Click on the photo for tours and activities in Hawaii!
We just LOVE Hawaii and hopefully you do, too. If you haven’t been, we need to rectify that situation pretty soon. If you want to go and need some suggestions, then by all means get in touch. Call, email, text or send a carrier pigeon because this is a place you’ll want to return to again and again. It is one of the most exotic destinations in the U.S.—paradise without a passport! How about a Mai-Tai at Kimo’s in Lahaina as you watch the boats in the harbor?
Besides their wonderful native language (which uses only 12 letters!) there is a warmth and laid-back feeling hard to replicate elsewhere (though New Orleans comes close.) We can’t show you everything–that’s why you need to go. Here’s a sample of some of our favorite places in the islands of our 50th state. Extra points if you know the year Hawaii joined the Union.
Molokai is a cool place to visit. It’s the former leper colony, though nowadays leprosy is called Hansen’s Disease. Molokai’s tagline is “Hawaiian by Nature” and it’s billed as the unspoiled Hawaii. You can take the ferry from Maui for a day trip, but if you want to get the hot bread you’ll need to stay over. If you do, you’ll want to stay at the Hotel Molokai. It reminds me of the huts from Gilligan’s Island. You will almost expect to see Ginger and Mary Anne coming around the corner. (If you’re too young to know what I’m talking about–bummer for you!) I loved this hotel. Big ceiling fans and screened doors and windows replace the a/c so you feel like a real Hawaiian and not an air-conditioned tourist. It’s not an island known for its nightlife. They roll up the sidewalks precisely at 10:00—or earlier. Actually the bars stay open a bit later—hence the hot bread.
MOLOKAI HOT BREAD: Once you’ve had it, this is the taste memory that will wake you up from a sound sleep.
Legend has it that Kanemitsu’s used to be a bar itself, and to solve the problem of drunk patrons hanging around all night they started serving hot bread to soak up all the mai tais. The bar eventually gave way to the bakery, but the hot bread continues. Starting at 8:00 p.m. every night except Monday, islanders and visitors alike line up to place their orders for hot loaves of fresh bread slathered in butter or jelly or any combination of the five toppings that Kanemitsu’s offers.
Legend says hula was born on Molokai (though legend says the same about Kauai.) Molokai is proud of its hula traditions and every May, you can join in on the celebration at the Molokai Ka Hula Piko Festival. Hula halau (schools) from all over the state gather to perform ancient hula rarely performed in public. Unlike other festivals like the Merrie Monarch on the Big Island, this is not a competition.
You’ll have fun trying to pronounce the place names and perhaps even mastering the word for the native fish “humuhumunukunukuapuaa.” The stubby-nosed, brightly striped and slightly aggressive little fish whose name few tourists even try to utter (it’s pronounced HOO-moo-HOO-moo-NOO-koo-NOO-koo-AH-poo-AH-ah) is commonly believed to be the state’s favorite.
The Kahala Resort on Oahu: what can we tell you? it’s a favorite for us and one we happily share with numerous celebrities– and locals, too. It’s just a short drive or shuttle from Waikiki Beach, but it feels like a million miles away. The last time we visited there was a different couple being married on the grounds every single day–sometimes two bridal couples in different parts of the resort. We enjoyed our al fresco breakfasts watching the weddings. Lovely! And you may know that all beaches in Hawaii are public, which means that up and down the edge of all the resorts are couples being photographed in their wedding finery. Lots of fun if you’re a romance junkie like me!
Kailua Beach is considered one of the best beaches in the islands. Far from the hustle-bustle of Waikiki, Kailua is a family town filled with neighborhood coffee shops, great Thai food, hole- in-the-wall sushi places and a great city-wide celebration at Christmas.
Duke Paoa Kahanamoku was born in 1890. He grew up swimming and surfing in Waikiki. Discovered as a swimming sensation, Duke’s legend began when he broke the world record in the 100-yard freestyle during his very first competition. The prodigious Duke went on to win Olympic gold in 1912,1920, and 1924 . Duke was also one of the pioneers of the Waikiki Beach Boys, watermen who earned their livings teaching visitors how to surf and canoe at Waikiki Beach. If you look, you can still find real Waikiki Beach Boys showing visitors a great time in the Waikiki surf today.
Probably every first-time visitor to Hawaii needs to attend a luau. They are fun buffet-style affairs, with a hula/fire dancing show to follow. (just a cute note: in Hawaii, they say buffet “BOO-fay.”) After all that pork and rum, you may be amazed that anyone can shake like that, but hey! They’re young. And they eat after the show.
Okay, true confessions. I do NOT eat meat (but I do eat fish.) And despite the islanders love of SPAM, a leftover from WW2, there are lots of vegetarian and vegan options all over the islands. The original settler from Tahiti or thereabouts made poi the staple of their diet—and poi is pounded taro root, ripened to the desired degree. You can get rice and steamed veggies just about anywhere, but I’ll tell you that my fellow travelers devoured this pig.
When I told Susan Of Hawaii Fi-Do Service Dogs that these go for about $1.25 PER blossom wholesale she just about fainted. The fragrance is unbelieveable–and they were just casually blooming over the fence at the service dog training kennel.
This resort is the perfect choice for those who just want to grab a quick flight to Honolulu and get away from it all. Head north about an hour or less and you’ll land at a beautiful resort with a beach made for swimming, paddle-boarding and baking yourself to a golden brown.
I’m adding a photo from Disney’s Aulani Resort, located in Ko ‘Olina on the dry side of Oahu. The resort is Disney but not too Disney–I immediately thought of multi-generational family groups. The kids can play in the water while the adults sip a cool beverage and catch up on the family gossip, before everyone goes off to do something else before dinner. There are no rides here, but Mickey and Minnie are here in resort garb, ready to pose for photos.
Hotel Lanai, built in 1923, by James Dole as lodging for Dole Plantation executives, was the first and only hotel on Lanai until 1990. Yes, Lanai was the famous “Pineapple Isle. ” Today, the owner-operated Hotel Lanai houses 11 charming guest rooms and a cheerful restaurant. Lanai City Grille, with its fresh innovative cuisine, is fast becoming Lanai’s premiere dining experience. The food is amazing! I love this place. There are two Four Seasons resorts on the island–Manele Bay, more of a beachy-type feel and the Four Seasons Resort at Koele, which reminds me of an elegant plantation somewhere, with gentlemen in white suits and ladies with parasols. If you love golf, you’ll want to get a game or two in while you’re here. (Way, way back, the Hawaiians thought this island was inhabited by man-eating ghosts, but you can’t use that as an excuse if your game doesn’t go well.)
From adventures including snorkeling, hiking, horseback riding, yoga and world-class golfing to intimate art galleries and Lanai’s Hawaiian Cultural Center, there is something for everyone on Lanai. Check out the Mike Carroll Gallery, Featuring Lanai Artists & Artists from Other Hawaiian Islands on 7th St in Lanai City. Trust me, you can’t miss it. it’s not that kind of town! You can take the ferry across from Maui for the day or longer.