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How to spend 24 hours in Waikiki

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How to spend 24 hours in Waikiki

story by: Anna Sarjeant

8am: You mocha me happy, coffee!
Start the day right, and in Hawai`i that means starting with a Hawaiian Kona bean coffee. As one of the most expensive coffees in the world, Hawai`i’s mineral-rich volcanic soil and year-round temperate weather provide the perfect conditions for growing silky smooth Kona beans. Grab a cup from one of the many cafes that front Waikiki’s parade and take it to the beach. With the sun just up and a mild crispness in the air, it’ll warm your insides and awaken your bed-brain. Of course a freshly-baked macadamia muffin wouldn’t harm either.

9am: Too early to boogie?
Dare we say an easier option than learning how to surf? (True but don’t tell the professional boogie boarders), there are numerous bodyboard rentals up and down the stretch of Waikiki. Rent for a few hours or an entire day, some companies will even deliver the board to your hotel door – and pick it up again when you’re all boogied out.

There are shore-breaking sections all along the beachfront and their small but frequent waves are perfect for beginners and regulars alike. To pick up a few tricks and tips, head to ‘the walls’. A favourite amongst the locals, this manmade concrete pier was purpose-built to ensure the water is as smooth as a swimming pool. It’s also one of the most popular spots for honing boogie skills. Just ask the ‘Wall Rats’, AKA the local body-boarding fanatics; they’ve been making the wall their hang-out for decades. So much so, some of the most famous body-boarding professionals debuted their first moves here.   


11o’clock: Learn-o’clock!
Gain a deeper appreciation for Hawaiian culture at the Royal Hawaiian Center located along Kalakaua Avenue. From Monday through to Friday this glitzy American shopping mall hosts a wealth of cultural learning programmes, including lei making, ukulele lessons, lauhala weaving and lomiloni, the practice of Hawaiian massage. And the best bit? It’s all free!

For diddly-squat dollars you can partake in any number of experiences (once in Waikiki, check the website for a timetable). Lei making is particularly popular, with a passionate teacher on-hand to explain the significance of each bud, flower and colour. FYI, the orange is from O’ahu and it’s found in Waimanalo. With all flowers and equipment included, you’ll walk away with a take-home lei and a fascinating insight into Hawai`i’s fruitful heritage… And your friends thought you chose Hawai`i purely for its beaches.

Midday: Pic-in-the-nic of time
All that lei making will have made you hungry. And that’s where Tucker & Bevvy come in. You’ll notice it’s an Australian term and that's beca​use ​it's a Sydney inspired beach café. Found on Kalakaua Avenue and serving an assortment of simple, healthy food, it's famed for ​its extensive (and delicious) picnic menu. Load up on fresh sandwiches, salads and smoothies, with all the compulsory picnic add-ons such as cookies, crisps and hummus. They’ll pack it up and send you away with an alfresco feast. Take it the park, beach or even the zoo (it’s right across the road) and get tucked in.

*It’s either that, or Hawai`i’s favourite sandwich filler, Spam. And Hawai`i consume more Spam than any other state in the USA. It’s defined as tinned 'meat' made mainly from ham. So yep, ​your call. 

3pm: Another day, another well-spent dollar
Once refuelled, it’s time to hit the shops. Get acquainted with the Pink Line bus route, it’s the shopping shuttle that facilitates all the major retail drop-offs, including DFS Galleria, the Royal Hawaiian Center, Waikiki Beach Walk and Hilton Hawaiian Village.

DFS Galleria is your go-to for unique Hawaiian keepsakes such as art, crafts and ukuleles (now that you're a one-lesson professional) while the Ala Moana Center – and the largest shopping mall in Hawai`i – will satisfy cravings for anything and everything else, from luxury high-end designers to high street favourites all selling goods at non-NZ prices. We're talking a pair of Nikes that don't cost an entire week's pay! Amen to that.

5pm: It must be Mai Tai…m
Come nightfall you’ll be in need of refreshment. Start with an iced Mai Tai to complement the delicious colours of a Waikiki sunset. Synonymous with Hawaiian culture, Mai Tai is actually the Tahitian word for ‘good’, but that’s okay, because they really are. Combining rum, Curaçao and lime juice, it’s served over crushed ice and garnished with mint leaves and a cherry. Have at least one before descending on Waikiki beach for a firework display. Every Friday Hilton Hawaiian Village explode 1000 illuminations across the sky and although it’s not visible from everywhere on Waikiki beach (ask the locals for the optimum spot) it is free. The show starts at 7.45pm and lasts approximately ten minutes, by which time you’ll be ready to scout-out the best dining venue in Waikiki - with its bevvy of tempting restaurants, bars and bistros.

Kāmau kī`aha. We do believe that means ‘cheers.’ 

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