Hawaii Top Five-O

1. Doris Duke’s ‘Shangri-la’, Honolulu

I cannot tell you how much I love eccentric gajillionaires and Doris Duke’s story is a doozy. The daughter of a wealthy tobacco tycoon, Doris became the richest woman in America at the age of 12 when her father died.

The view from Doris Duke's Shangri-La in Honolulu

At 23, Doris visited Hawaii on her honeymoon with first husband James Cromwell. She was bewitched by the island’s charms and the local people’s disregard for her celebrity. Alarmed by the prospect of returning to America to live with her new mother-in-law, Doris decided to stay in Hawaii, subsequently buying five acres of beachfront land to the north of Waikiki.

She went on to build a stunning Middle Eastern-inspired property called ‘Shangri-la’ and fill it with one of the most extensive Islamic art collections in the world. With urns dating back as far as the 6th century, this collection would not be out of place in a museum (in fact, Doris outbid The Met to purchase the most valuable piece in the collection, a lustreware mihrab).

Tours to Shangri-la depart from the Honolulu Academy of Arts, costs USD$15 and run for approximately 2hrs.

2. Moana Surfrider, Waikiki Beach

Built in 1901, the Moana Surfrider was the first hotel in Hawaii. There’s a reason she’s called the Grand Dame; think white Victorian-style building with commanding columns out the front, rocking chairs on the porch and old-school glamour throughout.

I found myself wanting to write a Thorn Birds-esque generational drama just so I could stay on as the script advisor (and raid the wardrobe department for high-necked Victorian frocks that I could swan about in looking winsome).

Moana Surfrider
The Moana Surfrider is the mothership for history-lovin' drama queens

She ain’t cheap (but what lady is?). For further information visit Tip: Have dinner at Beach House – it’s the epitome of elegance.

3. Island Helicopters Jurassic Falls Landing Tour, Kaua’i

Cheesy soundtrack aside, this helicopter ride is a total blast. Seeing Kaua’i, the oldest of Hawaii’s volcanic islands, from the air is an ideal way to understand its topographical diversity. From the staggering cliffs of the Na Pali coastline, to the ochre and emerald ridges of Waimea Canyon, Kaua’i is like nothing I’ve ever seen before.  A big time bonus is that this tour lands at ‘Jurassic Falls’ (more accurately referred to by its Hawaiian name, Manawaiopuna Falls), a waterfall in the heart of the island that is on private property. This is the only tour that allows people to visit this area.

4. Tahiti Nui, Hanalei Bay

A dive bar tiki joint with a film pedigree? Yes please! Tahiti Nui features in The Descendant’s as the place where George and Co have lunch and run into Cousin Hugh (played by Beau Bridges).  I loved it. It’s shabby. It’s adorable. It’s the kind of place you get a little bit pregnant by sitting down in a short skirt.

5. Forever 21, Waikiki Beach

Tahiti Nui
Tahiti Nui, home of the unplanned pregnancy

I was skeptical when I first walked in but within 10 minutes (and I will admit, I was a little bit pissed) I was filling a shopping basket with cheap and dreadful clothes suitable for teenagers. Yes! I was in heaven. Everything in this three storey temple of consumerism is around the USD$20 mark – I bought leopard print swimmers, a kaftan, two pairs of giant earrings, necklaces and a leopard skirt – oh, and a top – for USD$166. Remarkable.

Want to go to Hawaii? Well, I have good news for you peoplings! Qantas Holidays is running a promotion where you can win back the price of your flights if you book a holiday through them. Check out their Hawaii deals here.

2 comments on “Hawaii Top Five-O

  1. Ahhhh Forever 21, the epitome of American fashion for the budget concious – or teenagers – whatever the case maybe. I’m pretty sure I spent a similar amount on some clothing at one (or more) of their stores in mainland USA.
    Can’t wait to see some of these fashion highlights but other than that you’ve definitely inspired me to make sure I consider adding a stopover in Hawaii the next time head to America.

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