www.keikibeach.com. We may make a few enemies by telling more people about Ke Iki, but operator Greg Gerstenberger is such a dream, we can't help but promote his good works. Besides, despite the fact the 11 cottages just underwent a $1 million face-lift, Ke Iki is still an excellent value. And who can forget those flawless stretches of white-sand beach right outside your door?

Waikiki Prince, inexpensive to moderate, (808) 922-1544, www.waikikiprince.com. Even the website for this 30-room Honolulu hotel (www.waikikiprince.com) is uncommonly simple. But that's where you'll find an offer for rooms from $45 a night! You get a great rate and a clean, comfy room and are just a one-minute walk from the beach. What's not to like?

DINING

Side Street Inn
, inexpensive, (808) 591-0253. Want to know where Hawaii's top chefs hang out? Pop into this lively eatery after hours and you may catch Alan Wong or Roy Yamaguchi digging into a platter of barbecued ribs laced with lilik'oi (passion fruit) syrup, mahi mahi crusted with furikake, or other surprising morsels showcasing local flavors. The place may be unassuming, but the food is anything but.

Waiola Store, inexpensive, (808) 949-2269. Matthew Fox and his family may like their juices and smoothies, but we prefer shaved ice - or shave ice, as they call it here. There are lots of shave ice spots around town, but Waiola (look for the ordering window outside) has more than 30 funky flavors to choose from. Mix and match (coconut, condensed milk, and adzuki beans, anyone?) for a refreshing potion that's cheaper than a Starbucks.

ACTIVITIES

Hawaiian Fire Surf School
, (888) 955-7873, www.hawaiianfire.com. On the mainland, many of us are familiar with the moving companies made up of off-duty firefighters. In Hawaii, the firefighters teach people to surf. At least they do at this popular surf academy, where the cost of lessons ($97 to $139) includes transportation to and from the beach, foam-covered surfboards, reef shoes, and, in case you've wiped out one too many times, a shady tent and chair onshore.