Travelers, Repeat After Me: Waikiki Is Not Hawaii!
"Victoria, we hated Hawaii! I don't know why you think it's so wonderful!"
"Ok, so where did you go?"
"Oh, we spent a few days in Waikiki. It was so commercial and souless!"
ARRGH! I could scream whenever I hear this observation, more often than not delivered in the form of an all-knowing "Been there, Done that" gospel! This week alone, I heard similar comments to this one a total of three times. I found myself dispelling this belief by sending a ton of information on one of my favorite parts of the world, Hawaii.
Don't get me wrong, Waikiki has its attractions, mainly restaurants and shopping. The Ala- Moana shopping center never fails to make me hyperventilate with excitement. And as for the Waikele Premium Outlets, this is truly a shopper's paradise. Waikiki is also home to one of my favorite restaurants, Nobu. But an undiscovered oasis Waikiki is not. If you want a bit of tranquility and natural beauty, then one must head over to Oahu's North Shore. A tad hard to do when you've only allocated a 3-night stay.
Our favorite island happens to be Maui. Starting off at Ka'anapali Beach at the Sheraton Maui, I immerse myself in its crystal clear waters and dig my tired feet into its fine white sand. The balmy evenings are spent drinking cocktails as we watch the Cliff Diving Ceremony before we head out to dinner. As for restaurants, we are spoilt for choice: Lahaina Grill, Star Noodle, Sansei, Mala ... the list goes on. After leaving Ka'anapali, we drive 45 minutes away to a quaint little plantation town called Paia. Staying at a charming cottage in the grounds of Mama's Fishhouse, we dine on the freshest seafood at their award-winning restaurant on our first night and scour its lovely shops the following day, shooting the breeze with assorted locals and hippies. Exploring the organic farms in the hinterland and the "pianolo" town of Makawao the following days, a visit to Paia is not complete without a trek to Twin Falls. But the jewel in Maui's crown is Hana, Hawaii's Shangri-La. Braving a narrow road that is cut into the mountains and experiencing some harrowing hairpin turns, this natural wondeland that awaits us for 6 nights defies description.
As for the island of Kuai, the soaring cliffs of the Napali Coast and the vast chasms of Waimea Canyon make it a nature lover's paradise. With 50 miles of heavenly beaches, you'll have trouble finding any buildings taller than a coconut tree. As for the "Big Island," home of the world's most active volcano, it offers everything from lush rain forests to volcanic deserts, snow-capped mountaintops to beautiful black sand beaches. Commercial, you say? Souless?
My partner and I have been traveling to Hawaii every year for the past 7 years. I think by now it's safe to say that we absolutely LOVE it. And travelers, please, repeat after me ..... Waikiki IS NOT Hawaii! Do me a favor. Before you take anyone else's word about Hawaii, please speak to me first. I'll set you straight. And as it's only a 10 hour flight from us here in Australia, it's an easy jaunt.