Marie Claire (South Africa) - - FRONT PAGE - WORDS SARAH KHAN marie claire

New stuff to do, lis­ten to, watch and buy

uS Pres­i­dent Obama and his fam­ily spent their 2013/14 win­ter hol­i­day in Honolulu.Prince Jack­son was spotted there around the same time as hot cou­ple Sean Penn and Charlize Theron.Honolulu,on the is­land of Oahu, is the gate­way to Hawaii. It’s also where the vol­canic ar­chi­pel­ago’s nat­u­ral virtues meld seam­lessly with more ma­te­ri­al­is­tic plea­sures: the golden play­ground is fringed by cerulean wa­ters on one side and iconic re­sorts, like the rose­c­oloured Royal Hawai­ian, on the other; just be­yond the strip of luxe ho­tels lies Kalakaua Av­enue, a posh main drag lined with Chanel, Bot­tega Veneta and Cartier bou­tiques. I book a spa­cious room at the Hil­ton Hawai­ian Vil­lage – where the likes of Elvis Pres­ley and Prince’s fa­ther, Michael Jack­son,have rested their heads – which pre­sides over a prime hunk of ocean-front real es­tate on Waikiki Beach.While it hosts thou­sands of fam­i­lies, spring break­ers and con­fer­ence go­ers alike, the re­sort’s sleek, lux­u­ri­ous Ali’i Tower is a so­phis­ti­cated respite.The third-floor pri­vate pool deck seems a world away from the rest of the re­sort,and proves to be a prime spot to take in the weekly fire­works dis­play on balmy Fri­day evenings.

Part of a clus­ter of specks float­ing in the iso­lated depths of the Pa­cific Ocean, Hawaii is a far-flung place where most vis­i­tors pre­fer to pick one is­land and spend a week or two in one re­sort. In­stead, I’ve planned an am­bi­tious tast­ing tour of a hand­ful:10 days of the best of Oahu,Kauai and Maui. Glit­ter­ing Honolulu is a bustling me­trop­o­lis crowned by the Di­a­mond Head crater. Close to sun­set, I hike the cir­cuitous path that winds around it, and my re­ward at the top is a stun­ning panorama over a city seem­ingly borne from the ocean.The sky­scrapers ap­pear to teeter along the wa­ter’s edge, look­ing as if they might tum­ble in at any mo­ment. The next day I drive north through lush in­land plan­ta­tions and rolling fields, un­til I ar­rive at the famed surf­ing ar­eas of the North Shore. Sun­set Beach is reg­u­larly pum­melled by

12-me­tre-high waves in win­ter but, when I ar­rive, the jade wa­ters are peace­ful and the north­ern coast seems oceans apart from the shim­mer­ing spires of Honolulu. In­for­mal shrimp shacks line the stretch of Kame­hameha High­way that traces the coast, and I pull in next to Gio­vanni’s, a truck coated in graf­fiti scrawled on it by happy pa­trons. Af­ter a plate of juicy, spicy shrimps wok-seared in but­ter and served with rice, I cleanse my palate with a re­fresh­ing co­conut, mango and straw­berry shave-ice dessert – Hawaii’s famed sug­ary treat. (It’s like a snow cone but the ice is shaved from a block rather than crushed.)

I leave Oahu for Hawaii’s gar­den isle, Kauai. Thanks to its cameos in movies like Juras­sic Park, Tropic Thun­der, and The De­scen­dants, Kauai’s raw, nat­u­ral beauty has long been etched in my psy­che. The is­land is a hiker’s par­adise, with thou­sands of trails leading to hid­den wa­ter­falls and se­cret beaches. But my favourite part is the lit­tle-known Hindu monastery,a lush,serene oa­sis over­look­ing a river.The best way to see an is­land that’s 90 per cent un­de­vel­oped and in­ac­ces­si­ble by road is by book­ing a he­li­copter tour – from 1 500 me­tres high,the views of the pro­tected and pre­his­toric land­scapes are stag­ger­ing. We hover over the lush Waimea Canyon, of­ten called the Grand Canyon of the Pa­cific, then skirt along the sheer cliffs of the dra­matic Na­pali Coast, dot­ted with se­cluded beaches only ac­ces­si­ble by boat. Kauai seems to have won the nat­u­ral lot­tery, a stun­ning show­case of scenic majesty – but it’s also man­aged to re­tain its iden­tity and keep tourism mostly at bay. I head back to the Grand Hy­att Kauai just in time to watch a daz­zling sun­set framed by the open-air lobby, and feast on one of the best meals of my trip at the ho­tel’s Tide­pools restau­rant: ahi tuna with foie gras- in­fused rice, a macadamia-crusted mahi-mahi (a ray-finned fish), and suc­cu­lent steak.

The is­land of Maui is Hawaii’s golden child, known for its pris­tine beaches, the posh re­sorts that line them, and for its many scenic drives. It’s the kind of place where you go for a few days and wind up stay­ing for­ever – in­deed, many of the lo­cals are ex­pats who have been wholly em­bed­ded into the fab­ric of is­land life. If you look at the wind­ing road to Hana, a town on the east­ern tip of the is­land, on a map, it ap­pears like a sense­lessly etched se­ries of squig­gles. Those brave enough to tra­verse this route are re­warded with beau­ti­ful black-sand beaches and a se­ries of wa­ter­falls along the way. If you’re look­ing to stay some­where that feels more like your friend’s stylish beach house, try the ul­tra-mod­ern An­daz Maui at Wailea, a min­i­mal­ist re­sort with quirky touches like a sand­pit in the the lobby. At the apothe­cary-like spa, a ther­a­pist treats me to a lus­cious, cus­tom­ized blend of cu­cum­ber juice, straw­ber­ries and macadamia-nut oil. Fam­i­lies may pre­fer the suites at the Fair­mont Kea Lani nearby, a play­ground for grown-ups and chil­dren alike – there’s both a wa­ter slide for the kids, and an adults-only pool. One night, our waiter at Ko, the Fair­mont’s sig­na­ture restau­rant, clues us into a hid­den snorkelling spot where lo­cals have planted a ‘No Park­ing’ sign to mis­di­rect tourists.

On our last day in Hawaii, I’m ea­ger to make the drive up to Mount Haleakala¯, ru­moured to host one of the world’s most epic sun­rises. But get­ting up at 3am to make the two-hour drive, only to jos­tle for space on top of a 3 000-me­tre­high crater with other tourists, does not sound ap­peal­ing and we opt in­stead to go for sun­set. We wind up twist­ing roads past sug­ar­canecrusted fields and up to the sum­mit of Haleakala¯. The clouds form a thick car­pet be­neath us and the sun casts a saf­fron glow over them be­fore sink­ing down into the white abyss. There are sur­prises around ev­ery palm tree here, and mo­ments to cel­e­brate at any height.

Clock­wise from top left Waikiki Beach; a bronze statue of Duke Ka­hanamoku wel­comes you to Waikiki; the Waikiki Twin Tow­ers are sit­u­ated right on the Ala Wai Canal in Oahu; a Sephora out­let in Honolulu; long­boards for rent on Waikiki Beach; tourists cover ev­ery inch of sand on Waikiki beach; Pres­i­dent Obama en­joy­ing a shave ice on a re­cent trip to Hawaii; down­town Honolulu.

Clock­wise from right Ha­ha­lawe

Falls in Ki­pahulu, Maui; Hil­ton Hawai­ian

Vil­lage; world-fa­mous shrimp from

Gio­vanni’s Shrimp Truck.

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