Aloha Hawaii: how to spend a week in Oahu and Maui
Hawaii might be home to many clichés, among them laidback surf culture, ostentatious flowered shirts and hula skirts, but the island state is home to many hidden treasures. Blessed with stunning natural beauty courtesy of majestic green mountains, volcanoes and pristine beaches, Hawaii's six inhabited islands (there are eight in total) have diverse offerings for surfers, shoppers and sunbathers alike. Read on to discover the highlights of Hawaii's two buzziest island spots: Waikiki and Maui.
The largest of the eight islands, Oahu bears the distinction of being the bustling centre of Hawaii. Naturally, everything it has to offer is equally larger-than-life, from mammoth shopping districts to all manner of food options.
Hilton Hawaiian Village, Waikiki
At almost 60 years old, this towering village resort is 22-acres of beachside bliss. With a sandy public beach, ocean views and even a man-made lake (where you can SUP or SUP yoga to your heart's content), the village is the ideal launching pad for exploring Honolulu's amazing ocean life.
Swimming, surfing, snorkelling, catamaran cruises and submarine dives beckon... or, you could just sit poolside under the palm trees and read a book. Thankfully, you won't get sick of the view.
2005 Kalia Road, Honolulu, hiltonhawaiianvillage.com
Camped out at base Hilton, it's easy to get lost among the village's 18 restaurants and lounges. However, while there are many great options at your doorstop, venturing out will reward you kindly. Here, we've summed up the best from Hilton and beyond. A hot tip: as with all American dishes, beware the gigantic portion sizes. You've been warned.
Bali Steak & Seafood
Directly facing the pretty palm trees of Waikiki Beach, Bali Steak & Seafood offers killer grilled steaks, seafood and locally sourced produce with a side of sea breeze. A fusion of cuisine from Hawaii, Bali and the Philippines - pick your protein (it's all yummy) and don't forget to sample the sides. The lobster potato gratin and crisp Brussels sprouts are worth every single calorie.
Rainbow Tower, Hilton Hawaiian Village, hiltonhawaiianvillage.com/dining/bali-steak-and-seafood
The Eating House 1849
A mainstay on the island, Roy Yamaguchi's restaurants (there are three in Hawaii) are inspired by the original Eating House, which opened in the mid-1800s. With interiors inspired by Hawaii's plantation past and a menu that nods to Yamaguchi's Tokyo roots, keep plenty of room for generous servings of spicy ramen, paella, and other surf 'n' turf crowd pleasers.
International Market Place, 2330 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, eatinghouse1849.com
The Pig and The Lady
A Chinatown classic that is routinely name-checked by the locals, The Pig and The Lady resides in downtown Honolulu. A clever fusion of local produce with Vietnamese staples, this family-run restaurant originated as a food stall at a local farmer's market. With riffs on classics like pho au vin (a French-Vietnamese version of the broth noodle soup) and uni ragu (black sesame tagliatelle, calabrian chili, lemon, shiso, furikake gremolata), it's no wonder this eatery is Honolulu's worst kept secret.
83 N. King St, Honolulu, thepigandthelady.com
A stay on Honolulu really warrants a day trip around Oahu. Whether you do it by car in one hit or do a stop and drop, it's worth enlisting the help of a local tour guide who can bombard you with facts about Hawaiian history, wildlife and customs. Places to hit up include Halona Beach Cove where the classic movie From Here to Eternity was filmed and Sunset Beach where the legendary Vans Triple Crown surf comp is held. Plus, keep your eyes peeled for sightings of Hawaiian monk seals and Hawaiian Green Sea turtles in their natural habitat. Want to eat like a local? Make sure you sample a plate lunch - served up by many food trucks and small cafes, it's a meal consisting of white rice, macaroni salad and protein like prawns or chicken.
For private tour guides, try bluehawaiiphototours.com
Love to shop? Serious bargain hunters should hit up Waikiki's outlet stores such as Nordstrom Rack and TJ Maxx in Waikiki or Waikele Premium outlets, which are further afield and serviced by a shuttle bus. Designer afficionados can choose from the many luxury stores dotted around Honolulu. Find Gucci, Chanel and Tiffany & Co. boutiques on Luxury Row or for serious retail don't go past International Marketplace. Offering more niche brands like Shinola, Stuart Weitzman, Christian Louboutin and Oliver Peoples, you'll also find local favourites like lolly store Sugarfina among US mainstays like Saks Fifth Avenue. But really, no matter where you are, Waikiki is a shopper's paradise.
Fancy a change of scenery? Hawaii's second largest island boasts the Haleakala volcano, waterfalls, deserted beaches and gobsmackingly large hotel complexes. But don't be fooled by the super-size-me resorts, it's generally a lot quieter than Oahu.
Grand Wailea, Maui
Consider this Waldorf Astoria resort the American version of luxury personified. With a grand foyer you can get lost in and lush tropical gardens at every (wrong) turn, Grand Wailea lives up to its namesake. Think: spacious rooms, an abundance of food, bars and water slides and... the world's only water elevator. And all this with a quiet beachfront view - any surprises why Mariah Carey chose one of its luxury villas to hide in post-Packer break-up?3850 Wailea Alanui Dr., Wailea, grandwailea.com
Grand Wailea plays host to seven eateries, but Humuhumunukunukuapua'a (we dare you to say it) is easily the most special experience. Named after Hawaii's state fish, the restaurant is made up of thatched roof huts which sit prettily over a lagoon. Dine on Polynesian and Hawaiian-style seafood delicacies from award-winning chef Michael Lofaro.
Get some R&R at Grand Wailea's incredible Spa Grande which features a Roman tub, sauna, steam room, cascading waterfalls, Swiss jet showers, a Japanese furo and five aromotherapy baths - phew! Or book yourself s massage - there are over 40 treatment rooms so there's no shortage of expert hands.
When you're done exploring the (big) kids pools, head to the beach for a Hawaiian outrigger experience. Hosted by local Kevin Hoke, the short canoe tour offers a dose of Hawaiian history and a chance to spot some turtles swimming in the ocean.
Buro 24/7 Australia travelled to Hawaii as a guest of Hilton Hotels & Resorts.
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