Subject: Honolulu vacation
We just got back from a ten-day trip to Hawai'i. Five in Maui and five in O'ahu. Had a wonderful time. Here are a few suggestions: Before you go try and read Gavin Daws' book Shoal of Time an outstanding historical account of the Islands beginning with Captain Cook's first encounter there. Also, consider renting the movie The Picture Bride, a fictional account of the Japanese immigrants who came to Hawai'i to work on the sugar plantations. Once you are there I'd recommend visiting the Iolani Palace, the Bishop Museum, and Hawai'i's Plantation Village in Waipahu. The Palace will give you an opportunity to experience first hand the role the monarchy played in the history of the Islands plus the tragedy of Queen Liliuokalani's loss of rule at the hands of American businessmen which culminated in Hawai'i's annexation by the U.S. The Bishop Museum is a wonderful collection depicting Hawaiian culture, as well as, other Polynesian cultures. We visited the museum late in the afternoon on our final day and ran out of time. This museum is a real treasure of the Hawaiian people and should not be missed. Hawai'i's Plantation Village at the Waipahu Cultural Garden Park was one of the highlights of our trip. A visit here will help to explain how Hawaii became a state without a majority. That is to say the most ethnically diverse state in the union. This is a restoration of a sugar plantation village from the early part of the 20th century. The village depicts the various waves of immigration; Chinese, Portuguese, Puerto Rican, Japanese, Korean, Okinawan & Filipino, which helped to create this state's incredible diversity. The best part of the tour is that the guides lived in these villages and through their memories help make the village come alive. The two hours we spent with Mr. Charles Ishikawa were the most poignant moments I've ever experienced on any tour I've taken.

The Bus (that's the name of the mass transit on O'ahu) will get you anywhere you want to go on the island. In fact, you could do a complete tour of the island (all the way to the North Shore and back) if you desire. Bike riding might be a bit hazardous as there is a lot of traffic in Honolulu.

As far as dining out is concerned we concentrated on local establishments (not really catering to tourists). Some of our favorites included the Rainbow Drive-in on Kapahulu Street for the Mixed Plate Special (Mahi-Mahi, Chicken Katsu, and Teriyaki Beef with white rice and macaroni salad) and Giovanni's Original White Shrimp Truck in Kahuku for fresh shrimp scampi. If you're in Kailua Saeng's Thai Restaurant matches the quality of Keo's in Honolulu.

If you enjoy pastries I highly recommend a visit to the Liliha Bakery just to the northwest of downtown Honolulu. Try their Cocoa Puffs; a cream puff filled with cocoa custard. Also, Leonard's on Kapahulu Street for malasadas (Portuguese doughnuts) and wonderful cakes... haupia and lillikoi chiffon..mmmmmm!

John Rule San Diego, CA