FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Hawaii: Islands Of Adventure

Sep 1, 2004
2004 / September 2004

If there’s one thing on which visitors to hawaii (malihini) and locals (kama’aina) agree, it’s this: Hawaii no ka oi: Hawaii is the best. Her physical charms are hard to resist: miles of warm, sandy beaches and coconut groves where the scent of plumeria and the sound of slack-key guitar linger in the air. Her sense of welcome — the “aloha spirit” — is legendary: In her streets, on her beaches and even in the governor’s mansion, Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, descendents of New England missionaries and descendents of Pele (the Hawaiian goddess of fire) work, play and live as one people. Most captivating of all, perhaps, is her mana: the ancient power that dwells in her hills, volcanoes and secret streams. Though more than 4 million tourists visit her shores every year, the ground beneath their feet is still sacred — and still alive.

This land has captivated visitors since roughly the year 400, when the first Polynesians arrived by outrigger canoe from Tahiti or the Marquesas. The eight islands of the Hawaiian chain remained separate kingdoms until 1795, when Kamehameha the Great landed his fleet of war canoes on Waikiki Beach. Believing it was his destiny to unify the islands, Kamehameha drove his enemies up the Nu’uanu Valley and over the 985-foot cliffs of the Pali. He made Honolulu the capital of his new kingdom, and his statue continues to watch over Hawaii from its place overlooking ’Iolani Palace.

Proving himself an even more enlightened monarch than his father, Kamehameha ii named his wife Kamamalu as co-ruler and abolished a centuries-old taboo by sitting down to eat with women. The resulting feast became Hawaii’s first luau. Bigger changes lay ahead, however: The first New England whaling ships and missionaries arrived during his reign. By 1846, 596 whalers were arriving annually in Lahina and Honolulu; by 1893, 90 percent of Hawaiian land, including coffee, sugar and pineapple plantations, was under foreign control. A demand for plantation labor brought large communities of Chinese, Japanese and Filipino workers to Hawaii’s cities.

Later that year, foreign landowners, chiefly Americans, forced Queen Liliuokalani to abdicate her throne — an action the u.s. Senate would admit was illegal in 1993. By 1898, however, Hawaii had become a territory of the United States. It later became the headquarters for the u.s. Pacific Fleet. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, took more than 2,500 lives, plunged the United States into World War ii, and placed Hawaii under martial law for 11 months.

Hawaii has undergone a radical transformation since becoming the 50th u.s. state in 1959. Waikiki has changed from a marsh filled with duck ponds and taro patches to one of the world’s best-known resort beaches. The long bathhouses and thatched huts that once lined its shores have been replaced by skyscraper hotels and multimillion-dollar shopping complexes. The art of surfing — once the province of royalty — was revived by Hawaiian legend Duke Kahanamoku and has become a way of life for the beach boys and surfer girls of Waikiki. Although tourism has become Hawaii’s major industry, Hawaiians have begun taking steps to preserve their land and culture from encroachment, seeking to fulfill the words of Kamehameha ii: Ua mau ke ea o ka aina I ka pono (“The life of the land is preserved in righteousness”).


Lodging

Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa
Featuring 90 shops, six towers and 2,545 guestrooms, a palm-circled lagoon and even a colony of African blackfoot penguins, this 22-acre resort at the very heart of Waikiki is almost a city within a city. Despite its size, however, the Hawaiian Village somehow manages to offer island hospitality. Close your eyes on the 31st floor of the Rainbow Tower, listen to the surf pounding through the glass doors of your lanai, and you’ll swear you’re sleeping on the beach. The towers share a 24-hour business center offering copying, printing, email and shippi ng services. There’s even a U.S. post office on site. Room rates range from $195 for a Tapa Tower room to $3,400 for an Ali’i tower suite.
Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa
2005 Kalia Road, Honolulu, HI 96815
tel 808 949 4321
www.hiltonhawaiianvillage.com

Kahala Mandarin Oriental
While other hotels serve a destination, the Kahala Mandarin is a destination. Guests at other hotels often take afternoon tea at the Kahala’s Veranda lounge to catch a glimpse of the dolphins playing in the hotel’s lagoon — or the celebrities lounging poolside. Those who are actually staying in one of the hotel’s 331 rooms can lie on the Kahala’s private sands while beach butlers pamper them with cool towels; then they can retire to a guest suite to enjoy handmade chocolate-dipped macadamia nuts and goose-down duvets. Guests can borrow bicycles for a ride around the Waialae Country Club or sign up for a class in Hawaiian cultural traditions. The Kahala also offers a fully equipped business center and two ballrooms, but it’s the hotel’s reputation for unsurpassed elegance that guests seem to appreciate most. Rates vary greatly by season; from $250 for a courtyard-view room to $1,300 for an ocean-view suite.
Kahala Mandarin Oriental
5000 Kahala Ave., Honolulu, HI 96816
tel 808 739 8888
www.mandarinoriental.com

Outrigger Reef Hotel
This property may be the best deal on the beach. In addition to spectacular views of the shore and convenient access to both Waikiki and the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, the 858-room hotel offers guests preferred dining privileges at any of the restaurants operated by Outrigger or Ohana hotels, and its own Ocean House and Shore Bird restaurants combine a romantic atmosphere with casual ambience. A 24-hour business center provides a personal computer, printer and fax; data ports for laptops are also available in each room. Rates range from $125 to $550.
Outrigger Reef
2169 Kalia Road, Honolulu, HI 96815-1989
tel 808 923 3111, fax 808 924 4957
www.outrigger.com

Sheraton Moana Surfrider
If walls could talk, the Sheraton Moana Surfrider would be the best storyteller in the islands (excluding Robert Louis Stevenson, of course, who used to write poetry beneath the hotel’s storied banyan tree). The 793-room Moana may be Hawaii’s oldest and most respected hotel, but there’s something about it that makes you feel right at home — like the grand old aunt you’re always happy to see at a family reunion. It’s the little touches, like fresh flower leis upon arrival, traditional Hawaiian quilts in each room, and hula as it was meant to be danced — as an art, not a tourist spectacle — in the Banyan Courtyard that distinguishes the Moana’s class from mere elegance. Rooms range from the 788-square-foot Tower Suites to the 1,822-square-foot Diamond Head Suite, which has 21⁄2 bathrooms and two lanais. The hotel offers five meeting and banquet areas, including the 3,240-square-foot Grand Salon. A fitness center, tennis, yacht racing, scuba diving, children’s ukulele lessons and high tea are just a few of the available amenities; for those who are so inclined, the Moana also makes the best mai tai in the islands. Rates range from $265 for a room to $1,700 for a suite.
Sheraton Moana Surfrider
2365 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu, HI 96815
tel 808 922 3111, fax 808 923 0308
www.moana-surfrider.com


Dining

In the days of King Kamehameha II, the main course at a luau was usually chicken baked in coconut milk and combined with tender taro leaves and bowls of poi (mashed taro root). Today, it’s kalua pig, wrapped in banana leaves and roasted in an underground imu lined with lava rocks.

Paradise Cove Luau
Many hotels and the Polynesian Cultural Center offer luau packages. The best-known luau in Oahu is the one hosted nightly by Paradise Cove. The evening begins at sunset with mai tais and an exhibition of traditional arts and skills, including palm tree climbing and the hukilau, or drawing-in of fish nets. Dinner includes lomi-lomi salmon, island fish with macadamia nut crème sauce, banana coconut cake, fresh pineapple, fried chicken, poi, kalua and macaroni salad. After dinner, while you’re wondering if you’ll ever be able to move again, you can wat ch the supple gyrations and acrobatic skills of the performers in Paradise Cove’s revue. The basic “Hawaiian Luau” package is $60 for adults and includes round-trip transportation from Waikiki, a shell lei upon arrival, the “shower of flowers,” buffet dinner and admission to the evening show. An $80 “Royal Ali’i” package gets you a flower lei, table service and unlimited mai tais; the $100 deluxe package adds souvenir photos, a mug and VIP seating.
Paradise Cove Luau
2024 N. King St., Suite 209
Honolulu, HI 96819
tel 808 842 5911
www.paradisecovehawaii.com

Duke’s Canoe Club Waikiki
Duke Kahanamoku (1890-1968) was more than just an Olympic champion, movie star and the father of modern surfing. He also represents everything for which Hawaii stands. Today, Duke’s Canoe Club Waikiki, located in front of the Outrigger Waikiki, is a must-see for visitors and locals alike. The extensive collection of Duke’s memorabilia — a koa wood canoe, surfboards, posters and even a salt-water aquarium — make Duke’s a kind of museum (or shrine) of surfing. All dinners include a trip to the “All You Care to Eat” salad bar; if you still have room after that, try the fresh mahi-mahi baked “Duke’s style” with garlic, lemon and a sweet basil glaze for $19.95 to $24.95, depending on the market. For the perfect finish, try a thick slice of hula pie — macadamia nut ice cream crowning a chocolate cookie crust, topped with chocolate fudge, whipped cream and more macadamia nuts — for $5.95.
Duke’s Canoe Club Waikiki
2335 Kalakaua Ave., Suite 116
Honolulu, HI 96815
tel 808 922 2268, fax 808 923 4204
www.tsrestaurants.com

The Ocean House Restaurant
When the moon is melting on the water and romance is on your mind, bring your significant other for an evening at The Ocean House Restaurant. Located on Waikiki Beach in front of the Outrigger Reef, the Ocean House has an understated charm that is elegant, but not formal: Despite $750,000 in recent renovations, the feeling you get upon entering the Ocean House is one of coming home. The Pulehu prime rib, grilled with garlic and fresh herbs, is a specialty of Chef Keith Salvador at $24, and you can’t go wrong with the crab-stuffed mahi-mahi, topped with béarnaise sauce and served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes, $25.
The Ocean House Restaurant
2169 Kalia Road, Honolulu, HI 96815
tel 808 923 2277

La Mer
If the Ocean House is a great place to bring a first date, then La Mer is where to go when it’s time to propose. The most elegant of restaurants at one of Hawaii’s most opulent hotels — the Halekulani — La Mer answers the question: Is it possible to find the very best French cuisine within the sight and sound of Pacific waves with food that comes as close to matching the beauty of its surroundings as anything could? La Mer is justifiably known for its bouillabaisse, which combines local ingredients such as nohu (scorpionfish), opakapaka (pink snapper) and Kona lobster, served in a French pastry for $40. Chef de Cuisine Yves Garnier’s lobster “galette” of basmati rice and roasted opakapaka sausage, $43, also comes highly recommended.
La Mer
2199 Kalia Road, Honolulu, HI 96815
tel 808 923 2311, fax 808 926 8004
www.halekulani.com/dining/lamer/lamer.asp

Cheeseburger in Paradise, Waikiki
It might sound impossible, but Cheeseburger in Paradise attempts to be even more casual than Waikiki Beach itself. There’s always a crowd waving to the Web cam, and those who come know what they want: a half pound of Angus beef with a blend of Jack and cheddar cheese for $8.50, although Gardenburgers, Bird of Paradise chicken sandwiches and even coconut shrimp are available. The restaurant hosts live rock performances every evening.
Cheeseburger in Paradise, Waikiki
2500 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu, HI 96815
tel 808 923 3731, fax 808 923 1070
www.cheeseburgerwaikiki.com


Shopping

If you’d like to shop for jewelry, colorful clothes and all things Hawaiian, check out the International Marketplace (2330 Kalakaua Ave., tel 808 971 2080, www.internationalmarketplacewaikiki.com). On the other hand, if you really need a Neiman Marcus, DKNY or Macy’s, you’ll find it at the Ala Moana Center (1450 Ala Moana Blvd., tel 808 955 9517, www.ala moana.com).


Day Trips

If you see nothing else during your trip to Hawaii, visit ’Iolani Palace (tel 808 522 0832, www.iolanipalace.org) in downtown Honolulu. The home of the Hawaiian monarchy from 1882 until the 1893 coup d’etat, the palace also served as Hawaii’s statehouse until 1968. You’ll see the Haw aiian crown jewels and the beautiful statue of King Kamehameha; you’ll also see the chamber where Hawaii’s last queen, Liliuokalani, was confined during her house arrest. The room later became the office for Jack Lord’s character on the vintage television police drama “Hawaii Five-O.” Reservations are strongly recommended.

Should you find the palace whets your appetite for Hawaiian history, try walking the Waikiki Historic Trail. You can do it yourself by downloading a map and guide from www.waikikihistoric trail.com/trail.pdf, or you can call the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association (tel 808 737 6442) to set up a tour. You’ll learn where Hawaii’s last human sacrifice took place, visit the site of the former Temple of Surfing and marvel at the mystery of the 8-ton Healing Stones of Kapaemahu.

It’s a shame that the Polynesian Cultural Center (tel 808 293 3333, www.polynesia.com) doesn’t open until noon, because it would take at least an entire day to fully explore the center’s 10 “islands,” each representing a different South Pacific civilization. Admission packages, from General ($49) to Super Ambassador ($197), include tickets to the islands, daily activities, the “Rainbows of Paradise” canoe pageant, dinner and an evening revue. Some also include transportation; the PCC is about an hour from Waikiki.

For Americans, World War II began with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, commemorated by the moving memorial to the sunken battleship USS Arizona (tel 808 422 0561, www.nps.gov/usar). It ended with the signing of the Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri, now moored nearby (tel 808 423 2263, www.ussmissouri.com/Visit.aspx). Many of those who gave their lives in that war now rest in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (tel 808 532 3720, www.cem.va.gov/ nchp/nmcp.htm), located in central Honolulu in an enormous volcanic crater called “the Punchbowl.”


Nightlife

He’s played the Sands in Las Vegas and appeared on Johnny Carson and even TV’s “Batman,” but Don Ho belongs to Hawaii — specifically, to the Waikiki Beach-comber Hotel (2300 Kalakaua Ave., tel my don ho), where the “Tiny Bubbles” singer “talks story” with his audience every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday from 8 to 10 p.m. Tickets start at $24. For a slightly more up-tempo version of the traditional Hawaiian sound (as well as comedy and Broadway hits), check out the Society of Seven, appearing nightly at 6:30 and 8:30 in the main showroom of the Outrigger Waikiki (tel 808 922 6408). Tickets, which each include one cocktail, start at $81.60.

Hawaii also boasts some of the world’s finest golf courses. Two of them, the Arnold Palmer and the George Fazio, are at the North Shore’s Turtle Bay Resort. The Turtle Bay Championship, Jan. 24–30, will be the PGA Tour’s first full-field event of its Champions Tour season (808 293 6000, www.TurtleBayResort.com).


Info to Go

Honolulu International Airport (HNL) on Oahu is the point of arrival for most domestic and international flights as well as the hub for flights to the other islands (www.state.hi.us/dot/airports/oahu/hnl/). American, Air Canada, Continental, Delta, Hawaiian, United and US Airways all offer nonstop service from the U.S. Midwest and West and from Canada. Hawaiian Air and Aloha Airlines provide service to Maui, Kauai and the other Hawaiian islands.

Airport Waikiki Express offers one-way transportation from the airport to any hotel in Waikiki for $8 per adult (extra charges for
golf bags, surfboards and bicycles may apply). If you’d rather take a cab, AMPCO Express manages all taxi service at the airport. The
fare from the airport to Waikiki during non-rush-hour periods
can cost $25 to $28; it’s more during rush. Limousines and 10 car rental companies also serve the airport.

“The Bus” (tel 808 848 5555, www.thebus.org), Honolulu’s public transportation service, arrives every 30 minutes. Routes No. 19 and No. 20 both travel between the airport and Waikiki, as well as to downtown Honolulu and the Ala Moana Center. The No. 19 also travels to Hickam Air Force Base, while No. 20 will take you to Aloha Stadium and the Arizona Memorial. One-way adult fare is $2.

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FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

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