Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa, Waikiki Beach
Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa, Waikiki Beach
Smack in the middle of Waikiki’s perennial party, the Moana Surfrider has elegant old bones and the bustle of a big-city hotel. On any given day, the Victorian-era lobby is full of young Japanese brides and grooms, trailed by their photographers; giddy business travelers in town for a Planters Punch–fueled conference; and family pods in between morning Diamond Head hikes and surfing lessons. The Banyan Wing, the oldest of the hotel’s three wings, dates back to 1901, and there’s a fine little museum on the second floor that covers not just the Moana Surfrider’s history, but all of early Waikiki. While the rest of the hotel has undergone big changes over the years—including the addition of a 21-story tower and a massive spa—there’s an enduring charm to the place, especially on the beachfront patio with its iconic century-old banyan tree and always-congenial bar scene.
By Deborah Dunn, AFAR Contributor
Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa
Built in 1901, the legendary "First Lady of Waikiki" blends Victorian architecture with a golden beach and turquoise seas. Putting a luxury hotel in a deserted backwater was a bold move—but one that paid off. Tourism took off here and the Moana remains its ruling monarch. One of the most lovely, historical hotels in Hawaii, it still has Ionic columns supporting an elegant porte-cochère, plus a long shaded gallery along its facade where rocking chairs encourage guests to watch the world go by. A $21-million renovation brought it up-to-date in 2014 and added a new beach club. But an exhibit room still honors its rich past on the second floor of the Banyan Wing, and serves as a jumping-off point for free historical tours (11 a.m., Mondays and Wednesdays).
Hawaiian-Style Chinese New Year
Asian cultural threads run deep in the population and traditions of the Hawaiian Islands. Though Hawaii is the 50th state in the U.S., people with Asian heritage make up the largest ethnic group here. It's no surprise that the holidays and festivals of Filipino, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Chinese people—along with other Asian and Pacific Islanders—are celebrated in addition to Hawaiian and U.S. holidays. One notable festival is the Chinese, or Lunar, New Year. The new year's lion visits places throughout Hawaii to spread good fortune to those who feed it a small monetary gift and bless businesses and establishments for the next year. A great spot to enjoy the tradition is at the Moana Surfrider hotel. The drum parade that accompanies the lion can be heard from blocks away until it's so loud that it's hard to make conversation when he arrives. Grab a chair at the beach bar, order a drink, and nibble on some pupus (appetizers) while you watch the lion's dance as he wanders through the property. Have a couple of dollar bills ready to feed the lion with and secure your year of good fortune.
Hawaii Weddings: Bride's Tea at the Veranda
With the lyric and melody of the real Hawaiian wedding song, Charles E. King’s “Lei Aloha Lei Makamae” running through my head, I drove into the port cochere of the stately Moana Hotel the wrong way. Immediately two valets rushed me, doing a sort of dance waving their arms and making circular motions encouraging my retreat into the throngs of tourists and traffic on Waikiki’s Kalakaua Ave. “ E ku’u lei, e ku’u lei . . ” I hummed, as red-faced, I pulled up under the pillars in front of the "First Lady Of Waikiki” pulling on my high-heels and correcting my transgression with a fiver to the guy taking my keys. I managed to sashay smoothly up the elegant stairs so I confidently mouthed “ kou aloha ka’u” and walked out to the wide ocean front veranda which looks much the same as the old sepia photos of a hundred years ago hung along the lobby wall. “Na kau a kau, na kau a kau” I sang in my head until I was in front of a table set elegantly for afternoon tea. Pots of custom blended and fragrant teas, and vertical assortments of savories and sweets graced the crisp linen in front of a convivial group of ladies. “Lei aloha na’u, lei makamae. . .” I saved my biggest smile for the most beautiful one, wearing a fragrant white ginger lei; my brother’s beloved bride-to-be. Note: The custom teas are divine and all of the offerings are delightful and delicious. This is a perfect afternoon spent with friends whatever the reason. Make reservations.
By Michelle M. Winner, AFAR Local Expert
Lomi Lomi Massage on Waikiki
These days, any spa worth its sea salt offers Lomi Lomi massage, but knowledge of the technique was once restricted to five Hawaiian lineages. Westin Moana Surfrider therapists train with these families, keeping the tradition strong. 2365 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, Hawaii, (808) 922-3111. This appeared in the March/April 2013 issue.
By Jessica S., AFAR Contributor
Hula at the Beach Bar
Just a few steps off the busy Kalakaua Avenue, the Moana Surfrider Beach Bar is my favorite place to unwind on Oahu. The best tables next to the beach are often taken, but worth waiting for at sunset. You'll certainly enjoy the ambiance any place you can sit and hear the waves. The beach bar is sheltered from the sun by umbrellas and an enormous banyan tree that spans about 150 feet. In the evenings you will be treated to live Hawaiian music and hula dancing that sets a restful mood and seems to make time stand still. If you need a refreshing, minty, frothy, cachaça-enhanced beverage to cool off after a long day in the sunshine, order the Coco Freeze.
Coco Freeze for a Hot Evening
One of my favorite drinks in Honolulu is the Coco Freeze at the Moana Surfrider. While it is no longer listed on the menu, I have been assured that I can still order this refreshing cocktail while at the beach bar. Perfect for enjoying on a warm afternoon or evening, it's a beautiful concoction made to sip while watching the clouds roll by and paddle boarders come in from their afternoon on the waves.
Vino & Vinyasa
Every third Thursday of the month enjoy Vino and Vinyasa class on Waikiki beach, hosted by The Beach Bar and LuluLemon. Free for Moana Surfrider guests, this hour long class with take you through a rejuvinating yoga practice followed by organic wines and a trunk show of special athletic gear by Lululemon. Space is limited so reserve your spot in advance. The Moana Surfrider also offers a daily yoga class in the 2nd tower from 7:30—8:25 AM.
By Max Power
2365 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA