WHY WE LOVE IT
Everything honeymooners could desire: gorgeous hotels, world-class restaurants, spectacular beaches, misty waterfalls and mysterious lava tubes.
Breathing room—so much you could fit all the other Hawaiian islands into it with room to spare.
Kilauea, the world’s most visitor-friendly volcano.
Eleven of the world’s 13 main climate zones, including rain forests, lava deserts and (sometimes) snowcapped mountains.
Beaches in a variety of colors, with white, black and green sand.
Mind-blowing stargazing from atop Mauna Kea.
WHEN TO GO
Though the Big Island is a year-round destination, May through August is when the weather is driest and the ocean is most user-friendly for swimmers, snorkelers and kayakers. Fall and winter sometimes bring treacherous sea conditions to the northern and western shores. Humpback whales frolic off western shores in the winter (though not in numbers to rival Maui). April and December are the rainiest months; luckily most of the rain falls on the less-touristed windward side—you can still count on plenty of sunshine on the leeward side, where most of the hotels are. Snowbirds flock to the island from early December to April; family travelers dominate during the summer. September to Dec. 15 is the best time for deals (except at Thanksgiving).
WHAT TO PACK
Leave the formalwear at home. The Big Island is devoutly casual; a smart aloha shirt or muumuu is dressy enough for even the fanciest dining room. Pack sturdy footwear for hiking the volcano, jackets and sweaters for stargazing atop Mauna Kea, rain gear for recreational rambles in the rain forest and whatever you look best in at the beach.
WHAT TO BUY
"Botanically correct" aloha shirts and muumuus from Sig Zane; macadamia-nut shortbread and hibiscus truffles from Big Island Candies; six papayas for a dollar at the Hilo Farmers Market; mythical visions of ancient Hawaii by printmaker Dietrich Varez at the Volcano Art Center Gallery.
For information, contact the Big Island Visitors Bureau. The East Hawaii office is at 250 Keawe St., Hilo (808-961-5797). The West Hawaii office is at Waikoloa Kings’ Shops, B-15, 69-250 Waikoloa Beach Drive, Waikoloa (808-886-1655).
GETTING MARRIED IN HAWAII
Hawaii’s wedding requirements are minimal—present a marriage-license application, government-issued photo ID and $60 in cash (along with the divorce or death certificate if you’ve been previously married) to a licensed marriage agent and you’re in. You can download applications at hawaii.gov/health. To locate a licensed marriage agent on the Big Island, call the Hawaii County Department of Health at 808-974-6008. Most of the bigger hotels have wedding coordinators who will gladly handle arrangements for a wedding of any size. Some of the hotels, such as the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort and Spa and the Hilton Waikoloa Village, also have romantic little wedding chapels.
WHERE TO EAT
75-5828 Kahakai Rd.
The best fine-dining spot in town for catching the sunset while savoring teriyaki steaks and crab-encrusted ono is this open-air dining room. It stands on pilings sunk into the lava-rock shoreline—at high tide it’s actually over the water. When the tiki torches light up after dark, the eels and manta rays come out to feed along the rocks. If you’re not up for a full meal, you can order a little skillet of sizzling shrimp and scallops in the piano bar. Or you can go next door to Huggo’s thatched-roof bar, where slack-key musicians play and hula dancers sway, and couples sip flaming drinks from old Hawaiian drinking bowls with extra-long straws.
75-5799 Alii Drive
Kailua-Kona's favorite breakfast hangout goes budget gourmet at dinner, illuminating its tables by candlelight and serving grilled fish specials, pork tacos with black beans and chipotle aioli and other entrées that rival those at Kona's sniffier restaurants at a fraction of the price. Although it's perched right on the edge of traffic-filled Alii Drive, that drawback is easy to overlook, since just across the street lies glimmering Kailua Bay, where cruise ships, yachts and tour boats bob at anchor and the occasional Iron Man triathlete-in-training swims by. Breakfasts include heavy platters of eggs and potatoes, pancakes as big as your head, gigantic cinnamon rolls and steaming cups of Kona coffee grown and roasted not far from there.
Old Takata Store
Akoni Pule Highway
Looking for tropical drinks in coconut-shell cups and snappy waiters in screaming aloha shirts? Head to this kitschy classic at the northern tip of the island, in the sleepy old plantation town of Hawi. The bamboo decor, the well-worn wooden floor and the bold tropical paintings endow the place with a cozy country-chic Hawaiian style. The theme carries onto the menu, with entrèes like pineapple-barbecue pork, and the catch of the day rolled in crushed macadamia nuts. Knock back a few lilikoi margaritas and party with the live musicians laying down island beats on Fridays and Saturdays.
19-3948 Old Volcano Rd.
After winning an Emmy in 1983 for his work as a TV makeup artist, Albert Jeyte reinvented himself as a gourmet chef. The restaurant he opened in 1986 at an old YMCA camp just outside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is one of the island’s most inspired. Comfort food from Jeyte’s childhood in Hamburg, Germany, joins French classics on a menu that brings duck à l’orange and pauipettes of beef together with hasenpfeffer (braised rabbit) and German sausages. There’s exotic game too, such as venison and ostrich filets (which do not taste like chicken). Believe it or not, it gets cold near the volcano (you’re up at 3,700 feet), but you can warm up in front of the roaring International Fireplace of Friendship, inspired by the YMCA camp’s director.
Kawaihae Shopping Center
308 Kamehameha Ave.
Need a break from fussy resort dining? Head to this casual yet refined eatery at sun-baked Kawaihae Harbor, a short hop up the road from the Gold Coast hotels. Pacific fusion seafoods, pastas and colorful organic salads are among the specialties. The seafood risotto is a favorite, but the real standout is the pizza: It’s baked in a kiawe wood (a.k.a. mesquite) oven, it’s got a thin, crispy crust, and it comes with toppings that range from the usual suspects to kalua pork and shiitake mushrooms. As you dine, ponder Kawaihae’s stone heiau, or temple, which ancient Hawaiians dedicated to shark gods. There’s a second Cafe Pesto in Hilo, in a historic downtown building that survived two tsunamis.
315 Makaala St., #109
That this restaurant has you forgetting the Wal-Mart outside the window says a lot about the transporting powers of its imaginative, largely organic cuisine. Asian, Hawaiian, San Franciscan and (curiously) Midwestern cooking influence the menu. In a town more accustomed to greasy plate lunches than potato-crusted catch of the day with scallion butter sauce, this hole-in-the-wall bistro wedged between a cell-phone store and a food court is the finest place around. This being Hilo, the menu has a down-home side too—you can get dripping blue-cheese burgers and vegan pot pies with fabulously flaky crusts. The cocktails are first-class—think pear mojitos and lilikoi margaritas.
KEN’S HOUSE OF PANCAKES
1730 Kamehameha Ave.
Tel: 808-935-8711 (no reservations)
The best diner in Hawaii is open 24/7 and has a lengthy menu with a little bit of everything—or, rather, a lot of everything. Traditional breakfasts like waffles and eggs Benedict compete with island favorites such as the loco moco (two scoops of rice, hamburger patty, fried egg, gravy) and the mahi moco (same thing with mahimahi instead of hamburger). "Sumo Size" the loco and it comes with six scoops of rice and three fried eggs. The short-order cooks have the pride of artisans, and the servers bustle cheerfully and never lose their cool. Tuesday's dinner special is all-you-can-eat tacos; Wednesday's is prime rib; Thursday's is Hawaiian food; and Sunday's is all-you-can-eat spaghetti.
65-1227 Opelo Rd.
Reservations are a must at this little restaurant with a big reputation— the Big Island mecca for devout foodies. It's the flagship eatery of Peter Merriman, one of the chefs who started the Hawaiian Regional Cuisine movement. From the ultrasimple Lokelani tomato salad to the wok-charred ahi to the Kahua Ranch lamb, everything is super local and super fresh. Take the Hawaii Forest and Trail (808-331-8505; hawaii-forest.com) farm tour and spend the afternoon meeting the ranchers and growers who supply meat and produce to the restaurant. Afterward, the kitchen will use their ingredients to prepare a meal for you.
45-690 Pakalana St.
Like most of the Portuguese in Hawaii, the Texeiras came originally to cut sugarcane and pick pineapples on the plantations. In 1969 the family gave up a life of sweat in someone else’s fields for a life of sweat in their own kitchen. Tex’s Drive-In has been serving up beef stew, boneless Korean chicken and pot roast pork ever since (though the ownership has changed). What it’s most famous for, though, are the malasadas—big, fluffy, hole-less Portuguese doughnuts, baked fresh every day. If you pick up a fat bag of them before driving the Hamakua Coast, you'll fly down the highway on a sugar high. Before rushing off, spend some quiet time in Tex’s garden of native plants—and take in the smashing view of Maui from Tex’s parking lot.
WHERE TO STAY
78-128 Ehukai St.
Tel: 808-930-4900, 866-716-8109
If you want to be close to the action in Kailua-Kona, this big hotel on a rocky lava point just south of downtown is the place. A once-faded 1970s resort, it has achieved a stunning comeback with a recent $70 million makeover. The 521 huge rooms have a clean, modern look and color schemes that echo the mountain and sea views. The white wedding chapel by the water is as romantic as can be. The gargantuan swimming pool spreads across the grounds, adorned with tropical gardens, gurgling waterfalls, hooded beach chairs for two and the longest water slide on the island. The 10 oceanfront suites are right at Keauhou Bay’s rocky edge, where a fleet of sunset-cruise, whale-watching, charter-fishing and dive boats dock. Manta rays attracted by the hotel lights feed just offshore at night, and you can snorkel among them. The Sheraton butts up against the Kona Country Club, with a fine golf course.
69-425 Waikoloa Beach Drive
wedding information: email@example.com
Even couples with five-minute attention spans won't run out of things to do at the Waikoloa. Not only does it have the coolest variety of swimming pools on the island (including one where you can swim with dolphins), it’s also got Anaehoomalu Bay (a 20-minute walk or a free shuttle ride away), the best spot on the coast for sailing, snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boating and water. Onshore are basketball courts, a tennis stadium, two championship golf courses, a seaside putting green, a fitness center, a huge spa, a mile-long "art walk," waterfalls, water slides, nine restaurants and a Polynesian luau and stage production. The 1,240 rooms are standard-issue, but the 57 suites are considerably more elegant and two to six times as spacious. The 62-acre resort covers so much ground that guests get around via trams and boats. Sprawling and action-packed? For sure. Intimate and family-free? Not so much.
72-100 Kaupulehu Drive
Sleepy, secluded and ultraposh, the Four Seasons exudes the easy comfort and grace of Hawaii’s golden age. The 243 big bungalow-style rooms and suites—especially the ones with ocean views and open-air showers—make for a picture-perfect honeymoon hideaway; they’re so plush and comfortable you may not want to leave. But if you do feel like sipping lilikoi and lemon cocktails poolside, you have six pools to choose from, including a saltwater pond cut into the lava and filled with schools of tropical fish and eagle rays. The truly motivated can take advantage of the Jack Nicklaus golf course, the award-winning sports club, the tennis courts or the rock-climbing wall—and then power down with side-by-side lomi lomi massages in the couples massage hale.
Queen Kaahumanu Highway
Tel: 808-325-5555, 800-367-5290
Imagine a carefree Polynesian village inhabited by barefoot billionaires, along with some endangered green sea turtles. That's what you're likely to find at this exclusive, exceptionally laid-back beachside retreat. The 125 thatched-roof bungalows are perfect for couples who truly want to get away from it all. There’s no AC—the bungalows are cooled only by the trade winds and ceiling fans—or TV, and if you want to find a phone, you'll have to go to the office. Guests gladly give up their laptops for long afternoons with bamboo fishing poles, blissful naps in extra-wide hammocks slung between palm trees, moon-dappled canoe rides and dining by tiki torch. May and September are kid-free months.
62-100 Kaunaoa Drive
Tel: 808-880-1111, 888-977-4623
Couples who crave the waves will be totally stoked at this luxurious 350-room resort fronting Hapuna Beach, the best bodysurfing and bodyboarding beach on the island. The rooms are large, with luxurious island contemporary decor and ocean views (especially expansive in the 36 oceanfront suites). The half-mile-long white stretch of sand gets small, frolic-friendly waves in the summer. In the winter, the surf gets big and gnarly—potentially deadly to play in but thrilling to see. Year-round you can find private spots along the broad swath of beach for sunset viewing and stargazing afterward. If you ever decide to wander in off the beach, the Prince has a world-class salon and spa, a famous golf course designed by Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay, an ancient Hawaiian coastal trail to hike and six top-notch restaurants.
28-3514 Mamalahoa Highway
Tel: 808-963-6076, 866-963-6076
Perched atop a sea cliff on the wild windward side of the island, this elegant Victorian-style inn resembles the plantation homes of Hawaii’s 19th-century sugar barons. Couples seeking solitude will love the intimate scale of the place—just eight guest rooms, all with oceanfront lanais and sumptuous beds covered with pillows, bolsters and Italian lace sheets. After a gourmet breakfast on the wraparound lanai, take off to explore funky old Hilo town and watch rainbows in the mist at Akaka Falls. Or stick around for yoga classes and spa treatments.
19-3948 Old Volcano Rd.
Maybe an old YMCA camp isn’t where you want to spend your entire honeymoon, but as a base for expeditions to the volcano, this wooded 10-acre hideaway on the doorstep of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park can’t be beat. The dozen rooms and pair of cottages are equal parts hokey-hula, Granny’s house and upscale country inn—they're all quite comfortable, and some even qualify as romantic. Evenings are cool in the high-mountain rain forest, which make the fireplaces in some units and the hot-tub pavilion mighty appealing. The friendly proprietor serves up gourmet meals in the outstanding on-site restaurant, which is worth a visit whether you’re staying the night or not.
45-3503 Kahana Drive
Tel: 808-775-1118, 888-775-2577
Going off the grid usually implies some degree of sacrifice—but not at this self-sustaining and utterly luxurious B&B on a sprawling mountain estate on the cool green side of the island. Sun-tracking solar panels power the Tiffany lamps, DVD players and flat-screen TVs; and satellite dishes ensure CNN and high-speed Internet. Elegant yet playful, Waianuhea has been described as "de Kooning does Martha Stewart" and "Gaudí meets Pee-wee’s Playhouse." There are 55 shades of paint on the walls, polished laminate floors, glass balloons hanging from the ceiling, tiki torches and stone statuary around the grounds and plush beds with rain-forest views in all five guest rooms—plus gourmet breakfasts and afternoon wine tastings.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
Both literally and figuratively, Kilauea volcano is the Big Island’s biggest attraction. Home of the tempestuous fire goddess Pele, Kilauea has been in a state of eruption almost continuously since 1983. For a volcanic eruption, though, it’s been relatively smooth and nonexplosive. Sometimes you can hike out to the lava flow and stand close enough to singe your eyebrows. At other times the hot lava is too remote to get to by foot. Helicopter tours offer bird’s-eye views of the action year-round. In addition to the park’s scalding steam vents, sulfuric gases, otherworldly landscapes, native rain forest and 150 miles of hiking trails, there’s an 11-mile drive around the main crater’s rim and a walk-through lava tube big enough for a train.
Helicopters tours take you aloft for a cloud's-eye view of the Big Isle’s phenomenally varied landscape, from the towering sea cliffs and deep waterfall valleys in the north to the blackened volcanic badlands in the south. Some tours buzz the 13,677-foot summit of Mauna Loa; others blast across the Alenuihaha Channel to the rugged northeast coast of Maui. A gaggle of tour operators fly out of Hilo, including Blue Hawaiian Helicopters (808-961-5600, 800-745-2583), which has one of the best safety records on the island and the coolest choppers. The windows are extra large in Blue Hawaiian’s extra-quiet American Eurocopter ECO-Stars, the Blackhawks of the heli-tour industry.
Wanna see some real hula? Come to Hilo in the spring for the world’s biggest hula happening. Events kick off on Easter Sunday, and you gotta nail down tickets way ahead of time. Don’t let the dancers’ sweet smiles fool you—competition during the weeklong event is killer. Hula halau (dance troupes) from all over Hawaii, as well as Japan and the mainland, come to show off their skills. Highlights include group Kahiko (ancient dance), 'Auana (modern dance) and the selection of Miss Aloha Hula. If you thought hula was just for women, the chanting, stick-waving, chest-slapping male competitors will set you straight. The festival culminates with the Royal Parade through downtown Hilo.
At the island's most dramatic snorkeling spot, the reef plunges from the edge of the bay to 100 feet; the water is crystal clear, and colorful coral gardens teem with bright fish. Sometimes the resident dolphins come out to play. (But if they’re keeping their distance, resist the urge to swim into their midst—they’re nocturnal hunters, and they need their daytime sleep.) Check out the monument to Captain James Cook, who was killed nearby in a 1779 skirmish with Hawaiians. Go on a snorkel tour by boat (try Fairwind, 808-322-2788) or rent a kayak for two at Kona Boys (79-7539 Highway 11, Kealakekua; 808-328-1234) and explore on your own.
SOUTH POINT AND GREEN SAND BEACH
The southernmost tip of the Big Island also happens to be the southernmost point in the United States. Remote, wild and windswept, South Point points (literally) across an unbroken expanse of ocean that rolls with the curve of the earth all the way to Antarctica. Nearby there’s an even more remote green-sand beach. That’s right—green sand. The coloring comes from an eroding cinder cone rich in volcanic olivine, a glassy, olive-green mineral. Hiking to the beach requires some effort; a lot of folks celebrate their arrival by doffing their swimsuits and taking a dip—but only when sea conditions aren’t perilous.
This braided system of 1,000-year-old caves, which has never been fully explored, boasts colorful mineral deposits, rare insect colonies and—when you turn off your headlamp—the purest inky-black darkness you’ve ever seen. Some sections have 30-foot-high ceilings. Others are so tight you have to crawl through on all fours. As part of Mauna Loa volcano’s vast subterranean plumbing system, these caves were once conduits for rivers of lava—and may yet be again. After things cooled down, the ancient Hawaiians collected water here; the ashes from their torches and the remains of gourds they left under drip points can still be seen. By-appointment-only visits range from quick look-sees to extended tours that go dizzyingly deep.
The best place on earth to peer into space is from atop Mauna Kea, the highest peak in the Pacific. At 13,796 feet, its summit towers above 40 percent of the earth’s atmosphere; the air is so clear and the stars so bright, you may feel giddy. The sunsets are awesome too. Astronomers from around the world chart the universe from the mountain’s 11 enormous telescopes. The famous W.M. Keck Observatory offers nightly programs and weekend tours (808-961-2180). Commercial tours (such as Hawaii Forest and Trail’s Mauna Kea "Summit and Stars Adventure"; 800-464-1993, 808-331-8505) set up telescopes, haul guests up to the summit and provide dinner and parkas. (It’s cooold up there!) If you pack your own picnic, though, you can find a spot on the mountain all to yourselves. Don’t forget the blankets.
Highway 11, just south of Kona International Airport
The Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority's new education and outreach center is the place to explore the cutting edge of ocean science and enterprise. Taking advantage of an abundance of sunshine (it’s at the sunniest coastal spot in the United States) and chilly seawater (pumped up from depths of 2,000 to 3,000 feet), the tenants of the technology park raise cold-water creatures (abalone, flounder, Maine lobster); they produce biofuel, as well as amberjack, nutritional supplements and pharmaceuticals; and they desalinate seawater, bottle it and sell it in Japan. At impressive prices.
Variety is the name of the game in Big Island spas. One top pick is the Mauna Lani Spa (68-1365 Pauoa Rd., Kohala Coast; 808-881-7922), whose treatments utilize the heat of the sun, the fragrance of pikake and ginger and the transformative powers of black volcanic mud, sea salts and chocolate in a sensual oasis surrounded by a 16th-century lava flow.
Saddle up and explore the enchanting Valley of Kings, a land rich in history, legend, 1,000-foot waterfalls and supernatural juju. In ancient times Waipio was home to powerful Hawaiian rulers and a good deal of the Big Island’s population. Today just a handful of people live there, and you won’t feel welcome if you go tromping around their taro farms on foot. On horseback you’ll cover more ground, learn more about the place and get warm smiles rather than "stink eye" from the locals. One mile wide and six deep, Waipio is big enough to support a population of semi-wild horses—but don’t worry, they’re not the one’s you’ll be riding.
MORE THINGS TO SEE AND DO
Mamo Street and Kamehameha Avenue
For decades, sugarcane plantations dominated the agricultural scene on the Big Island, but since the closing of the last sugar mill in the 1990s, small farmers have flourished. The fruit of their labors (papayas, mangoes, lettuces, tomatoes, taro, tangerines, lychees, rambutans, basil, mint, watercress, bell peppers, fiddlehead ferns, eggplants and a great deal more) is on display in prodigious quantities at the best farmers’ market in the state—along with orchids, anthurium, fruit breads, furniture, arts and crafts, T-shirts, surfboards, chair massage, palm reading … you get the idea. And the prices will blow your mind.
At Mamalahoa Highway and Hualali Road (intersection of Highways 180 and 182)
Ancient Hawaii was thick with lauhala—items woven from the long, smooth leaves of the hala (pandanus) tree. This age-old craft has all but disappeared from modern Hawaii. Most of what passes as lauhala today is actually imported from the South Pacific. But Hawaiian lauhala weaving is still hanging on by a frond, thanks largely to this family-run shop, which has been peddling the real deal since 1914. Lauahala everything (including pillows, trivets, tote bags, beer-can holders and coin purses) fills the store from floor to ceiling.
Crater Rim Drive (Highway 11)
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Tel: 808-967-7565, 866-967-7565
There’s something about a live volcano that draws creative people and fires their imaginations. You can see the results at this gallery of works by more than 300 local artists. It's near the rim of Kilauea’s caldera, in the old (constructed 1877) Volcano House hotel. Among the bounty of sculpture, painting, woodwork, glass, ceramics, photography and jewelry you’ll find are scenes from Hawaiian mythology by reclusive printmaker Dietrich Varez, whose rain-forest studio is within view of the Puu Oo cinder cone, an eruption vent site of the volcano.
585 Hinano St.
Tel: 808-935-8890, 800-935-5510
Buttery macadamia-nut shortbread cookies, half dipped in chocolate, are the signature treat here, but there’s a splendid variety of additional goodies to make your sweet tooth ache. The truffles come in such exotic flavors as hibiscus, yuzu and coconut. The bite-size cookies are flavored with peanut butter, guava, Kona coffee and chocolate chips. Macadamia nuts go into just about everything, from the brownies to the biscotti; they also roll around by themselves, coated in milk, dark or creamy white chocolate. Everything is made on site using local ingredients, premium chocolate and no preservatives. Large plate-glass windows allow you to watch the confectioners in action.
122 Kamehameha Ave.
Islanders are crazy about the bold graphic designs that take aloha wear and Hawaiian collectibles back to their roots—the koa, breadfruit, taro, lehua and other plants that ancient Hawaiians depended upon. Every shirt, muumuu, sarong, leather wallet, handbag, ball cap, throw pillow and custom-upholstered chaise longue in the store bears botanically correct designs of deep cultural significance to Hawaiians, and there are well-spoken salespeople to explain it all. Zane himself is a hula expert who's married to a revered hula master. While his shirts and dresses might not pass as business attire back home, in Hawaii you see lawyers, businesspeople and politicians wearing them all the time.
35 Pii Mauna Drive
Tel: 808-967-7772, 877-967-7772
Yes, Kilauea volcano has many surprises—including its very own winery. After paying your respects to Madame Pele, stop by to sample the wine. Macadamia-nut honey, guava, jaboticaba (a purplish-black South American fruit) and symphony grapes form the basis of a half-dozen varieties. Some are traditional, some totally exotic, like the macadamia-nut-honey wine, a light and clear after-dinner treat sweetened by blossoms of the island's macadamia-nut trees. The gift shop is loaded with nonalcoholic souvenirs made on the Big Island and is worth a stop whether you imbibe or not. The winery lies just past another of Kilauea’s many surprises—the golf course.
81-6581 Mamalahoa Highway
Tel: 808-323-2275, 888-592-5662
Hawaii is the only place in the United States where coffee is grown, in the Big Island’s Kona Coffee Belt at altitudes between 800 and 3,000 feet. Cut out the middleman and stock up from the buyer, who dries and roasts about 180,000 pounds of coffee each year. The free farm tour is an eye-opener. It starts at the bushes where the coffee cherry grows, moves to the drying sheds and roasting ovens, then wraps up at the sample pot, in which the brew is always fresh. Try the peaberry blend, made from unusually small but dense beans, which constitute just 5 percent of the coffee crop and have an exceptionally rich, fruity taste
75-5597 Palani Rd.
111 East Puainako St., Building G
In the 1950s and ’60s, Hilo Hattie was a hula dancer, movie actress, comedian and singer of such songs as "Princess Pupule Has Plenty Papayas" and "When Hilo Hattie Does the Hula Hop." Today she’s the namesake for a chain of theme stores dealing in the planet's broadest selection of Hawaiian kitsch. There’s no better place to find a hula skirt with coconut-shell bra, matching his-and-hers Hawaiian-print outfits, a monkey-pod-wood calabash bowl, wooden photo frames or a lucky tiki bottle opener. And there’s free transportation between the store and the hotels.