Exciting Things to Do in Honolulu Over New Year’s
If there ever was a person who could come up with exciting things to do in Honolulu over New Year’s, it is Hella Rothwell. She enticed me to fly to Honolulu from Kona over New Year’s, and it was the best New Year’s I have ever spent. Usually I go to bed early. Like 9 PM. Well, there was that one New Year’s with my husband when we first met, but I wouldn’t call that the best New Year’s. Because I had to walk blocks to the car-towing place at midnight in sub-zero temperatures while prancing through snow in high heels. Who knew you couldn’t park on the sidewalk on the West Bank in Minneapolis?
My feet were so frozen I couldn’t feel my foot to hit the shift pedal in my sports car. Not so in Waikiki. Although I did experience a foot-related incident.
Hella had already checked into the hotel by the time I arrived. We had a lot of ocean to enjoy from the 22nd floor but not enough to satisfy Hella. Next year, she says, we’re going to the Halekulani. But this trip was spur of the moment, about a week beforehand. I think you can see how small the beach is there. I last stayed at this hotel in 1979, and the beach was at least 100 feet from the water. Now, due to rising sea levels caused by climate change, it seems about 10 feet from the water.
After a quick dinner at Red Lobster, we grabbed an Uber to the Blaisdell Concert Hall to see the Bill Maher New Year’s Eve show. Maher was his unusual amusing self. He read a 420 bedtime story based on the Night Before Christmas. Trashed Trump a million ways from Sunday. So it was very enjoyable.
He also brought along Reggie Brown, doing a fine impersonation of Obama. And let’s not forget Bob Saget. Cardigan wearing Bob Saget, who fired off joke after joke about his penis. And whatever else came to his mind. I did not realize he got his start in show business this way. This was the 7th Bill Maher show in Honolulu. I would go to another, yes.
Once we got outside around 10 PM, it was extremely difficult to obtain an Uber. Couldn’t even get the app to load. Some dorky guy next to us obviously got through because he had the look of a smug Uber passenger.
I asked, “Could we ride with you?”
The guy said his fare was $16, and with tip that would be $18, then divided 3 ways would be . . .
Hey buddy, how about I just give ya a $20 and you stop calculating?
His eyes glistened with glee. But turned out he was going the opposite direction, and just about then my app worked.
We arrived at the Aloha Towers for the Party of the Year to claim our VIP tickets. This gave us access to private bathrooms and our own bar. The vibe at the party was great. Mostly people in their 20’s and 30’s, and extremely diverse. Some of it of course looked like hooker’s night out. And I’m not forgetting the two creepy guys who twerked us against a wall when I bopped one of their butts with my bag.
Encountering twerking college students is not one of the exciting things to do in Honolulu over New Year’s. Speaking as a 65-year-old woman now, I realize there is absolutely no reason to twerk. It’s such a stupid dance move. The chicken dance is better than twerking. Why not just put your head up your butt?
Upstairs at the VIP section, the bar held few selections. Mostly horrible drinks. Refusing their suggestion to put Pepsi in a Crown Royal, I finally asked for it on the rocks. We also paid a visit to the VIP bathrooms, which consisted of 3 stalls, one of which had a plunger stuck in the toilet.
Whenever you have a line of women in a bathroom in an environment where alcohol is served, there is generally a lot of chatter. I contributed to the conversation by describing how my sister’s girlfriend in Mexico had to relieve herself so urgently that she just urinated through the beach chair. Then she covered it up with sand as though nothing had happened.
Hella perked up, “I never thought of that.”
Everybody enjoyed that story.
That’s about the time I noticed the heel on my shoe was coming apart. I wore the most comfortable pair I had, which meant they were pretty old shoes. Nobody had any glue, but then I had the brilliant idea of using chewing gum. I scored a couple pieces of gum from the bathroom attendant, quickly chewed, flattened it between my palms and stuck it in my shoe. Hey, it worked!
When the fireworks began, we headed back up the steps to the VIP section. We almost made it to the balcony but a guard stopped us. I’m not sure why. But it caught the attention of a guy at the table we squeezed in on. It was dark. I turned to the guy at the table, just to be polite, and said Feliz Ano Nuevo.
Well, that upset him greatly. He was Hawaiian. He whined about it. Hey, it was dark. Then he asked where we were from, which is a loaded question. Hella lives in 3 places, and I have two houses. I’m not sure we even answered his question. A few minutes later, the guy butted into our conversation again and nudged us: the next thing a person would ask, he said, was where was he from?
Did we care? Ha.
After the fireworks, we went back downstairs to the fun bar. The Gordon Biersch Brewery had hot Latin music. We danced for about another hour or so. Around 2 PM, we thought it might be a good idea to head back to the hotel. Although, we did consider going to the Buddhist Temple to get a cleansing with 6,000 people after midnight. It would have been worth it just to get a golden frog amulet. But too far and too long a wait.
Along the way back to our hotel, I tossed my shoes in the trash in an alley.
On New Year’s Day, we crawled out of bed around 9 AM and hung out on the balcony watching the waves roll in. Hella had made a reservation for us at the House Without a Key Restaurant in the Halekulani Hotel. She craved a Ramos Fizz. Sounded good but I recalled that I preferred a Silver Fizz. The bartender struggled a little to find the recipe. Hey, these drinks should come back.
We began our descent on the Waikiki shopping district. I needed a new pair of shoes since I’d thrown mine away. That’s when we discovered a strange phenomena occurred at more than 60 merchants in this area. We stopped in Michael Kors. This is where the sale clerks tried to pressure us into participating in the wildest marketing scheme ever. Fukubukuro. You just have to read about it.
While I know it looks like all we are doing is drinking, it wasn’t all alcohol all of the time. When you’re on vacation, you do sometimes enjoy a cocktail at lunch. Not to the point where you can’t get out of beach chair and urinate in the sand, though.
We had not one glass of champagne. So we rectified that situation by ordering a bottle with dinner. Michel’s at the Colony Surf is a French restaurant, a long recognized tradition in Honolulu. In fact, Bill Maher, we came to learn, was there the night before. Dining at the bar meant individualized service and undivided attention.
My 5-course tasting menu was fabulous, too. Big Island abalone with wild mushrooms. Maine lobster in corn risotto. A duck salad. Some kind of Kauai shrimp. Followed by the most delicious lamb chop in a port wine demi glace. Ending with a coconut gelato and poached pears.
Unfortunately, the following day was time to return to Big Island. My flight left at noon, which meant we had a bit of time to squeeze in one more event. There so many exciting things to do in Honolulu, and my good fortune (even without that golden frog amulet) was having a native like Hella to show me around. She insisted we do lunch at La Mariana Sailing Club on our way to the airport.
This is a place where the waitress does a curtsey. They had just received a shipment of fresh asparagus, and it was so delightful. I ordered the grilled maui-mahi just to get the side of asparagus, prepared with garlic. We watched geckos, enjoyed the view of the water, the bobbing sailboats and absorbed the environment.
In all, I can honestly say I did not look at my phone for two days. No phone calls on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. It was as though I could be a normal person. And not the intense Sacramento Realtor that I really am. What a wonderful way to spend New Year’s Eve.