Hawaii has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. With six islands renowned for their rugged landscapes of cliffs, waterfalls, tropical foliage and endless beaches, palm trees a-plenty and home to some of the best surfing conditions in the world, I jumped at the chance to experience this little slice of paradise when a recent Jet Star Frenzy meant that flights to Honolulu were too good to miss.
Catch a Wave at Ty Gurney Surf School
For me, one of the absolute highlights of my trip to Hawaii was learning how to surf. Despite living a stone’s throw from Bondi Beach, prior to Hawaii I had never tried my hand at surfing and thus when I had my first two hour lesson with Ty Gurney’s Surf School, I approached it with significant trepidation. Convinced I would spend the entire lesson on my slicked to the surfboard, unable to get on my knees – let alone my feet – I immediately grilled my instructor over the likelihood of death at the hands of a wave; something he quickly reassured me was nigh on impossible. After being paddled out in twos by our instructors, we soon got into the swing of surfing, and, aided by a hefty push each time a suitable swell came my way, I soon caught my very first wave. Standing on the board and surfing towards the shore was an unbelievably exhilarating feeling, and despite not quite mastering a graceful exit from board into sea, losing the fear of falling was the biggest obstacle to overcome. Whether you’re a newbie like me, or a seasoned surfer, Ty Gurney’s Surf School is an absolute must-visit for anyone that finds themselves in Honolulu.
Explore the North Shore with Mahina Hawaii
As beautiful as Honolulu is, you’d be forgiven for arriving and wondering where exactly the picture perfect beaches so synonymous with Hawaii are. Enter surfing, SUP and hiking adventures on Oahu’s magical northern shore, run by competitive bodysurfer, certified nutritional coach and all-round adventurer, Ryan of Mahina Hawaii. Offering bespoke trips and tours showcasing the most beautiful parts of the north shores, we spent a day in the great outdoors, swimming with turtles, stand-up paddle-boarding and cliff-jumping, before finishing with a strenuous and sweaty hike to the mouth of a waterfall. The custom-built element to Mahina Hawaii is just one of its many selling points, and whether you’re after an excursion that will allow you to relax and recharge or get your bloody pumping and your heart racing, husband and wife duo Ryan and Beccy will be able to devise the perfect trip. Find out more about what they offer here.
Sundowners at Halekulani
If sundowners are your thang, and you’re after the creme de la creme of cocktails with a view to match, head for Honolulu’s ocean-front Halekulani. Set on 5 acres fronting Waikiki Beach, and with local live music in the evening, there really is no better place to enjoy a cocktail or two while watching the sun set over the horizon.
Stylish Dining at Morimoto Waikiki
Much like in Sydney, sharing plates is a bit of a thing in Hawaii. And while it took me some getting used to when I first started dining out in Australia, now that I can see the method behind the madness, I’m happy to let others take charge when it comes to ordering, despite my somewhat particular palette. From sashimi salad, to shrimp tempura and diver scallops, Morimoto Waikiki’s array of foods were as delectable as they were delicious and the buzzing atmosphere and stylish decor made it my favourite foodie experience of the trip.
Hike Diamond Head
On our penultimate day in Hawaii we decided to hike to the top of Diamond Head at sunrise. And while we allowed ourselves ample time to do so, by the time we’d had our early morning caffeine fix and were bundling ourselves into a taxi, the sun was already on the rise. A short drive from our hotel, the iconic silhouette of Diamond Head State Monument sits along the Honolulu skyline just beyond Waikiki and this 230-metre tuff crater is one of Hawaii’s most famous landmarks. And so, despite arriving at its crater slightly later than we had originally planned, the early morning air was still tinged with dawn; and a trail of mist blanketed the distant views beautifully. Comprising of 175 steps, as well as dark, underground tunnels and old military bunkers we were certainly slightly out of breath by the time we reached its peak, but with panoramic views of Waikiki and Oahu’s south shore and a beaming rainbow streaking across the morning sky, it was absolutely worth the climb.