Travel Tips

A Honeymooners Guide to Honolulu

This post has been stuck in drafts for a while. I was prompted to post it now that I’m in the midst of planning our second (extended) honeymoon! For anyone getting married, I highly recommend taking a week off straight after the wedding to unwind and reflect on everything. Here goes honeymooners or holiday makers – hope you find this handy.

Why Hawaii?

We chose Hawaii for our first honeymoon destination as Hawaii holds a really special place in our hearts. We got engaged in Maui (my tips are here and here). More than anything, we needed an utterly relaxing holiday. We didn’t want to move around. We just wanted to chill. And chill, we definitely did.

Being our second trip to Hawaii, something I noticed second time round was the light in Hawaii. It’s different from the light here in Australia. It’s got this ombre coloured glow. It’s not-so-harsh warmth is endearing. The sunsets are sublime. I would often go out at 6pm with my camera in tow, and just take photos of the sky – it was that sensational. The sun shines here practically all year round. So, anytime is a good time to visit Hawaii. We went in mid-February, which was winter – but from the photos you can see that there was no shortage of sunshine.

We chose to spend all our time in Waikiki, we adore this city. It’s that perfect mix of a resort holiday, with a little eating and shopping thrown in. You can choose your own adventures, you can go at any pace you want to. We took the lazy-pool-path, hardly venturing out from the comfort of our hotel or pool. But you can choose to shop-hard, eat-hard, drink-hard or party-hard. Waikiki has it all.





Where to Stay

On our first trip to Waikiki back in 2012, we took a beach walk from Kahluni Beach to the Ala Moana shopping centre (around 40 minutes). We spied all the hotel lobbies and took note of the ones we loved. It came down to three; The Westin for it’s sheer grandeur and in-the-middle-of-it-all location, The Sheraton for it’s incredible infinity pool, where you can float in pool beanbags all day, or The Modern Honolulu for it’s LA relaxed vibe-pool and impeccably styled rooms.

When it came to booking our hotel, I hit a bit of a hotel roadblock.

My gut was telling my The Modern Honolulu, because we both feel in love with it. But, my mind was swaying me towards The Sheraton or even the Hilton Hawaiian Village – its got five pools and slides (yes, I’m a kid at heart!). I ruled out The Westin because there was no-wifi and this annoys me so much, even low-budget hotels give guest wifi!

After a week of pondering, I booked The Modern Honolulu. I secured a fantastic rate by getting Flight Centre to price match Expedia. Throw in some credit card points and we had honeymoon lift off. And we chose right.

Upon arriving we got welcome drinks. We were able to go to our room way before the check in time, at no extra charge. The welcome caramels sent up by room service were to-die-for. You get Honolulu Cookie Company cookies bedside every night, along with a bucket of ice with water. Your room even comes with a mini yukele – a nice Hawaiian touch. The best bit is the LA-style pool. It’s a little piece of paradise. Hardly any families stay at the Modern Honolulu – so you don’t have to wrangle any screaming kids or wade with lots of people (which happens a lot at the other hotels). The poolside service was incredible. The happy hour from four to seven was something we took full advantage of. We didn’t even hit the beach!




Where to Eat

I had my honeymoon hawaii lazy pool mindset on, so we didn’t venture out to eat that much. This time round these were our favourites.

The Modern Honolulu
Sit by the bar and order the grove burger. It blew my burger-mind. I ordered it twice. House made brioche, medium rare thick tender beef patty, smoked cheddar and build it yourself sides of lettuce, thick (seriously thick!) tomato slices, onion rings and teeny-tiny sauces that you can add to your hearts content.

1775 Ala Moana Boulevard
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815

Morimoto Breakfast (or lunch or dinner)

We found the breakfast and lunch well-priced in a very tranquil setting. If you’re staying in the area, it’s a nice way to start your day. Choose the Japanese bento box style breakfasts, these will keep you full for ages. You’ll most likely have a very late lunch. Stop by at lunch (or dinner) for a bowl of ramen before hitting the pool again.

Onsite at The Modern Honolulu
1775 Ala Moana Boulevard
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815

Ramen Nakamura

This place is like a slice of Japan in Hawaii. The ramen is cheap. It’s fast. It’s delicious. We would always get the ramen and gyoza combo. Thirty bucks for two of us altogether – it’s a steal. I did try the specialty beef oxtail ramen, but wasn’t sold on it. I much preferred the flavour of the Tokyo or Tonkatsu ramen. The ladies that work here are super cute too, it’s hard not to like this hole in the wall ramen joint.

2141 Kalakaua Avenue Suite 1
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815

Dinner (or Lunch) at Dukes

This is a Waikiki institution, and for good reasons. One thing reins supreme, that salad bar. Look it’s no Sizzler back in the nineties, but after a lot of burgers, waffles, all round-heavy-american-food – sometimes, a little freshness is just what your stomach is after. The salad bar is all you can eat with the purchase of any of the mains at dinner. There are even two mini muffins to devour. My tip is to book for dinner at least four days in advance, to avoid the hour long wait.

On Site at the Outrigger Waikiki
2335 Kalakaua Ave., Suite 116
Honolulu HI 96815

Cheeseburger in Paradise

It is as the name suggests, it definitely is a cheeseburger in paradise. You can go wild and get double bacon, double barbeque, double beetroot, onion rings – the works. For me, a good ol’ cheeseburger is always a testament to how good a burger is. No fan-dangle add-on extras. Just a beef meat pattie, cheese, onions, sauce, soft bun with good structural integrity. That last point is vital. This place is casual, easy on the wallet and most of all serves a selection of beer – which is vital to wash down that burger. Go wild and buy a tiki cup, that comes with a lifetime of refills. We passed and downed pale ales instead, as cost per drink wasn’t in our favour!

2500 Kalakaua Ave
Honolulu HI 96815

Ray’s Kiawe Broiled Chicken

You must hire a car, and take a day trip to taste this incredible broiled chicken (and see the North Shore sights). This roadside shack bellows smoke into the air, so you can’t miss it. It’s american roadside eating, plastic chairs, sweltering heat, with a few flies thrown in. Swat them flies away as you gnaw on the bones and place a scoop of fresh pineapple slaw in your gob. It’s smokey, moist and finger lickin’ good (I downed half a chicken just to myself. It’s a mighty fine way start to your day). Trust me, don’t line up for those shrimp trucks – head straight for this chicken.

Malama Market
(parking) 66-19 Kamehameha Hwy
Haleiwa, Hawaii 96712





Where to drink coffee

Honolulu Coffee

Located in the Ala Moana Shopping centre, this joint is the bees nees. The coffee is delish – a good shopping stop, to refuel for a while, then shop all over again.

Located in the Ala Moana and other various locations

The Island Coffee Company

Perched up above street level. This small cafe dishes out decent coffee. Get it hot or cold, sit and sip by the balcony. Plus, take advantage of their free wifi, before wondering the main drag.

2301 Kalakaua Ave
Ste C215 Honolulu, HI 96815  

Friday Happy : Tokyo Buys Part One

Tokyo, what to buy, homewares, muji, kappabashi st

When I go to Tokyo I pack extremely light. Cabin baggage only.

I do pack a larger foldable bag inside my cabin baggage to carry all my buys on the way home. But before I left for Tokyo I said to myself, “You’re not going to buy that much stuff – you don’t need much more.” To counter this statement I only exchanged $1500 worth of cash (thankfully the aussie dollar is practically one to one, this has never been the case on my six prior trips). This cash would cover hotel, eating, transport and shopping costs. Sidenote: I find it much easier to use cash in Japan rather than a travel money card.

In terms of clothes shopping, if you are after designer – it’s the best place. For those of us without the cash for designer, I do find there is a lot of good-looking-fashionable-clothing that has a mid-range to high pricetag – yet it sucks on quality. I’ve bought this type of clothing on previous trips thinking it was a top find. But I’ve found, after one wash, it’s shrunk severely or lost it’s shape or buttons. This trip, I made a conscious decision to shop smart. Buy only really good quality items that will last and will work with existing pieces in my wardrobe.

In terms of homewares shopping. Japan (not just Tokyo) is pure heaven. I set no boundaries here in terms of dollars. However, in my mind any homewares that I bought needed to work with my collection, no one-off items. Things such as silicon moulds or kooky novelty kitchen gadgets – I wanted items I could shoot with and rework again and again.

With seven days in Tokyo – did my cash last?

For the most part yes. I went over because my cabin bag aka little blue broke after five long years together. It got replaced with a rather swanky Muji Bag that set me back $150 but it’s so well designed it’ll last me a good five years. That’s it!

Tokyo, what to buy, homewares, muji, kappabashi st

Fabric from Uniqlo, Tray from Muji, Salt and Pepper Shakers from Kappabashi St, Fur Pom Pom Badge from Lumiere, Amber Glasses from Kappabashi St, Bills Ricotta Hotcakes Keychain from Bills Omotesando (purely for the novelty factor!), Oak Cutlery Holder from Muji, Craig purse from Lumiere, Pewter Plate from Kappabashi St.

Tokyo, what to buy, homewares, muji, kappabashi st

Stone-look Plate, Teacups and Blue bowl from Kappabashi St, Oak Chopping board from Red Brick Warehouse in Yokohama, Linen Placemats from Muji, Enamel Tray Set from Red Brick Warehouse in Yokohama, Spot Purse from Lumiere, Blue Top from Kate Spade Saturday, Wooden fork and spoon from Kappabashi St.

PS – This is part one, just a snippet of things I bought. Part two will be up in a few days!

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