HAWAII: MY TOP TRAVEL TIPS

Thinking of going to Hawaii? I’ll tell you everything you need to know…

Hawaii on my mind? You bet. Having returned a week ago I can’t help but wish we’d spent longer there. If I’m completely honest, I wasn’t that big of a fan of going to the island state. I thought it would be completely touristy, and while it was (and parts of the place were pretty tired) it also had so many other features that made it a must-see destination – especially with a tot in tow. Here’s my list of everything you need to try while there…

RELAX…

You’re spoiled for choice of where to go to lie down for a spot of R&R. Your hotel pool will probably be your first point of contact (cocktails on tap, towels at the ready etc) But if you’re travelling with kids then these spots are a pretty good option too…

The Hilton Lagoon: This is a definitely a place worth going to. The man-made lagoon which is part of the Hilton hotel is open to everyone and has a range of  water activities to hire like water bikes and SUP boards.

Ala Moana Beach Park: Recommended by my local uber driver this place offers a stretch of white sand and calm waters but also shady trees and picnic tables making it a great choice with little ones. It’s also a pretty good spot to watch the sunset!

Just me, enjoying the Hilton Lagoon.

SEE…

The Waikiki strip really does have something for everyone, meaning you’ll never have to leave. However if you want to venture further afield then try these places.

Pearl Harbor: My only advice for this place is GO EARLY. We smugly got there at 9am thinking we’d be the head of the queue but found out it opened at 7.30am! The place was packed, and the ticket system to go across the water and see the Arizona memorial was already booked up until midday. Still, there were museums and old military equipment for kids to play on without even crossing the water. I practically had to drag Raff (and his dad) out of there.

The North Shore: Almost everyone I knew that had been to Hawaii recommended we hire a car and hit the north shore. So naturally, we did. Leaving it to the last minute the only car available was a convertible Mini Cooper. Have you ever tried to squeeze two adults, a baby, a buggy, and all his beach paraphernalia for a day trip into that thing? Let me tell you – it wasn’t easy. But so worth it. The trip took less than an hour and we’re so glad we made the effort. First stop was Haleiwa town, a rustic-looking little village which has some great places to eat and drink and is perfect for Waikiki-weary tourists to rest. We then went to Hanauma Bay. To truly experience its beauty you need to bring (or hire) a snorkel to get a glimpse of the exotic marine life lurking below the water. I mistakenly carted the whole family there to see the turtles, before realising I was at the wrong beach. So if it’s turtles you’re after head to Laniakea beach (also known as Turtle Beach – which really should have tipped me off!) Next stop was Waimea Bay, famous for its 30-foot waves in winter but in summer it’s a picture perfect location with calm waters. Their claim to fame is the huge cliff that tourists, including my daredevil husband, jump off!

 

EAT…

Bills: I left this one till our last day and wished I hadn’t! The restaurant, which is already a favourite for Sydney-siders, was possibly the best meal we had. And even though we were eating dinner at the totally uncool hour of 5pm, we just loved the plantation-esque atmosphere of the place. This is the type of eatery you can go for breakfast, lunch and dinner… and will still come back for more.

The Cheesecake Factory: Whatever you do, don’t snack before you go here because the portions are HUGE. We ordered three appetisers between us and couldn’t even finish them. Even more upsetting, we couldn’t fit in any of their famous cheesecake afterwards! By the time we left at 6pm the queue was already out the door and snaking down the road. So if you don’t get there early, be prepared to wait… 

Morimoto: I loved how Hawaii was brimming with Asian eateries and Morimoto is possibly the best of the bunch. Not just Japanese, the menu also includes other influences from Moritmoto’s travels throughout Asia so the extensive mouth-watering menu covers just about anything you’d fancy from sushi to dumplings to noodles. Make sure you try the  popcorn shrimp which was a real hit for Raff (and us!)

Tommy Bahama Rooftop bar:  A great place for an afternoon tipple with a lengthy and varied drinks menu. The floor is partially covered with sand which really helps to bring the beach atmosphere inside, or up top, as the case may be.

Lanikai Juice: If you’re in the mood for a quick and fuss-free acai bowl then Lanikai Juice is just the place. With one located in the Hilton  Hawaiian Village it’s easy to get to, and you can even relax poolside at one of the Hilton’s open-to-the-public pools.

 

SHOP…

These days, with online shopping, I never really see the obsession with shopping overseas and lugging it all back home. But of course, I still went to check all the possible spots out:

Waikiki Strip: The main strip of Waikiki has everything you could want – including makeup haven Sephora. You’ll even find those trinket-y holiday stores designed to trap tourists into purchasing a Hawaiian shirt or two!

Ala Moana Mall: I absolutely loved this open-air mall, but it’s so big I don’t think I even scratched the surface of what shops they hosted. From high end stores like Burberry and Chanel, to high street like Zara… it has everything  you could possibly need. Not to mention almost every well-known US department store like Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Nordrom, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Target.

Waikiki Premium Outlets: I’d heard so much about this place but sadly, I was a little disappointed. The outlets which is about a 20 minute uber ride from Waikiki does have some good points. I loved the discounted prices at Ralph Lauren where I stocked Raff up with his summer wardrobe, and the Saks 5th Avenue outlet had some brands I love like Theory. But unless you’re a fan of the other brands (namely Coach, Furla etc) then it might not be worth sacrificing your downtime in the sun to go there.

Nordrom Rack: My one tip for hitting this place, is to go without the kids. I had a cranky almost 2-year-old with me so was speeding through the racks (because you really have to search there to find what you’re looking for!). In the end I had to buy some time by letting him watch Peppa Pig on the ipad while we whizzed around. Still, there are lots of gems to be found here like DVF dresses, Celine sunglasses, and my fave, Equipment shirts.

Whole Foods: Okay, it’s not really counted as holiday shopping but I do love to peruse Whole Foods whenever I get the chance. It’s only few minutes walk from Nordrom Rack so you can stop there after your shopping spree and grab a bite to eat or stock up on snacks (their bakery section is positively mouth-watering) for your hotel room.

While Raff enjoyed the outdoor fish pond at Ala Moana mall… I had my sights on shopping.

STAY…

We had so many recommendations of places to stay in Waikiki (namely, The Modern and The Westin) however having travelled with a baby before we find getting an Airbnb the best solution. It not only gives you more bang for your buck in terms of space, but you can usually get a kitchen area which is pretty helpful with a little one. Lots of people rent out their condos which are in hotels in Waikiki, which is what we opted for and this gave us the best of both worlds. We had access to the hotel pools and facilities, as well as a living room and kitchen, at an affordable price tag.

Our airbnb/hotel pool situation, every day.
Sarah Murray

SARAH MURRAY IS A JOURNALIST AND A MUM WHO FOUNDED DAY DOT ON MATERNITY LEAVE WITH HER SON RAFFERTY. IT WAS DURING THIS TIME SHE REALISED THAT ALTHOUGH SHE WAS A MUM AND WAS SUDDENLY INTERESTED IN SLEEP SCHEDULES AND MUSLIN WRAPS, SHE ALSO STILL WANTED TO KEEP UP-TO-DATE WITH THE LATEST TRENDS. THUS, DAY DOT WAS BORN IN A BID TO INSPIRE AND CONNECT WITH OTHER MODERN MUMS AROUND THE WORLD THROUGH FASHION, BEAUTY, LIFESTYLE AND, OF COURSE, BABIES.

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