In his final Top Five, this time on Hawaii, TBS Editor PB may be back in Sydney (and happy to be here…mostly…), but he left his heart in “The Aloha State”.
My global roaming has sadly come to an end (at least until the next time), but there is nothing sad about it ending in Hawaii.
I have a confession – I am a bit of an addict when it comes to Hawaii and Waikiki in particular. Like coffee, (which they produce a lot of in Hawaii – this is no coincidence), this idyllic paradise in the middle of the Pacific gives me a boost like nowhere else #betterthansex #seriously #imnotjoking
You could actually write a top 78 things to love about it, but I’ll focus on this last seven days I spent there, and some specific things about this recent visit…
No 1. Trade Winds
Let me point out that the weather more generally in Hawaii is damn fine, sitting somewhere between about 22 and 28, without much variation, although it does get a little cooler in winter and warmer in summer. That, in and of itself is clearly outstanding, but add to this a little local delight called the Trade Winds. Most days, these blow gently across the islands, keeping the humidity down and sometimes bringing with them a little light rain in the afternoon. I’ve never actually felt overheated in all my visits to Hawaii because of this beautiful breeze and thus for those who love a warm clime, but don’t like to sweat it up, Hawaii is perfect
No 2. Sixties/Seventies Vintage meets Millennium Mod
Hawaii has hung onto much of its look from 50 years ago, which may not sound like much of a selling point, except it makes the place incredibly kitsch in the coolest of ways. Many of the hotels and buildings have worked this into their modernisations over the years to preserve the “step back in time” feel about the place. Adds a tonne of charm to a place that already charms the boardies or bikini off you!
No 3. Murukame Udon
So a few times I walked past this pretty low-key Japanese-looking eatery where the queues stretched to anywhere from 30 to 100 people. Usually I avoid places like that because, let’s face it, nowhere can be that good, right?
Murukame specializes in Udon (Japanese broth) and the concept is fairly simple – you pick your Udon (there are seven types), it’s served to you, you then grab some delicious deep-fried extra bits like tori-karaage or shrimp tempura or vegetable balls etc and you consume it. Oh, did I mention that they make the Udon noodles from scratch right in front of you? And that a fairly big meal costs about $US10? And that it is #effingdelish? I went there twice on this trip – next time, it will be probably that plus a few more. Queue, what queue?
No 4. Volcanoes
Hawaii has them. In abundance. We’re not talking dead, haven’t heard a peep from them in a few millennia kinda fizzers – at the time of writing a lava flow was inexorably making its way across the Big Island’s landscape and had even taken out a few houses. If you, like most, spend a chunk of time in Waikiki, the walk to Diamondhead is a must. It’s a good half-day affair (unless you cheat and catch a trolley, bus or taxi up to the National Park itself – but honestly it’s a fairly low-key, easy walk to get there and after all those super-sized American meals you will be constantly served, it will do you good), and it’s uber-touristy, but you simply have to do it. Hint – wear trainers or walking shoes because it is a dusty, rocky and at times tricky path to the top of Diamondhead, and if you’re adverse to rather steep staircases, when you get to the end of the tunnel (not the first one to get into the Diamondhead crater, the second, 2/3 of the way up the summit), take a left instead of a right. For the vertiginous or those struggling from the exertions of the climb up to that point, the left path offers a slightly easier final assault up the lookout
No 5. USA meets Islander chill
One of the great things about Hawaii is the way it brings the best things about the mainland nation (now, now, be nice, there are many things to love about the US and I’m not just talking pepperoni pizza, The West Wing and The Onion) to a little chain of islands in the middle of nowhere. So if you want to go shopping at a huge mall and snap up some bargains, you have Ala Moana Mall or Waikele or the Kalakaua Strip …if you want to settle into a quieter island existence, you can scoot over to the north shore or take in inter-island flight to Maui or Kuai or the Big Island or Molokai (check this). Or you can do both. And hopefully will.
Feeding its way into nearly all of the above is the chilled out energy of Hawaii. I feel it every time I hit the place and it still always takes me by surprise at how it permeates your soul and chills you the hell out. If you don’t feel it, even in some way you can’t enunciate, I would be very surprised. If only they could bottle it.
Special Mention 2
Speaking of bottling it, #mauibabe. And no, it’s not the name of some skanky nightclub. Those who know it, love it, those who don’t, we’re not letting you in on the secret.