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Heavenly Hawaii


Welcome to KIS Blog: A taste of local fashion, food & wine and luxe travel

Heavenly Hawaii

Lauren Zwaans

Last month, before embarking on my new journey with KIS, I thought I'd see out maternity leave in style with a Hawaiian escape - with my husband and baby in toe, no less.

Cue the many doubters who said travelling with a seven-month-old is no fun at all. (They clearly haven't been to Hawaii!)

So here's my eat, shop and play guide based on 14 nights spent seven apiece on the islands of Oahu and Maui. 


Home to the state's capital of Honolulu, Oahu is the most populated Hawaiian island, where more than two-thirds of the population reside. The most commercial of the islands, Oahu certainly feels like part of the United States. You'll find all of the usual American food options from the Cheesecake Factory to IHOP, shopping aplenty - particularly if you have a passion (and budget) for luxury goods - and plenty of waves. 

Yes, there are many American diner options if calories are no object, but if you're after fresh cuisine that ensures you'll still fit into that bikini, stick with Japanese!  Banzai Sushi Bar on the North Shore is a delicious and affordable choice for fresh local fare, while Morimoto offers a more inventive take on traditional sushi.  If you're after something fresh that tastes of home, head to Bill's in the heart of Honolulu. They offer all day dining, but their breakfast selections like their ricotta hotcakes and sweet corn fritters are particularly famous.

There are so many shopping options, but Ala Moana Center seems to have it all. As the largest shopping mall in Hawaii - and the largest open-air shopping centre in the world - there is everything on offer here from luxury labels the likes of Chanel and CÉLINE, through to American staple stores like Banana Republic and Gap.

If luxury shopping (or in my case, luxury window shopping) is up your alley, make sure you head to Luxury Row in Waikiki, home to 111,000 square feet of boutique shopping. For the widest range of luxury brands, head to the neighbouring T Galleria. If nothing else, grab a Godiva soft serve in the food court. I promise it's worth the calories!

And if it's bargains you're seeking, the designer Waikele Premium Outlets are worth the visit for major discounts on brands like Polo Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger.

We stayed at The Modern Honolulu, a harbour front resort located a stone's throw from Waikiki Beach.  Enjoy cocktails at The Grove and, if you're lucky, spot celebrities by the pool! (We shared an elevator with a tennis racket-toting Kevin Hart, who was busy chowing down on chicken rice!)

Waikiki aside, Oahu is home to many beautiful beaches.  Waimea Bay, Ehukai Beach (a.k.a Pipeline) and Sunset Beach are just a few of the world famous beaches on offer on the island's North Shore. Spend a day road tripping to each, stopping off at Haleiwa Town for a famous shave ice from Matsumoto, then continue north and grab some fresh garlic prawns from one of the local food trucks, like Giovanni's.

And, while it can't really be categorised as 'play', a visit to the Pearl Harbor Memorial whether you're a history buff or not, is a must.  See a sobering documentary about Pearl Harbor and visit the USS Arizona Memorial - a stunning shrine that sits above the ocean tomb where more than 1100 men lost their lives on that fateful day in December, 1941.  

 The Modern Honolulu is a gorgeous spot for a drink. Image: Kiwi Traveller

The Modern Honolulu is a gorgeous spot for a drink. Image: Kiwi Traveller

 The USS Arizona Memorial is a beautiful tribute to the men who lost their lives. Image: National Park Service

The USS Arizona Memorial is a beautiful tribute to the men who lost their lives.
Image: National Park Service

A favourite with American tourists, the island of Maui is postcard-perfect Hawaii at its best.  Whether you want to lounge on a beach for the length of your stay, swim with turtles, or take the Road to Hana to discover the island's natural wonders, Maui has something for everyone.

Do yourself a favour and forget about the overpriced and overly gimmicky luau feasts and eat like the locals instead. Grab fish tacos from Lahaina or Kihei, then visit Lappert's for the best local ice cream.  For a special meal, visit Ka'ana Kitchen in Wailea. The award-winning restaurant is one of America's Best 100 Wine Restaurants, although sadly we couldn't spot any Aussie drops on the list! 

I'd save my shopping dollars for Oahu, but if you're after a shopping fix while in Maui, head to The Shops at Wailea: a premium, boutique shopping complex with pretty homewares stores and designer labels like Tiffany & Co, Louis Vuitton and Prada.

Stay & Play
There is definitely only one accommodation option in Wailea. The Andaz is truly outstanding in every way.  Order lobster cheese and lounge by the pool, or use the free resort snorkels to spot turtles in the water. It's such a gorgeous spot to take in the sunset that you'd be forgiven for not venturing out of the resort. I confess we grew a little too comfortable lounging by the pool, sipping cocktails and listening to live music each evening.  Then again, surely that's what beach holidays are all about?

 KIS director, Lauren, with her family enjoying Wailea Beach.

KIS director, Lauren, with her family enjoying Wailea Beach.

 The stunning sunset view from The Andaz Maui

The stunning sunset view from The Andaz Maui