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Hawaii - Wine By Appointment Takes Hawaii By Storm

Refreshed May 22, 2024

Honolulu beach seen beyond several palm trees
Image Waikiki Beach Honolulu, Hawaii

After months of continual rain in Northern California, Wine By Appointment took respite in Hawaii in mid-May 2019. Visiting Honolulu (Waikiki Beach) and the Big Island, we took in the sites, smells, liquor, and, of course, wine!


Map on the Hawaiian ISlands
Image Hawaiian Islands via www.amazon.com

While the state of Hawaii is comprised of dozens of islands, there are 6 primary islands. Most travelers are familiar with the islands of Maui, Oahu, Kauai, and the big island of Hawaii. Our island days were spent on the island of Oahu and the big island of Hawaii. In this missive, I tend to bounce around a bit...clue is all locales are either in Waikiki (Oahu) or Kailua-Kona or Hilo (the Big Island of Hawaii). If it's something else, it was on the Big Island of Hawaii).


Hotels

Hilton Waikiki Beach Hotel - Honolulu, Hawaii (island of Oahu)

We started our journey in Honolulu, of course in Waikiki Beach, with a stay at the Hilton Waikiki Beach Hotel (2500 Kūhiō Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815), which is right in the center of all the action. Two blocks from Waikiki Beach and the shopping district, you can either loll in the sun with your toes tucked in the sand sipping a tropical libation or shop till you drop without breaking a sweat or taking an Uber. Or, simply enjoy the beach views right outside your window. The hotel offers gorgeous views of the Waikiki shoreline. Highly recommend this hotel if you really want to embrace the Waikiki beach scene or have limited time in Waikiki.

Kings’ Land Hilton (Big Island of Hawaii)

Next, we hopped over to the Big Island (Hawaii - referred to going forward as the Big Island) for a stay at the Kings Land Hilton, 69-699 Waikoloa Beach Dr, Waikoloa Village, Hawaii 96738. The Big Island is divided in primarily two parts: the Kailua-Kona (west) and the Hilo side (east). Now, Kailua-Kona or simply Kona to the natives, is a bit different from what you normally would expect of Hawaiian landscapes. Instead of palm trees, think lava…like lots of it. Like an on-land ocean of it. And the lava around the resort is old….like really, really old from the mid 1800’s. Stark and oddly beautiful, it adds to the appeal of Kona.


This is the first time we stayed in a condominium, and I found it really relaxing to be able to prepare coffee and breakfast each day without having to venture out your door. You could take in daybreak from the privacy of your own outdoor patio. We encourage anyone tired of hotel living to try it for a change of pace.



Doubletree Hilton Honolulu (Island of Oahu)

For a change of pace, we ended our Hawaiian adventures with a last night stay at the Doubletree Hilton in Honolulu (Oahu island), in south Waikiki Beach (1956 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96815) close to the Ala Moana Shopping Center. I’m not terrifically keen on malls, but this is definitely one to see. With over 350 shops and restaurants and BARS, you definitely want to plan a trip, if just to see what the fuss is about.

The hotel is perfectly situated for strolling southern Waikiki beach without all the hustle and bustle of mid Waikiki. With large, comfy rooms, this is the perfect place to stay for those first-timers to Waikiki and to experience its charm and a perfect place in which to end our Hawaiian holiday.


Street entrance to Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Honolulu
Image Doubletree by Hilton Honolulu via www.hilton.com
View from high rise hotel down to ground level pool
Image Doubletree by Hilton Honolulu via www.hilton.com

Restaurants, Bars and Wineries (Oh My!)

Restaurants

We managed to find some really great restaurants and bars in both Oahu and the Big Island. Some of the most memorable….

It is located in the over-the-top Hilton Waikoloa Village resort (complete with its own train and boat to ferry guests around the complex); 69-425 Waikoloa Beach Drive Waikoloa, Hawaii 96738. While the resort is worth a visit if not a complete stay, the restaurant, alone, makes it a worthwhile stop. Elegantly native, the restaurant boasts of amazing views as well as an extensive menu and wine list. We were lucky enough to sit on the terrace and have the sunset and ocean provide the entertainment. It's expensive, but worth it.


Pineapples

Pineapples was a hoot! Featuring locally sourced ingredients, this open air restaurant is perfect (and very popular) to sample the local Hilo fare. I tried the amazing sweet potato curry, which was incredible. Drinks were inventive and obviously featured a lot of pineapple. Go, sit back and sip one of their special concoctions and feel like a real native!


Bali Steak & Seafood

Back to Waikiki for our final night in Hawaii, we decided to have a blow-out bash at Bali Steak & Seafood, and we were not disappointed. Bali Steak & Seafood, located at 2005 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, Hawaii 96815, in the Hilton Hawaiian Village was a perfect place to say farewell to Hawaii. We decided on the best of both worlds by selecting the locally sourced amazing porterhouse steak and seafood to celebrate our wonderful vacation and to reflect on our new memories. The restaurant offers not only a sublime menu and wine list but breathtaking views of the beach. It was a perfect evening and a great way to say aloha to Hawaii.


Bars

Just the mention of Hawaii conjures up luscious pictures of pina coladas and mai tais. While Hawaii is not the birthplace of either concoction, its residents have certainly perfected the recipes of each and come up with new ones. And, while tropical drinks are heavily featured, there are other libations to explore, sample and claim as your new favorite .

Mai Tai Bar 

We obviously had to find the ultimate mai tai, and found them, we did, at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki Beach. Nestled past the courtyard of this stately hotel, one of the oldest in Waikiki, and steps from the beach, the Mai Tai Bar (located in the Royal Hawaiian Hotel 2259 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815) is a popular place for tourists and natives alike. It serves THE quintessential mai tai. I think the pictures speak for themselves.


Us, eagerly awaiting those Mai Tais at the Mai Tai Bar
Us, eagerly awaiting those Mai Tais at the Mai Tai Bar

While people don’t necessarily equate wine with Hawaii, there are actually wine bars there. We made it a personal goal to investigate as many wine bars while in Hawaii as possible. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that many have great wine lists and serve even local fare, which is interesting to sample. Some of our findings….


Il Lupino Wine Trattoria and Wine Bar

One of the best was Il Lupino Wine Trattoria and Wine Bar, located at 2233 Kalākaua Avenue, Honolulu, Hawaii 96815. Offering an extensive collection of International wines (French, German, Italian) and mainland, California and Oregon, there is enough to satisfy even the most discerning palate. Served in a cozy, intimate setting, it sets the tone for a perfect evening of pasta and wine.


Outside menu signs at Il Lupino Trattoria and Wine Bar
Image Il Lupino Trattoria & Wine Bar Honolulu, Hawaii
Large and high wine rack inside Il Lupino Trattoria and Wine Bar
Image Il Lupino Trattoria & Wine Bar Honolulu, Hawaii
Bottle of Vin Santo wine on the bar inside Il Lupino Trattoria and Wine Bar
Image Il Lupino Trattoria & Wine Bar Waikiki Honolulu, Hawaii

Aloha Wine Bar

Aloha Wine Bar at 69-201 Waikoloa Beach Dr Queens Market Place Waikoloa Village, HI 96738 is the equivalent of your neighborhood bar. Casual and friendly, it offers a place for easy relaxation for locals and tourists alike. There are enough offerings in their surprisingly extensive wine list to please everyone in your crown. And, it’s gratifying to see that they offer different size pours so you can be adventuresome with your wine choices. Definitely recommend it as a place to either start or stop your evening.


Luana Lounge

The Fairmont Orchid hotel located at 1 North Kaniku Drive Kohala Coast, Waimea, Hawaii 96743, is a gorgeous hotel with amazing amenities, and inside the hotel is an equally gorgeous lounge, Luana Lounge. Contemporary with rich wood accents, the lounge manages to convey a relaxed elegance that is extremely appealing, particularly after a hard day of sightseeing. Friendly bartenders will create a new frothy concoction at a moments notice. Sipping this nectar and sampling the lounge’s happy hour fare while gazing out at the ocean is definitely my type of heaven.


Vintage Cave Club

Vintage Cave Club was a place to see the amazing frescos if nothing else. The restaurant and bar were a visual delight. Located in the Ala Moana Shopping Center 1450 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, Hawaii 96814 (this is not your usual shopping mall), was a quick jaunt from Waikiki and well worth it. You do feel like you’re entering an exclusive cave. Boasting of an amazing wine list and wonderful Italian cuisine, we stopped by for just a quick look-see and a glass of sparkling and have put them on our list for a return visit and dinner. We suggest you do as well. Now closed, Vintage Cave Club was a private club with a restaurant featuring a "French-Japonais" menu in the Ala Moana Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.


Entrance to former Vintage Cave Cafe and Bistro
Image Vintage Cave Café Honolulu, Hawaii
Beautiful ceiling painting at former Vintage Cave Cafe and Bistro
Image Vintage Cave Café Honolulu, Hawaii
Bar at former Vintage Cave Cafe and Bistro
Image Vintage Cave Café Honolulu, Hawaii

Volcano Winery 

When we realized there was a winery within a 2 hour drive, we had to go. Volcano Winery was an interesting find. Located at 35 Pii Mauna Drive Volcano, Hawaii 96785, it features local wines with an exotic twist. All wines are now estate grown with some unique additions. Their 100% Symphony Dry wine is lovely with tropical fruit, apricot and peach notes and a crisp finish and the Pinot Noir was definitely lighter.. perfect to pair with fish. The most interesting was the winery’s pairing of guava fruit and white wine for a new type of dessert wine or a mead mixed with Macadamia nut honey or infused with tea. So, if you’re interested in expanding your taste buds and wine knowledge, pay a visit to Volcano Winery.


Things To See And Do

When visiting the Big Island, you can’t ignore the omnipresence of volcanos; evidence of their presence covers the island. In light of that, must-do while visiting the Big Island is a trip to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii. The park extends from sea level to the summit of Mauna Loa at 13,677 feet; the park encompasses the summits of two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Given how volatile the volcanoes have been in recent years, the park allows the public a glimpse of the hows and whys of eruptions and the workings of volcanoes and how actually how vital they are to Hawaii’s ecosystem. An excellent way to spend an absorbing hour or two.


The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens

If you are a green thumb god or goddess or just enjoy plants, you absolutely have to visit the The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens. Located at 27-717 Old Mamalahoa Highway Papaikou, Hawaii 96781, the garden has over 2,000 species of plants both native to Hawaii and other tropical regions and attracts photographers, gardeners, botanists, scientists and nature lovers from around the world. It is a literally a plant paradise with fascinating plants to study and examine at every step. The walking tour is just over a mile long (guides suggest an 1.5 to 2 hours – we did it in just over an hour); wear comfortable, sturdy shoes as the terrain can be a bit rough but every step is a joy.


Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls in Hilo, Hawaii is worth a stop. The falls themselves are 80 feet tall and 100 feet in diameter and are spectacular to witness. (You may note that In the Hawaiian language, the rainbow falls are called “rainbow [seen in] water”, or Waiānuenue, which is much more musical than the word falls.).


Atlantis Kona Submarine Adventures

A quick shout out to Atlantis Kona Submarine Adventures located 75-5660 Palani Rd #304, Kailua, Hawaii which totally helped me conquer my claustrophobia. Love aquariums? Then you’ll really enjoy this trip. Go on a submarine that dives to a depth of over 100 feet and see a magical work of coral and sea creatures that you don’t often get a chance to glimpse up close and personal. The tour is about 90 minutes and is generally doable for even those who suffer from slight bouts of claustrophobia.

This ends my Hawaiian missive. Till next time…

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