Waikiki Travel Guide

After Sydney’s endless summer, autumn has finally decided to show up. Except it’s more like winter because it is freeeeeezing. (It doesn’t help that our house doesn’t have heating yet either.) Last week, in the midst of a cold day, Jetstar released their annual birthday sale. For the past couple of years, we have always tried to book these birthday sale flights and organise subsequent holidays but it never eventuates because the flights sell out so quickly. Not this year though. I was stalking that website like the eagle stalks Kevin the dog in The Proposal and it finally paid off. I texted one of my besties, Holly, to see if she wanted to go to Hawaii in November and because she finishes her Bachelor degree in October, she agreed to go! Mahalo Jetstar for the return flight to Honolulu for $440 (I’d definitely recommend checking to see if they have any birthday sale fares left)! After booking our flights, I was searching accommodation options online when it dawned on me that I never ended up writing about my last trip to Honolulu. Better late than never, right?

IMG_0936_1024

IMG_6958_1024

Stay

We stayed at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort, and we could not have been happier with this option. There are a number of reasons why we chose this resort, including its central location to everything that is on offer in Waikiki (mainly the shops and the Honolulu Cookie Company!), the beachfront access, room configuration, affordability and other guest’s reviews. In terms of the room, we stayed in a partial ocean view room with two double beds and a double sofa bed, which was perfect for the three of us. As Australians, I think many of us get used to hotel rooms having certain amenities (such as kettles and fridges), but these are considered luxuries in hotels and resorts in the United States. This was something to be mindful of when booking our accommodation and the Outrigger had both, not to mention a balcony, which was a bonus! At the time we stayed, the Outrigger also didn’t charge a resort fee (which most hotels in the USA do), so that was another benefit of staying there as it saved us about $30 USD a day. However, they have since introduced this fee. The Outrigger resort is also home to Duke’s Waikiki Restaurant that serves the best waffle fries you will ever have.

IMG_6960_1024

The view from our balcony.

IMG_6957_1024

Eggs and coffee with a view? Yes please! Breakfast at Hula Grill Waikiki at the Outrigger.

IMG_1126_1024

Funny story about this photo! On our last day, we realised that we didn’t have a photo of the three of us. We were in the lobby of the hotel and asked a man walking past to take our photo. Turns out, he was a photographer with the National Geographic, so he crouches down, tells us to look away and then on the count of three to look at him and smile. The result? Well, you can see for yourself (I look like I’m crying because I was. Crying of laughter.)

Eat

  • Afternoon tea at the Moana Surfrider. As a little treat to ourselves, Prudence and I enjoyed afternoon tea under the banyan tree at The Veranda. It was a lovely afternoon and I’d highly recommend it. Tip: order less than you need. We ordered 2 serves of afternoon tea but we should have just ordered one + an extra tea because the servings were huge.

IMG_1111_1024

IMG_1122_1024

IMG_1115_1024

IMG_1105_1024

  • Duke’s Waikiki Restaurant for the aforementioned waffle fries.
  • The Cheesecake Factory restaurants are located all around the United States, but it’s an affordable and delicious eating option. Tip: the lines at traditional lunch and dinner times are crazy! People can wait up to 2 hours for a table, so we went at around 4:30pm, we beat all the queues and could choose where we wanted to sit. The servings at The Cheesecake Factory are huge, so I would definitely recommend sharing. Prudence and I got a meal each but only ate one between the two of us. My favourite cheesecake? Hands down, the Caramel Pecan Turtle Cheesecake.
  • Honolulu Coffee. Finding coffee in the USA that is up to Australian standards is difficult but we loved the coffee at Honolulu Coffee. The cafe was outside the Moana Surfrider and next door to the Outrigger, so we’d pop in before we started our day.
  • Honolulu Cookie Company. My gluten intolerance goes out the window when I am visiting the Honolulu Cookie Company. Their white chocolate and coconut cookies are the best. They have free samples in store, so feeling a little peckish? Drop by! (Also conveniently located next to the Outrigger.)
  • Issy popped over to Waikiki for the weekend and was adamant we go and eat pizza from this guy in a carpark. Whaaat?! My thoughts exactly. At the time, I had no idea what it was called or where it was located because we just walked a few blocks back from the beach and walked until we found it. I have since done some research and discovered it’s called Agostino’s Pizza. It’s such a funny little set-up. It’s completely outdoors in a carpark with a tarp overhead, plastic tables and chairs and paper plates and cutlery. The line was huge and it was incredibly delicious. Definitely worth the walk to the carpark if you want a pizza fix in Waikiki. From their Facebook, it seems like it is permanently closed but the address I found is 2463 Kuhio Ave, Honolulu. I’m praying it hasn’t permanently closed down.
  • Bills Hawaii. We didn’t get to eat here, but from eating at Bills Sydney and Granger & Co. in London, I expect nothing but the best with a side of Aussie-made coffee. I’m excited to try it in November!

IMG_1024_1024

Prudence and Issy at Agostino’s Pizza.

IMG_0968_1024

IMG_0963_1024

Honolulu Coffee.

IMG_1084_1024

Huge servings at The Cheesecake Factory.

Do

  • You can’t go to Honolulu without visiting Pearl Harbor. What an incredible and eye-opening experience to be able to tour Pearl Harbor and the various memorials. My number one tip for Pearl Harbor is to do your research! We were advised that the only way of going to Pearl Harbor was to do a tour, and because we all really wanted to visit, we paid over $150 USD each for a six hour tour (which also included a tour of Honolulu city). It was convenient as the coach picked us up from our hotel and drove us directly there and we were able to easily go to each memorial and site. We had trouble when visiting the USS Arizona memorial though, as the wind was too strong to hold guests, so we were unable to see it. The USS Arizona memorial is only accessible via boat as it sits above the sunken USS Arizona and is included in all guided tours. Due to the weather, we had additional time at Pearl Harbor and Prudence went to speak to guest services about ticket prices. The shock to us though, was that admission is free, but because it’s the most popular site in Oahu, they sell out incredibly quickly. Pearl Harbor itself suggests to visit on a guided tour as you’re guaranteed entry to all memorials. I’d read all of the information here before organising your visit.

IMG_7077_1024

IMG_7080_1024

IMG_7123_1024

IMG_7163_1024

IMG_7196_1024

  • Hire a car and drive around the island of Oahu. Little villages and towns scatter the coastline. The North Shore of the island is home to Turtle Bay Resort, which is a gorgeous place to stay or just to spend the day. We had a lovely lunch there before exploring the resort. It’s a completely different atmosphere to Waikiki, so I would recommend spending a few days here if you can. Another must on the North Shore is Scoop of Paradise ice-cream store in the historic surf town of Haleiwa. Scoop of Paradise serves homemade ice-cream with freshly made waffle cones (RIP me). Get the pineapple flavour! It’s the best ice-cream I have ever had. I’m salivating just typing about it. It’s worth the drive to the North Shore for this ice-cream alone.

IMG_7007_1024

IMG_7009_1024

IMG_0989_1024

  • Hike Diamond Head and wear appropriate clothing. Lots of climbing and stairs! Go as early as you can because it gets incredibly hot, but the views are absolutely worth every step.

IMG_7065_1024

IMG_7042_1024

IMG_7051_1024

IMG_7056_1024

  •  A trip to Honolulu (or anywhere in the United States) would not be complete without shopping! We were lucky that the dollar was incredible when we last visited Hawaii, so the deals were better than ever! Honestly, I have never seen such amazing sales. The US economy is stronger because of us (they can thank us later). We literally shopped all day, every day. It also helps that the majority of shops stay open until midnight every night. A dream come true for shopaholics like Prudence and myself. In terms of shopping, there are three main destinations I would recommend. The first is Kalakaua Avenue, Waikiki, which is the main street in Waikiki. This street backs onto the beach and is where the main hotels and resorts, restaurants and shops are located. There’s everything from Chanel to Sephora to ABC convenience stores. A quick fifteen minute ride away on the pink line of the Waikiki Trolley is Ala Moana Center, Hawaii’s premier shopping and entertainment precinct. Many of the shops at Ala Moana can also be found on Kalakaua Avenue, but as we experienced, the shops stock different items. At one stage, we went back and forth three times until we found what I wanted (#soznotsoz). I have saved the best until last! Waikele Premium Outlets! My word, these outlets are my happy place. On one of our first days in Honolulu, we went quickly for the afternoon so the boys could buy their Nikes. Prudence and I used this hour to go around the outlets to suss out what was there and to figure out our game plan for when we would go back for the day. I am so glad we did this as we were able to get a grasp on the cost and what was available at the outlets versus what was available in Waikiki. We hopped on a shuttle a couple of days later and spent the whole day there. From Polo Ralph Lauren to Nike to Adidas to Calvin Klein to Coach to Converse, everything was there! The bargains at these American outlets are unmatched to those in Australia. In Adidas alone, I bought a pair of sneakers, three pairs of tights, a jacket and a gym bag (which still goes unused ha!) for $123.00. Not joking. The whole day was like this. Our shopping took up six seats on the shuttle going back to the Outrigger. Across the road from the outlets is a traditional American mall with stores such as Target (different to and better than Australia’s), Gap and Old Navy. Tip: As soon as you get to the outlets, head to the information desk and show your passport. They will give you a visitor booklet with extra discount coupons!

IMG_0959_1024

I like to workout and by workout, I mean shop. This was just from one day at the outlets.

  • Relax! Honolulu’s laid back atmosphere provides its visitors with the perfect conditions to sit back, relax, drink mojitos and eat waffle fries. Waikiki Beach is incredibly accommodating and most resorts have chaises, umbrellas, beach chairs and inflatables to hire as well as surfboards and paddle boards.

IMG_1011_1024

Well, this post is longer than I originally thought but hopefully it helps you on your next trip to Honolulu! I’m super excited to head back in November and add to this guide. Honolulu offers the perfect combination of shopping, sightseeing, relaxation and adventure; there is something for everyone!

Have you been to Hawaii? What would you recommend or add to this guide? I’d love to know for my next trip! Mahalo!

x

Pumphouse Point, Tasmania

I have been dying to go to Tasmania for a while now, simply because I wanted to spend at least one night of my life at Pumphouse Point. Pumphouse Point is located at Lake St. Clair in the middle of Tasmania (aka the wilderness), and is definitely not somewhere I would usually be inclined to visit. However, the incredibly serene environment combined with the promise of good food and wine lured me to the heart of Tasmania in winter to experience this luxurious, welcoming and idyllic accommodation. You can read all about Pumphouse Point’s history here, but essentially, the original building was constructed in 1940 to house water turbines for the State’s Hydro Electricity Scheme. Built 270 metres into Australia’s deepest lake, Pumphouse Point is now home to eighteen rooms across two buildings (The Pumphouse and The Shorehouse). Our stay at Pumphouse Point surpassed all my expectations, and quickly became the highlight of our Tasmanian adventure.

DSC_0307

DSC_0304

DSC_0292

DSC_0293

DSC_0352

DSC_0349

DSC_0344

Room Five 

We arrived at lunch to a warm welcome from Renee and Josh, the General Managers of the boutique property. A quick buggy ride later, we were in The Pumphouse, surrounded by water and completely in awe of where we were. The whole concept and execution of the room (and entire property) was out of this world. The colour scheme, heated bathroom floor, rain shower, Grown Alchemist amenities, Samsung tablet, the view and most importantly, the BEST mini-bar I have ever seen/tasted make Pumphouse Point a bucket list item.

DSC_0249

DSC_0251

DSC_0267

DSC_0258

DSC_0259

DSC_0260

DSC_0269

DSC_0276

DSC_0252

DSC_0265

DSC_0256

DSC_0380

Lounge Areas

To be honest, I’m not too sure about The Shorehouse, but The Pumphouse had two communal lounge areas that visitors could utilise. Everything your heart could desire was accommodated for in these areas – incredible wine, good books, soft furnishings, board games and open fires. Brianna and I spent a heavenly afternoon by the fire playing Scrabble (and using the free wifi to Snapchat everyone, in order to make them jealous).

DSC_0283

DSC_0333

DSC_0285

DSC_0316

DSC_0315

DSC_0317

The Details

Getting there

Pumphouse Point is located in the middle of the wilderness and is mainly accessible by road. There is a helipad if you’re that way inclined (if you are, I am incredibly jealous and can we please be friends?!). It was a four hour drive from Stanley (on the northwest coast of Tasmania) and two and a half hours from Hobart.

Eat

Breakfast is included in the nightly rate (see below) but dinner is an additional $50 per person for a two-course dinner. Dinner is served communally in The Shorehouse with the other visitors. Initially, I was a little apprehensive about making smalltalk with strangers, but it turned out to be a fabulous evening! I was seated next to a Singapore-based TV anchor and food/travel reporter, who was doing a story on Tasmania. Naturally, I was in my element and girl-crushed on her for the remainder of the evening; I must’ve asked her one hundred questions (#soznotsoz)! Dinner was delicious and was made up of fresh, Tasmanian produce. We were treated to orange and honey glazed ham with creamy mash potatoes and seasonal vegetables followed by a beetroot and chocolate brownie for dessert (ah yum!).

Breakfast was a delectable selection of Tasmanian produce (do you sense a pattern here?), which included fruit, yoghurt, muesli, eggs, toast, ham, fresh juice, tea and coffee.

To Do

Pumphouse Point is ideal for any traveller, especially the adventurous type, which I admittedly am not. Because Brianna and I were only there for one night, we didn’t really venture far from the bar or lounge areas (ahem) but there is plenty to do, such as grabbing a complimentary bicycle to explore the grounds on. Click here for information on the activities that Pumphouse Point has to offer. If I were to stay again (which I will!), I would stay for two nights in order to spend ample time exploring Lake St. Clair, whilst also putting enough time aside to give the bar and lounge area my undivided attention.

Cost

We paid $320 for one night in a ground floor room at The Pumphouse, which included breakfast. The Shorehouse is not as expensive, at $240 per night. Dinner is an additional $50 per person for a two-course meal. You will also want to eat and drink everything in the mini-bar, so make sure you allocate funds for that!

DSC_0378
DSC_0379

Staying at Pumphouse Point is an extraordinary experience that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime!

All photos taken by me, unless stated otherwise.

Postcards from London: Day 8

Wednesday in London was definitely my favourite day! We began with breakfast at Daylesford, a cafe in Pimlico that sources the majority of its produce from its farm in Gloucestershire. We originally stumbled upon the Notting Hill premises and later realised that there was one in Pimlico, right near the Kate Spade New York store (how convenient!). Not only do they have a cafe, but Daylesford is also home to a bakery, deli and gourmet grocer. It reminded me a lot of the bakery out of It’s Complicated. I had the buttermilk pancakes with honey & fresh berries and an apple & elderflower juice – delish!

After shopping at Kate Spade New York and Acne, we made our way to Park Lane, Mayfair to see how the other half live by having lunch at The Dorchester. Oh my goodness! It was divine. Anna and I are 99% positive we were sitting opposite Ryan Seacrest, who was in London at the time (I googled). We can’t be 100% sure though because he was always mumbling (no chance of eavesdropping/listening to his voice #creepy) and he wouldn’t take his cap off. We’ll obviously claim it though.

Leaving The Dorchester, we walked through Hyde Park to see the Peter Pan statue, where we did get a photo but it turned out blurry thanks to the random stranger who took it. Anna then went to the Serpentine Galleries, whilst I continued walking through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens to Kensington Palace (KP if you are familiar with the lingo) to see my good friends, Wills and Kate. Again. 

By the time we left KP and the Galleries, it was already dark (classic London) so we headed straight to Somerset House for ice skating! In conjunction with Fortnum & Mason, Somerset House hosts a winter extravaganza, which includes ice skating, shopping and wining & dining at Fortnum’s Lodge. If you ever visit London leading up to Christmas, this is a definite must do! We had goose for dinner before skating and for aprés skate, we enjoyed delicious hot chocolates (visual below). The figure skates I have hanging in my bedroom at home (I sometimes tell people I used to be a professional figure skater #whatajoke!) and the numerous winters we spent in Canada as kids did not help me on the ice rink at all. I was pretty awful and clung to the wall for the majority of the hour!

IMG_3040

IMG_7885

IMG_7886

IMG_3097

IMG_3101

IMG_3102

IMG_7930

IMG_7946

IMG_3109

IMG_7929

IMG_7936

IMG_7941

IMG_3145

IMG_3148

Look, no hands!

IMG_3156

A white hot chocolate with salted caramel marshmallows for moi and a milk hot chocolate with vanilla marshmallows for Anna. 

It’s 8:21am here in Paris and the sun still hasn’t risen. As soon as it does, we are going to the Musée d’Orsay via Rose Bakery for breakfast and then onto La Tour Eiffel later this afternoon.

x

Postcards from London: Day 7

Last Tuesday we ventured out to Cambridge to witness the university’s world class reputation for academic excellence as well as to gain a comprehensive understanding of the city’s rich history. We thought it would also be a prime opportunity to find ourselves preppy boyfriends with British accents. 

The weather in London had been quite mild and not as cold as we had expected, so we I presumed it would be similar and dressed accordingly (i.e. cropped jeans, sneakers, light sweaters). It was not similar to London because it was FREEZING. We ate so much that day because we were always trying to find somewhere warm to defrost our faces. The walk from the train station into the city was a few kilometres so by the time we got into the heart of Cambridge, we were well and truly frozen. 

Whilst we didn’t succeed on the boyfriend hunt, we did leave:

a) with an appreciation for warm clothes (which we did not have);

b) wishing Australian universities had as much history as Cambridge and;

c) thankful for Chelsea Buns and hot chocolates. 

IMG_7814

IMG_7792

Ankle freezers. Literally. #notimpressed

IMG_7872

IMG_7870

IMG_7859

IMG_7854

IMG_7848

IMG_7844

IMG_7833

The original Cambridge University Press.

IMG_7838

IMG_7816

IMG_7805

IMG_7807

Wren Library at Trinity College was fascinating! Unfortunately we weren’t able to take photos but it’s home to many rare and valuable items (including an original manuscript of A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh!), most bequeathed by past students of the college. 

IMG_7808

IMG_7791

IMG_7804

IMG_7803

IMG_7798

IMG_7797

IMG_7789

IMG_7796

IMG_7884

IMG_7883

Tomorrow we are off to the Palace of Versailles, which is another one of my favourite places to visit in Paris. Marie Antoinette’s estate is a must see – it’s so charming!

x

Postcards from London: Days 5 & 6

Bonjour from Paris! Although we are très tired (too much partying in London), we are having a ball in the City of Lights. There is so much see and so many things to buy (#shopaholicsanonymous) that I haven’t had a chance to update you all on our European adventure (#soznotsozphilippa)!

So, back to last week in London…

On Sunday we did a spot of shopping before meeting Bridget at The Wolseley for high tea. Although we were disappointed with the service, the food and hot chocolates were delectable! 

IMG_7892

IMG_7893

IMG_2913

It was finally sunny enough on Monday to wear sunglasses! Hooray! (The occasion obviously calls for a celebratory selfie.) We were on our way to the city for a morning of shopping at Liberty (I died #ripme) before meeting Em for some sightseeing. 

IMG_7649

IMG_7650

IMG_7651

The charming and colour-coordinated street we called home for ten days.

IMG_7676

IMG_7678

IMG_7671

It was a close call but I am going to declare Liberty as my favourite department store in London.

IMG_7698

IMG_7701

IMG_2922

IMG_7703

Considering I couldn’t make it on the day, I had to go and visit Westminster Abbey, where my good friends Wills and Kate tied the knot in 2011. 

IMG_7708

IMG_7717

IMG_7719

IMG_7724

IMG_7725

IMG_7726

IMG_7731

IMG_7735

IMG_7740

IMG_2930

IMG_7743

IMG_7744

IMG_7746

IMG_7763

When Prudence, Mum and I came to London in 2007, Mum took us to Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen as a surprise (I figured it out though #thesmartchild). I can still remember the delicious meal we had (lamb ragu, goat cheese salad and risotto) so, of course, I had to come back and again, it did not disappoint! After a couple hours of sightseeing with Em, we arrived about half an hour early so we could enjoy cocktails at the bar and soak up the atmosphere. Aren’t the flower arrangements gorgeous? We started with freshly baked sourdough and puglian green olives before Anna had duck and I had the most incredible, melt-in-your-mouth ricotta & spinach agnolotti. The crispy duck fat potatoes with aioli were also out of this world. Dessert, or pudding, as the British like to call it, was a chocolate tart with a violet cream for me and a hazelnut gelato sandwich for Anna. The rosé is an obvious choice #addicted. It was all SO. GOOD. I would definitely recommend reserving a table if you are ever in London. We booked a couple of months in advance because it books out pretty quickly. It’s much better than Jamie’s Italian in Sydney. I also love Fifteen because it’s where Jamie initiated his Apprentice Programme, which uses the “magic of food to give unemployed, young people a chance to have a better future”. 

IMG_2936

IMG_2939

IMG_2941

IMG_2945

Back to Oxford Street for some late night shopping. Jokes, it was probably 4.30 in the afternoon when these photos were taken (good work London). I do love, love, love all the Christmas decorations and lights though! 

IMG_7769

IMG_7773

IMG_7776

We are now off to Carette for dinner in Place des Vosges! It’s my favourite spot in Paris, so naturally, I can’t wait. The rest of our London trip will hopefully be on the blog in the next couple of days. 

x