an enduring love for the Hawaiian Islands

My love for the Hawaiian Islands has endured. Even during the 15 years since my last visit, I never stopped thinking about my love for Maui and the memories of snorkelling in the Molokini Crater. Alas, this year’s brief trip to Hawaii did not include a return trip to Maui, but I did indulge in a taste of Maui with my introduction to Sweet Paradise Chocolates. Stay tuned to a future post for more about that.

a Chocolatour of Oahu and the Big Island of Hawaii 


Diamond Head Crater is symbolic of Waikiki Beach.

Nothing is more symbolic of the Hawaiian Islands than the image of the Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach, the tourist hubb in the city of Honolulu, on the island of Oahu. Diamond Head is actually a volcanic “tuff cone” caused by a volcanic eruption 150,000 years ago. You can hike into the crater at Diamond Head if you have time and are fit. We didn’t have to do so on this trip, but I did enjoy the hike on my first visit to Oahu many years ago.

Approximately 4.5 million visitors come to the island of Oahu each year. Nearly every one of them will visit Waikiki Beach at least once. Waikiki is a bustling destination, and not one I would recommend for those looking for serenity and solitude. But it is beautiful nonetheless, and definitely worth a few-day-visit if you are planning a trip to the Hawaiian Islands.


The Moana hosts four Japanese weddings daily.

We had the great pleasure of staying at the Sheraton Moana Surfrider during our time at Waikiki. I had stayed at the hotel years ago and loved it for its historic ambiance. What surprised me most about this visit is how many Japanese tourists now visit Waikiki and the Moana on a daily basis. We were told that the Moana hosts four Japanese wedding receptions each day! I’m sure other hotels along the Waikiki strip are also home to visiting Japanese tourists, as many restaurants in the Waikiki area have menus in Japanese.

My next post will highlight our stay at the Moana. Have you stayed at this majestic hotel? When was your last visit to Hawaii? Do you have a favourite Hawaiian island or memories of Hawaii that you would like to share?

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

60 Responses

  1. Lovely pictures. Who wouldn’t love the Hawaiian islands?
    Christopher James recently posted…The Taoist BadassMy Profile

  2. I knew that Hawaii had pineapple plantations but it never occurred to me that cocoa was grown there, too. Nice article!
    Irene S Levine recently posted…Unique Museum at the Four Seasons Safari Lodge SerengetiMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Irene: Actually, Dole is now growing fewer pineapples and more coffee and cocoa. I toured the Wailalua Estate, which grows coffee and cocoa and is owned by the Dole Corporation! Hawaii is the only place in the US that grows cocoa. It is still in its fledgling state as an industry, but the chocolate they are producing is very good. If you subscribe to the blog you won’t miss the future posts in which I’ll be talking about Hawaiian chocolate in detail. Cheers!
      Doreen recently posted…Moana Surfrider: the 1st Lady of Waikiki My Profile

  3. Pat Bodman says:

    I just finished looking at my pictures from our holiday together there. The beach looks the same but we sure don’t!!! lol. It was the first time that Bern and I had been to such an exotic place and you had arranged the Sheraton for our first night. It was awesome. We did come back for one more visit there but agree with you and love Maui. Hopefully will be able to do another trip there in the near future. You and a few of the staff I work with have all been or will be going shortly and I am getting an itch to go sooner than later. You do have a great job!!!!

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Pat: What year was that that we went to HI? I think it was 1987? Agree that Maui is fab. Would definitely like to go back there as well. They have some amazing chocolate as you now know. I hope you’ve seen the most recent post on this blog, as there are more great pics of the Moana and Waikiki. Cheers!

  4. Hello Doreen,
    I was stationed in Pearl Harbor in ’76. In 2004, my wife and I went to the island of Kauai, the Garden Isle. It’s amazing beauty still is crisp and clear in my memory, and just thinking about it, I may need to book a reservation. 🙂

    I love Hanalei Bay, Princeville, and Waimea Canyon… spectacular scenery everywhere!

    I’ll be visiting your other website and have followed on Twitter. 🙂

    Kind Regards,
    William Butler recently posted…Witness The Spectacular! Are You Missing Out On This?My Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Thanks so much for sharing your Hawaii memories with us, Bill. I remember staying at the Sheraton Princeville years back and loving it. I’m still having trouble with the Hawaiian language. So many of the names sound the same. And so many are not pronounceable. I remember seeing one place name in our travels on the Big Island that had 3 consecutive a’s in it! Definitely not easy for non-Hawaiians to learn.
      Doreen recently posted…an enduring love for the Hawaiian IslandsMy Profile

  5. I had my first trip to Oahu less than 2 weeks ago. It was short, but sweet, and I’d love to go back. I’d really like to hike Diamond Head – that’s on the list for next time. What a lovely bride and groom! I can certainly understand why there are so many weddings on Waikiki and many other places in the Hawaiian Islands, for that matter. Paradise.
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted…3 Days on Oahu: 5 Honolulu HighlightsMy Profile

  6. Isn’t it funny how we all find going somewhere away fro ‘home’ as being more exotic for a wedding – So the Japanese go to Hawaii and friends recently from here in Australia went off to Thailand!
    The world is becoming a merry go round of wedding receptions!
    Linda ~ Journey Jottings recently posted…Exploring Kings Canyon from Down Under – The Kings Creek WalkMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Linda and welcome to the blog!

      Yes, I’ve heard that the Japanese are drawn to HI for ceremonial weddings as there is something spiritual about the process for them. I didn’t have time to investigate exactly what that was. Australians going to Thailand. Here on the Canadian Prairies, many couple have been tying the knot in the Dominican Republic and Cuba for quite a number of years. Beautiful settings and a nice getaway from the cold during the winter months.
      Doreen recently posted…an enduring love for the Hawaiian IslandsMy Profile

  7. Haley Gray says:

    Wow, My mouth is watering. I’m headed off to Hawaii next month, so I’ll have to check out the chocolate store you mentioned. 🙂 We’re actually going to Maui and the Big Island. Hawaii is truly one of my favorite places on this earth.
    Haley Gray recently posted…Delegating Is An ArtMy Profile

  8. Jen Weaver says:

    I would love to go to Hawaii! Maybe sometime this year?!?! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your post.
    Jen Weaver recently posted…The Wonder Behind The WaitMy Profile

  9. Pat Bodman says:

    Have finally completed my special event with the NHL Heritage Classic which was held here on Sunday (unfortunately the Canucks lost!!!) and wanted to say thanks for: The great lunch and visit with you last Friday; the chance to see ALL the great pictures from your trip; and for the great chocolate fudge/chocolates from Maui. Delish!!!! Hope to head back to Maui for a visit soon and will definitely get their address!!!

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Pat: Great seeing you, too, and reminiscing about Hawaii. We had such great fun there so many years ago!

      The individual chocolates I gave you were from Maui. But the fudge was from the Big Island. It is absolutely incredible. Shared some at TM today and the consensus was just that. Thanks for dropping into the blog. 🙂

  10. Lovely. I haven’t been to Hawaii in a long time but I do have great memories and would like to go back. Maybe this is the year.

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Beth and welcome to the blog! Yes, it had been a long while since I had been as well. There are so many other places that are now accessible to us. But Hawaii really does have a little bit of everything for everyone and anyone who likes the tropics. You just have to find the right island to meet your expectations and interests.

      Thanks to everyone else as well who has made recent comments. I really appreciate them all.
      Doreen recently posted…an enduring love for the Hawaiian IslandsMy Profile

  11. I haven’t been to Waikiki since I was a kid. I’ve taken my own kids to the Big Island and Maui, though. I’m not surprised that so many Japanese like to have weddings here. It’s so pretty, isn’t it.
    Michele {Malaysian Meanders} recently posted…Baking the Perfect Loaf of BreadMy Profile

  12. I can certainly understand why you love Hawaii; so beautiful!!

  13. Jason B says:

    I’ve never been to Hawaii. It’s on my bucket list though.
    Jason B recently posted…One Year Anniversary & GiveawayMy Profile

  14. My only trip to Hawaii was when I was a kid. Our family was returning to the states from China, going through Japan, then Hawaii. We took a couple days for a layover. All I remember is the epic sunburn I picked up there. I’d love to go back again…with sunscreen!
    Meredith Wouters recently posted…Why I Quit Spring CleaningMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Hawaii is such a wondrous place, Meredith. It had been 15 years since my last visit and much had changed since then. Now I want to go back to Maui, as I didn’t make it there on this year’s trip.

  15. I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting Hawaii, it looks and sounds absolutely fabulous, plus chocolate. Life is good. 🙂
    Debra Yearwood recently posted…How to Present DataMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Debra: In all the wonderful places I’ve had the pleasure of visiting, Hawaii still holds a special place in my heart. I have a great love of islands, and Hawaii is made up of several major islands each with its own unique flavour and ambiance. Plus a whole host of tiny islands to explore. I think I could make a full-time job of that!
      Doreen recently posted…an enduring love for the Hawaiian IslandsMy Profile

  16. Greg says:

    Stop making me jealous, Doreen! Brr.

    I’ve visited Lanai and Honolulu. Where else should I go?
    Greg recently posted…How to Place Your Ad Units Above the Fold for Over 50% More ClicksMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Wow, Greg! You must really love extremes! Honolulu is the busiest and most populated spot in Hawaii. Lanai is one of the least populated of the major islands. What brought you there?

      Of the four Hawaiian Islands I’ve visited, I love Maui the most because of its vibrant arts scene and natural beauty. Kauai is also lovely from a nature perspective. Wish I’d had more time to explore the Big Island. We only saw half of it, but I did indeed love what I saw. Stay tuned for future posts!

  17. Catarina says:

    Being on Hawaii and sampling chocolate sound like a wonderful idea. Imagine getting away from the cold and tasting yummy delights. Perfect time of the year for such a trip.
    Catarina recently posted…What’s your online reputation worth?My Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Catarina: I picked the right topic when I decided to research chocolate, as cacao is only grown 20 degrees north and south of the equator. Hawaii at 22 degrees latitude is stretching that growing region just slightly. But most of the places in the growing region belt are indeed tropical. 🙂

  18. Jeri says:

    Tropical locations aren’t usually my first pick when thinking of places to vacation, but nonetheless I would love to visit Hawaii if the chance ever presented itself.
    Jeri recently posted…Writing Process Blog Hop #amwritingMy Profile

  19. Donna Hull says:

    Time really does change everything. On your next visit to Oahu, you’re likely to experience many Chinese tourists as they are the up and coming travel group.
    Donna Hull recently posted…News for the WeekMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Interesting about the expected increase in Chinese tourists, Donna. I’ve been told that their middle class in developing a taste for finer things and that I should visit to educate them about artisanal chocolate. I’ll have to look into that!

  20. Patti says:

    We were married in Honolulu, HI – a really long time ago – 36 years. It was a long time before we returned, but we have returned in the past decade – to Maui and to the Big Island because they feel more like “Hawaii” whereas Honolulu just feels like any other city that just happens to be on an island. Nice to meet you here in the group! And chocolate?! Yum!
    Patti recently posted…The Stuff Movies Are Made Of ~My Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Patti and welcome to the blog! Yes, I was in Oahu primarily to attend the Hawaii Chocolate Fest and events of the Hawaii Cacao Growers Assn. But, I, too, love the laid back vibe of the other islands.

  21. A.K.Andrew says:

    Hawaii is still on my to visit list, so I’m tinged with a little jealousy by your trip. It really does look gorgeous – I know it has its seedy parts too, but where doesn’t. Looking forward to hearing more about your trip next time. 🙂
    A.K.Andrew recently posted…Author in Focus: How to #Write #War like Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Thanks, A.K. Hawaii really does have something for everyone. Except perhaps people who only like cold-climate destinations. Each island has a distinctly different personality and will appeal to a different demographic. I love Maui because of its strong focus on the arts, slower pace, unending beauty, and nature preserves.

  22. Returning to some place you love is always a great treat!
    Irene S. Levine recently posted…Hotel Review: Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, a rich blend of old and new
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    • Doreen says:

      Hi Irene: That is so true! We get to travel to a lot of super places (which is great!) But it’s a special experience to go back to a place you have longed for and from which you hold fond memories. Thx for visiting the blog! I hope you’ll subscribe and become a regular. 🙂
      Doreen recently posted…an enduring love for the Hawaiian IslandsMy Profile

  23. I really enjoyed having the chance to meet you and Suzanne Boles during your visit to Oahu. Thanks for the heads up about the Chocolate Festival. I learned a lot and got to try some yummy chocolate creations. Waikiki is definitely its own thing and a welcome Japanese invasion (this time). I hope visitors will take the time to take a tour or rent a car to explore other parts of the island which is quite diverse in a small area.
    Suzanne Fluhr recently posted…How to Travel Without Your DogMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      So true, Suzanne. We had a car our whole time on the islands, so on Oahu, we visited the North Shore and a cocoa plantation to get a taste of the uncluttered part of the island.

      Great meeting you, too! Always fun to take online alliances into the real world. 🙂

  24. I’ve never been to Hawaii. I’ve been reading a lot about it recently and becoming intrigued. I’m looking forward to the rest of your posts.
    Donna Janke recently posted…Gilbert Riparian Preserve at Water RanchMy Profile

  25. Wonderful post and pictures too! My mother lived in Hawaii for 22 years – Ohahu – but during my many trips there I was lucky to visit all the islands! I hate to betray my age, but my first trip there, I landed at the airport and the terminal was but a shack! You could actually see Waikiki Beach from Kalakaua Blvd!!! But it’s still grand!
    Jacqueline Gum (Jacquie) recently posted…Picking Up The Pieces…Where’s The Justice?My Profile

    • Doreen says:

      How lucky you are/were Jacquie to have had so many trips to the Hawaiian Islands! And to have a place to stay that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg! I love Hawaii, but it sure is expensive! Thank goodness for the ABC stores where you can buy really decent quality fresh food in the heart of Waikiki for a reasonable cost. Cheers!

  26. We just completed a six-week stay in Hawaii – and no matter how much time we spend there, it just doesn’t seem to be enough. We were on O’ahu for most of our stay so sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet (also missed out on meeting Cathy Sweeney and Suzanne Fluer – timing is everything). We spent a week on Maui – I think you will find it very different from the Maui you remember from 15 years ago. As for the Moana, never stayed there but always make it a point to walk through and have coffee at the coffee shop – we watch those brides arrive and depart!
    Jackie Smith recently posted…Finding Greek Treasures in the South PacificMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      A 6-week stay in Hawaii would be a dream for me, Jackie. I’ve only managed to visit 2 weeks at a time over the years. Hopefully, I’ll get back to Maui soon as it really left an impression on me and I’d like to see if the impact will still be there all those years — and islands — later.

      Thx for visiting the blog and sharing your thoughts.
      Doreen recently posted…an enduring love for the Hawaiian IslandsMy Profile

  27. Pat Amsden says:

    That -32 degree temperature from Gimli puts our weather in perspective. There’ll be no more snivelling about rain here. Brrr… I’ve never been to Hawaii but it sounds like a wonderful – and warm – place. Sitting out on the verandah reading a good book and eating chocolate sounds divine. Actually my first book, Better Than Chocolate has a wedding in Hawaii. Just researching it was fun.

  28. Brilliant use of the natural elements.. Awesome

  29. Hi Doreen. Nice upbeat post on the Hawaiian Islands and good visuals. Many years since I visited but spending this winter in frozen Nova Scotia so I’m a little envious !
    Paul Graham recently posted…Google thinks I am a Cross-DresserMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Thanks very much for visiting my blog, Paul. I hear you about the winter weather. We’ve had a dreadful winter in MB. I came home to -28C!

      Hopefully, spring is just around the corner. I hope you’ll subscribe to the blog and stick around for more posts on Hawaii. Cheers!
      Doreen recently posted…an enduring love for the Hawaiian IslandsMy Profile

  30. Hey Doreen,
    We missed you back in Gimli. I’m sure you didn’t miss the weather!
    I was in Hawaii years and got the usual Lei around my neck and a kiss from beautiful girl.
    I was single then so was allowed to enjoy it!
    It’s a fabulous place to visit…perhaps a little too commercial these days.
    I’m just green with envy. See you Wed at Toastmasters.
    P.S. I have a new website.

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Russ and welcome to my chocolate travel blog! Thx for dropping in!

      There are definitely parts of Hawaii that are not commercialized. We found some magnificent hideaways on the Big Island, and there are also spots on the North Shore of Oahu that are far off the beaten path. I’d love to go back and continue exploring. See you Wednesday.
      Doreen recently posted…an enduring love for the Hawaiian IslandsMy Profile

  31. noelmorata says:

    One of my all time favorites in Waikiki…i love hanging out on the veranda….and eating chocolates if i can 🙂

  32. What an amazing journey you had. I followed you all the way on FB. Hawaii is an amazing place, beautiful in nature, culture and now their cocoa. Alas, you had to return home, although welcome, it would have been cool if you could have brought some of their weather with you. 🙂
    Susan Cooper recently posted…Wine Tasting Room Etiquette: By Steve HuntingtonMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      You’re so right, Susan! It would have been nice is the temp differential was not so extreme. We went from +86F on the Big Island to -32C in Manitoba. Yikes!

  33. Aloha! I was so happy to accompany you on this trip, Doreen. I found the Sheraton Moana Surfrider to be a pleasant mix of modern and old-world charm. I enjoyed seeing visitors on the veranda taking in the scenery in beautiful wooden rocking chairs. It reminded me of the southern US states and old movies where you see people cooling off on a hot day in Georgia slowly rocking back and forth on their front porch. There was indeed a sense of hustle and bustle on the streets lined with designer shops like Louis Vuitton. But I really enjoyed sliding into the side streets where I was able to find a lovely sundress at a reasonable price – apparently hesitation is considered bartering so that made the price even better. I look forward to more posts and reminiscing about our lovely trip highlighted by some amazing chocolate growers and chocolate makers. You really do have the best job in the world.

    • Doreen says:

      Thanks so much for accompanying me on the journey, Suzanne! It was indeed a fun trip filled with many adventures. Hawaii really does have something for everyone.

  34. Cheryl says:

    I have enjoyed following your Facebook update photos of this trip. I have yet to visit Hawaii, but it is on my list of places I want to go.
    Cheryl recently posted…Making Elderberry Syrup Via Mountain Rose HerbsMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Glad you’ve been enjoying the pics, Cheryl. Hawaii really is a lovely place to visit for any number of reasons. Stay tuned for a lot more!

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