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Honolulu revisited

Carla Nelson of Maritime Travel looks at some of the changes Hawaii has undergone in the past 10 years
Aerial view of Waikiki

Aloha!  I recently made a quick trip to Hawaii.  I had not been there for almost 10 years and thought I should update my knowledge of the hotels and the area.   Flying from Cranbrook on Air Canada is simple and quick.  Good connecting times in Vancouver and then it's six hours and you're on the beach.  The only downside is you now have to pay for baggage, food, drinks and headsets.

Waikiki has been redesigned over the past few years.  The Beachwalk is a high-end area encompassing designer shops, restaurants and bars.  It is lovely at night with the palm trees on the boulevards all lit up.  At the foot of the Beachwalk and right on the beach, is Halekulani, a boutique hotel with the best open beach bar to enjoy a maitai and watch the spectacular sunset, complete with ukeleles and hula dancers. The International Market Place is gone!  A walled construction site where it once was has a sign that it will reopen in 2016.  It's going to be high-end also, with Saks 5th Avenue as the anchor tenant.  Takes away some of the authenticity in my mind.

There are many hotels to choose from, but few condominiums in the Waikiki area.  The Aston Waikiki Sunset is three blocks from the beach, older but functional, with a full kitchen, living area, bedrooms and lanai.  It is very reasonably priced.  It is a nice option to be able to prepare at least some of your meals in your condo and keep costs down.

ABC Stores are on every street corner and offer all sorts of food, liquor, beach amenities and souvenirs.

You will want to experience some of the amazing restaurants in the area though.  Two that I recommend are: Uncle Bo's, about a kilometre from the beach and where the locals hang out.  Looks like a tacky diner from the outside, but is urban funky inside.  'SOS' is their signature dish – a seafood dish that is 'soup or stew', whatever – it's delicious!  With the high density of Japanese tourists in the area, you know the sushi restaurants are going to be good.  Sensei is in the Waikiki Beach Marriott.  The spider roll with the soft shell crab was good, but the highlight was the sake-miso butterfish!

Getting off the beaten tourist track on Oahu is easy if you search out some companies that offer active tours – surfing, standup paddle boarding, hiking (lots of hikes – Diamond Head, Manoa Valley, are very close by), mountain biking, ocean kayaking and outrigger canoeing.  But you still don't want to miss some of the tourist attractions, like Pearl Harbour, Polynesian Cultural Centre, or the Paradise Cove Luau.

To get some aloha of your own, contact

Carla Nelson, Branch Manager,

Maritime Travel