Say hello to the Hawaii Admirer
Ashlee Galea is a little bit famous amongst Australian Hawaii-philes. She followed her passion and now lives in Hawaii (*swoon*) and has launched The Hawaii Admirer, a vital resource for anyone planning a trip to the islands.
Read on to find out more about this inspirational human and her spiritual (and now physical) home:
How long have you lived in Hawaii for?
I moved to the island of Oahu, Hawaii in October 2015.
Why did you move?
I fell in love! In 2009 I became the Marketing Manager for Hawaii Tourism in Sydney, and six years later I’d travelled to Hawaii over forty times. I saw a lot of special places across the Hawaiian Islands, had incredible experiences, met wonderful people and felt that genuine spirit of aloha. I began dreaming about moving to Hawaii, and after a lot of investigation and hard work, everything fell into place.
Do you have a favourite island?
It would be a tough choice but if I had to choose one I’d say Hawaii, the Big Island. It has a magical feeling to it. It’s home to Hawaii’s only active volcano and diverse landscapes like lava fields, green pastures, tropical rainforests, lush waterfalls, white, green and black sandy beaches and even snow-capped mountains! On this island, I’ve been lucky enough to night snorkel with giant manta rays in Kona, stargaze on Mauna Kea the world’s tallest mountain (measured from the sea floor), and witness red-hot lava seeping into the ocean cruising off the coast of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. It’s also home to some of the most luxurious resorts that I’ve ever seen in my life on the Kohala Coast. It’s an extraordinary place.
What do you love about Hawaii?
I love the friendly local people, year-round warm weather, in-your-face natural beauty and daily rainbows. As a tourism marketer, Hawaii is the ideal destination to live. I relish in the incredible and lively mix of hotels and resorts, restaurants and bars, tours and activities and the shopping.
Anything you don’t like?
How large all the cars are in Hawaii and I’m still not comfortable driving on the right side of the road. I’ve also been surprised how some areas of administration are slow on the technology front; I had to hand-deliver a form once because the only other option was to fax it through and they would not accept a scan over email. I have taken for granted how forward Australia is, technology-wise.
Why should people visit?
Anyone who wants an easy and unforgettable holiday should visit Hawaii. It’s a 10-hour direct flight from the east coast of Australia, there is no language barrier, it offers an endless summer, has a beautiful culture and a raft of super fun land, ocean and sky activities. With tourism being the number one economic driver in the state, each Hawaiian Island gears itself towards delivering great vacations. Everyone is in holiday mode.
What’s new over there?
New Oahu hotels: The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club, formerly Hokele Suites Waikiki; Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach, formerly Ohana Waikiki West; The Ritz-Carlton Residences; Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach; Four Seasons Resort O‘ahu at Ko Olina, formerly JW Marriott Ihilani Ko Olina Resort; Hampton Inn & Suites Oahu in West Oahu; Alohilani Resort at Waikiki Beach is coming soon, formerly Pacific Beach Hotel Waikiki; and Prince Waikiki is coming soon, formerly Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki.
New Oahu restaurants: Nobu Honolulu, Nobu Waikiki moved location; Ravish at The Modern Honolulu, replaced Morimoto; 100 Sails Restaurant and Bar at Prince Waikiki; Maui Brewing Co. is coming soon, replaced Jimmy Buffett’s at the Beachcomber; The Fish House at the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina; Dean & Deluca at The Ritz-Carlton Residences; Stripsteak Waikiki, Eating House 1849, Kona Grill and Goma Tei on the Grand Lanai at International Market Place; and Waikiki Yokocho Gourmet Alley.
Where do you hang out?
- My regular coffee spot is Ars Cafe on Monserrat Avenue. It’s not far from Waikiki and it’s so good!
- The Mai Tai Bar at Ala Moana Center is my go-to for beers and live local music.
- One of my regular dinner spots is d.k steakhouse at Waikiki Beach Marriott. This restaurant is next door to Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar and they share the same bar. I always sit at the bar because you get to order off both delicious menus.
- Every Tuesday 4-7pm you’ll find me at the KCC Farmer’s Market, but there’s a bigger and better version for visitors on Saturdays 7-11am.
- I love shopping at Ross Dress For Less and Nordstrom Rack, both in Waikiki or at Ward Village.
What’s a fun local activity visitors can do?
I think a sunset sail off Waikiki Beach is a must-do for all visitors, Sail Holokai are fantastic, and their catamaran departs straight off the sand. It’s so pleasant and relaxed sipping on Mai Tais out to sea while gazing back at Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach. An Oahu island road trip is another must-do, visitors should hire a jeep and drive around the south-east coast up to the North Shore. It’s spectacular, and there are plenty of interesting sights to see along the way.
As a visitor, the vibe of Waikiki Beach really can’t be beaten. But if you’d like to escape the crowds, walk east towards Kapiolani Park and along Diamond Head Road to find plenty of hidden gems.
There are so many! I’ve narrowed down my Top 10 bars for drinking cocktails in Waikiki – click here for the list.
My personal best hike is the Waimea Valley Trail in Waimea Valley, opposite Waimea Bay on Oahu’s North Shore. It’s a short 3.2 km (2 mi) return stroll through stunning botanical gardens that leads you to Waimea Falls, a lovely waterfall that you can swim beneath.
Anything else we should know?
I won’t sugar-coat it; Hawaii can be very expensive but don’t be disheartened because it can always be done on a budget it just requires flexibility and a little extra research and planning.
Why should people read your blog?
The Hawaii Admirer provides useful Hawaii holiday advice and inspiration to help you plan your dream Hawaii holiday! People in the planning stages of their Hawaii trip, and fellow admirers of Hawaii, please feel free to connect on Facebook and Instagram/Twitter @hawaiiadmirer. You can also join the email list for a monthly briefing on Hawaii holiday need-to-knows, travel tips, $-saving ideas, itinerary suggestions, i-spy Hawaii discounts, what’s on and more.