An Obama-Style Hawaii Vacation: Not Bad at All

If you’re thinking about a Hawaii vacation this year, maybe the time the president-elect spent on Oahu has piqued your interest. Hawaii’s local media are hopeful that Barack Obama’s two visits to his home state this year will provide a boost for a visitor industry that’s rising out of a difficult 2008.

Obama is a kamaaina — one familiar with Hawaii and things Hawaiian. The things he chose to do while here weren’t exactly what the brochures and lure advertising encourage you to do on your vacation. But the things he and his family did — including spending quality time alone with each other — would fill your time here very well. Let’s consider:

Obama played golf. Apparently he isn’t a particularly good golfer, but he enjoys the game and takes his swings with relish. Hawaii has spectacular courses, famous courses and challenging courses. (The Makaha Course is breathtaking, the Sony Open is played at Waialae, and Koolau is considered to be the most challenging course in the world). Obama chose to play close-to-home courses that are somewhat challenging, certainly beautiful and friendly in all aspects. Here, they are considered to be neighborhood courses.

Hawaii has hundreds of beaches, including the famous and the hidden, the big-wave sites and calmer body-surfing areas, the ones that welcome picnicking and camping, and the ones in front of the oceanfront hotels. Obama chose Kailua Beach Park, where Windward Oahu families gather to picnic under the trees and on the grass and enjoy friendly surf in a lovely setting. He also did a little body surfing at Sandy Beach on East Oahu, as he had done as a kid and where teenagers hang today.

He took his kids to the Honolulu Zoo. Now, zoo visits are not unusual in one’s own home town, but Honolulu Zoo’s annual attendance has increased by more than 100,000 over the past five years, and about half of the zoo’s visitors now are tourists. The tourist attendance is not surprising. The zoo is within easy walking distance from all the Waikiki hotels, the weather is almost always perfect for ambling through the zoo’s splendors, and neighboring Kapiolani Park, at the foot of Diamond Head, is always a great place to be.

The Obama family stopped by the Nuuanu Pali Lookout, a kind of must-see stop for any visitor, but a fun place any time to take in the amazing view and literally lean against the h3 gusts of the prevailing winds.

Among the few touristy things the Obamas did was spend most of a day at Sea Life Park. It’s a great (albeit expensive) attraction, offering visitors the opportunity to swim with dolphins, see fun shows featuring dolphins, penguins, killer whales and other creatures, feed the seals and manta rays, and even take an escorted private tour of the “back of the house.”

Add a couple of dinners in fine restaurants for the sensational Hawaii Regional Cuisine, some sightseeing and a show or two and you can have a full, enjoyable and memorable vacation.

If that sounds pretty good to you, pick an agent from the Hawaii-Aloha Web site ( or call 1-800-843-8771. We’ll package a vacation for you even a president would enjoy.

Posted by: Jamie Winpenny