Hawaii: War and peace on the currents from Pearl Harbor to Pele’s volcanic playground

Hawaii is for shopping, water adventures and volcano-chasing but it also remembers its Pacific War heroes in a big way, writes Helen van Berkel.

New Zealand is full of three kinds of people right now: those who have been to Hawaii, those who are going to Hawaii and those who are in Hawaii. That meant no shortage of recommendations from friends, family and colleagues of places to see, shop and eat for my upcoming holiday with my daughter — but also led to the mortification of bumping into the big boss from work at the travel agent as I paid for our fare. It turns out though, according to US Immigration, she’s not my daughter so much as “Family Unit 2” or as she will henceforth be known, FU2.

The international dateline means Hawaii is almost 24 hours behind us so you will arrive in Honolulu after an eight-hour flight on the morning of the night you left. Which is great because you don’t lose any time. And with a teenager in tow the first stop is the shops.

Ala Moana is the best-equipped mall within walking distance or a short package-laden bus ride from Waikiki. All the big names from American popular culture are there: Nordstrom, Macy’s, Target, Victoria’s Secret, Bergdorfs, Jimmy Choo, Sephora. FU2 was in heaven, but quickly learned her summer’s worth of hard-earned waitressing money wasn’t going to go as far as she thought given the price tags typically didn’t include tax.

Ross is another must-shop — even Scrooge me got out my credit card and gave it a battering. It offers end-of-line designer clothes, helpfully putting the original price ($278) so you can compare the Ross prices ($70). Americans visiting from Oklahoma recommended we try the Swap Meet at the Aloha Stadium on Sunday which, at FU2’s insistence, we did, only to find a largely disappointing collection of cheap souvenirs — gifts for colleagues, sorted. We bought a deliciously garish Hawaiian shirt each, matching of course.

Walmart is a must-do, just to check out the people. Most of the big chain stores in the Target and Walmart space also offer groceries, which is probably why food is so cheap compared to our duopoly prices. We marvelled at the oversized wine and vodka bottles and puzzled in horrified fascination at the packaging that promised “real chicken” (as opposed to what?) or worse, 80 per cent real chicken.

We stocked up on basics such as fruit, milk and cereal so we didn’t have to eat the over-corn syruped collections of chemicals masquerading as food at neighbouring diners. We did take the recommendation of dining at Duke’s in Waikiki, enjoying a lunch and a cocktail, and we visited the Cheesecake Shop, which offers more than the eponymous dish. And, okay, we might have gone more than once. And try the local dish poke — pronounced “pokay” — which is a divine mix of vegetables, dressings and cubes of raw fish.




Checklist

GETTING THERE

Air New Zealand flies daily from

Auckland to Honolulu

. Return flights and five nights’ accommodation from $1799pp, twin share.

ONLINE
gohawaii.com; VisitTheUSA.com

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