Hawaii top tips
Our Air New Zealand flight to Hawaii was 8.5 hours on one of the new Dreamliners. Though we flew at 9pm, with the intention that the kids would sleep through and wake fresh and rested, a family nap was needed that first day.
Where to eat
Many places offer a happy hour between 3-5pm, which is a boon for those with young kids who eat early – not only are the drinks cheaper, the meals are too. Here are some casual dining spots we’d recommend:
Lulu’s for breakfast – it’s just what you expect from an American diner. With views over the beach, US$4 breakfast for the kids (eggs, French toast or pancakes), US$12 for adults, plus colouring and crayons for the kids
Cheap and cheerful: Cheeseburger in Paradise. It’s not listed on the day menu but you can get adult brekkies (eggs on toast etc) for US$8. My son is still telling anyone who will listen about the stack of choc-chip pancakes covered in cream. My husband tried the traditional Loco Moko meal: rice, beef patty, two fried eggs and gravy. It wasn’t a repeat order
Two of the food courts we loved was the one in Ala Moana Mall and one at the Royal Hawaiian Center in Waikiki. Clean, modern and with lots of options to choose from including tacos, Japanese options, and the most amazing New York-style pizza where you can get a giant slice for US$5
Cheesecake Factory. Get there early or be prepared to wait – grab a timer and head to the beach until it buzzes
Maui Brewing Company, our favourite restaurant. With amazing fusion food, craft beers made on site and a cool vibe. An expensive option but so, so good. I still dream of the pork belly in steamed buns
If you drive to the North Shore, stop at a food truck that sells coconut shrimp, chilli shrimp, dumplings and shave ice
Other family-friendly restaurants I’d been recommended: Dukes, Hula Grill, The Yard House on Lewers St, Giovannis on Lewers St, California Pizza Kitchen and Buho Cantina. You can book in for a character breakfast at Disney Resort in West Oahu. Tikis (rooftop dining) and Surfjacks (a favourite of Obama’s) were recommended but save them for adults only.
Hawaii is a part of the United States, where tipping is expected. In restaurants and bars, the rule of thumb is 15 per cent for good service, 20 per cent for great and +25 per cent for excellent. Hotel housekeeping and valets will also expect to be tipped around US$2 per day/transaction.