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Travel Obsessions: Hawaii

Published May 14th, 2014

Aloha Hawaii. Birthplace of the US Prez. Stomping ground of legendary surfers, hip-swivelling dashboard hula girls and SUP (stand-up paddle) celebs. The King (Elvis) even made 3 movies here (Blue Hawaii, Girls! Girls! Girls! and Paradise, Hawaiian Style). But that’s not the last of the royal connections. Duke Kahanamoku is the US Olympic swimmer credited with popularising surfing including introducing the sport to Australia in 1914. Then there’s the Hawaiian monarchy with the US’s only royal castle: ‘Iolani Palace.

 

 

Cliches and crowns aside, what the Hawaiian Islands (yep, there’s 6 major islands including one called Hawaii, or just Big Island to avoid confusing the tourists)  is best known for is its stunning natural beauty. Clear warm waters, a rainbow cone of sand colours, volcanic fire displays and lush jungle will set your clock to island time. Not the mention the famous ‘aloha’ spirit – that all-encompassing welcoming friendliness from native islanders and a mix of Asian and European immigrants.

 

Tikis at Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, Big Island

 

Can we pause for a minute to talk about the snacks? Hawaii is the shiz when it comes to food-on-the-go with all those cultural influences making for one big melting pot of deliciousness. I’m talking spam musubi, crack seeds and shave ice for starters. Where else would take that popular World War II ration staple and create a sushi hybrid? Or have crack seed shops dedicated to Chinese preserved seed fruits doused liberally with the sour pucker power of li hing mui powder?

 

 

And then there’s shave ice. Never shaved ice (rookie mistake), shave ice is best sampled on Oahu’s North Shore with fine, soft-as snow ice cones topped with your choice of syrups – li hing mui (again), lilikoi (yellow passionfruit), melona (a South Korean melon-flavoured iceblock) or your basic rainbow: lemon, strawberry and pineapple! Pimp yours with red azuki beans and ice-cream – yum!

 

Maui has some of the world's most beautiful beaches.

 

Travel snapshot:

Best time to visit: Perched in the South Pacific, there’s never really a bad time to go to Hawaii with consistently warm land and water temps all year round. If you’re keen to shred some waves though, head to the north shore beaches of the islands for the legendary big waves during the winter (hooilo) from November to April – also the wettest time of the year with localised rainfall so a sunny spot is just around the corner. Summer or kau hits from May to October with a busy tourist period over the US summer hols.

 

Know: Bodhi didn’t need to go to Bells Beach in Point Break, Oahu’s North Shore is where the perfect wave is at. Before the inevitable movie remake, head to Waimea Bay, Banzai Pipeline and Sunset Beach for big waves up to 9 metres or more. Surfing newbie?  Catch your first wave and learn to stand with a beginner lesson in the gentle rolling breaks on Waikiki. Altogether now: “Caught my first tube today...Sir.”.

 

 

Places to go:

Oahu – Chances are, if you’re on a holiday in Hawaii you’ll touch down at Honolulu International Airport. The capital is one the most populous island of Oahu where you’ll also find the tourist mecca of Waikiki Beach, Pearl Harbor Memorial and the North Shore – home to Hawaii’s hipster set plus Jack Johnson, Kelly Slater and heaps of other surfing or singing icons. Hot tip: You don’t get the traditional fresh flower lei when you land at the airport (say what?) unless you pre-ordered it, but go to the lei stands at the Interisland Terminal and buy your strand there instead.

Maui – With beaches considered the Best in the World™, Maui is the supermodel of the shore set.  Select your sand (red, white or black), choose your activity (sunbaking, SUP paddling, surfing, snorkelling), and make your way around 50 kilometres of beautiful beaches.

Hawaii (Big Island) – Lava lovers won’t want to miss getting up close and personal with one of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kilauea. Take a tour of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park south of Hilo and let the natural fireworks begin!

Kauai – It’s all about adventure on Hawaii’s fourth biggest isle. See the dramatic scenery of soaring cliffs, spiked mountains, cascading waterfalls and lush tropical valleys by zipline, kayak and snorkel underwater.

 

 

Ready to go? Check out our sweet Hawaii stay and play deals with heaps of added extras like club entry, free drinks and cheap-as tours and activities.

 

Cassandra Laffey

Consumed with unrequited wanderlust, I get my fix in 24/7 cities and hippie retreats. I'm still looking for the ultimate combo of secluded beach and major metropolis, and my happy place is a 5-star hotel room all to myself - sigh.