24 Feb The Lotus Honolulu Hotel at Diamond Head
After graduating from UCLA, JIll traveled the world looking for unique destinations. She’s been writing about her travels for almost 30 years in various publications.
She writes a weekly restaurant review for the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News. It’s inserted into the Los Angeles Times every Thursday and delivered to subscribers from Hancock Park to Beverly Hills, Hollywood Hills to the Wilshire Corridor.
The Lotus Honolulu Hotel at Diamond Head
BY JILL WEINLEIN
Each room offers a balcony overlooking the ocean and dramatic Diamond Head volcano. Thoughtful amenities include free parking, complimentary beach chairs, towels and bicycles. There is complimentary wine tastings at 5 p.m., in the bar and lounge of the award-winning restaurant, TBD ¦by Vikram Garg. The French classic menu is one of the best fine dining restaurant experiences on the island of Oahu. Diners partake in a sensory exploration of Chef Garg’s global cuisine featuring Hawaiian, Indian and Asian inspired dishes that are sourced locally. Views include the grassy 500-acre Kapiolani Park featuring beautiful trees, singing birds, tranquil fountains, and ample space for year-round outdoor activities.
During one of our morning walks, we discovered one of the most intriguing architectural communities on the island. Different styles of historic homes built in the 1920’s have been saved by the City and County of Honolulu. Most of the charming bungalows and oceanside estates are beautifully preserved. It’s a step back in time architecturally while standing in front of a Hawaiian style bungalow built in 1926 that was the residence of architect C.W Dickey. Nearby is a Cotswald Cottage Revival built in 1928, and a Spanish Mission Revival built in 1926. One of my favorite properties to linger and appreciate old European village design were two rows of Tudor and French Norman style charmers. Two of the lucky owners have crashing surf in their yard.
Another morning, we laced our hiking shoes to walk up to the top of the Diamond Head crater, now a national park. Named “Brow of the Tuna” by ancient Hawaiians, you can see the shape of a dorsal fin in the ridge line. Another Hawaiian name for Diamond Head is “leah”, meaning wreath of fire, reflecting the ancient practice of lighting fire on the crest of the volcano to guide canoe fleets back to the island.
According to a plaque near the navigational lighthouse below Diamond Head, in 1825, British sailors ascended the crater and found hard clear, calcite crystals among the black lava rocks. Mistaking them for diamonds, the sailors named the area ‘Diamond Head’.
The moderate 1.6 mile roundtrip hike leads up to a stunning lookout overlooking Waikiki and Honolulu. Built in 1908, as part of Oahu’s coastal defense system, it was completed in 1911. The Fire Control Station at the summit directed artillery fire from batteries in Waikiki and Fort Ruger outside Diamond Head crater. Along the switchback trail are the remains of geological and military equipment inside the volcanic crater. Part of the ascent includes stairs leading up through a lighted 225-foot tunnel. At the summit, we noticed bunkers on the crater rim.
Almost every day we enjoyed lunch and fresh pineapple juice at Barefoot Beach Cafe at Queen’s Surf Beach. It’s one of the best priced outdoor cafes on the island overlooking the water. The menu includes Hawaiian plates and American fare among outdoor seating. They offer live music and sometimes on weekends a beach barbecue. The cafe is also right next to the Waikiki Marine Life Conservation District. It’s one of Hawaii’s most spectacular snorkeling areas with over 400 species of reef fish. This area has brightly colored wrasses, different graceful swimming angelfish and long nose butterflyfish.
When it rained, we ducked into the nearby Waikiki Aquarium to see a multitude of sea life and avoid getting wet. This small aquarium has been improved, revitalized and enlarged with various exhibits showcasing jellyfish, a variety of small and large fish and coral in re-created habitats.
Staying on this side of the island may not offer all of the lively dining and shopping opportunities, as nearby Waikiki, yet it’s a more peaceful Honolulu experience for those seeking a more authentic tropical getaway.
To reserve a stay at Lotus Hotel, go to https://www.lotushonoluluhotel.com or call (808) 922-1700.