Beach: very well protected with safe swimming and despite being the busy Christmas holiday, the beach was not at all crowded. There was a life guard on duty every day from 10-4 (even Christmas Day) which provided piece of mind. You could rent kayaks, boogie boards, etc. as well...it was a little expensive but we did do that one day. We saw sea turtles and spinner dolphins in the bay every day; in fact, we had spinner dolphins swimming right around our kayak one day…it was awesome. Just to compare: we spent a few hours at the Hale Koa beach on Waikiki before the luau there and it was right then and there that we decided that we made the right choice. The Hale Koa beach wasn’t as nice (rockier!) and way more crowded. We’d take the beaches of Poka'i Bay over Waikiki any day.
+ Security: there is 24/7 security on the property. They were very professional and active. Every time we came through the front gate, the guard checked my ID and our vehicle pass. We felt very safe while we were there.
+ Staff: very friendly and helpful.
+ Inexpensive. Compared to everywhere else; this place was extremely inexpensive. Having a small kitchen with all the essential cooking utensils allowed us to eat one meal in (usually breakfast) which was convenient and a nice cost-savings.

The Cons:
- Ants: like others have mentioned, we did have an ant problem but it was easily remedied - all food stuff, perishable or not, went into the fridge......ant problem - gone.
- Decor: like others have mentioned, its no frills...no pictures on the wall, sparse and not terribly comfortable furnishings, beds were so-so......I'd compare it to a low-budget hotel.
- Housekeeping: non-existent. Other than fresh towels, that was about all we saw of housekeeping. Although disappointing, it wasn't a huge deal for us, we always pick-up after ourselves anyway, with or without housekeeping; but just be prepared for that...if there was one area of improvement that I think they should really focus on; it is the housekeeping.

Summary - you may be surprised I gave PARC a 5 rating based upon the cons but let me explain. We are a budget conscious Family of 6 and not big into the resorts nor do we enjoy vacationing where and with everyone else. PARC provided a very safe/friendly place to stay with an unbelievable value right on a beautiful sandy beach at highly underrated Poka'i Bay (my opinion) without any of the crowds. PARC was exactly what we were looking for making the cons easy to overlook and live with. If you are looking for resort living or any level of pampering, this place is probably not for you and you will likely be disappointed. Our only regret: we weren’t able to stay longer!

Tips:
- Despite my wife’s iPhone GPS, on our first night we missed our turn…easy enough to do - the road signs are tough to see especially at night. Take the next left turn immediately after you pass the Aloha gas station in Waianae. That gas station was my landmark every day. If you make it to McDonalds, you’ve gone too far.
- Don’t spend your money on the tours to go see dolphins. They spinner dolphins come right into the bay (at least while we were there). It was so cool. Others staying there mentioned the snorkeling is also great but we didn’t try it while we were there.
- Check out the local restaurants. Yes, the area looks a little rough but as John Mellencamp sang “Ain’t that America”? Anyway, our encounters with the locals were always pleasant….we tried 3 local restaurants while we were there and enjoyed them all very much…I posted separate reviews for each if interested. I’m convinced that they’ll appreciate your business more than any big chain restaurants in the touristy areas of Hawaii.
- To save windshield time, I’d recommend planning your days around seeing just one area of the island followed by a relaxing day. Our itinerary:
Day 1 – beach
Day 2 – Pearl Harbor/Hale Koa beach & luau
Day 3 – beach
Day 4 – North Shore
Day 5 – Diamond Head / HNL (to the Big Island)

Room Tip: If you have a Family, you will want to request the "swim side" of the beach when making re...
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  • Stayed December 2011, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
35 Thank Nodaksx6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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91 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (23)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Level Contributor
17 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 18 December 2011

My husband and I stayed at Pililuau for 3 nights November 21, 2011, and check out November 24, 2011. We saw 2 different cottages. We opted for the cottage on the swim side #34, and I feel it was worth what we paid. It is very quiet during the week. My husband paid for surf lesson by Hytrin, and We definately recommend him! 2 Thumbs up braddah! Our towels, and trash were removed daily. We didn't have any issues with bugs. I liked how there was a shopette on site. The only thing I would suggest is that they need to put a suitable couch and maybe to add a love seat to provide more seating.
Thanks Pililuau! We will be back..
The Eisenreich's.

  • Stayed November 2011
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
9 Thank Iislandgrl71
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Navarre, Florida
Level Contributor
46 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 101 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 December 2011

My family wanted a place away from Honoulu and this seemed the perfect place. I read the reviews about the bugs, cockroaches, ants, gekios but most reviews said they were few which during the time we stayed there was correct. Cabin #14 date 4-10 November 2001.The beach is about 100 feet from the cabins. There plenty of things to rent to have fun like kakais,surf boards, swimming equipment. It is located about 30 miles north of Honoulu and takes about 45 minutes to get there. Most of our experiences was as expected after reading other reviews. I did call the Pililaau Center and talked to the desk prior to leaving to ask a few questions twice. One does the rooms have soap, shampoo, towels to see if we had to bring our own. I was told yes however as to soap/shampoo it is a liquid in a container on the shower wall and it ran out after the third day and was never filled up so we purchased some downtown. Also the place was dirty from the time we got there till we left even though a maid came in each day to clean the rooms. The second day the shower had not been cleaned and there was hair in the bottom of the shower and all over the bathroom floor. The kitchen floor/dinning area was the same with piece of food and dirty water spots all over the kitchen area and around the dinning room table. This continued for the week that we were there. I love nuts and one had dropped on the floor on day three near the dinning table that you could see very easy. It stayed there until we left, my wife was going to clean it up but I wanted to see how long it would take for the maid to clean the floors. Also day three we had bought a pinapple and while cutting it some of its juice dropped on the floor in the kitchen. When coming back to the cabin that night the juice spot were highly visable as dirt had been sucked up by the juice so there about 5 spots about the size of a quarter that were visible from the front door if you looked at the floor when coming in. I could go on about the maids professionism or lack of. They were still there when we left. I did not complain as becuase I have complained before at other resorts and was retaliated against and did not want to get into an argument with the staff as nothing goes good after that in most incidents. I beleive that it is a management problem of being to relaxed in there job. If it is going on in my room it probably going on in the other cabins. Also the maid need to be given a written statement of her failure to do her job and mabye the supervisor also for not catching these problems that continued the entire week we were there. I know I should have reported it but I stated the reason before. I hope the staff will start a new system of checking on employee duty performance. My big disappointment was this is an Army MWR next time I will stay at a Marine MWR. No I am not a Marine I spent 29 years in the Army but this Rec CT needs new management.

Room Tip: Go to another MWR
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  • Stayed November 2011, travelled with family
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
10 Thank leesgfa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 19 October 2011

My wife and I stayed here for ten days when I got back from Iraq. People working there are very very nice. There are armed guards on the premises that check IDs when cars enter. However, some guards are better than others. Some just checked our drivers licenses and let us pass through. They give you a parking pass when you check in, but even when it wasn't on our dash the guards would let us through. Some guards were great. Asked for military IDs and the parking permit. It's not only military that go to the beach. There are civilians that go there and swim, fish, and hold picnics there. The weekends were the worst. It was busy. Nothing like Waikiki or north shore but was still crowded. Yeah, civilians were fishing too. Right where guests were trying to swim. They did not care one bit that it was a military beach for swimming and surfing. That was disappointing. Also, there is a swim side and a surf side to the PARC and it is possible to request what side you want to stay on. Just call and ask when making reservations. PARC is on a very native part of Oahu. It is located in the city of waianae on the west side of the island. It's about an hour away from Honolulu depending on traffic so make sure you plan for travel time if you want to get out and see the tourist sites. Like I said, it's a native side of the island. It's old. City is pretty run down. When we talked to locals and other Service members on the island we were told that active duty service members that get stationed on oahu are told to stay away from waianae because the locals hate tourists, especially military. PARC is right in the center of waianae. But we had no problems whatsoever with locals. And we did interact with some. There were military families with young kids there too, so they obviously felt secure enough to stay. great place if you just want to relax on the beach and take in the sun and maybe go to just a couple tourist destinations. If you plan to see the whole island and travel around a lot, I'd recommend a staying near Honolulu. Also, look into bellows air force base.

  • Stayed October 2011
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
8 Thank avsfan77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Tokyo
Level Contributor
138 reviews
45 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 238 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 July 2011

Visited on 7 July 2011 on the way back from visiting Yokohama Bay. GPS coordinates are N 21 26.686 by W 158 11.364

This beach and its facilities are only open to US Military, certain DOD civilians, and their immediate family members. There is a single vehicle entrance / exit point staffed by an armed federal police officers, and there is 100% ID check.

There are beach front cabins available to rent, a small PX with a convenience store assortment, a covered bar which was closed during my visit, restroom, and shower facilities. On the opposite end of the beach, there appeared to be a concession run by the Morale Welfare Recreation (MWR) that rented kayaks, surfboards, etc. Looking inside a closed room adjacent to the covered bar, there appeared to be an area used for small parties. In the covered bar area, there was a person accessing the Internet on a laptop, so I assume there is a WiFi signal.

The length of the beach is approximately ½ mile, but the width of the beach is very narrow. The width would change depending on the tide, but it was fairly narrow during our visit. Wave conditions were extremely flat, but the tide was relatively high. The beach had a sandy bottom, and the entire area was very clean. Each cabin has assigned parking, but there were parking spaces marked for “visitors”.

It was the middle of a weekday, so it was not very crowded. The next closest person to our area of the beach was 40 yards away. Following the coastline south of this military beach is a public beach. I watched a group of teenagers walk from the public beach to the military beach area because on the beach, there is no barrier. By their behavior, it appeared that they did not belong there, but I saw the police officer drive by on his golf cart at least 3 times in an hour. He was keeping an eye on them. At the same time, I saw workers driving by on golf carts emptying trash cans and maintaining the grounds.

Had not been to this beach in 35+ years, but it brought back many childhood memories. If you have a Military ID card and are in the area, I would recommend it because it is safe, clean, and a big difference from a typical tourist beach.

Stayed July 2011, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
12 Thank TokyoBob1975
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
chugiak
Level Contributor
17 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 29 March 2011

Liked it so much we came back for 10 days in March and brought our daughter and 4 year old grandson, and what a fun time we all had. It's a great place for families, and a great place to relax. My grandson had me had me hunting for crabs on the beach, all day every day. The local community was very friendly and there are loads of places to eat outside the gate. It's just the opposite of Waikiki, and just what we wanted. The cottages are clean, secure, and the shoppette at the center had most of what we needed. There are a couple of grocery stores 5 minutes away. The restaurant at the center was not open while we were there. Kayaks and surf boards can be rented at the center. Great staff!

  • Stayed March 2011, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
8 Thank jlwetfly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Montana
Level Contributor
6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 25 February 2011

Beautiful beach, gorgeous mountains, very secluded and wonderful staff, cozy clean cabins, great security and OUTSTANDING views - right from the deck! The beach was literally 50 steps from the front door. 3 air conditioners (one in living room, one in each bedroom) were essential. Very warm and humid.
Our family of 4 (children ages 8 & 9) reserved a 2 bedroom nearly a year out. My parents decided to join us, and we were assured that 6 would fit comfortably with a roll-out. (extra $15 per day). It was tight - we fit the roll-out between the 2 twin beds in one bedroom and it worked, but it was a room full of beds! Very small bathroom (tiny vanity mirror, small counter around sink), tight kitchen - two chairs at the very small dining table. We ate most meals outside on the deck which had 4 chairs (we brought out the dining chairs each night), and there was a picnic table down below that fit us all - just farther to carry the food. Small ants that weren't much trouble, and a few mosquitos in the morning. Other than that, no critter issues! Loved to hear the birds chirping each morning.
The only true complaint from me is that they have the place very well-lit outside overnight (street-lights and house lights and deck lights) and there are NO curtains on the bedroom windows. The windows are frosted, but it was like eternal sunrise in the bedrooms. Very tough to sleep through the night or know when it actually was daylight.
PARC is right in the middle of a very native (ie: non-touristy) part of Oahu. We didn't have any issues with this, but if you intend to take in the touristy sites (Dole Plantation, Waikiki, Hanauma Bay, Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, North Beach, etc) expect to make day trips out of nearly each. Lots of driving, (horrible traffic during rush hours) which my children loathed! There are whale watching/dolphin swimming boat tours close and a great hike area at Kaena Point State Park north of Waianae, a couple Luau locations within 10 miles or so, but other than that, very remote!
Beach club/cafe was closed while we were there. Bar was open limited hours and never more than 2 people in it at a time that I saw. The bar had free Wi-Fi, the cabins did not.
We didn't know you could request swim side/surf side when making the reservation. We were put on the surf side which was wonderful for beach-combing each morning (great shells and coral pieces), but with kids it would have been more convenient to be on the swim side.
If I had it to do over again, would stay in Honolulu or closer to touristy sites for the first couple days, then come to PARC for the remainder to relax!

  • Stayed February 2011, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
8 Thank bettyjocrocker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Pililaau Army Recreation Center

Property: Pililaau Army Recreation Center
Address: 85-010 Army St Bldg 4070, Pokai Bay, Waianae, Oahu, HI 96792-2435
Region: United States > Hawaii > Oahu > Waianae
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 7 Speciality Lodging in Waianae
Number of rooms: 39
Also Known As:
Pililaau Army Recreation Hotel Waianae
Pililaau Army Recreation Center Hawaii/Oahu

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