A Hawai'ian Honeymoon
I love autumn, I really do. But there is nothing quite like summer. The leaves are falling quietly in Hyde Park. I have pulled my winter coat out of hibernation and dusted off my thick book of soup recipes. The obligatory ‘I've nothing to wear’ freak-out, which comes with the turn of each season, has happened. And with the clock falling back this week and daylight departing in the afternoon, I’ve found myself flipping through snaps of summer in Hawai’i to hold onto sunnier memories.
Sam and I got married on a late summer’s day back in New Zealand in March 2014. We decided to wait until this year to head out on a honeymoon. When we found ourselves both in California for work the same week, Sam suggested we pick up a car and tour the southern part of the state. “Flag that”, I said. Let’s go to Hawai'i.
Six weeks later, with a heavily annotated Lonely Planet guide under my arm, I boarded a plane bound for Honolulu. Oh, and Hawai’i was just named as a Best in Travel destination for 2016 by Lonely Planet. I totally support that.
Hawai’i is made up of so many vast and varied islands that trying to see and do everything in the ten days we had was impossible. Or so my research told me. The Big Island is home to active volcanoes and manta rays, O’ahu has the North Shore (surf’s up!), Waikiki beach, and the best ahi poke (saucy raw tuna) you’ll ever eat. Molokai is super chilled, and the overwhelming natural beauty of Kaua’i will take you back in time (to the Jurassic period, if you have an overactive imagination and a penchant for the movies like me).
After much umm’ing and ahh’ing we decided to spend five days on O’ahu, and five days on Kaua’i. And we would not have changed a thing.
We called Waikiki Beach home for the first three nights of our adventure. There is no sugar-coating it. Waikiki is the most touristy place I have ever been to, second perhaps only to the blinding lights of Vegas. But it’s tastefully touristy, and pretty spectacular. We decided to call the newly built Waikiki Parc home, and were very impressed. Our room faced the mountains, which made for spectacular views of the clouds spilling down the mountainside into the city in the early morning. As an added bonus, the infamous Nobu restaurant has set up shop right on the ground floor. Unfortunately there weren’t any discounts for guests, but that did not stop us trying...
Waikiki never seems to sleep. We spent the balmy evenings wandering barefoot along the shoreline, ducking in and out of the sparkling hotel bars. Head to the Sheraton for a nightcap and sharpen your elbows to steal a few hours on their day-beds (or night-bed?) to watch the moon rise. Another favourite was Halekulani. While we are not the types to drop $600 a night on a hotel, I am not above parking myself at their bar for a few hours to enjoy the lively piano music and drink with a raised pinky.
Fun fact: Hawai’i used to have a royal family, and still celebrate them. Sure, it was sans the security detail of Kate Middleton, but look at that dazzling princess smile!
When it comes to holidays, or life in general, Sam is not much of a morning person. Mornings and Sam, are not warm friends. Unluckily for him, I adore mornings. I have reservoirs of affection for crisp, sunny mornings in faraway places, watching the world wake up around me. Bright and early on our first morning, we headed to Mānoa Falls, Sam’s slightly-out-of-character compliance helped along by jet lag. The walk takes about an hour through lush, green scenery and ends at perfectly chilled bathing spot. Be warned though, the walk is pretty packed with tourists and locals alike. To put things in perspective, the islands of French Polynesia get the same amount of annual visitors as Hawai’i gets in ten days.
With a couple of friends who have called the island home, we had a nice long list of foodie places to try. You cannot leave O’ahu without trying Ono Seafood's ahi poke. It’s tucked away off the road slightly; we managed to walk past it at first. Go for their spicy ahi. And get two servings because it’s that good.
We also loved the notoriously lively Duke’s, right on the beach. We devoured sticky ribs with sand between our toes, paper umbrellas in our drinks and hibiscus flowers in - well, just my - hair.
In contrast with Waikiki’s happy-go-lucky vibe, Pearl Harbour is obviously pretty different. I’m so glad we visited it, even if it left me feeling a bit sad and confused with the world. You can register for a limited number of tickets at 7am each morning for the following day to visit the USS Arizona, which is where the memorial is. Oil from the sunken ships still bubbles up to this day.
Hanauma Bay is a mecca for snorkelling. It is a dazzling blue marine reserve, with a ton of information for the geeks amongst us. You have to watch a charmingly dated video before you are allowed to head down to the water, and pay to gain entry. To be honest, we enjoyed snorkelling everywhere we went. If you have a car, I’d recommend trying somewhere further afield and more secluded. Which is exactly what we did for our next stay on the island...
A few notes...
We did not have a car for our stay at Waikiki, but through a combination of Uber and buses we did not feel we needed one.
Koko Head was the one thing we did not cross off our list. Afternoons at the beach won out. That hill combined with that heat probably would have finished us.
Take your ID everywhere. At first, I was flattered and blushing to be asked for it. As icy mojitos passed me by, winking, that feeling slowly evaporated…
And if you need anymore inspiration to visit Hawai’i, check out the Naked Hawai'i instagram account. No nudity, I promise, just jaw-dropping landscapes. Maybe put your credit card somewhere safe first.
With Love, Kate