Skiing is fine and snow can be nice, but around now many are just about over the winter wonderland. If you are one of those people and just need to get away from it all, there is nowhere better than Hawaii.
Yup, that small chain of islands in the Pacific that produces leis, surf champions and the new president would be a perfect destination for an almost-spring break. With four islands to choose from, you’re sure to find something to enjoy while visiting this Polynesian paradise.
Hawaii has four main islands for tourists: Hawaii (aka the Big Island), Oahu, Maui and Kauai. Each has something special to offer its guests. And each holds something you will never see anywhere else. The community of Hawaii is extremely diverse. People from all over the world settle in this near-perfect habitat — and that includes the LGBT community. Meshing well with the local culture and endless activities, you are sure to be going nonstop every day of your trip.
The “Big Island,” as it is most commonly known, is — you guessed it — the biggest island in Hawaii’s chain. It houses endless beaches of white and black sand, valleys of lush greenery and the only active volcanoes in the Hawaiian Islands. With endless scenic wonders, the Big Island is the perfect place for hikers, bikers and picnic packers. You may also want to see this vast natural wonder from the air. There are a plethora of helicopter tours that will fly you around the island and over the volcanoes, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. When you are done frolicking through the rugged terrain of the Big Island, there are a few modern amenities to comfort you. Mask Bar [75-5660 Kopiko St., (808) 329-8558] is the only gay bar on the island. After your hikes and tours of nature, sit down with some natural juices infused with a good time and relax the night away. Specifically for the ladies is Lezbrunch [Diana, (808) 328-2441] every second Sunday of the month. If you’re in town, you could meet some local friends.
Another example of tropical wonder and tranquility is the much smaller island of Kauai. Furthest from the Big Island, it sports similarities in purity and natural wonder and offers a peaceful surrounding for relaxation and serenity. Bring a good book and suntan lotion to enjoy the simple quiet of this natural island. The gay scene is usually confined to parties held in the private residences of the island; tourists are welcome, of course. Two venues where you may be able to make new friends are the clothing-optional Kalanikai Bed & Breakfast [(808) 332-5149] and the Friday Night Men’s Bonfires [(808) 822-7171]. Whether you choose to take part in these events or not, the main theme on Kauai is quiet relaxation.
The two main arteries of the Hawaiian Islands are Maui and Oahu. Maui is the more subdued of the two, but still boasts an array of things to do and places to stay. With more modern amenities, Maui is still home to many natural excursions that will keep you busy all day long. Famous for its black-sand beaches, Hana Bay draws tourists looking to lay on the volcanic sand or snorkel between the intricate reefs and tropical fish. Or, if you are looking for a more active adventure, getting to the top of Maui’s dormant volcano is quite a feat. Mt. Haleakala, 10,000 feet above the shore, looks down over the island of Maui. Tours and groups are available to take you up the volcano or, if you’re brave enough, you can venture it alone. Either way, it is a must-see view. However, be sure to bring a jacket: Even though you’re in Hawaii, it still gets cold up there. Finally, every visitor of Maui has to visit the Seven Sacred Pools. These seven “pools” are on the southeast side of the island and are fed by the Pipiwai Streams from 2 miles inland. Attracting tourists from all over Hawaii, the Seven Sacred Pools are a great place for hiking, swimming and cliff jumping. If you go on the weekend, go early: There is only parking on the street and your hike to pools will just get longer the later you go. And don’t worry: The cliffs aren’t too high, but they are definitely worth the thrill. Just let someone else go first while you muster your courage.
Finally, there is Oahu, the island that boasts most of Hawaii’s famous attractions, starting with Honolulu and the infamous Waikiki Beach. Home of surfing, the latter is also where the majority of gay nightclubs and businesses are located. Queen’s Beach, a gay beach, is located in Kapiolani Park at Diamond Head at the end of Waikiki. The Cabana at Waikiki [2552 Cartwright Road, (808) 926-5555] is Honolulu’s only gay guesthouse, and is just one of the many gay businesses along this famous stretch. In Honolulu, Hawaii’s capital city, visitors can take in the international hustle and bustle of city life while still being able to escape to island paradise. This is the cultural melting pot of the island. One of the main tourist attractions is the USS Arizona Memorial [1 Arizona Place, (808) 422-2771], dedicated to those who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II. The memorial was built above the water over the sunken ship, allowing visitors to see how time has eroded the battleship. Along the Kamehameha Highway, Oahu is also home to two other worldly attractions: the Dole Plantation [64-1550 Kamehameha Hwy., (808) 621-8408] and the Polynesian Cultural Center [55-370 Kamehameha Hwy., (808) 293-3333]. The Dole Plantation, established in 1950, opened its doors to the public in 1989. Admission is free and is well worth the wait (if there is one). Delivering the freshest in pineapple and other fruit, Dole shows millions of visitors each year how it has become among the “fruity elite,” no pun intended. Similarly, the Polynesian Cultural Center attracts millions each year. There is a fee for this attraction but it is well worth it, so call and get your tickets ahead of time. With representatives and shows for all of the Polynesian Islands, the center helps tourists understand the history and traditions of each. They also have the best rainbow-sherbet sundaes in the world. In addition to the cultural shows, the center has one of Hawaii’s largest and highly ranked luaus. With a fire pit for the pig roast, you will eat well and be very entertained the entire night.
If luaus aren’t your thing, Honolulu has a plethora of gay bars. If dancing and drinking is your idea of a good night, Hula’s Bar and Lei Stand [134 Kapahulu Ave. in Waikiki Grand Hotel, (808) 923-0669] is the place to be. With a beach bar and disco, you will definitely meet some local men with whom to yell kowabunga. If you simply want a relaxing cocktail, Angles Waikiki [2256 Kuhio Ave., (808) 926-9766] is a good old-fashioned gay bar. Finally, for those who want a little more adventure, and by that I mean strippers and drag queens, there’s Fusion Waikiki [2260 Kuhio Ave., (808) 924-2422], ’til 4 a.m.
Anyway you want to go, the Hawaiian Islands have something to offer everyone. Learning experiences, natural wonders, relaxation and all-night parties are sure to erase every memory of the cold Northeast. So pack your bags, grab a friend and head down the sandy shores of the Pacific. You’re sure to have the time of your life and hopefully meet some people along the way. After all, it is a 12-hour flight!