Friday, August 22, 2008

WALKING IN WAIKIKI


My friend, April, is a writer and lives onboard a boat in our marina. Her book "Aloha - Where You Like Go?" is a very enlightening and entertaining book about the real world of Honolulu. It's not the tourist stuff. She gets right into the culture and the spirit of this island like you've never read anywhere else. As a taxi driver, she explores areas where most people never go.

She also writes regular columns for the Waikiki News and has her own column she emails out to her subscribers - of which I am one. She has so much good information in these articles that I thought I should post them as she sends them to me. Her contact info and links are below. If you enjoy her information, why not write to her and ask to be put on her e-mail list? She's a great gal! Love, Jen



Walking in Waikiki - With Cloudia Charters

"Where the Tikis Are"

Major attractions have advertising budgets, big signs, and locations you can't miss. But oftentimes it's too easy to overlook some real gems, so come stroll along as we visit two or three of them on little Beach Walk Street here in Waikiki. First of all let's navigate a nice bit of confusion. The shiny new Beach Walk development with its Roy's restaurant, specialty shops, escalators and outdoor performance space is on Lewers Street. Little Beach Walk Street is the relatively untouched "back stage" side of all that hoo-ha. Cradled in a valley of high-rises, this pleasant, leafy little lane feels like a sweet slice of old Waikiki. Two relatively small and ultra-personable family hotels have anchored the aloha here since the fifties: Hawaiiana Hotel at 260, and The Breakers at 250 (http://www.hawaiianahotelatwaikiki.com/ http://www.breakers-hawaii.com/). Both are one-of-a-kind places, with tons of authenticity, just the sort that I like to seek out when I travel. These hostelries are quiet and flowery oasis complete with pool-courtyards, chirping birds, and long-time LOCAL (maybe even Native Hawaiian) staff like Christie Ann who will remember your name, take the time to "talk story" with you, and who really care that you feel at home. The Breakers features kitchenettes in the rooms, and boasts Wasabi Bistro. The Hawaiiana is a non-smoking property with posted quiet hours, (between 9pm and 8am) it's own little cafe, and barbecue grills by the pool. The street entrance is even guarded by a large Tiki of the Hawaiian god KU. Both hotels enjoy tons of repeat stays by savvy visitors who've become Ohana "family" through the years. Either will provide you with a lovely, restorative "home base" from which to enjoy all that our sometimes frenetic little beach town has to offer- much of the best of it within easy walking distance (including access to the beach). Right across the lane are two or three charming little restaurants – not to mention a bounty of dining, drinking & distraction within easy walking distance. Everything from the revelatory (but affordable) cuisine at Top of Waikiki (revolving atop the Waikiki Business Plaza) to everyone's favorite dive bar, Arnold's (around the corner at 339 Saratoga across from the Waikiki Post Office). But before we walk back into the busier avenues let's enjoy some fresh-cut fruit at Henry's, a little shop that's been in the neighborhood for decades. Henry must be over 80, and many of us were concerned that all the construction of modern resort improvements would bounce this little gem of a place into fond memory. Luckily, Henry, his sweet fruit, beach mats, and sundries have landed happily a few doors down Beach Walk from our two little hotels. "How's the new location going, Henry?" "Good" was all he said and it was enough to gladden my sweet tooth. I left slurping from an over-sized serving of perfect local watermelon. (Though the papaya did look good) MMMmmm, Ono (delicious). Excuse me; did I just squirt juice on your screen? Location location LOCATION! Another favorite "boutique" hotel is the fortunately located Waikiki Grand Hotel (http://www.waikikigrand.com/) at the corner of Kapahulu & Kalakaua. Directly across the street from Kapiolani Park, the Honolulu Zoo, and steps from the Queen's Surf beach area, the Grand boasts Hula's Bar & Lei Stand, and Teddy's Bigger Burgers on site. The Hustle & Bustle of Waikiki Beach meets the giant green park here. Check the epic view (close!) of Diamond Head from the Grand's tenth floor sun deck! Bonus: guests at the Grand often hear animal noises from the zoo near by. Which brings us to: Rumor Alert! Credible sources whisper that Violet the orangutan was spotted wandering outside of her zoo enclosure after hours recently. Incredibly strong and smart, the "forest people" will reportedly hide hand tools they find (or steal;-) and use them to escape. Maybe she just wanted a room upgrade? A shave ice? Clever staff prevailed on Violet's mate Rusty to help lure her back. . . Back to the Tikis for a moment: Let me tell you about a real special place between Waikiki and the airport, right off of busy, industrial Sand Island Access Road. La Mariana Sailing Club, one of the last real Tiki Bars in Hawaii – or anywhere! - opened over 50 years ago and really looks it. Draped in lauhala leaves, fishing nets, twinkling lights, puffer-fish lanterns, giant clamshells and antique buoys like a kitschy fever dream, this is the place to sip a mai tai. Check out a piece of Honolulu's past while you still can. Book`em, Danno! Just ask a local for the location. . . And speaking of local people, our own local boy born & bred "Barry" Obama spent his usual summer visit in Honolulu with family, and old pals, but also with a huge security detail this year. Nonetheless, the presidential candidate was able to enjoy many of the simple things that we locals like to do: a family picnic at Ala Moana Beach Park, cool shave ice with the kids, body surfing at Sandy Beach, plate lunches from a favorite local spot, and a visit with his children to Pearl Harbor. Mr. Obama grew up without a father in a small high-rise Honolulu apartment with his grandmother and his late grandfather, a proud WWII veteran. The Obamas took daughters Sasha & Malia to visit his grave at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. (The crater's Hawaiian name is appropriate: Puowaina, "hill of sacrifice."). Barak visited with his grandma everyday (in the apartment he grew up in) yet still managed to find time for a basketball game with his old teammates at their high school gym. They were the State Champs his senior year you know! Hawaii is a special place to grow up, a place with no racial majority where everyone is cherished as an individual. "We all have obligations to each other, we should all help one another." Obama said, speaking of the Aloha Spirit at a local gathering. "When you come from Hawaii, you start understanding that what's on the surface doesn't matter. The people of Hawaii understand. . . ". We are very proud of Barak, though there are plenty of McCain supporters here too. Did you know that John Mac met his wife Cindy at a social event right here in Honolulu? Patriotic local folks have actually been a bit hurt by all the talk of Obama's "exotic luxury vacation." There is no huge Obama family compound here, and as for exotic, the U.S. State of Hawaii has bled red white and blue since Pearl Harbor. Our state's people are over represented (by population) in our U.S. armed forces too. In fact, a large group of our National Guard citizen soldiers just left for their second combat tours of Iraq and Afghanistan. . . . Speaking of over-representation, 8 (countem 8!) local Hawaii athletes are tearing up the Beijing Olympics! My fellow University of Hawaii / Manoa alum, Clay Stanley is ably anchoring the USA Men's Volleyball, four former UH Manoa players are on the (highly favored) USA Women's Volleyball team, and local girl (Kahuku High School grad) Natasha Kai made a crucial score in the closing moments to win a Women's Soccer match keeping Team USA's golden dreams alive. I've also noticed foreign born UH athletes representing their home countries at the games. Oh, and our kids on the Waipio baseball team are in the national finals at the little league world series! Look at our islands on a map. Such a tiny place – so many champions. Come see the beauty that inspires us, available free anytime, just walking in Waikiki. . . Aloha!
cloudia.charters@gmail.com

Want to enjoy more Waikiki "street" life with Cloudia? Check out her Hawaii "Taxi Cab" Novel: "Aloha Where You Like Go?" at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or the Hawaii State Library branch near you!

-- <http://www.amazon.com/ALOHA-Where-You-Like-Satisfaction/dp/1598006495> <http://www.waikikinews.com/

1 comment:

Koelzer Haus Studios said...

Nice to see your blogg here..and its nice that it is drama free...lol

Say Aloha!