Hawaii: Jan/Feb '04
For those of us who live on the We(s)t Coast, Hawaii is a natural for a Winter vacation. It's about a 6-hour flight from YVR to HNL and AC has 3 flights per day during this peak season. Eleanor and I have visited many times over the years and touched on all the major islands but, in recent times, have settled into a pattern of 2 weeks in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island and a week at Waikiki.
The Kona sunsets are hard to beat and a favorite activity is to watch the sun just as it dips below the horizon in the hopes of seeing the elusive green flash.
The earth apparently contains 13 identifiable climate zones and 10 of them can be found on the Big Island of Hawaii. It has everything from deserts to rainforests to ranch land to snow. The transitions on this small island are sudden and often spectacular. I took this picture from the beach near the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel where the temperature was 83F. That's the extinct Mauna Kea in the background and that's snow above about the 12,000' level.
We appreciated the active and varied bird life around our Kona condo. Even in January there were the young to be fed.
Waikiki is a very different destination. It seems to exist for the Japanese tourist industry, so much so that, mercifully, many of the advertising handouts were not even offered to us because they were written only in Japanese. The shops are glitzy and expensive. Some will sell only Gucci handbags; others will sell Rolex watches. All of this is in sharp contrast to Kona which is relatively laid back and attracts few Japanese tourists.
Waikiki is a fun place to stroll the streets in the evening. There are numerous human statues (left) and an endless supply of buskers, everything from bagpipers to choirs.
Oddly, in all of our visits to Hawaii, we have never been panhandled. There seem to be a lot of young layabouts who surf by day and loaf by night but you don't see even sidewalk sitters who beg for "spare change". Perhaps in the American legal system they're able to throw them in jail for a couple of hundred years. Whatever they're doing, it appears to work.
The best Kona meal -Huggo's On The Rocks where I had the best prime rib in years; succulent, nicely marbled and so tasty it would be gauche to use even the best horse radish. The best ambience in the Islands with the Pacific literally at your feet. (They were grandfathered years ago when set back regulations were enacted.)The best Waikiki meal -Tanaka of Tokyo. Excellent Japanese food served Kobe style. As we appeared to be the only round eyes we had our own chef and table, The staff were unusually friendly and helpful. Even the sake was good.Most popular restaurant on Waikiki - Cheesecake FactoryIt's a little like Earl's in its menu and has been open just 2 months. There were enormous waits to get in - 2 hours on Saturday night. So we waited until the Super Bowl on Sunday and went in just before the game ended. We had a 5-minute wait. Found it rather noisy - good waiter - okay food - cheapest dinner we had on Waikiki. I counted 24 people preparing the meals in the open kitchen. It's a big operation.The best Mai Tai -Chuck's Steak House on Waikiki. Here's the recipe -3 oz. sweet and sour mix1 to 1.5 oz. light rum3/4 oz. orange curacao1.5 oz. orgeat syrup1 oz. dark rumGarnish 1/2 fresh lime and sprig of fresh mintPour the first four ingredients over crushed ice and mix. Float the dark rum and garnish.
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