I had wanted to go to Hawaii as much as the Pope loves to break communal bread. I was infatuated with Hawaii long before I actually visited and this was due to watching those wonderful Elvis Presley movies, three of which were set and filmed in Hawaii. ‘Blue Hawaii’, ‘Paradise Hawaiian Style’ and ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’……..
On a Saturday afternoon in the early 1970’s……….wait, what! I know, hold on to your hats kids because that would make me how old! I would venture to the Wintergarden Theatre in old my home town for the ‘Elvis Matinée’. I loved the Wintergarden. It was my escape from everything and those Saturday afternoons meant the absolute world to me. An Elvis musical, a balcony seat, Jaffas and McMahons Sars were bliss to a young girl who lived in a south-east Queensland coal mining town.
Is it any wonder I was so mortified when the theatre was demolished in 1979 giving way to the construction of one of the most unattractive buildings ever conspired and lord, do not get me started on Cloudland!! Isn’t it funny how you can fret with nostalgia for something lost so long ago……………
‘The Wintergarden’ – Image courtesy of ‘The Fashion Archives’………
Anyway, back to wonderful Hawaii where there really is nothing more comforting than the smell of coconut oil, rum and frangipani leis. Plus your drinks come with pretty paper parasols, cocktails are served in tiki heads and happy hour isn’t just limited to one hour. Hawaii is also the perfect place to buy a ukulele and if that’s not enough, you are completely surrounded by ocean and the days are as sunny and bright and as warm as the locals.
What I admire too is that Hawaiians have a deeply profound respect for their culture which dates back centuries and they have an unshakable connection to their land and to the ocean. They are also full of that wonderful aloha spirit……
On Kuhoi Beach in Waikiki you will see an amazing 9 foot bronze sculpture honoring ‘Duke’. Duke Kahanamoku is one of Hawaii’s greatest hero’s. He was a true master of all water-sports including surfing, swimming and outrigger canoe paddling and he was a medal winning Olympian. He is also known as the ‘father of modern surfing’ who spread the beautiful spirit and sport of surfing around the world. Now that’s my kind of guy…….
They also have a great saying in Hawaii which is, “Eddie would go” and for some, it is a heartfelt belief to live by. What it simply means is ‘be brave, courageous and look out for others’ which I find to be a lovely sentiment of humanitarian beauty. Eddie Aikau was a big surf rider and by big I mean the waves that exceeded 30 and 40 feet. In an heroic yet tragic event, Eddie died whilst saving others and fittingly, there is an invitational big wave surf contest held each year in his honor called the ‘Quicksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau’. And this event will not be held without of minimum of 20 foot waves! Yeah!!
Hawaii is a colourful, vibrant and energetic place and fascinatingly (or perhaps not) this island nation loves its Spam! So popular is Spam that I actually believe Hawaiians may consider it a food group and you will also find Spam on the menu at Burger King (Hungry Jacks to us Aussies). The good people of this American state consume more Spam than any other state or country in the world with just over 7 million cans being opened per year. Do also bear in mind there are only 1.4 million people living on the islands! And if you have a hankering for Spam sushi or Spam musubi then Hawaii is the place to be.
The Aloha State is also the big kahuna when it comes to pineapple production!!
Paradise can get very busy and at times very touristy and you will find yourself shoulder to shoulder with holiday-makers and sight-seers but fear not. There are many places to get away from it all and you will find these little quiet spots of tranquility.
If you do want to get amongst it though and mix it with the locals and the tourists, then ‘Dukes’ could be the place for you. I really like Dukes………a lot! And you have to admire their motto which is ‘no shirt! no shoes! no problem!’ 🙂 From Dukes you can watch the ocean, see a sunset, admire the monolith that is Diamond Head and people watch. You can chow down on some very good surf and turf, develop a taste for Kimo’s chocolate hula pie or just sip a very good Mai Tai from a tiki head and shimmy……..which I highly recommend you do. They have live bands and a music collect from ABBA to the Velvet Underground so grab a seat at the bar and enjoy. Dukes is located on Kalakaua Avenue Honolulu at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort.
During the 1970’s there were some great TV shows produced and one of those was Hawaii Five-0. It first screened in 1968 and in the opening scenes, Detective Steve McGarrett played by Jack Lord, is on a balcony of a unit block and guess what. That iconic unit block is still standing, is still in use to this day and here it is……..
Right about now you probably have that memorable theme tune running through your head………..oh and its a cracker so you are most welcome 🙂
Hawaii is fun and its casual. A sarong and thongs – ‘rubbah slippahs’ (rubber slippers) – are perfectly acceptable attire and the place just makes you smile. There are many parts of the islands still unspoiled by tourism and high-rise development and these areas of wilderness and beauty are synonymous with Hawaii. Towering and ruggedly handsome mountain cliff tops, those massive thunderhead cloud formations, the active volcanoes glowing with lava and acres of lush green sacred landscape that run right to the edge of that glorious Pacific blue.
**While in Hawaii we visited the historic ‘Pearl Harbour Memorial Sites’. I will write of that trip separately as I believe these solemn and dignified memorials deserve the respect and honor of their own blog post.
Hawaii will enchant you with the islanders love of the ukulele, Spam, ‘Duke’, shaved ice, pidgin, outrigger canoes and surfing. This tropical paradise may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I’d like to think perhaps most of us would rather be a good slug of rum in a Mai Tai than a cup of tea any day………..xx
Part II – Pearl Harbour……..coming soon x