Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hawaii, March 2010 (Part Three, Oahu)

While driving into Waikiki from the Honolulu Airport, the driver remarked, “It looks just like home for you, huh?”

Well, not quite exactly. His argument did have some merit, though. It certainly helped that it was a particularly voggy (volcanic fog) day, with the clouds doing their best impersonation of L.A. smog. And yes, it was a change to finally see tall buildings along the highway that weren’t just hotels or resorts. But still, Honolulu is not L.A.— and thank God for that.

I love that Oahu has so much to offer—beautiful beaches, plenty of shopping, city life, country life and most of all, good eats. This was my third time to the island and I loved revisiting it and discovering new things along the way.

The first thing I did when I arrived was to start exploring Waikiki. I hadn’t been to Waikiki since I first visited Oahu nearly 19 years ago, and it’s changed dramatically since then.

It also happened to be Saint Patrick’s Day, which had people getting into a festive mood.

The view from my room at the Sheraton Waikiki was beautiful…

…As was the view from the infinity-edge pool.

On the lobby level, guests can take ukulele lessons with Bruce Shimabukuro at the Ukulele Puapua store. His brother, Jake, is also a well-known ukulele player.

The store also sells, you guessed it, ukulele-playing Obama bobbleheads, too.

Next to the Sheraton is The Royal Hawaiian—one of my favorite hotels, ever, I think.

I loved this old-fashioned telephone near the main elevators.

A snapshot from its restaurant

My idea of paradise

After strolling around The Royal, we went down the block to the Moana Surfrider where I had afternoon tea at the Beachhouse at the Moana.

I thought it was kind of fun to see this at the restaurant—a family photo. Of whom, I have no idea, but you gotta love the matching aloha shirts.

By far, my favorite thing to do on Oahu is eat, so it certainly whet my appetite when we embarked on a North Shore farm tour. Our first stop? The Dole Plantation, where I saw pineapples taking a bath…

...Examined coffee berries up close...

…and tasted fresh cacao. It’s not bad, but don’t bite into it, or it can be really bitter.

Later, we stopped to have Waialua coffee (also from Dole) and some of the best biscotti ever.

Of course, since we were in Hawaii, we just had to do our farm tour in our flip flops, no less. (I'm the odd one out, wearing Birkenstocks.)

The day before, I had to wear these adorable booties on my tour of Iolani Palace.

The second farm we visited was Twin Bridge Farms where they grow asparagus, tomatoes…

…and even blue Russian potatoes.

The farm employees were so friendly.

I loved this shot from the farm, too.

Afterward, we headed to the North Shore Cattle Co. where we were got stuck in a rush hour of cow crossings.

This is where I met Jasmine, an adorably chubby dog—so cute and incredibly rotund.

I loved this shot of the ranch owner’s son—he was equally adorable.

After our farm tour, we took the long way back to Honolulu, traveling along the North Shore coast and checking out both beaches and shrimp trucks.

The next morning, we left bright and early to head to the KCC Farmers’ Market—probably my all-time fave. I love that you can buy chilli water there…

…And even get serenaded with a performance by Makana, a famous slack-key guitarist.

You can also buy beautiful flowers here…

And encounter really large—but incredibly friendly—dogs.

Or you can be like this little fella (the same one from the ranch) and find pure bliss from a grilled Portuguese sausage. Look at that face!

And for our final meal of the morning, we headed to Diamond Head Market & Grill where you really can buy beef bourguignon to take home.

I can’t wait until my next trip…

(All photos © Deanna Ting)

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