Hawaii Travel Guide

Filed under Destination Guides, featured, Hawaiian Airlines


Hawai’i is everything a tropical getaway should be. Warm, balmy weather, lots of sun and plenty of fun things to do and see. But the world’s most remote inhabited islands offer a lot more than many travellers imagine.

Hawai’i is rediscovering its indigenous roots and the authentic ‘aloha’ culture is now finding its way into more tourism products. No longer just a land of imitation grass skirts, bobbing head Elvis dolls and contrived hula dancing, native Hawai’ians are reinvigorating their land with authenticity and a bit of ancient Polynesian mysticism.

Many forget that Hawai’i was an independent monarchy until 1893 when the much loved Queen Liliʻuokalani was overthrown. The five outer islands (away from Oahu) in particular are seeing a strong resurgence in culture that is creating a renewed Hawai’i many first time visitors may not have experienced.

Of course, around Honolulu and Waikiki on the most populated island, Oahu, there will always be the hedonistic beach and tourist culture that attracts the majority of domestic and international guests. But for those prepared to venture a little further, the real discoveries await.

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Everyone has a reason to visit Hawai’i, even if it’s just that you’ve never been there. You’ve probably seen the cheesy postcards, glossy travel brochures and TV shows like Magnum PI and Hawai’i Five-O and have an idea what it’s like, but Hawai’i is full of surprises with lots of cool things tucked away.

Of course, if this is your first visit to Hawai’i, you have to see the iconic sights such as Waikiki Beach, Pearl Harbor with its memorials and museums, ‘Iolani (Royal) Palace and perhaps one of the theme parks like Sea Life Park or The Polynesian Cultural Centre.

But if you’re wincing at the thought of packing in with the shuffling, floral shirt-wearing, soda-slurping crowd, it’s a great idea to get out to one (or more) of the lesser islands and enjoy the relative open spaces, village atmosphere and natural beauty that is particularly abundant on the Big Island.

The largest island, correctly named Hawai’i, is home to some of the best ecological, eco-tourism and environmental features in the USA’S 50th state. There you will find the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, home to Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes. At 4200m, the highest point is Maunakea, one of the most important land-based astronomy sites in the world with massive observatories dotting the summit. You can join a nightly tour and it’s like another planet up there in the thin air and snow-capped peaks with views of the heavens that will take your breath away – literally.

Maui is another island very popular with visitors wanting experiences away from Oahu. There is excellent infrastructure, top hotels and resorts, and its own volcano, Haleakalā. Maui is also renown for windsurfing, scuba diving, whale watching and hiking, among other things.

Kauai, locally tagged as ‘the garden isle’ and the landing site of Captain Cook, is just perfect for nature lovers and outdoor types with seriously spectacular scenery just waiting to be hiked or mountain biked. A helicopter ride will give you a sensational view of this magnificent island that featured in many movies including Elvis’s Blue Hawai’i, Jurassic Park, Raiders of the Lost Ark and South Pacific.

For those really wanting an island getaway experience, the islands of Moloka’i and Lana’i offer peace and solitude in spades. Moloka’i, in particular, is home to a strong and deeply spiritual interpretation of traditional ‘aloha’ culture that takes ‘laid back’ to a whole new level.

On Lana’i there is also scuba diving and even hunting, but at the magnificent Four Seasons Resort, you can challenge yourself on the Jack Nicklaus Signature Manele Golf Course that attracts serious golfers from all over the world.


As you’d expect Hawai’i has the full range of accommodation options from 6-star to twinkle, through quaint and quirky and everything in between.

If you haven’t visited for a while , the new Waikiki Beach Walk development might take you by surprise. Six older hotels were demolished to make way for the project which opened back in 2007 and was the largest development in Waikiki’s history.

If you’re talking about landmarks, then the bright pink paint on The Royal Hawaiian is a conversation piece on its own. This monument to eccentricity on Kalakaua Avenue has welcomed celebrities, heads of state and influential figures to Waikiki since 1927. Where else would you get banana bread and iPod docking in the one room?

Also on the beach boulevard is the Outrigger Waikiki Hotel, the famous home of Duke’s Restaurant and Barefoot Bar. Even if you’re not staying, it’s kind of an institution to swing by onto the verandah from the beach and order a key lime pie. Yep, and that’s Duke’s original redwood surfboard on the wall.

Whether or not you follow US politics or watch American TV, you can’t miss Donald Trump. Nor can you miss his 38-story, 462-room hotel, the Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk. It’s been TripAdvisor’s top hotel there since forever and it’s the first and only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Hotel on the island of Oahu. Just wow.

On the subject of stunning hotels, it would be remiss not to mention the magnificent Halekulani. Dating back to 1883 when the original owner, Robert Lewers built a two-story house on the site of what is now the main building, the property has been continually modernised over the years and now the 453-room hotel plays on that rich heritage.

Away from Waikiki there are plenty of other options that include B&B, vacation rentals and condos. On the flip side of Oahu is little Kailua, an out-of-the-way beach community with lots of B&B style accommodation. Lanikai Bed & Breakfast on Mokulua Drive is close to the beach and a quiet, private alternative to the bustling resorts.

If you’re visiting the other islands, here are a couple of standout properties.

Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows on the Big Island is almost a destination in itself, laid out on sprawling grounds that has room for a golf course and spa facilities among the hard volcanic landscape. Exploring the ancient fish ponds and hieroglyphs nearby or watching the turtles swim through the atrium, makes this quite an unusual hotel.

Mention must be made of Four Seasons Resort Lana’i just because it is such an outstanding property way out on the island of Lana’i. Along with its sibling property, The Lodge at Koele, these resorts deliver a kind of luxurious seclusion that is rock star status. Ride horses, play championship-level golf, shoot clays or putter around with croquet or lawn bowls, it’s quite the exclusive retreat.


Hawai’ians love their ‘Kau Kau’ and there is an abundance of choice throughout Oahu and the islands. Fresh, local and creative is the order of the day, every day, regardless of whether you are seeking out classy fine dining or authentic aloha street food.

Top of Waikiki is Hawaii’s only revolving restaurant and has just been renovated including new chef Lance Kosaka, bringing with him the best in contemporary Hawai’i Regional Cuisine.. Try their left-of-centre duck pizza, Over the Top Surf and Turf for Two or Chocolate Cremeux Semifreddo. They even have a Happy Hour Menu as well daily from 4:30pm – 6:30 pm.

Also in Waikiki, where the legend Duke Kahanamoku grew up swimming, surfing, canoeing and bodysurfing, you’ll find Duke’s at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort, right on the beach. More for its fun, little bit cheesy menu, Duke’s is a Waikiki institution more than a pure culinary institution. It’s a comfort food extravaganza with grilled meats, burgers, fresh fish and outrageous desserts.

Inspired by his Japanese mother and Maui-born father, founding chef Roy Yamaguchi now presides over a chain of 31 restaurants around the globe and his Euro-Asian feature establishment in Honolulu draws heavily on local ingredients, European sauces, bold Asian spices with a focus on fresh seafood. Roys Waikiki opened in 2007 and there is the original Hawai’i Kai where it all began 25 years ago.

In Honolulu’s Ward Center, you’ll find Chef Russell Siu’s Kaka’ako Kitchen where his  Gourmet Plate Lunch is home-style cooking served in chock-a-block full environmentally friendly recyclable clamshell containers. Sure, it has a ‘down market’ feel, yet this fresh ‘n’ clean eatery serves a wicked fried rice breakfast, or if lunching, end with the 5-star bread pudding.

You can’t leave Hawai’i without seeking out some of the famous sushi created by the island’s long-established Japanese community.

Experts and regular foodies alike rate the American Iron Chef’s restaurant, Morimoto Waikiki, as one of the best Japanese fusion eateries in Hawai‘i, with the outstanding sushi selection high in quality and presentation. For those after stunning sashimi with a good dose of glamour, this is the place.

If you’re out and about, the Shirokaya Food Hall in the Ala Moana Center is worth a flying visit if purely for its breadth of selection and the overall visitor experience. The Shirokiya Department store located in the big shopping centre offers two levels of food halls, each with an abundance of sushi, bento boxes and the full gamut of delectable Japanese treats at affordable prices. This is one serious Japanese food emporium.

TIP: Don’t miss Honolulu’s premiere farmers’ market each Saturday at Kapiolani Community College, the only market featuring all Hawai‘i grown and produced foods. Be early for breakfast when a different restaurant prepares hot breakfast plates each week. You’ll also find delicious fresh scones and other baked items to have with a cup of Hawai‘i grown coffee.


Let’s be honest, you won’t feel like you’ve been to Hawai’i unless you’ve watched a sunset sipping a colourful cocktail with a little umbrella. Here’s some ideas to put you in the aloha spirit.

The Hula Grill Waikiki holds their ‘Aloha Hour’ at the perfectly located Plantation Bar right on the famous beachfront. You’ll find a great selection of discounted draft beers, wines and tropical drinks, plus an extensive choice of entrees and pupus at reduced prices between 4-6pm. Great staff in a relaxed atmosphere will serve your Mai Tai in a special tiki glass in a location that is hard to top.

From 5-7pm you can take happy hour fun to an ultimate high with a 360 degree view of Honolulu and surrounds in Waikiki’s famous revolving restaurant, Top of Waikiki in the Waikiki Business Plaza.  It’s a popular spot, so be sure to arrive early to secure a seat in the bar area. The sunset view is a winner, but there is also a delicious selection of appetisers at very reasonable prices.

Just out of the way of the bustle of Waikiki in Ala Wai Yacht Harbor, the Chart House fronts the marina near the Ilikai. It’s a legendary watering hole for locals, so expect to see crowds gathering well before the doors open. The ‘pupu’ (appetiser) menu is an imaginative selection of Pacific Rim delights, fresh and tantalising dishes, plus the discounted drinks are the perfect accompaniment.

Some folks like to call Moana Terrace at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort, a ‘well-kept Waikiki secret’. Here you can enjoy a super Bartender Special or scrumptious Happy Hour appetiser without having to worry about changing out of your crumpled day wear. Because it’s a poolside bar, the drinks come in plastic glasses, but don’t let that worry you, they still pack a tropical punch without the scary oceanfront price tag.

Ryan’s Grill is a cool place where you can relax in a casual atmosphere and still be ‘hip’. Ryan’s crowd is always an interesting mix of folks from all over and there’s plenty of funky beers to choose from either by bottle or on tap. For spirited types, there are tequilas and fancy whiskies you’re unlikely to find elsewhere in Honolulu.

With more than 110 specialty beers from around the world, specialty cocktails and innovative, gourmet pizzas, Bar 35 has become one of Oahu’s hot pau hana spots. On First Fridays, an art celebration held in downtown Honolulu on the first Friday of every month, Bar 35’s two favourites hangs, the little-bit-grungy inside bar and breezy outdoor lounge are thronged with a younger mix of professionals and hipsters.

Nearby Bar 35 is Next Door, a multimedia venue hosting live bands and musicians, as well as local and nationally renowned DJs spinning dance and hip-hop music. Across the street from Bar 35 is Manifest, an art gallery and café during the day and a cocktail bar at night. Beyond craft cocktails and Honolulu’s best selection of whiskey, Chinatown goers head here to end the night on the dance floor.


Retail fun is part of any holiday and Hawai’i caters to recreational shoppers as well as anywhere. Naturally you’ll find massive , American-style malls for all the big brands, but often great satisfaction can be found away from the city in little villages and hamlets all through the islands. A great Hawai’ian shirt or local craft products are always popular gifts.

Located in the heart of the action is DFS Galleria Waikiki, claiming to be the ultimate luxury shopping destination and full of world-class brands. Choose from a wide range of island gifts, fashion apparel, and cosmetics. Plus international travellers can enjoy the same experience in duty free.

Just a stone’s throw away is ‘The Center of Waikiki‘, a retro-styled retail building reminiscent of the original Waikiki Theatre first opened in 1936 when the so-called “Golden Age of Waikiki” was at its peak. It retains some historical features like the brash neon “WAIKIKI” sign and offers a choice of shopping and dining styles.

Way over on the other side of Oahu is the Mahinalani Gift Shop, part of the Polynesian Cultural Center’s expanded shopping experience. A great place to find an authentic piece of ancient Polynesian culture to take home. There are great gift items including fine jewellry and quality Hawai’ian-style apparel by Tommy Bahama. In addition Mahinalani offers all the usual souvenir caps and t-shirts for all the family – and in-laws – as well as key chains, pencils and mugs. Also at the centre is the unusual Ulu, built into the theatre complex and resembling a Hawai’ian volcano, selling fine arts, ceramics, clothing, wood, music and DVDs.

The Queen Emma Land Company’s International Market Place is a fun open-air shopping experience also in the heart of Waikiki with more than 130 shops, carts, restaurants and a food court. Sure, it can be a bit touristy, but it’s still a great place for just browsing, strolling or picking up curious and unusual last minute souvenirs as well as all the usual drawer stuffers.

If you get away from Oahu with all its tourist traps and American glitz, you’ll be refreshed with what you can find on the other islands like Hawai’i Island, the Big Island. It’s easy to get around and a perfect self-drive destination with hire cars right there at the airport.

In the northern part of the Big Island, you’ll find the quaint community of Waimea, home to the Waimea General Store, a local favorite since 1970 and one of Hawaii’s most unusual island stores. Browse a great selection of local and imported gifts, a specialty kitchen section, Hawaiiana books, soaps and lotions, delicious tasty sweets, a great kids’ selection, bibs and bobs and just an entertaining Hawai’i experience.

You’ll quickly find the Big Island likes to do things differently and nothing speaks louder to that than Donkey Balls in Captain Cook on the western shore where the original factory and store making and selling gourmet chocolates started. Historic Kainaliu is also known as the Arts District full of all kinds of small artisan businesses. Donkey Balls features gourmet chocolates and 100 per cent Hawai’ian macadamia nuts with all 25 flavours of chocolates handmade. Try some Kona Gogo Beans and the famous Kona and Ka’u Coffees. Foodies can be amazed at some of the flavoursome rubs, gourmet sugars and salts, organic honey, hot sauces and dipping sauces. Make sure you declare any foodstuffs when coming home.


It will come as no surprise to visitors to Hawai’i that the islands are alive with arts and culture, expressed in a multitude of forms comprising language, music, art, theatre, dance, film, cuisine and a cavalcade of festivals across the entire archipelago.

Museums are always a great way to gain an insight to any destinations heritage, art and culture and Hawai’i is no exception.

On Oahu, it’s the Bishop Museum which is not only the largest museum in Hawaii, but also dedicated to the state’s history and considered by many to be the premier natural and cultural history institution in the Pacific. Housed in an ornate classic building in Honolulu, the Bishop Museum was originally created to display the extensive collection of Hawai’ian artifacts and royal family heirlooms of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, but has since been expanded to include millions of artifacts, documents and photos about Hawai’i and other Pacific cultures. There are daily programs to help you explore the vast collection.

Also on Oahu is the Honolulu Museum of Art, billed as the largest private presenter of visual arts programs in Hawai’i with its huge collection containing more than 50,000 works spanning 5000 years. There is always an exciting new exhibition to bring repeat visitors back and those looking for classy souvenirs can find publications, stationery, prints, and posters from both international and Hawai‘i artisans and designers unique to the islands.

With so many visitors on Oahu at any given time, there is a comprehensive art scene ranging from the large institutions mentioned above to tiny boutique locations all through Honolulu and the island. If theatre is your passion, be sure to visit the exquisitely renovated Hawai’i Theatre, where you can take in travelling shows from all over the world in a heritage setting. Top notch local Hawai’ian entertainers are there year round too. Tours are offered most Tuesdays.

On the Big Island, you can learn about the link between ancient Hawai’ian culture and the stars through a variety of exciting displays and interactive exhibits at the Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii in Hilo. Opened in 2006, the $28 million, 40,000-square-foot exhibition and planetarium complex is located on nine acres in the University of Hawaii’s Science and Technology Park. Be sure to see a screening in their big screen theatre.

If you get over to Kaua’i, be sure to see the Kaua’i Museum in the historical heart of the island,  Lihu’e. Not only are there travelling and permanent exhibits, you can immerse yourself in Hawai’ian culture through workshops on lei making and hula dancing to Hawai’ian quilting and coconut frond weaving.

Not forgetting Maui, the local LahainaTown Action Committee is busy promoting their own island’s cultural attractions. The popular and quirky town is an attraction in itself with always something going on in and around the business district which is virtually a museum in itself. Each year on the first weekend of March, Lahaina celebrates the annual migration of Pacific Humpback whales with the Lahaina Whale and Ocean Arts Festival when local artists display and sell their best marine-themed art, while musicians and hula troupes entertain. Outside of festival time, Friday night always has extensive art display.


Hawai’i does green in the way only Polynesians know how. Rich, intense and luxuriant, Hawai’i’s green spaces are a feature of any visit to the islands and a perfect tonic for a soul surrounded by steel and concrete every other day of the week.

If you’re like most visitors, you’ve decided to base yourself on Oahu in Honolulu or Waikiki, here are the places to grab some clean air and natural eye refreshment.

A short drive northeast of Honolulu is the Nuuanu Pali Lookout with panoramic views of the spectacular Koolau cliffs and lush Windward Coast. Drive up the Pali Highway through tall trees and dense forests to get to the lookout where you’ll see the city dissolve into the tranquil beauty of Hawai’i’s natural landscape.

Deep in the lush Koolau Range, is the Valley of the Temples. The main feature is Byodo-In, a Japanese temple whose name means “Temple of Equality.” It’s actually a scale model of a larger temple in Uji Japan and made entirely without nails. Dedicated in 1968, it was centennial commemoration of the first Japanese immigrants in Hawaii.

While there is plenty of green and clean air on Oahu, it’s when you get to some of the other islands you really get a picture of the grandeur of this most unusual volcanic archipelago.

The Big Island, being the largest of all the islands, naturally offers the greatest variety of outdoor options, not least of them being the UNESCO-listed Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park where, depending on the mood of Pele the ancient goddess of the volcano, you may see the otherworldly sight of molten lava pouring into the ocean amid violent gusts of super-heated steam. Be sure to pop in to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory located at Uwekahuna Bluff on the rim of Kīlauea Caldera.

Billed as Hawai’i’s ‘Island of Discovery’, Kaua’i does outdoor and nature to the extreme, often featuring as a dramatic backdrop to movie blockbusters like Jurassic Park and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Covered in lush forest and wild flowers is Kokee State Park where hikers can get their fill on more than 70 kilometres of trails in 1758 hectares of protected tropical wilderness on a plateau as high as 1280 metres. Some of these trails will lead you to famous Waimea Canyon which is 22 kilometres long, 1600 metres wide and more than 1 kilometre deep. It’s often called the ‘Grand Canyon of the Pacific’. You don’t have to hike in if you don’t want because Waimea Canyon Drive will take you by road to a lower lookout point as well as the main Waimea Canyon Overlook. Besides hiking, adventurers can get their thrills on ziplines, rafting or horseback riding too.

If you find yourself on gorgeous Maui, then you must see a sunset at Haleakala National Park, home to Maui’s highest peak, more than 3000 metres above sea level. While in the oceans below, there is some of the best whale-watching in the Pacific between December and May when the sublime Humpback Whales settle in for some R&R off the coast of south and west Maui.


There’s always something happening in Hawai’i, with most of the activity centred around the hub of Waikiki. Sports, food, fashion and arts, it’s all there.

Eat The Street

On-going, Last Friday of every month from 4-9 p.m.

Celebrate Hawaii’s food trucks with over 40 food trucks and vendors. This event attracts over 7,000 people eager to sample the best street food Hawaii has to offer.


Honolulu Night Market

On-going, On the third Saturday of every month

Kakaako comes alive with an evening event that combines fashion, live music, art, shopping and local food. Held under the Honolulu city lights, this monthly night market celebrates the best of urban island culture featuring local artists, designers, musicians and chefs.


Art + Flea

On-going, Every last Thursday of the month

Discover a unique monthly shopping experience for Hawaii’s talented creatives to showcase their goods and talents. Over 60 independent artists, vintage collectors, food trucks, handmade aficionados and fashion designers are featured at each event, drawing an eclectic crowd of shoppers, music and art lovers alike.


Sony Open in Hawaii

January 11-17, 2016

The 2016 Sony Open in Hawaii PGA TOUR tournament is the start of the full-field events on the PGA TOUR annually. Each January the Sony Open in Hawaii attracts 144 of the world’s top golf professionals to the Waialae Country Club on Oahu. Since 1999, this is Hawaii’s largest charity golf event, raising more than $15 million for local non-profit organisations.

22nd Annual Honolulu Festival

March 11-13, 2016

Every year, the Honolulu Festival brings together cultures from all around the Pacific to celebrate traditional art, dance, craft and music. It brings the island alive with sensational sights and sounds through indigenous performances, cultural enactments and a raucous, colourful street parade in Waikiki.

89th Annual Lei Day Celebration

May 1, 2016

Don’t miss this special Hawaiian celebration of lei including entertainment, food booths and a lei making contest takes place at the beautiful Queen Kapiolani Park and Bandstand in Waikiki.

Hawaii Chocolate Festival


The festival, launched to raise awareness about Hawaii’s growing cacao industry, will be a day for chocolate lovers filled with tastings, guest speakers, a chocolate inspired spa lounge, chocolate garden, coco café and tea house, and live entertainment.

Duke’s OceanFest August – This outdoor aquatic festival is in honour of the great Duke Kahanamoku, the worshipped Hawaiian athlete. There’s old-style longboard surfing and surf polo as well as swim comps and even stand-up paddle board tournaments. The event culminates on August 24, Duke’s birthday with the lei draping ceremony of his statue.

The Kona Coffee Cultural Festival is an annual celebration of Kona’s world famous coffee held every November. Hawaii’s oldest food festival combines a modern-day infatuation with coffee with Kona’s old-world history.

Hawai‘i Food and Wine Festival is held every September includes internationally acclaimed master chefs, master sommeliers, mixologists, and top tier winemakers from around the world.


Hawaii is the stuff of legends, ancient and modern, against a backdrop of pre-made blockbuster scenery. It’s no wonder Hollywood moviemakers and best-selling writers turn to these islands for inspiration. Here’s just a few creative landmarks on the vast canvas.

Blue Hawaii (Film, 1961)

Made at the Coco Palms Resort on the garden island of Kauai starring Elvis Presley, any fan will recall the scene where he and Joan Blackman paddle down the lagoon with Presley crooning the Hawaiian Wedding Song along the way.

From Here to Eternity (Film, 1953)

Few films had the enduring legacy of the famous scene where Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr roll in amorous embrace in the surf at Halona Cove on Oahu. Even today, the moment is still re-lived by adoring couples to this day.

Tora, Tora, Tora (Film, 1970)

The dramatic events of December 7, 1941, have been captured on film for both cinema and television, with the most acclaimed version being 1970’s ‘Tora, Tora, Tora’, an historically accurate US-Japanese co-production, as opposed to the highly fictionalised 2001 version.

The Descendants (Novel, Kaui Hart Hemmings, 2007)

Made into a film in 2011 which subsequently won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, both versions draw on the almost-forgotten ancestral land titles of the former Hawaiian monarchy and contrasts the dysfunctional family with the beauty of Hawaii through visuals and soundtrack.

50 First Dates (Film, 2004)

Okay, it’s a bit soppy and goofy as Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore reunite for this off-beat ‘rom-com’ but, oh lordy, is it packed with Hawaii! The many fans of Sandler, mostly female, are quick to cite this as their most memorable cinematic connection with Hawaii.

Hawai’i Five-O (TV 1968-80 remade 2010)

The longest running TV cop show until Law & Order in 2003, the rapid-fire, adrenalin rush opening scene embedded all the key Honolulu sights in a breathtaking 60 second deluge that created an instant ‘tick list’ for millions of viewers drawn to visit Hawaii.

Hawaii (Novel, James Michener, 1959)

Like ‘South Pacific’ (set in Vanuatu, but filmed in Hawaii) Michener’s masterful, dramatic novel is firmly grounded in real events. From the earliest Polynesian settlers to Hawaii’s graduation to US statehood, the characters tell the real story of Hawaii.

Moloka’i (Novel, Alan Brennert, 2004)

Based on real events, the primary character, a seven-year-old Hawaiian girl named Rachel Kalama, finds herself in the leper colony on Moloka’i in the 1890s. Her triumph over adversity in this paradise/hell is a critically acclaimed, dramatic account of true life.

Lost Kingdom (Nonfiction, Julia Flynn Siler, 2013)

For those with a taste for history, this work subtitled ‘Hawaii’s Last Queen, the Sugar Kings, and America’s First Imperial Venture’ will fill in all your blanks about how the independent monarchy of Hawaii became a US territory in less than honourable circumstances.

The Islands (Novel, Di Morrissey, 2008)

For those looking for a romantic Australian connection, Di Morrissey’s tale of seduction, love and double take on the beauty of the Hawaiian Islands could be the page-turner to prepare you for your aloha vacation – or carry you through it.

Honorable ‘aloha’ mentions:  Forgetting Sarah Marshall (Film, 2008), North Shore (Film, 1987)

24-Hours in Waikiki

If you’re looking for action, then Waikiki is where it’s at. Old meets new, meets traditional meets modern. With so much on offer, here’s just one way how you can spend 24-hours in Waikiki:

6 AM: Kick off with a leisurely wander along the Waikiki’s beachfront and around Kapiolani Park with spectacular Leahi (Diamond Head) as your backdrop.

7 AM: Snatch some fresh fruit or a hot omelet from any number of the al fresco diners that stretch along Waikiki Beach.

8 AM: Hang with famed surf legend, the late Duke Kahanamoku, on the Waikiki Bouelvard – a great ‘selfie’ opportunity. Then there’s time to get into the water for a surf or canoe lesson.

10 AM: See if you can find the amazing humuhumunukunukuapuaa or any of the other fascinating marine animals at the Waikiki Aquarium.

NOON: Continue the aquatic theme with lunch at Duke’s Canoe Club (Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort) where you can see classic photos of Duke and learn a little more about this local hero.

1 PM: With a full tummy, it’s time to explore more Waikiki attractions like the Honolulu Zoo, or U.S. Army Museum. Follow the surfboard shaped interpretive guides along the Waikiki Historic Trail.

3PM: Now is a great time to enjoy a massage at one of Waikiki’s premier spa resorts like the Na Hoola Spa at Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa. Be sure to sample some of the real Oahu wellness and rejuvenation treatments.

4 PM: Once a haunt of Hawaiian Royalty, the grounds of the Royal Hawaiian Center is where you can learn to play the ukulele or how to seduce your partner with a traditional hula dance. There’s probably time for a spot of upmarket retail too.

6 PM: Join the crowd for a moment as the tiki torches are lit in a ceremony along Kuhio Beach. Then stroll out to the Kapahulu pier to witness a famous and spectacular sunset.

7 PM: And it’s dinner time and a chance to experience some authentic Hawaiian regional cuisine at Roy’s in Waikiki Beach Walk or Alan Wong’s Restaurant beyond Waikiki. If fine cuisine is your style, visit Doraku in the Royal Hawaiian Center or Top of Waikiki.

8 PM: Time to shop at some uniquely Hawaiian stores like Mana Hawaii and Aloha Army along the Waikiki Beach Walk. Or you can wander away from the evening crowd and explore unusual and intriguing boutiques like Spark between Kalakaua and Kuhio Avenues.

9 PM: You’ll hear the live music made famous at such venues as Tiki’s Grill & Bar and the Lewers Lounge in the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel

11 PM: The pace is ramping up and it’s time to hit nightclubs like The Yard House in Waikiki Beach Walk or RumFire in the Sheraton Waikiki. When you’re satisfied, go looking for more action beyond Waikiki in hotspots like the upscale Pearl in the Ala Moana Shopping Center.

4 AM: You’ve built a hunger, so steer a course back to the Hilton Waikiki Beach and grapple some of Mac 24/7’s supersize pancakes. As the morning light breaks, surfers begin their morning ritual in the slowly breaking waves of Waikiki and you’re almost ready to start over again.

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