Destination: Honolulu

Visit

Iolani Palace

(364 South King Street, tel: +1 808-522-0822, www.iolanipalace.org)

Once the official residence of the Hawaiian monarchy, Iolani Palace was converted into a government base after the monarchy ended in 1893 and its last reigning monarch, Queen Liliuokalani, was deposed.

The building was then restored to its former grandeur and opened to the public as a museum in 1978.

Besides to revel in its rich history, visit also to marvel at its old-world glamour - a tour of the building takes you through the grand Throne Room, where state balls and diplomatic receptions were once held, and the State Dining Room, where world leaders once dined.

Admission starts at US$14.75 (S$18.70) for a Self-led Audio Tour.

Eat

Rainbow Drive-In

(3308 Kanaina Avenue, tel: +1 808-737-0177, www.rainbowdrivein.com)

As a result of the immigration of ethnic groups (namely the Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Korean, American and Portuguese), Hawaiian food (also called "grinds") is a mishmash of Eastern and Western cusine. Rainbow Drive-in, a casual diner that has been serving delicious "grinds" since 1961, is a hot favourite among the locals (and early-morning surfers, thanks to its proximity to Waikiki Beach).

Try the Loco Moco Plate (US$7.25) - white rice topped with a hamburger patty, a fried egg and brown gravy, served with creamy macaroni salad - or the Pork Long Rice (US$6.50) - seasoned bean thread noodles (tang hoon, or what the locals call "long rice") served with shredded pork and veggies.

If you're up early, drop in for the hearty Breakfast Special (US$5.65), which comprises meats, eggs and rice or toast.

My favourite: the Mix Plate (US$7.95), which brings together some of the most popular items on the menu - teriyaki beef, shoyu chicken and fried mahi-mahi (a type of fish), served with rice and macaroni salad.

Stay

The Kahala Hotel & Resort

(5000 Kahala Avenue, tel: +1 808-739-8888, www.kahalaresort.com)

This luxurious oceanfront resort is located in the prestigious Kahala neighbourhood - away from the overly touristy Waikiki but just minutes from the shopping and nightlife beyond the Kahala area.

Besides plush rooms with island touches (in the form of cultural artefacts and paintings by local artists), it's the array of activities available on site that makes the hotel such a popular choice with the discerning lot.

Pamper yourself at The Kahala Spa with its signature Polished, Pretty & Pampered experience (US$520 for 210min), which comprises a full-body massage, a facial and mani or pedi, or get into zen mode with a yoga class or two (from US$25) at the hotel's Chi Health & Energy Fitness Center.

Otherwise, there's always the option of vegging out with your iPad at the beachside - yes, there's free Wi-Fi.

If you want to head out, the resort provides a free shuttle service for guests. Room rates start from US$300 a night.

Drink

Bevy

(661 Auahi Street, tel: +1 808- 594-7445, www.bevybar.com)

This trendy bar in the newly fashionable Kakaako neighbourhood has its cocktail menu divided into two sections: in-house creations ("Crafted") and its take on classic cocktails ("Libations").

Try the Kitchen Sink (US$10), a "Crafted" creation with rye, and Meletti Amaro, Cioccolato and Anisette liqueurs, and the classic-with-a-twist Hemingway Daquiri (US$8), made with premium Ron Matusalem rum, Maraschino liqueur, grapefruit and lime.

The modern ethnic food menu (all dishes are made from locally sourced and sustainable ingredients) is equally adventurous. Must-tries: the Pair of Oysters with Papaya Salsa (US$5), and the Fried Goat Cheese with Goat and Goat's Milk (US$8).

Shop

Ala Moana Center

(1450 Ala Moana Boulevard, tel: +1 808-955-9517, www.alamoanacenter.com)

Save a few days for this mega mall - the largest open-air shopping mall in the world has more than 290 shops and restaurants, including department stores Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, high-street brands and familiar designer labels.

If you can't decide where to start, first check out brands you cannot find back home, like Express (where you can get cute dresses for work and play), American Apparel (great for basics) and J.Crew-On-The-Island (for preppy chic attire).

There are also supermarkets, food courts, beauty salons and restaurants. When you're all shopped out, head to the raucous Mai Tai Bar on the rooftop for drinks, nibbles and live music.

Go for the Hang Ten Happy Hour, from 4pm to 7pm - you'll get bar bites for US$5.50 each alongside discounted drinks.

Play

Dole Plantation

(64-1550 Kamehameha Highway, Wahiawa, tel: +1 808-621-8408, www.dole-plantation.com)

What began as a humble roadside pineapple stand is now a sprawling attraction that allows visitors to experience the sweet tropical fruit that Hawaii is famous for.

Visitors can ride the Pineapple Express train (above, left) on a narrated tour of the plantation, wander through the eight different gardens for an up-close view of the spiky fruit as well as other local crops like coffee and chocolate, and get lost in the Pineapple Garden Maze (the world's largest maze, according to the Guinness Book of World Records).

Don't forget to visit the store for pineapple in every form - candy, cookies, jam, salad dressing and even tea. Admission is free.

 

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