Working for an airline and living in NYC, I planned escape trips to Hawaii several times a year, particularly during the winter months. The first time I arrived at Honolulu, I was greeted with a lei and immediately fell in love with the island. It was night, the air had a beautiful fragrance and the lights on the mountains in back of Honolulu were twinkling. It was rather magical.
I stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village and was enthralled. I checked out other hotels for future visits and fell in love with The Wakikian. I stayed there several times. It was a fabulous “tike-style” hotel, wedged in between the Hilton Hawaiian Village and the Ilikai. I fondly recall its fabulous open air bar, the Tahitian Lanai, with the most incredible Mai-Tai’s and a very good restaurant, with the best Coconut Cream Pie. After its demise, I stayed at various other hotels in Honolulu, but always missed the “tiki-style” hotel and its beautiful tropical gardens.
Yes, the beach is spectacular. Go surfing or go for a ride in an outrigger canoe. Or take a day cruise along Waikiki or a cocktail or dinner cruise on a catamaran. Take in the beauty of the ocean, Diamond Head, the mountains and the Aloha spirit.
Rent a car and drive about the island. Stop at the North Shore beaches and, depending on the season, enjoy watching the surfers and/or give it a try. The water is far, far rougher than Waikiki. Go snorkeling at Hanauma Bay. The spectacular colors of the fish will stay with you for a long time. Stop and tour the very moving USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.
A favorite activity for me was taking a scenic glider ride. It is spectacular. If you want, the pilot will let you “fly” it for a bit, which is fabulous. There is a marvelous sense of quiet, except for the incredible sound of the wind. It is thrilling to be soaring in a glider, above a beautiful landscape. I highly recommend it and enjoyed doing it several times.
Stop off at the Polynesian Cultural Center as you drive about the island. Have fun learning the hula dance. Hawaii is far more that beautiful beaches. Here, you can explore and learn the history and culture of Hawaii and other Polynesian Islands.
Yes, it is touristy, but do go to a luau. It’s great fun, with marvelous entertainment. And at some of the luaus, you can be a part of the performance.
Kalakaua Ave was and still is the main avenue, with numerous shops and restaurants. I am sure that the International Market Place has seen many changes but would still be the place to browse.
While Honolulu and Waikiki have seen many changes, I remember marvelous people who truly radiate the Aloha Spirit. It is a state of mind, which you can bring home with you. You will long remember the generosity and friendliness of the Hawaiian people. It is a gorgeous island paradise, with many lasting memories, all to be treasured.
Travel well and often.