Monday, 3 December 2012

Hawaii - The Start

Destination Hawaii – Waikiki

So here we are in Waikiki Beach, on a glorious December day, ready for our cruise but keen to see something of this famous part of Honolulu before we leave.

So what do you do? Easy – you walk it. All of it. After a soothing night in the Modern Honolulu hotel, we were ready to head out about 8.45 local time (-5 hours, EST). Thanks to two important tips from our friend Stewart Chiron, aka The Cruise Guy, who is also a Hawaii expert, we had a couple of strategies to employ:

1)      Have breakfast at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, where the Tropics restaurant is perfectly situated overlooking the beach and offering a range of classic and Hawaiian menu favourites. We especially loved their Hawaiian Bananas Foster French Toast (with macadamia nut ice-cream; yes, for breakfast!) and the Loco Moco – a fried egg on a burger on rice, with thick gravy. Absolutely delicious.  

2)      Take advantage of the ship’s late sailing (7pm) to see as much of Waikiki as possible. Therefore, our transfer from the hotel to the port isn’t until 5pm, giving us most of the day to explore.

And explore we did – along the full length of Waikiki Beach and back again, a gentle stroll along in the 80-degree sunshine, dipping our toes in the sea and enjoying the long stretch of sand. With surfers and paddle-boarders to watch and plenty of fish (and two amazing moray eels) to observe in the water, it was truly a gorgeous walk.

We made it as far as the New Otani Resort (another Cruise Guy recommendation), where we stopped for a drink overlooking their beautiful Hau Tree Lanai, one of the most picturesque restaurants on the island. After a couple of cocktails, we wisely caught a cab back to our hotel and then wandered across (about 10 minutes) to the huge Ala Moana shopping centre, a four-storey mall of immense proportions.

Here, we scoped out some Christmas presents for family (no mention of what, just in case they’re reading!) and enjoyed a Christmas concert from a local cultural centre, whose children were a true delight to watch and hear as they performed a range of festive songs with Hawaiian dances. Just brilliant (and all to raise money for needy families).

A leisurely lunch included a fresh tuna sandwich and a local beer (the Paradise Porter – delicious), and we then began a slow wander back at the hotel, stopping at Crazy Shirts for some more Christmas shopping.

Our faithful town car driver was there on the dot of 5pm to pick us up and, in no time at all, we were  at the port of Honolulu ready to check in with hardly another person in sight (great call, Stewart!).

Finally, we were on Pride of America, and heading to our home for the next 7 days, stateroom 8512, forward on the port side with extra-large balcony. Great way to start the trip – and we’ve fallen in love with Hawaii and its people already.

Next up - Maui, Day 1