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Swap the tourist traps for the real Hawai’i  

By ​Anna Sarjeant - House of Travel



1.
Swap the ​Mai Tai for a sparkling pineapple wine

We’ve all had one too many glasses of bubbles in our lifetime, yeeees? But how many times have you topped your glass up with a crisp sparkling pineapple wine? Not enough, we bet.

Hawaii’s abundance of pineapples lend themselves to a fizzy glass of fermented fruitiness, especially in Maui, where the award-winning Maui Wine estate crafts hundreds of tons of pineapple into their signature Hula O Maui; sparkling pineapple wine. With more than 2,500 cases produced every year, they pride themselves in using the same time-honoured ‘methode traditionale’ as the Benedictine monk, Dom Perignon in 1600’s Champagne, France.  

Formally known as Tedeschi Vineyards, the 40-year-old winery can be found on Ulupalakua ranch. Or simply follow the sweet smell of pulped pineapple. Guests enjoy complimentary tastings in the King’s Cottage (built in 1870 for royal visits) with tours of the estate and cellars commencing at both 10:30am and 1:30pm. If you’re not a fan of Maui Wine’s best-selling but light-bodie​d product, and you’d prefer to lock lips with something a little more robust, the vineyard also produce a fine rose and syrah.

The details: Open daily from 10am - 5:30pm and located in the Maui town of Ulupalaku: 14815 Piilani Highway, Kula, HI 96790.

maui

 

2. Ditch Waikiki Beach for Hanauma Bay snorkelling
Okay, we’ll admit it, Hanauma Bay is only a fraction less touristy than Waikiki Beach, but this is the most famous of all Hawaii’s snorkelling spots and far more addictive than sun bathing across the road from McDonald’s. The sea is calm and shallow, the white sand is silky and the water boasts the highest fish population in O’ahu, so you certainly have all the ingredients for a superior snorkelling experience. Flanking the island’s east side and formed from an old volcanic crater, the bay’s fish are as tame as the paddlers that wade in after them, so you’ll soon get acquainted with one another.

To preserve the area, all visitors are requested to watch a short video presented by the Marine Education Center and pay $5 towards conservation. Free if you’re under the age of thirteen. Visitor numbers have also been capped, and the entire beach is closed on Tuesdays to allow the fish a full day of uninterrupted swimming. A day off so to speak.  

The details: The bay is accessible from Waikiki via round-trip shuttles running four times per day. Open from 6am – 7pm, every day except Tuesday.  

Hawaii

 

3. Trade a surf lesson for a surf gaze
Give it a go once, and if you’re not a pro by sundown, hang up your wetsuit and go in search of the professionals instead.

Back in the 1950s, surfing was still in its infancy but a few brave souls, with their huge boards and even bigger balls, strode out into the North Shore waves of Waiema Bay and dared to challenge the ocean. With waves that can reach a staggering six metres during the vicious winter months, it is here the creation of big wave surfing was born. Decades on and spectators still frequent the beach to watch adventurous surfers conquer the most powerful waves of Waimea. Who knows, you might even see one of the all-time surfing greats out there, it is, when all said and done, where legends have always been forged. If nothing else, it’s a great spot for a picnic while you watch, and in summer, the sea is generally calm enough for regular swimmers to tackle… And wannabe surfers if you’re still giving that a crack.  

The details: For the very best chances of observing glory, big wave season hits Hawai’i from November through February, with the acclaimed Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (AKA the Super Bowl of Surfing), occurring every year between November and December.

Hawaii

 

4. Switch a boat trip for ​lava tours
Stare into a Mordor-like abyss that would make even the most hardened Hobbit quiver, Kilauea on the Big Island is Hawaii’s most active volcano. With thick oozing lava rolling like treacle downhill and into the ocean, the other-worldly terrain is marked by fiery red molten lava, and grey swathes of hardening rock. And the best bit? You can stand within metres of this geological wonder. Walk atop Kilauea and peer into her bubbling cauldrons and tubes of smooth, rasping magma.

Kalapana Cultural Tours are the most notable tour company on The Big Island, operating trips to the volcano via bike, hike or boat. Choose the boat option and you’ll travel to the very point where red-hot lava spills into the ocean. A mixture of steam, fire and scorched water, embark on a dawn jaunt and the sunrise will act as the perfect backdrop to an already spectacular landscape.

The details: Kilauea offers the safest volcano viewing in the world, with bike tours, hikes and boat trips departing at dawn, dusk and throughout the day. Book on a Wednesday evening and you can combine the experience with a post-volcano dinner at Uncle Robert's Night Market.

Kilauea

 

5. Exchange resort food for authentic Hawaiian munch
Love it, or hate, the Loco Moco is so entwined with Hawaiian culture, it’s as iconic on the islands as surfers and spam combined. We can assure you though, that no spam is included.

The Loco Moco is a relatively bemusing mash-up of rice topped with both a burger patty and a fried egg, then loaded with lashings of thick gravy. It’ll satisfy the surfer who’s just emerged – ravenous – from the Pacific Ocean, and party goers who have just emerged – hungover – from whereabouts unknown. Nobody quite knows where such a strange concoction was invented, but it was some time in the 50s, possibly by a Hawai’ian local selling satisfyingly large snacks to the local teenagers, and possibly named after one of the boys who was nicknamed ‘Loco’, Spanish for crazy. Either way, don’t leave Hawai’i without trying one.  

The details: Consider your palette a little too refined for a Loco Moco? Yamaguchi's Eating House 1849 in Kapolei, Honolulu is an upmarket establishment which serves a far classier version. Made with 100 percent natural, wild harvest and free-range Makaweli beef.

Hawaii


6. Leave the in-room movies for a film set adventure
Introducing Kaua‘i, Hawaii’s ‘Garden Isle’. The fourth largest in the archipelago and geologically the oldest. It’s shrouded in dense jungle, defined by water - whether that’s rivers, waterfalls or mist – and boasts a plethora of movie accolades, Jurassic Park included.

Proudly lacking in commercialism, it’s worth noting that in Kaua`i nature calls the shots. From hiking thick forest to kayaking untamed rivers, adventurous days start with a shot of Kaua’i coffee straight from the source (the company’s headquarters still flanks the oceanfront) before solitary swims along stretches of unsullied coastline. Watch out for sea turtles straddling the beach; nothing highlights Kauai’s grand age more-so than a creature that cohabited with dinosaurs.

The details: Starvacious after all that adventure? The closest thing you’ll find to a chain diner is a battered roadside truck selling tex-mex burritos. Hear hear to that!

Hawaii

Grab your togs and jandals, we're going to Hawai‘i! Click here for all our current Hawaiian holiday deals. 
 

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