G and I took a quick trip to Hawaii in December. It was during the lull between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it was a fabulous way to decompress and mentally prepare for the madness of the holidays.
As usual, I did a boat load of research and had all our days planned out… a little hiking, some snorkeling, a drive around the island, and a site or two to visit.
Are we going to golf?
That’s all G wanted to know. I said probably not, but we packed a few golf balls and our shoes at the last minute, just in case.
On the way to the airport, I realized I had left all my travel notes at home. (Not unusual for me.)
We arrived on a Sunday afternoon, rented a convertible, and checked into the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel. We had a gorgeous view of the water from our room:
That was the best part of the hotel. Breakfast, which was included in the price, consisted of a long line of people toting little coolers from their rooms down to the pool deck, stuffing them with yogurt, pastries, fresh fruit, and the occasional miso soup or cold noodle salad, and then trying to find someplace to sit down to eat. But the guy playing the ukelele and singing Hawaiian songs made it somehow bearable.
The first morning, we checked the weather for the week, and then decided, believe it or not, to go golfing. On the way to the course, we stopped to admire the view from Pali Lookout, which made me feel better about my decision. Sightseeing + Golfing = Win/Win!
By the way, I highly recommend EZLinks for booking tee times while traveling…you can get amazing deals. We managed to get half off at Ko Olau Golf Club, which is a beautiful and very challenging course about 30 minutes inland from Waikiki. We were told to expect to lose a ball a hole, and we pretty much did!
If you go there, beware: while we were teeing off on the back nine, a mongoose stole the second half of G’s tuna sandwich right off the seat of our golf cart. We heard a commotion and turned to see the styrofoam container lying on the path behind the cart, and the culprit fleeing into the dense, ball-eating brush.
We watched the sunset the first night with a couple of cocktails. Wherever you are on the island, everyone seems to stop what they’re doing to make sure that the sun actually does drop below the horizon. Then it’s business as usual, which basically consists of ordering another cocktail and deciding on where to go for dinner.
And that brings me to the food in Hawaii. Mmm mmm good! Especially if you like Asian food.
As a matter of fact, if you didn’t know better, you would think you were in Japan…
I kid you not when I tell you that there were more Japanese in Oahu than Caucasians. But that is not a bad thing, because at least the Japanese are quiet and, for the most part, polite.
But back to the food….
The two meals that stood out for me couldn’t have been more different. The first was at Nobu, the restaurant owned by the famed Nobu Matsuhisa. He’s the one who trained Morimoto, the Iron Chef.
It is a very beautiful and elegant place, with its soft lighting and chandeliers that look like sea urchins. We asked our waitress for recommendations and she delivered an outstanding array of mouth-watering dishes, including Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeños, Fresh Oysters with Assorted Sauces, Toro Tartar with Caviar, and Black Cod. It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had.
The other place that blew me away was a small noodle house called Marukame Udon. The constant line outside bears witness to the freshness and taste of a meal literally prepared before your eyes. And the best part was – it was cheap! I had the curry udon and tempura shrimp, and I would have been happy to eat there every day.
In between meals, G and I did manage to hike to a waterfall (Waimea Valley), drive around the island (and see surfers gearing up for competition on the North Shore) and even snorkel (Hanauma Bay).
We even got to golf once more, At Ewa Beach, on our last day, since our flight out didn’t leave until 11:50PM.
And you will be happy to know, we made sure that the sun set every night, including the day we left!