Hawaii - Something For Everyone

Hawaii really does have something for everyone: amazing scenery and tours, water sports, relaxing on the beach, underwater activities, fabulous dining options, shopping and of course a slightly more tropical climate than Balclutha!

To do Hawaii justice you want to allow at least 10 days including travel time: 3-4 days on the main Island of Oahu and the remainder exploring 2 or more outer islands such as Maui and Big Island. I recommend experiencing the hustle and bustle of Waikiki, Oahu first then heading over to the smaller islands for adventure and relaxing.

There is so much to see and do in Waikiki other than the signature sights. For example the Atlantis Submarine Tour is a must do for anyone interested in seeing Hawaii from the ocean floor. The purpose sunk aircrafts and shipwrecks make impressive reserves for the local aquatic life. The sub is air-conditioned and can travel to depths of over 100 feet so it’s perfect for all ages. Be sure to check visibility conditions before heading to the meeting point as you can opt for a later time if conditions are less than favourable.

The Pearl Harbour tour is another experience which comes highly recommended. The facility marks a very dark day in America’s history in an incredibly moving way. The audio tour is a must as it brings to life everything you see in front of you as you make your way around the site, stirring up all kinds of emotion. It’s important to remember that the facility’s purpose isn’t to place blame on the attackers but rather to recognise events in history that changed Hawaii and America forever. A 96 year old veteran of Pearl Harbour, Herb Weatherwax (known as “Uncle Herb” to his family and friends) regularly spends time at the facility and enjoys meeting and greeting visitors. He is a fascinating personality who is certainly worth taking the time to chat with.

Of course no trip to Waikiki would be complete without hiring a car for 2-3 days to hit the malls (Ala Moana Shopping Centre and Waikele Outlet Shopping Centre) and experience the ‘real’ Oahu by visiting Hanauma Bay, Oahu’s North Shore and Diamond Head. Resort parking in Hawaii is expensive so it’s recommended that you keep your car hire to just 2-3 days. Rental cars can be pre-booked by House of Travel or at your resort in Waikiki.

I was fortunate enough to visit Maui for 3 days during my time in Hawaii. The island is a popular haven for snorkelling, surfing, diving, whale watching (November – April), fishing, golf and much more. What appealed to me the most about Maui was the variety of experiences available to visitors, if they are wanting to do something. Of course there’s always the option of relaxing on Kaanapali Beach which is an experience in itself. A highlight for me has to be the snorkelling and SCUBA diving day experience with Sail Trilogy. Snorkelling and diving with turtles was a bucket list experience I had been eager to tick off. Highly experienced guides on board made this opportunity all the more memorable.

Aside from the various tours available on Oahu and Maui, dining out needs to be considered an experience in itself. From beef sliders at Leilani’s Restaurant on Maui to the amazing cheesecake selection at The Cheesecake Factory in Waikiki we were spoilt for choice when it came to meal time.

Here are a few of my favourite restaurants which are sure to impress. A recurring theme throughout these eateries is that the servings are very generous so you may like to order one dish between two if you plan on attempting dessert.

Waikiki ...

'Food Trucks' – located just a couple of blocks from the Outrigger Reef on the Beach with various options including shrimp, Asian fusion, fries, ice cones and more ...

'PF Chang's' – Asian fusion located a couple of blocks from Outrigger Reef on the Beach. Good value for money ...

'Shoreline Bird' at Outrigger Reef on the Beach – cook your own beef/fish/chicken steak/kebabs (supervised by a chef of course) and unlimited access to the salad bar (which has hot and cold veggies and fruit). Fun and really good size meals ...

'Buho' Mexican restaurant – great range of Mexican food, huge servings. Located upstairs in the heart of the Waikiki shopping strip ...

'Duke’s' – Make the best caesar salad. Good size meals and reasonably priced. Gets busy so allow plenty of time to receive your order ...

'The Cheesecake Factory' – make sure you get there early and in the queue with your buzzer. The line can be huge., especially for groups. Huge meals, an appetizer is plenty. Huge menu. All the cheesecake flavours you can imagine ...

'Morimoto Waikiki' (at The Modern) – executive chef Masaharu Morimoto is a winner of Iron Chef America. Asian fusion style. A dining experience where creativity and quality ingredients come together to deliver truly flavoursome and original dishes.

Maui ...

'Leilani’s' (at Whaler’s Village) – famous for fish tacos ...

'Royal Lahaina Luau' – huge variety of dishes, including authentic Hawaiian dishes ...

'Bubba Gump’s' – variety of shrimp dishes. Also options (e.g. chicken, pork ribs etc) for those who don’t like seafood.

For those on a tight budget consider visiting an ABC Store and grabbing something to take away. There are 37 of these convenience stores throughout Waikiki (it’s a running joke among locals that there is one of these stores on every corner). ABC Stores are great for snacks, sandwiches, salads and hot food ready-to-go.

It’s clear that Hawaii offers a plethora of experiences for travellers of all ages and personalities – from the adventurous to the active relaxer to the rejuvenator. It’s important to note that Hawaii isn’t just for couples and honeymooners. With the direct flights from Auckland to Honolulu more and more families and groups are engaging in the diverse holiday opportunities Hawaii presents. This is one destination I’m looking forward to heading back to one day soon – who’s with me?!