Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Perfect Day in Honolulu

I've had to host different guests flying into HNL (airport) from the mainland. Having gone through the routine a few times, here's my suggestion for a perfect welcome and first day in the Aloha State:

First, check online to confirm the flight arrival time and baggage claim number they'll be arriving at. For tips on the cell phone waiting lot or to help your guests make ground transportation arrangements to the hotel, see my {previous post}. Tune the car radio to a local Hawaiian radio station (for ambiance sake) and get ready to give them a warm hug, Hawaiian kiss and long "Alooooha!" when your guests arrive.

A nice touch:
- Bring fresh leis for each guest.
- Come with piping hot malasadas from Champions or Leonards (yum)
- And don't forget cold water or Aloha/Hawaii Sun brand soda cans in fun tropical flavors.
Next, depending on what time your guests arrive (and what time their hotel check-in time is), I suggest that you leave the suitcases in the trunk...and do a combination of the following:

- Stop at Walmart on your way to town. They can pick up gifts/omiyage (left side of Walmart has the kitschy Hawaii stuff; also cracked seed and mac nuts by the checkout), an extra towel, sunscreen or pair of slippers.
- Pull over at Ala Moana Beach so they can dip their toes in the water and wave hello and "aloha" to the ocean waves. Easy parking and close access to the beach and water make it a quick stop...and immediate sense of gratification after a long flight.
- Refresh them with a light Hawaiian snack: Shave Ice at Waiola or tropical ice cream flavors at Bubbies.

Head to the hotel to settle in, clean up, and rest.
Have a late lunch at Alan Wong's Pineapple Room in Macy's (this gets the obligatory Alan Wong run out of the way--especially if you never make it to the King Street restaurant). If a later flight or time is passing on, you can do afternoon tea at Mariposas in the Ala Moana mall or the Veranda at the Waikiki Moana Surfrider until 4pm or so (make reservations ahead of time).

Your guests can spend some leisure time in the afternoon while you rest too:
- Shopping at Ala Moana mall or along Kalakaua blvd in Waikiki
- Catching some golden sun at the Waikiki beach
- Catching up on some zzz's in the hotel room.As it draws closer to the evening, watch the sunset from the beach path near the Hale Koa hotel or along the Ala Moana walking path (depending on where you are at the time). Have dinner at Roy's in Waikiki, and watch free evening fireworks that shoots off from the Royal Hilton Waikiki. Take a night time stroll to visit the legendary Duke's statue on the beach, stopping at shops along the way (open unitl 11pm). Check out the star lit evening scene at the Moana Surfrider, and then head over to grab late night drinks and dessert with live jazz at the Halekulani hotel.And call it an early night--remember that your guests will be jet lagged coming from the mainland.

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