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Hawaii for the First Time

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We are looking at Hawaii as a possible honeymoon destination and are overwhelmed. We are more food-loving than sun-loving, so would like to know which island, and which part of said island, is best. Would love to eat lots of fresh fish (raw is awesome) and other local delights. Plan to explore, hike volcanos, sit in hammocks near the ocean, etc. just want to have a general idea where to land.

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  1. Only Hawaii island has volcanic activity, Oahu has the most good food and lots of hiking trails to work off the food. Recommend you land Honolulu.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Joebob

      Yes, hiking the Punchbowl and the Ko`olaus, will work up quite an appetite. A great wild arboretum and plenty of waterfalls to see.

      Mahalo,

      Hunt

    2. Hey wait a minute they can do both on the big Island. If the start in Hilo and work their way around to kona and inbetween visit the volcano park.
      Two Ladies Kitchen
      Ken's House of Pancakes
      Cafe Pesto
      Kilauea Lodge & Restaurant
      Huggo's
      Kiawe Kitchen
      Manago Hotel Restaurant
      Teshima's Restaurant

      -----
      Cafe Pesto
      308 Kamehameha Ave # 101, Hilo, HI

      Ken's House of Pancakes
      1730 Kamehameha Ave, Hilo, HI 96720

      Manago Hotel
      Captain Cook, Kealakekua, HI 96750

      Kiawe Kitchen
      19-4005 Haunani Rd., Volcano, HI 96785

      Huggo's
      75-5828 Kahakai Rd Ste B, Kailua Kona, HI 96740

      Teshima's Restaurant
      79-7251 Mamalahoa Highway, Kealakekua, HI 96750

      Kilauea Lodge & Restaurant
      19-3948 Old Volcano Rd., Volcano, HI 96785

      1. My strong recommendation is that you land/stay in Honolulu which is on Oahu. I would take day trips to couple of the outer islands, such as going to the big island of Hawaii to see the volcanos and beauty of Hawaii. Personally I need a little more nightlife that exists on Oahu than what exist on the other islands. Don't get me wrong but the other islands are great, just my preference. Don't ignore the island of Molokai which has now become my favorite island. I went recently and having grown up in Hawaii had no idea how beautiful it is. And the people there are da best!!! Not much in the way of cuisine but you will made do especially with all the natural beauty it has waiting for you!!

        4 Replies
        1. re: UES Mayor

          Nightlife is a good thing. So Oahu is best for that? Joebob said that's best for food too. Do you agree?

          1. re: mojoeater

            Absolutely.

            Even though we spend most nights with a knife and fork, O`ahu has the nightlife.

            Enjoy,

            Hunt

            1. re: mojoeater

              Yes, Oahu has the best nightlife but as I mentioned don't ignore the other islands for thier own unique qualities. That's why I take day trips-usually leaving at 5am and back by 9pm in time for a martini before dinner in Waikiki where I usually stay. Tour buses make it so easy to be picked up from hotels and brought back after day trips to outer islands. Google Polynesian Adventure tours or Roberts tours.

              1. re: UES Mayor

                No, if one thought that I was dissing any other Island, then I did not make myself clear - my problem. They are all wonderful, and each side, of each Island, can show a new" "face." They are NOT to be missed. Each is unique, and be experienced.

                Though we spend more days on O`ahu, than on the other Islands, we try to get to at least one other, and it is often the focus of the trip, with O`ahu being just an arrival, and departure, with but a few days for dining. This has been going on for 30 years, and often up to 3x per year.

                Also, that O`ahu has the greatest concentration of restaurants, does not mean that the other Islands do not have good food. They do, just not so very many as O`ahu does, but just look at the populations, and it should be easy to see why.

                Aloha,

                Hunt

          2. For food, though the other Islands have some good food, I would recommend O`ahu. You have a great concentration of restaurants there, and many are in the general Honolulu area. OK, it is an international city, and there are tourists, but then, there is the food.

            We do far more "fine-dining," than the great local restaurants, but I will almost always work in 5 nights on O`ahu, regardless of which other Islands we visit.

            From the most expensive, and then on down, here are my recs.:

            La Mer - Great French Hawaiian fare. Gentlemen should have a jacket.
            Chef Mavro's - great food w/ wine pairings at several levels
            Alan Wong's - just down the block from Chef Mavro's, and a contemporary of Chef Mavro's with great Hawaiian fare.
            Mariposa - at the Neiman Marcus at Ala Moana Center, but with fun wines, and Island fare
            Hau Tree Lanai - across the park from Honolulu, and a tad more touristy, but with a great view, this is a worthwhile trip.
            3660 on the Rise - again, great Island-influenced fare, but without a view, like Alan Wong's, or Chef Mavro's.
            Indigo - Chinatown, in downtown Honolulu, and worth the cab.
            Nico's Pier 39 - great, fresh seafood, with paper plates

            Many more options, and at several levels.

            Enjoy,

            Hunt

            -----
            Alan Wong's Restaurant
            1857 S King St Fl 3, Honolulu, HI 96826

            Chef Mavro restaurant
            1969 South King Street, Honolulu, HI 96826

            La Mer
            2199 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815

            Mariposa
            1450 Ala Moana Blvd # 2101, Honolulu, HI

            Hau Tree Lanai Restaurant
            2863 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815

            Ala Moana Center
            1450 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814

            14 Replies
            1. re: Bill Hunt

              We will be staying on O`ahu for 9 days this November. I look forward to checking out your recommendations and would welcome more suggestions. What are some fun lunch spots? We will dine out every evening. I doubt my husband will bring a jacket, but we are not concerned about cost. Thanks!

              Susan

              1. re: crazyspice

                We seldom do lunch, as we are often on the golf course. Others will have to comment there. While I like Mariposa for dinner, a very respected poster here, has had issues with lunch, so I cannot recommend it - except for dinner.

                The jacket will ONLY be an issue at La Mer (but is worth it - I promise). Oh, if one did Sunday Brunch at Orchids, it would be nice, but not required. Every place else, it would be totally optional, at best.

                Enjoy, and look for the others to share some great lunch spots with you.

                Aloha,

                Hunt

                -----
                La Mer
                2199 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815

                Mariposa
                1450 Ala Moana Blvd # 2101, Honolulu, HI

                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  Hunt,

                  A propos Sunday brunch at Orchids: is it worth it for someone who no longer eats a lot? I have been invited by friends.

                  1. re: Joebob

                    Ah, but you MUST eat a lot, as each station has something wonderful, and not to be missed.

                    Enjoy,

                    Hunt

                  2. re: Bill Hunt

                    We have booked Sunday Brunch at Orchids. Looking forward to that!

                    Susan

                  3. re: crazyspice

                    There are few if any places that require a jacket in Honolulu. What do you mean by fun? I think Duke's Barefoot Bar is fun, but not a foodie place.

                    Love local places like Boulevard Saimin, Helena's Hawaiian Food, Ethel's Grill, Chun Wah Kam Noodle Factory and Libby Manapua. Those may not fit everyone's idea of fun, but I love the local food.

                    For Japanese ramen, Goma Ichi Ramen, Goma Tei Ramen, Ezogiku , Yotteko-ya Kyoto Ramen and Ramen Nakamura.

                    Great places on the water for lunch would be Orchids and Hau Tree Lanai.

                    Bill Hunt hit most of the great high end places.

                    -----
                    Libby Manapua Shop
                    410 Kalihi St, Honolulu, HI 96819

                    Hau Tree Lanai Restaurant
                    2863 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815

                    Ethel's Grill
                    232 Kalihi St, Honolulu, HI 96819

                    Boulevard Saimin
                    1425 Dillingham Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96817

                    Helena's Hawaiian Food
                    1240 N School St, Honolulu, HI 96817

                    Goma Ichi Ramen
                    631 Keeaumoku St, Honolulu, HI 96814

                    Ramen Nakamura
                    2141 Kalakaua Ave # 1, Honolulu, HI 96815

                    Goma Tei Ramen
                    Ward Ctr, Honolulu, HI 96813

                    1. re: scottca075

                      Fun to us is casual local flavor. I am curious to know if there are places offering micro/craft beer. I haven't read much about that on this board. Thank you for your recs!

                      Susan

                      1. re: crazyspice

                        E Susan, Aloha:

                        Local flavor? Might try a kava ('oleo o Hawai'i= 'awa) bar. There are now a few for the Googling. One is in Kaimukiman's town. 'Awa can be a great insight into what life was like before Cook and the resulting unpleasantness.

                        Hint: take an open mind and a bag of macaroons or some haupia to cut the bitterness. The effect's a little like Jaegermeister without the alcohol downer. You will make friends.

                        Aloha,
                        Kaleo

                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          I concur. While I have not been to the kava bar that is one experience you should try. My own tasting was most enjoyable and memorable to this day, an incredible evening. Led under a master of Hawaiian language and culture it is an event never to be repeated. However for your purposes as advocated by Kaleokahu I agree with the rec. there.
                          I have other things to post but dinner prep calls only after a cocktail while surveying my vast forest around me and the Koolau with a half moon directly overhead. A hui hou!

                          1. re: kaleokahu

                            kala mai Kaleo, no more kawa bars in Kaimuki/Kapahulu/Diamond Head. Couple years now I t'ink.

                            1. re: KaimukiMan

                              You grow the black 'awa, then, Aikane, and make it your own. Better than Fiji'ian, hiki no?

                              Aloha,
                              Kaleo

                              -----
                              Aikane Cafe
                              667 Auahi St, Honolulu, HI 96813

                              1. re: KaimukiMan

                                I never went to the bar, didn't know there wasn't one anymore. Someone said there is one on Dillingham above Club Something (really that's the name) but it's somewhat scary to go into! My own tasting was on a lana'i in Manoa with some very cool people.

                                1. re: manomin

                                  Is the 'awa bar in Honolulu still there? Don't remember the street, but next door to the shop where the two aunties are keeping the featherwork art alive. The bar itself didn't have a very kulaiwi feel, but they knew their 'awa.

                                2. re: KaimukiMan

                                  I never went to the bar, didn't know there wasn't one anymore. Someone said there is one on Dillingham above Club Something (really that's the name) but it's somewhat scary to go into.

                      2. There is some good advice here. If you want any kind of 'urban' experience, which includes fine dining then Oahu/Honolulu is your best option, with side trips to the neighbor islands.

                        There are a couple of long extinct craters on Oahu to hike of varying degrees of difficulty from the steep but not difficult Diamond Head to the wet muddy and borderline dangerous Ka'au Crater - serious hikers only. http://www.vimeo.com/14303508

                        Each of the neighbor islands has it's charms, it's fans, and its foods. You aren't going to go hungry anyplace. If you want active volcanoes, it has to be the Big Island. Maui and the Big Island vie for second place when it comes to eating, but both are a far cry from Oahu in terms of the number and variety of dining options.

                        1. E mojoeater, Aloha Kaua:

                          You're getting some good recommendations here. Yes, if nightlife is a must, then O'ahu it should be. Likewise if you want a large number of restaurants "suitable for business entertaining". But no island (that you can get to) is bereft of good restaurants and good local ingredients.

                          This is for your *honeymoon*, hiki no? You want to be *alone*, right? Lay in the pili grass, sip some papaya mimosas, grill a nice piece of fish between...hikes. You want that or you want freeways between restaurants and military bases? You like asking someone if they'll make room for you on the beach? Hoping for that glimpse of Dog the Bounty Hunter?

                          With all aloha and hōʻihi to O'ahu, I think you'd be happier, have better memories on Kaua'i, Moloka'i or Hawai'i.

                          Aloha and Hoʻomaikaʻi ʻana (congrats).
                          Kaleo

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: kaleokahu

                            Thanks, k. It is indeed our honeymoon. But we aren't new to one another. We have known each other over 15 years, have lived on both coasts together, own a home, etc. We do want romance.
                            Your description of lying in the grass with mimosas sounds wonderful.

                            I'm a pale Irish girl and won't be fighting for space in the sun. I love walking on the beach at night. And the sound of the ocean is my favorite thing to hear as I go to sleep.

                            When we travel we enjoy meeting the locals and eating local food. We are generally not into fine dining. We are the type to sit at the bar in a new restaurant in order to talk to staff and regulars. If that bar is on the beach, all the better. We stay up late just by nature, but are not up for dancing in clubs.

                            1. re: mojoeater

                              You're welcome. Google "Da Fish Shack Anahola". That's Kaua'i

                              1. re: mojoeater

                                recheck flylice2x's posting above... those are the kinds of places you are looking for if you choose the big island.

                                on Oahu consider for lunch:
                                Town
                                Fresh Catch Seafood
                                Sugoi's Plate Lunch
                                Young's Fish Market
                                Ono's Hawaiian Foods
                                Kakaako Kitchen
                                Nico's Seafood
                                Jameson's by the Sea, Haleiwa
                                Liliha Bakery, can be a long wait sometimes
                                Bob's Giant BBQ - very local

                                For Diner
                                Hiroshi's (go early, sit at the bar, get the discount)
                                Alan Wong's (fine dining, but sit at the counter and talk...check Hunt's postings on this)
                                Murphy's Bar & Grill
                                Side Street Inn
                                Goma Ichi Ramen
                                Duc's Bistro Downtown
                                Duke's Waikiki
                                Longhi's, sit at the bar and talk - not my fave, but popular
                                Morton's 'power hour' was quite popular for a while, not sure now

                                Instead of Dinner
                                Sunset on the Terrace at the Halekulani w/ Drinks & Apps, Hula/Hawaiian Music

                                For Snacks
                                Royal Kitchen Manapua (Hawaii style dim sum)
                                Leonards Malasadas (Portuguese Donuts-no hole, i prefer the unfilled/original)
                                Waiola Store Shave Ice, either location, this is no sno-cone

                                -----
                                Duc's Bistro
                                1188 Maunakea St, Honolulu, HI 96817

                                Alan Wong's Restaurant
                                1857 S King St Fl 3, Honolulu, HI 96826

                                Kakaako Kitchen
                                1200 Ala Moana Blvd # 135, Honolulu, HI

                                Side Street Inn
                                1225 Hopaka St, Honolulu, HI

                                Waiola Store
                                2135 Waiola St, Honolulu, HI 96826

                                Murphy's Bar & Grill
                                2 Merchant St, Honolulu, HI 96813

                                Jameson's by the Sea
                                77-6452 Alii Dr, Kailua Kona, HI 96740

                                Longhi's
                                888 Front St Ste H, Lahaina, HI 96761

                                Goma Ichi Ramen
                                631 Keeaumoku St, Honolulu, HI 96814

                                Royal Kitchen
                                Chinatown Cultural Plz, Honolulu, HI 96813

                                Halekulani
                                2199 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815

                                Young's Fish Market
                                1286 Kalani St, Honolulu, HI 96817

                            2. Aloha..
                              Each island has its own vibe and we got married and had our honeymoon at the Grand Hyatt Kauai..stunning....aloha spirit screams from every palm and plumeria tree..da best!
                              O'ahu is wonderful and the food and nightlife can't be beat...some of the best food in the islands.
                              Maui has it all but can get congested in peak times.
                              Kauai and O'ahu are perfect...quiet beauty and fun nightlife and great food..
                              Aloha to you..

                              http://kauai.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels/i...

                              1. Halekulani's House without a key for drinks and app's is great for sunset.
                                Happy Hour at Duke's, Hula Grill at the Outrigger hotel, Top of Waikiki were excellent for mai tais and pupu's for little $.
                                Royal Hawaiian at the Mai Tai Bar is a wonderful spot to have drinks or lunch..pricey mai tais but excellent...their draft beer is $6 vs. $14 for a mai tai.
                                North Shore for some of da best Garlic Sticky Shrimp over 2 scoops of white rice at Giovanni's is something I still jones for almost daily..
                                Hiking Diamond Head the food truck at the park has the best deal for a huge bag of fresh sliced pineapple for $3 and it's a godsend after and before hiking.

                                1. Thank you all for the recommendations. Keep them coming!

                                  Excuse my ignorance, but how easy is it to get around? Can we walk to some of these places? And how does one arrange these day trips to other islands?

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: mojoeater

                                    On Oahu you really should have a car which would allow you to go to so many places in a timely fashion. If you google Polynesian Adventure Tours or Roberts tours you will find info on day trips to the outer islands.

                                    1. re: mojoeater

                                      While we usually have an auto (mostly to get to golf courses), we try to walk, as much as we can. Now, there are some routes, like the McCully bridge, and the next few blocks to King St (from Waikiki), where we will cab it. In Honolulu, cabs are easy to come by, and fairly priced. From Waikiki, it can be a lovely walk to downtown Honolulu and China Town, if you love to walk on tropical nights. Same for San Souci Beach - lovely walk through the park. That, however, depends on the individual. We usually end up paying for both a day of the auto, and then parking FOR the auto. Probably not good economy, but then there is the golf... [Grin]

                                      For longer trips, Da Bus is good, albeit somewhat slow. Still, it does almost a full-Island circle route, and can be great fun.

                                      Where are you staying, and exactly where do you wish to dine?

                                      Aloha,

                                      Hunt

                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                        We have made no plans and are open to anything, though we won't be able to go all out. We will want to stay somewhere with privacy and beauty, but not too expensive.

                                    2. we honeymooned in hawaii and i found the Four Seasons in Kona to be amazingly romantic and tranquil. The food was top-notch as well. We rented a car so we could go exploring but found we were happiest having dinner on the beach!

                                      1. We were gifted a week in Cancun and thus have yet to visit Hawaii. It is at the top of our list for when we can afford another real vacation!