FAB Travel Tips - Hawaii

My partner grew up in Hawaii. We met there and go up at least once a year. So more local than tourist perspective.

A few things to avoid.

Hilo Hatties

Dole Pineapple


Hawaiian Cultural Centre

Swim with captive dolphins

Havana Bay

Worth a look

Pearl Harbour

The Royal Palace

Moana beach bar

If you’re a history buff the Royal Palace is a must, and for a more in-depth dive if you have time, the Bishop Museum.

1000-1500 years before the voyages of discovery of Magellan and Cook the Polynesians who had derived originally from Taipei not just traversed the wide expanses of the Pacific but they had also colonised as they went. But even more remarkably they journeyed back and forth over centuries navigating by the stars and the currents.

To this day many of the words used in New Zealand are the same as those in the Cook Islands, Tahiti, Somoa and Hawaii.

The missionaries came in Cook’s wake and the story of what happened to the native population is beyond appalling. The local indigenous people had an entrenched and fully functioning royalty going back centuries. Short of the long in the late 1800’s a US war ship turned up on the harbour and pointed their guns of war at the Royal Palace and forced the Queen to abdicate, hand over her kingdom, lands and her people. And many decades later Hawaii eventually became a state of the union. But the audacity of what was a completely unprovoked attack on peaceful foreign nation to invade and dispossess an entire people of their land and their queen to this day is a travesty of international law and justice.

What was equally appalling was the way the missionaries moved in and decimated what tenuous cultural heritage threads that remained. Perhaps the most beautiful language the world has known, hula, for that is what is, a tradition of story telling was banished completely. Temples and totems that had stood for over a thousand years were pushed into the ocean. And the grass skirts and the real deal coconut bikinis were replaced with the ankle length mumus.

The five main missionary families scooped up all the spoils. Meaning the vast majority of the land. To this day those descendants are the richest residents in Hawaii while most of the true descendants of the traditional inhabitants live well below the poverty line often in canvas and cardboard slums by the beach.

Lanikai - means heavenly sea.

This is a hard to find exclusive neighbour hood on the northeastern shore.

Most famous for Lanikai Beach and the Mokulua Islands. Two of the most photogenic tiny isles laying only about a 45 minute paddle off the beach.

Lanikai Beach is continually voted in the top ten beaches in the USA. Although much of it has been eroded away by encroaching seas levels.

It’s worth a drive just to see some of the homes - some that rent for up to $10,000 per night.

One of those is the Mitchell Estate which is where Obama stayed last Christmas. Rumours have suggest he may have actually purchased it. On the far point is the white house with terrocotta tiles once owned by Shirley Temple. Michelle Phiffer lives in the loop. And even Elvis stayed here when he filmed Blue Hawaii.

High above but just behind Lanikai is a ridge line of steep hills topped by three old WWII gun battlements. It was here that the Japanese first flew over land on their way to bomb the hell out of Pearl Harbour.

If you’re up for a bit of moderate exercise I’d really urge you to take the time to climb up to the pill boxes. It’s steep but an easy enough climb. The views from the top are some of the very best in Hawaii. In fact anywhere. And it’s perhaps my favourite thing to do. The view is beyond words. Parking is difficult but not impossible along Kaelepulu Drive


If you have a full day and are up for some more strenuous activity hire a two man canoe and paddle out to the Mokus. Is very common to stumble across Sea Turtles on your paddle out or in.

Hire is from Kailua and you walk the canoes down to the beach.


Lanikai is also home to perhaps the most authentic and atmospheric local fish restaurant Buzz’s. It’s a grass roofed hut lit by blowfish with globes in them. They have the best local fish on the island.

I always like to try and reserve one of the President’s tables. Both Clinton and Obama have eaten there on several occasions and brass plates denote the visits. As do numerous photos lining the walls.


Lanikai is off the main tourist routes and as such Buzz’s and the beach across the road, Kailua are pretty much exclusively frequented by locals. Kailua is famous for being the home town of Obama. Google him and Kailua and you’d find loads of photos on the beach and local golf courses.

To get to Lanikai you can do a circle route driving past Diamond Head heading towards Sea World and just keep going.

Returning to Waikiki you can either return up and over the Pali Pali mountains. You must stop at the Pali Pail look out as the view is devine. To the left of the peninsula in central view (which is Hickman Marine and Airforce base) there is a small island a few hundred metres off the coast. It might look slightly familiar as it was used as the location shots for Gilligan’s Island.

If you don’t take the Pali Pali you can take the great circle route home way via the famous surf beaches further north. You can then drive back down through the centre of the island.

If you love vintage hawaiian stuff there are two great options.

La Mariana Tiki Bar the oldest and last remaining one in the world. It’s out of the way - not that far from Waikiki but hidden away down the docks in a rough old industrial estate. Not sure about the meals but it’s worth the effort for a drink as it really is like being on the set of Gillian’s Island. La Mariana Sailing Club Promo

Speaking of which the opening sequence was shot at the marina between ala Moana and the Ilikai.


The Bailey's has the world's largest selection of hawaiian shirts and Hawaiiana antiques and collectibles. It’s on the road that runs along past the zoo towards the canal. It’s a decent but easy walk.


Catermeran’s on the beach. The best and cheapest option to see Waikiki from the water. There are three. A yellow and red. A white and blue and a multicoloured one. Most sails for an hour or two are about $25. Sunset ones are slightly more but include booze. They serve an appallingly sweet mai Thai drink. The first one is almost impossible to finish. But after that they get better. Alternatively as for gin or vodka. They don’t advertise it. But some of them hide it down below.

Moana Surf Rider Hotel. The most beautiful hotel in Waikiki.

Just walk in bold as brass and take a seat down by the beach under the banyon tree and enjoy in the best view of diamond Head while enjoying free entertainment. All you need to do is buy one drink. Even a soft one will do. And you sit for hours. The same MO works at all the flash hotels.

Back at the Moana take time to sit in the rocking chairs and watch the world go by. Depending on the time of year you may be lucky to see some very flash women mulling around across the street. They look flash because they can afford to be. They are some of the highest paid hookers in the USA. They do a circuit apparently from Vegas to Hawaii. Most people are too busy to notice.

Dukes on the beach is a nice local style food and atmosphere.

Mexican - there is a fab little Mexican Place one block back from the beach just behind the church.

There is a supermarket mid-Waikiki on Kuhio Ave. When you start longing for simple fresh food there is a little concession that does amazing and cheap beef salads with blue cheese dressing just outside the check outs.

The last old world diner is down near the Ilikai. Great for a traditional full in breakfast of hickery bacon, eggs over easy, pancake stacks with maple sirrup and bottomless coffee.

Ross dress for less is the cheapest place to buy authentic Hawaiian shirts that can retail for $150 elsewhere. Ross will have hundreds priced from $15. As with Calvin Cline underwater and polo tops. ABC stores are two to a corner. But a few of their Hawaiian shirts are pretty good too.

Waikailia outler centres

Tiki bar and grill first floor across the road from the beach. Beat the zoo end.

Swim with the wild dolphins is amazing.



James Hardy


+61 - 0430200535