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HONOLULU, HAWAII: The Ultimate Relaxation with Plenty of Adventure
Story and Photography by Larry Turner
HighOnAdventure.com   June 1, 2013




    The view was to die for. I'm happy that I didn't though, because I would have missed four extraordinary nights and five days in visual paradise, steeped with deep relaxation and a nice mix of adventure.


    The Waikiki Sheraton Hotel (www.sheraton-waikiki.com) commands one of the finest views of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head (Oahu, Hawaii) that exists. I recommend room number 1248 for starters, but no matter which room you get, you'll get a view. The room which I shared with my two sisters, Brenda Turner and Nancy McCollam, was very comfortable and spacious enough, but it was the balcony which I enjoyed the most with the day and night views. The morning sun slashed the balcony with generous but not overpowering light (the trip took place in May) and the afternoon shade was most welcome. Underwear and a pair of shorts, or a swimsuit, is all you need, as the May temps were perfect.












    This was my first Honolulu experience though I had touched down in the airport before to change planes...and boy was it a nice surprise! I always viewed it as a place that did not fit my spirit with too many tourists (like myself) depicted in photos crowded on Waikiki Beach...something which I eschew in favor of more solitary places. I had also heard horror stories about the Oahu traffic (with delays longer than L.A.)...and maybe that is so but we stayed put, venturing out only by foot (and boat twice and a taxi once) and not once did I feel overcrowded.






    The Waikiki Sheraton is a perfect place to stay, unwind and to let cares fall away like breaking Waikiki waves. It requires an ample budget but it is well worth saving for.  Brenda and I—the bookends of our family with six other siblings between—flew Allegiant Air round trip from Eugene, Oregon for less than $300 each.This special takes place every Saturday. Our sister Nancy would join us the following day from the Big Island, Hawaii where she lives.


    So what do you do at the Sheraton? Well, the balcony would gather me initially for the first light, then I would mosey down to the Helumoa swimming pool (and playground for kids of all ages, including us adults), select a recliner on the grass near the palm trees and hammocks and catch the dappled early light while reading the daily newspaper. Quiet time before the kiddos and their families arrived at the pool. Sometimes I would slip into the nearby hot spa tub to drink my coffee. Then I would swim. This was followed by breakfast in the room from purchases made at a nearby ABC Store (generally yogurt and papaya with some macadamia nuts). The daily walk along Waikiki Beach and Kalakaua Avenue I would take with my sisters, turning around either at the Honolulu Zoo or Queen's Surf Beach. It is a fascinating walk where you see people from all walks of life and ethnicity. There is plenty of shopping and browsing to be done along the way, too, though minimal for me as I went to photograph and hike.  And if you want to surf, paddle board, boogie board, snorkel, dive, work on your tan, try a new drink or food, hike to the top of Diamond Head, canoe, kayak and more, there is a plethora of opportunities along the way.










    My sisters wanted to work on their tans—they're sun worshipers and they like great white New Zealand wines for sippin' while they're reading and lulling afternoons away in Aloha land—so every afternoon I would find and join them at the Sheraton's 'oh so soothing' Infinity Edge Pool. Nancy would get up early and secure the best Infinity lounge chairs. The pool is located on the afternoon sun-side of the Sheraton, with a stout sea wall right below it (along with a pathway). While in the pool (sea water, by the way), there is an illusion that the pool and ocean are one. After too many mai tai drinks, sometimes it is.









    The Sheraton's famous Rumfire—voted the 'Best Bar in Honolulu'–is near the pool. Their afternoon Happy Hour (4-6pm) features 50 percent off select drinks and tapas. Don't miss it. The Rumfire is a great restaurant featuring what they call “Pacific Rim of Fire” cuisine, such as spicy ahi poke and kim chee fried rice.  Their signature drink is the cucumber lavender mojito. While the Rumfire takes top billing, other eating and dining pleasures of the Sheraton include The Edge of Waikiki, Kai Market and Ingredients.












    Though most of our time was spent relaxing at the hotel (along with our daily walks), we did two catamaran outings that were epic, and I can't recommend them enough.  The 44-foot Maita'i Catamaran (www.maitaicatamaran.net) may be the best sail/cruise bang for the buck on the island. Owner George Parson received the last commercial catamaran permit available for Waikiki in 1976. The green sail vessel—which seats up to 47—gives one a view of Waikiki and Honolulu that is unforgettable. We took the Sunset Mai Tai Sail with George and his outstanding crew ($39 gets you on board and as much as you wish to drink, with or without alcohol; just go for the mai tais), and experienced a glorious sunset with grand views of Diamond Head and Honolulu. It's unforgettable so give it a go while you're there. We liked it so much that we did the Underwater Adventure Sail two days later ($45 for two hours of snorkeling and enjoying).  Maita'i means excellence. All that I can say is: well named.


    Would I go back to Honolulu again after waiting for so long? Indeed I would—in one mai tai second. Aloha and Mahalo.












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