Escape Travel consultant Lana Rodgers recently dropped by sun-drenched Hawaii for a bit of beach time on her way back from a ski holiday in Aspen, Colorado. Apart from simply defrosting her toes, Lana delved into the local history, shopped her heart out and took to the water for a different kind of view of Oahu's beautiful seaside city Waikiki. We had a chat to Lana to say 'aloha', hear a few stories and get some insider tips all the way from Hawaii.
What drew you to this sun-drenched hotspot? I planned a great stopover in Hawaii for some time in the sun to warm up after an amazing ski holiday in the mountains of Aspen Colorado with my family.
Why do you think travellers fall in love with Hawaii? Hawaii has fantastic weather, it’s the home of the iconic Hawaiian shirt and it’s all about the surf. The scent of coconut is always lingering in the air and there are so many coconut products that you can buy everywhere you go. There are great resorts and hotels and plenty of places to have a lazy cocktail while watching the sunset. It’s an easy place to walk around, there’s lots of interesting things to see and there’s plenty to do if you want to be busy. But if you don't, it’s still the perfect place to hit the beach or laze by the pool.
What did you get up to? I was travelling with my father and he is a huge American history fan and aviation enthusiast. So he pulled me along to all the war museums. We also did a tour out to Pearl Harbour and saw the USS Missouri and USS Arizona memorials, and went to the historical museum there too, which is really great to see.
What was the most exciting thing you did? I'd have to say that the Pearl Harbour tour was exciting and also very humbling. It’s an interesting and solemn experience and something that stays with you forever.
What’s something unique travellers can do? You can take surf lessons in one of the best surfing destinations on the planet. I also went out on a catamaran which sails off Waikiki and it was beautiful to see the place from the water.
Did anything about Hawaii surprise you? I was in awe of how many beautiful hotels and resorts there are. The view from Diamond Head overlooking Waikiki was also great.
What local foods do you recommend travellers try? The Halekulani is a very beautiful hotel and they have signature dishes that are exclusive. I definitely recommend going there to try their famous Signature Coconut Cake!
Where’s the best shopping? I went out to the Ala Moana Mall and wandered around, did some window shopping and then went off to all the shopping outlets.
Where did you stay? I stayed at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel – my dad always used to refer to it as the ‘Pink Palace’. It stands out in Waikiki so distinctly and it is a very old and famous hotel.
What do you wish you did but maybe didn’t get time for? When I go back to Hawaii again I'd still go to Waikiki, but I'd love to spend more time visiting the other islands, see the volcano, see Kauai with all the waterfalls and canyons and maybe even do a cruise.
Do you have any memorable stories to share? When I first arrived, I went straight to the hotel. We had a room that was very high up and looked out over Waikiki. From a distance it was hard to make out what all of these different coloured rings and things were, and from afar it looked really interesting. I couldn’t quite make out what they were, but when I actually got down to the beach I could see that they were lilo's and lifebuoys in different colours. People were using them to stay afloat and just float around. The water temperature was quite warm, like a bath, and not rough surf, so not like Australia. The waves were just gently rolling in, and people were relaxing, floating around and just enjoying the water.