By Bill Malcolm*
Honolulu is a perfect escape with temperatures in the low 80s year-round (27°C). I only packed shorts.
WHAT TO DO
The first day I hiked up Diamond Head State Monument for great views of Waikiki. Take the #2 bus to the trail head near the community college. It is not only a mountain but also a giant volcanic crater with lots of interesting plant life. On the way back, I stopped at the Pineapple Shack for coconut juice (and pulp to eat). They also sell fresh pineapple juice. Stop by the Diamond Head Market and Grill on the way up to pick up a picnic lunch.
Image by @rickyhavoc
On Day 2, a friend and I toured the beautiful University of Hawaii at Manoa campus. Stop at the Student Center to get local fare for lunch. The L&L Hawaiian Barbeque had great garlic shrimp. Then we hiked up to the Lyon Arboretum, which is run by the university. You will learn about the endemic plants of Hawaii and hike through fern valleys, a native Hawaiian plant garden and more. The #5 bus will get you there.
Day 3 featured a hike through the St. Louis neighborhood to Wa’ahila Ridge Regional Park, which has a Norfolk Island pine forest and great views of the city. We hiked up and took the bus back down.
Day 4 included a tour of the Army Museum run by the military at nearby Fort DeRussy Beach. The beach is very handy and open to everyone.
I went swimming everyday with my friends at Queen’s Surf Beach. Honolulu apparently does not have a gay beach anymore, but this one was close enough.
Bacchus Bar at 408 Lewers is a lot of fun. They have bingo on Thursday nights. It features a friendly neighborhood crowd with great specials every night. They boast that they are one of the best gay bars in the U.S.
Check out Hula’s Bar (134 Kapahulu Avenue) for the sunset views. They also had live music and great happy hour specials the night I was there and it’s close to the beach.
The In Between Bar (2255 Lauula) features karaoke every night and a friendly local crowd.
WHERE TO STAY
I stayed in Waikiki at The Surfjack Hotel and Swim Club and it was perfect. I had a small apartment with balcony. The Surfjack features local room design and artwork and local fare in their restaurant, Mahina and Sun, where hotel guests get a US$10 per day credit for a meal.
Surfjack has live music every night at 7 p.m and wine tasting on Tuesdays.
Free bikes and helmets are nice too, not to mention their pool (with free towels and sunscreen) and a tote bag to take your stuff to the beach.
The hotel is right next door to Bacchus. Next door is an ABC Store (408 Lewers) that has everything you would want to eat or drink. Show your Surfjack room key at the Honolulu Museum of Art for free admission.
Image by @douken_
WHAT TO EAT
Bargain hunters will love Da Spot where dinners start at just US$6. You will find them at 2569 King Street near University Avenue.
The five-hour plus flight in Southwest’s new seat type was uncomfortable and the snack insufficient for a dinner-hour flight. They offer no food for purchase either. The flight back on American Airlines was much better. Besides being in the main terminal, and offering food for purchase, the seats had chargers for your electronic devices so you don’t have to worry about your battery.
You won’t need a rental car for your Honolulu trip. It is a very walkable city (especially Waikiki). You can take “The Bus” (their name for the city bus system) everywhere. Take the #19 Bus to and from the airport for just US$2.75. Better yet, by an all-day pass for US$5.50
All the hotels charge a resort fee of around US$25-$35, so always check the amount when you get a hotel room quote. (At least you are at a resort area, unlike downtown Portland, New York City, and other places that now also tack on a resort or amenity fee.) Resort fees are the worst trend of the year in travel.
Most of the Honolulu hotels are expensive and the ones that aren’t are not part of a national chain. Many of these get so-so reviews (see TripAdvisor), so shop around but be prepared for the high room rates. It took a lot of research to track down the Surfjack.
Try the Japanese food. It is excellent and everywhere—even at the 7-11—as Japanese tourists are a major market for Honolulu.
Aloha means hello and mahalo means thank you.
Don’t jaywalk and don’t ride your bike on the sidewalk. These laws are strictly enforced.
Be sure and take time to learn about the fascinating history of Hawaii and its unique plant life while you visit. Not to mention the history of its friendly and welcoming people.
For more information, try the LGBT pages at visit hawaill.com. The Good to Know LGBT Oahu Pocket Guide also lists everything you need to know in terms of LGBTQ+ activities, plus lists great hike ideas and beaches on Oahu. Pick one up at a bar.
*Bill Malcolm’s syndicated LGBTQ+ value travel column appears in LGBTQ+ publications throughout the country. His opinions are his own. He resides in Indianapolis and writes as a hobby. He paid for his own travel and hotel for this trip.
Featured image by @RichardandMarc