Under the Hawaiian Sun

By Eve Wee-Ang 2018-12-27 16:09:41

I have to be really honest. I am not a beach babe who enjoys basking in the sun in a teeny tiny bikini and roasting till a golden shade of caramel. For one, I am Asian, and second, I come from the sunny island of Singapore, where the occasional cloudy skies are a huge respite from the tropical heat. This also means I worry about pigmentation that commonly plagues those of us who are exposed to long periods in the sun. Talking about bikinis, the last time I donned one was when my belly was swollen with a baby. Now even without a baby my stomach is still not flat, and to be honest I gave up caring; life is simply too short to collapse from sucking in your belly!

So, when my family voted on Hawaii for their summer vacation, I wasn’t yelping with joy as one should when one hears Hawaii. All I thought was pigmentation and sucking in for two whole weeks! Unlike me, my husband and our two kids worship the sun, sand and sea, which makes me wonder if I am the adopted one in the family. My husband had to come up with a shady itinerary (pardon the pun) to appease his ghostly white (yellow in my case) wife. Now don’t get me wrong, I love chilling on the beach as much as the next bikini babe, but I do worry about the skin damaging effects of the sun. If like me - as well as the numerous sun-fearing Asians I spied in Hawaii - you are looking for fun without the nasty souvenirs of dark sun spots from Hawaii, then put on your summer hat and read on! 

There are six major islands in Hawaii. Our family decided to visit Northshore, Oahu, Honolulu, Maui and Molokai; all of which were stunning!

There are so many amazing things to do as a family at these destinations but here's a glimpse at some of our favourite activities:

Northshore, Oahu 

The Polynesian Cultural Centre (PCC) is a theme park chockfull of interesting and engaging activities for families to learn about the different lifestyles of native Polynesians. The award-winning centre offers both indoor and outdoor activities, and it is well shaded with trees – big yeah! We spent a full day visiting different villages that showcase their traditional arts and crafts with fun hands-on activities for kids such as spear throwing and starting a fire with coconut husks. All guests are assigned to a group whereby you are tagged to a local tour guide, who leads you to various villages. It was wonderful to step back in time to life in native Samoa, Aotearoa, Fiji, Hawaii Tahiti, Tonga, the Marquesas and Rapa Nui. Best highlight of the centre is the Ali’i Luau dinner, whereby you get to sample local delicacies, in particular the much-anticipated kalua pig! For the Ambassador Package including Luau it was 219.95 USD per adult and 190.95 USD per child. 

Honolulu, Maui 

Despite my apprehension of being out in the sunlight, our family voted on trying the exciting activity of parasailing... and it is like floating on air! 


Granted you are exposed to sunlight during the short ride to the deep shores, where the fun takes place, but a rash guard, cap and lots of sunscreen did the trick! Before you set off, you have a choice of doing a tandem or single ride, and my family chose the former so that we could have the kids with us. Once we were strapped up and ready to go, out popped a huge smiley parashade which instantly put a happy smile on our faces! 


As the captain accelerated  and the vessel pulled us along, my daughter and I sat back, relaxed and took in the gorgeous views of Ka’anapali Beach and West Maui Mountains from 1200 feet. A surreal experience. Till now I smile when I recall the company’s slogan: “I got high on Maui.” Parasailing costs 190 USD per tandem. 



As a family, we have always dreamt of flying in a helicopter and our wish finally came true when we boarded Captain Cody’s flight from Oahu to Molokai on Sunshine Helicopters. According to reviews he is one of the most sought-after captains. With a combination of an awesome dry sense of humor and impeccable pilot skills, he had us smiling and laughing whilst looking down at the stunning lush tropical rainforests and hidden valley beneath us. It was breathtaking to soak in Molokai’s untouched nature, a home to the tallest sea cliffs in the world and the longest continuous fringing reef. Ride costs 205 USD per person. 


Hawaiian Food

Dishes in Hawaii cost roughly 15-50 USD per person. Here are our favourites:

Spam Musubi

Sushi topped with deep fried Spam luncheon meat and wrapped with Nori sheets. Just two small servings of these are enough to fill you up. 

Loco moco


A plate of white rice, sizzling hamburger patty and fried eggs drenched in warm brown gravy. 

Shave ice


A sweet dessert of finely shaved ice with a generous helping of flavoured syrup, is a favourite all year round. 

Haupia pie

Coconut cream pie either enjoyed plain or topped with macadamia nuts, pineapple, chocolate shavings or even cocoa powder.

Although we have been to many beach holidays in the past, Hawaii was special to our family because of the friendly attitude of the locals there. Nearly everyone we met greeted us with a smile and took time to chat with us. I believe this is the Hawaiian "Ohana" (family) culture which means everyone that visits the island is treated like family and therefore he or she will be warmly welcomed; no one gets left behind or forgotten!

Hints and tips:

Getting to Hawaii: China Eastern Airlines offer a direct 9-hour flight from Shanghai to Honolulu Airport. 

Travelling around Hawaii: For some of the journey we rented a car and I highly recommened https://www.avis.com. However, we mainly relied upon Uber, which has been a breeze. Trips on average were about 15 USD, but From airports to our hotels these were roughly 50 USD each way. For local knowledge, always speak to taxi drivers as their pulse is on the streets. 

Shopping: ABC Stores, the go-to chain store in Hawaii, where anything and everything you need is available; they sell everything from food to Hawaiian shirts to ukuleles!