Honeymoon in Hawai’i

How is it when on holidays you feel the need to do everything, climb mountains, find the best vintage shop, stand on a surf board, navigate an island, all on the first day? One benefit of doing all the ‘must dos’ first, is that by the end of the trip I have whitled the list right down to just one thing – hang out on the beach.

Paloma’s pram is laden with beach toys, woven mats, towels, a blow up beach ring, small bottles of Malibu, everything a gal needs for some fun in the Hawaiian sun. My penchant for pom pom decorated sombreros, psychedelic maxis and daily glam doesn’t exactly make one inconspicuous. A man rushes over from the other side of the street to tell me I look like ‘Lady Gaga but with a baby!’ It’s hard to know what to do with a comment like that.

Mahalo Aloha!

Waikiki Beach provides hours of people watching pleasure. They watch you, you watch them, and only occasionally does anyone spare a glance at the horizon. There are some whacky fashions getting around on the beach every day. Pint-sized Japanese girls in lurid bikinis and gold glitter high heels, trying to walk through the sand. One woman with DDDD boob job, lip job and what ever else job mincing along the shoreline stopping tourists each hour asking them to take her picture. We see her every day, like we see the frog man with yellow headphones and metal detector combing the sand and shallows for treasure. Ben and I get obsessed watching a couple we have diagnosed with OCD, arrange their space-age beach mats to the millimeter, standing for hours parallel to one another, pivoting slighlty on the spot at angels to the sun, quietly reading airport thrillers. One day I overhear the husband chastising his wife for laying down at the wrong time and for kicking a little bit of sand on his mat. I actually saw that he fell asleep and scared himself awake and blamed his wife for it. People are fascinating creatures to behold.

Not one to shy away from strangers, Paloma delights the adults and terrorizes the little kids on the beach. Trying to be friendly she babbles away with a little Japanese girl only to get over excited and squeal in her ear and make the little girl burst in to tears and run off. Paloma stands dumbfounded but all the parents are hysterical with laughter. While Ben is at work we spend hours hanging out here, swimming, looking for fishies and drinking pina coladas, trying to pretend we have longer than a few days left.

In the afternoons, when Ben is with us again, we watch the sunset as Paloma is serenaded by ukelele players under Waikiki coconut palms.

Boudoir

Later in the week we meet up with Don Tiki and his wife, king of new exotica whose album ‘South of the Boudoir’ has just been released, for a Mai Tai or two.

Celebrating our Hawaiian honeymoon we spend one of our final nights at the famous Royal Hawaiian enjoying their fabulous luau. One of the original hotels on Waikiki Beach, the Royal Hawaiian is built in a Spanish style and painted the perfect pink, with archways and broad verandahs and lush tropical gardens.

The immaculate lawns level out to the beach and an uninterupted view of Diamond Head. Its our second home! Getting in the spirit of things we dress for a 1960s luau and are pleasantly surprised to find the experience has completely retained the feel of that era when Hawaiian holidays were all the rage.

Paloma Rose and the Royal Hawaiian Beach Boys

The band looks like they have stepped off the sleeve of a Hawaiian LP, the sensually swaying hula girls, the savage fire dancers and crazy ukelele players, and a charming MC with countless costume changes.

All-you-can-drink Mai Tais complimented a delicious 5-star Hawaiian menu. It is the ultimate vintage Hawaiian experience. But when the audience applauds it is just as much for the glorious sunset and the pink sky of Waikiki.

Aloha nui loa!

Where ever I lay my lei, that’s my home.

First impressions of Honolulu is a crazy mix of Las Vegas glitz, Bondi chill and romantic Hawaiian Hollywood history. We skipped straight off the plane into our fresh flower leis and bikinis and onto the smooth as silk sandy shores and aquamarine waters of famous Waikiki. Long waves breaking over the reef with scattered surfers and paddle-borders silhouetted against the landmark Diamond Head comprises our first glimpse of this little paradise we will call home for just under a month.

Along Dukes Lane where we ducked to avoid Made in China ‘hand carved’ signs such as ‘Welcome to the Tiki Bar’, tons of shells adornments and super-synthetic Aloha shirts, we arrived at The White Sands Hotel – our fabulous two-star 1950s hideaway just two blocks from the beach. Here Ben welcomed me with a bottle of Sailor Jerry spiced rum and for Paloma a bag of buckets and spades for the beach.

On the far side of Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay nestles in the crater of a long extinct volcano that is, with good reason, heritage protected. It is a nature reserve teeming with gorgeous tropical fish and a huge coral reef and seems eons away from bustling Waikiki. Without a wink of sleep since leaving the plane, I dived down to the bottom where fish swam through my hair and watched a school of convict fish glide past wearing black striped pajamas.

Paloma is now walking, practically running in fact, and does exactly that as soon as she hits the sand. We spend hours in the sea and sun with tall spindly palms swaying their green Mohawks above us till our tummies rumble.

A few gems of information were passed down to us as ‘must do’s’ in Hawaii. The Rainbow Drive-in for Teriyaki burgers, Leonard’s for marsalamas. Fast food has never been our thing but both of these are yum and fun. Hawaii, like every other American state, seems afflicted by the restaurant chain and every block in town seems identical for that reason. But the Asian flavours are easy to find and is especially abundant in Chinatown, of course, where spicy and fishy scents permeate the air.

Walking down the main drag of Waikiki to the beach on day two and we’re stopped by a film shoot, which is rather annoying until we realise that we’re listening to Georgie Parker delivering lines for ‘Home and Away’. Not only is Waikiki’s sand imported from Australia, but our soap operas shot in Hawaii too it seems. For a moment we feel like we’ve never left home.

Ben has had a week up on us, diligently sampling the various Mai Tai in order to provide us with the best one at sunset. We sit by the sand at the grand old Moana Hotel where Mark Twain once stayed and drink the second best Mai Tai Waikiki has to offer.

Paloma runs among the cocktail set, meeting and greeting the guests with her latest additions to her vocabulary ‘birdie’, ‘bubby’ and… ‘turtle.’ Well yes, there are birdies and babies but we have yet to see a live turtle, but that is the aim. Paloma has a head start with her own kind – local white doves – and lets them feed out of her hand under the coconut palms.

The sky turns cotton candy pink, lemon-sherbet yellow, tangerine dream and swirled violet before dripping like Neapolitan ice cream into the ocean. A glowing golden orb sinks below the waiting horizon as another perfect Hawaiian day turns to night.