I never had much interest in Honolulu. Hawaii as a whole, yes – I first visited the state when I went on a three-week-long scuba diving/marine biology field trip to Maui while I was in high school. We camped in huts on the beach, dove with eels at night and shook scorpions out of our scuba booties in the morning. It was heaven.
More recently I wrote a series of travel articles on living like a beach bum with a butler in Kauai (highly recommend), driving the treacherous north shore of Maui (you definitely shouldn’t do this), and snorkeling at night with manta rays on the Big Island (actually scarier than diving with eels) – but Honolulu never called to me.
For a girlfriend’s stagette we were in search of a place that would be warm in January, easily accessible from the west coast, a place where you could lounge by the pool if you wanted to, eat incredible food, go dancing at night. A place that’s small enough to walk anywhere you wanted to go, but big enough that you could break off into a smaller group and head in whichever direction the trade winds take you.
Honolulu fit the bill. The hiking at Diamond Head, the standup paddle boarding right outside our hotel, the whales we saw during our sunset catamaran trip, the karaoke bars — they were just bonuses. Really, really fun bonuses.
I feel like it’s my responsibility now to shout from the rooftops that this city is underrated. Hence this PSA. Go to Honolulu, embrace its Palm Springs-like shopping strip. Revel in its busyness, embrace the tiki overload, make reservations at restaurants you’re worried will be overrated (but aren’t), bail off your paddle board because the surf is way bigger than you can handle.
You can visit a sleepier island another time.
I’ll be back, Honolulu. I’ll be back.
P.S. There are more photos where these came from so follow @KelseyDundon on Instagram.