Honolulu

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Hawaii is where my journey began so it will always hold a special place in my heart. The pace of life here might be a little slower than say New York City, but there is never a shortage of things to do! It’s a nature lover’s paradise. Whether you love being in the ocean, climbing mountains or helicoptering over volcanoes, there is something for everyone. I love the friendly people, fresh fruit and fish, and of course being outside at any time of the day.

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I’m lucky that my family is now based back in Honolulu, so I have a standing reservation direct from Miami Airport. Thanks Dad :)! Usually from MIA, there is a stopover either in Dallas or Los Angeles. Be prepared for a long flight. Usually gives me time to read, catch up on the latest flicks and blog! Using points on American Airlines, I was able to upgrade to First Class, so check out their mileage options and see if it works from your destination! There usually isn’t an “off-season” to Honolulu, since the weather is pretty much the same year round, so I would just recommend booking far in advance to get in the $600-$800 roundtrip flight range.

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I stayed with family, but there are so many great Airbnbs to check out. Honolulu also has world-class hotels that you can enjoy without even staying there. I would recommend: Halekulani, The Modern Honolulu, Royal Hawaiian, Moana Surfrider, and the Kahala Hotel and Resort.

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After a 9 hour flight, the best thing to do is get out and get some fresh air. This also prevents jet lag! We head to one of my favorite spots, Shirokiya in the Ala Moana Center. Great Japanese food and beautiful mall. Next, we put on our running shoes and jog down to Waikiki Beach. A nice night cap at Rum Fire in the Sheraton nearby. You have to get the Mai Tai! Off to bed, so we can start our hike at sunset.

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Up early to hike the Haiku Stairs. This isn’t technically legal since the city doesn’t patrol it anymore and it’s technically private property, but the photos speak for themselves. If you are a confident hiker and it hasn’t rained recently, I can’t recommend it enough. The hike itself takes up most of the morning and is absolutely breathtaking. I’ve been on many great hikes in Hawaii and this one reigns supreme. Back to wash up (gets pretty muddy at some points) before we head over to see the Kyoto Gardens. Amazing architecture and historical significance. There is also a cemetery here, so be respectful. Our last stop of the day is the Queen Emma Summer Palace. Hawaii has a rich colonial history and it’s important to understand. Many home museums are preserved for this purpose and I highly encourage to do as many historical things as possible! Back home for dinner and then we check out L’apertif de mer in the Halekulani Hotel for some cocktails. Very classy and relaxing atmosphere. 

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Liliha Bakery is one of my favorite spots in Honolulu. Hawaii has an interesting mix of super healthy food and then fried, sugary goodness. This place excels at the latter. Sit at the bar and order some waffles with hot cocoa. Promise you will be transported back to a simpler time. Later in the afternoon, we head up to see the “Swing” at Tantalus before our home tour of the Liljestrand House. Amazing views nestled in this residential neighborhood. For the home tour, I highly recommend making reservations at least 2 weeks in advance. If you love Mid-Century Modern architecture, this tour is for you. The tour is conducted by the son of the original owners/builders and explores the truly “custom” home they designed with famed Honolulu architect, Vladimir Ossipoff. On the way down Tantalus, you can also stop at the Spalding House (Contemporary Art), an outpost of the Honolulu Academy of Art. They also run tours for Shangri-La, the Islamic designed home of Doris Duke. I have been there several times and also find something new. You are wrong if you think there is no culture in Hawaii! After a busy day, we have a nice dinner at Alan Wong’s.  They are famous for using fresh, local, in-season ingredients and is one of the most popular restaurants in Honolulu.

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Time to relax in Waikiki Beach! Some people might think it’s a bit corny–it definitely is touristy, but you can’t beat that backdrop of Diamond Head (you can also climb up it). It brings back so many memories of me learning to boogie board and surf, so I always make sure to go to the beach here, no matter how many tourists there are. A fun thing to do is to check out Mai Tai Catamaran. They have morning sailings to snorkel with the turtles and fish or a sunset booze cruise. Just depends on your mood. It’s always great to get out on any boat to marvel at the blue-ness of the Pacific Ocean, and catamarans are so much fun! After a nice ride, we rent some paddleboards at one of the nearby stands and hang out in the ocean for awhile. I love paddleboarding and own one in Miami Beach, so it was nice to explore the ocean. You can paddle for hours out there, just make sure to keep applying sunscreen. Back for a quick nap before we head to Hawaiian Brian’s for stand-up comedy. I am such a fan of comedy…it’s one of the things I do pretty much every time I’m in Manhattan, and Honolulu is no exception. They put on a great show at The Studio every Wednesday night. Go out and support the local comics! Great drink specials and I guarantee a good time. They also have open mic after the show, for all you brave souls. 

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Another early morning hike, this time up Kuli`ou`ou Ridge Trail. The hike takes around 4 hours and has sweeping views of the entire Southeast coast of Oahu. Really beautiful and you feel so removed from the tourists of Waikiki Beach. We loved it so much, we did it two times during our stay! It’s hidden in the back of a residential neighborhood, so just check Yelp for instructions on how to access easily. A much deserved lunch at my favorite Japanese restaurant in Honolulu, Tokkuri-Tei. I dream of this place! They have the freshest fish and authentic Japanese everything. After a quick shower, we head to Kahala Mall to see a movie. Like stand-up comedy, movies are a part of my life and this is the closest one to Honolulu. To bed early for a big 4th of July tomorrow! 

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We start the day off at the Mu Ryang Sa Temple. This is one of the most surreal spots near Honolulu and cannot recommend the trek enough. They also have tea ceremonies here, just check their website before your visit to make it extra special. Quick job around Ala Moana Park to prepare for a long night of fun. Early dinner at an amazing locally owned and operated neighborhood gem, W Bistro at 1010. It’s in the middle of Honolulu’s Cultural District, near the Blaisdell Center and Honolulu Academy of Art. Make sure to have reservations, it fills up fast! We get ready and head down to The Modern to watch the fireworks by the harbor and grab some cocktails at The Study. The fireworks were amazing and we head out for a late night of hip-hop and fun at the nightclub attached the The Modern, Addiction. Great night!

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We head to the countryside for a change of scenery. The North Shore is famous for it’s huge Winter surf swells, but it’s also a great town to visit during the Summer. On your way out, don’t forget to stop for some refreshing Dole Whip at the Dole Plantation. They have the freshest pineapples and the world’s largest maze! I think I stop here every time I’m in Honolulu. Unfortunately, the sunflowers weren’t in bloom when I was there, but be sure to check out Pioneer Hi-Bred for fields and fields of sunflowers right on Oahu. The pictures look amazing and hopefully I get a chance next time I’m there to explore. Another great locally owned spot is the chocolate and coffee farm at Island X Hawaii. Call before to get a private tour of their facilities. Everyone know’s Matsumoto’s Shaved Ice from every Hollywood movie filmed on Oahu, but this place could give it a run for its money. It’s also a nice place to park and walk around all the local shops. Much better gifts to bring home here than in Waikiki. Turtle Bay Resort is also a nice stop for a relaxing spa day or grab a Mai Tai by the pool. Waimea Bay Beach Park is also the best place for those adventurous enough to go cliff diving! Don’t think about it too much and just go for it. Safety comes first though, so make sure other people are jumping before you take the plunge. It’s exhiliarting! Time to head back to Honolulu!

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Now time to head out to my secret spot: Makaha. A hidden gem, away from the tourists, it can be a little rough around the edges, but if you want real Hawaiian flair and unspoiled beaches look no further. I usually spend the entire day out here in the ocean, grab some fresh fruit from the roadside and just breathe. If you are into deep sea diving, this is also the best spot. Get away from Waikiki and live like a local!

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Another hike…are you sensing a pattern here? Miami Beach is so flat, I hike whenever I get the chance. This time we head out to Manoa Falls. It’s an easy trail for the whole family, not too far from Honolulu. Great foliage and birding also, if you’re into that sort of thing. After a short hike, we go to the Spitting Cave of Portlock. This is actually the first time I had heard of the place, from a local, and it is amazing! Pictures are ridiculously beautiful. The drive itself is magnificent and a little further outside of time you can happen upon Sandy Beach. It is world-renowned for it’s crazy shore break. It’s safe to jump in the water if you’re an experienced swimmer and enjoy a challenge or you can take amazing photos of all the fearless Hawaiian kids riding these monsters. Last night al fresco dining under the stars at Hau Tree Lanai.  

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One last hike up Kuli`ou`ou Ridge Trail and one last swim in the Pacific Ocean before my redeye back home. Hawaii/Honolulu is a very special place in the world and I hope you make the most of it on your next trip. Aloha!

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In the 2000 census, more than 20 percent of Hawaii’s population claimed multi-ethnic backgrounds, far more than any other U.S. state. Hawaii is the only U.S. state whose majority of people are non-white. Hawaii has the highest population density in the United States.

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Hawaii is the only U.S. state that grows coffee. Coffee plantations in Hawaii make up 6,200 acres. Sugar is mainly produced on Maui and Kauai, on altogether 70,000 acres. In 2002, 340,000 tons of raw sugar were produced. Hawaii produces about 320,000 tons of pineapple each year.

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Hawaii is the most isolated population center on Earth. It is 2,390 miles (3,846 km) from California, 3,850 miles (6,196 km) from Japan and 4,900 miles (7,886 km) from China. The state of Hawaii consists of eight larger, populated islands and 124 small, uninhabited islands.

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Hawaii has its own time zone. It’s called Hawaiian Standard Time. There is no daylight savings time in Hawaii, which means that in summer, Hawaii is two hours behind the U.S. West Coast, while in winter, Hawaii is three hours behind the U.S. West Coast.

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