As the only state in the union that’s located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles from any major land mass, we often get short-changed our fair share of recognition as a refined destination of fashion, pop culture and theater. Honolulu is a well-oiled machine when it comes to events, arts and entertainment, so what they may not know on the mainland won’t hurt them. When I heard that Sunset on the Beach in Waikiki was hosting a red carpet premiere of Hawaii Five-0’s second season I jumped at the chance to rub elbows with the Honolulu A-listers.
HOW TO GET THERE:
The most unfortunate thing about traveling inter-island is the round-trip ticket price. It puts a new meaning on “puddle jumper.” The most economical Internet search results for cheap tickets is about $143 round-trip, when you let the airlines choose your travel dates. Wanna choose your own? Then the price will soar between $170 and $350.
Sunset on the Beach was held at Queens Beach, the Diamond Head side of Waikiki. A perfect place to stay with plenty of aloha was the Pacific Beach Hotel (pacificbeachhotel.com). Their south end Waikiki spot on Kalakaua Avenue overlooks the ocean and is a moments-walk to Queens. Another bonus? They have a gorgeous three-story oceanarium inside the hotel replete with manta rays, moi, reef fish and mermaids. Kama`aina rates are $119 with breakfast for up to two people and $129 for up to four people with buy-one, get one free at their buffet.
The lobby smells incredible the minute you step foot inside. That’s at least partly due to their Oceanarium Restaurant, known for its amazing seafood buffet and stunning views of their tank. When I arrived they were setting up their Aloha Friday lunch but they also serve breakfast and dinner; weekend brunch starts at 11am. I indulged in Sunday’s brunch, post-premiere, and filled up on sashimi, oysters, crab legs, tempura and eggs benedict. Basically, the brunch offers an insane amount of food to consume. I also saw that the dining room was filled with locals in the know–clearly, this was the place to be with an appetite on the weekend.
The hotel is on the mauka side of Kalakaua, but just across the street is a clear view of bustling Waikiki beach. There was a south swell and plenty of surfers this weekend; you can rent boards right across the street. I love the proximity to the zoo and Kapiolani Park. Pacific Beach has a 24-Hour Fitness Gym in their building, and you can get passes at the front desk. Jogging or walking in the park is the way to go: it’s a beautiful area of Waikiki. Pampering at their spa is a must, massages start at a reasonable $45 for 30 minutes. If you’re musically inclined, take free lessons from Bruce Shimabukuro (Jake’s brother), who runs the ukulele shop in the lobby.
The most unique activity in the hotel is the SNUBA offered inside of their oceanarium. I suited up and went 20 feet down with Emi Sakazume and Kentaro Abiko, my ambassadors of SNUBA. With SNUBA you can dive with the breathing apparatus tanks floating above you on a raft, and you just have a mouth piece and a tube. Once down below I fed lettuce to the reef fish, and pet the manta ray. The oceanarium, which was built in 1976, gets its salty water straight from the ocean.
BACK TO THE RED CARPET:
Sunset on the Beach is an evening event, hosted by the Waikiki Improvement Association (sunsetonthebeach.net). Their once-a-month movies start around sunset, but they have chairs, food vendors and entertainment that starts about two hours before the movie. The premiere of Hawaii Five-0 was a much bigger deal. The crowd swelled to about 10,000, with people camping out all day for the viewing that started around 7pm. The live coverage was on Hawaii News Now with Trini Kaopuiki. Regrettable they were not streaming that coverage to the 30-foot screen on the beach so everyone could see the action.
The entire Queen’s beach area smelled like the delicious garlic & shrimp coming from Giovanni’s Aloha Shrimp, and the Mahaloha Burger line was plenty long, with folks grabbing up their Big Island grass-fed hormone-free beef patties for just $6. Of course, the viewing wouldn’t have been complete without popcorn from Popcorn Express.
It was a gorgeous day, and those of us dressed for the red carpet party struggled through sunburn and heat for a chance to photograph and chat with producers, directors, actors and actresses. To be completely honest, I never watched the first season of Hawaii Five-0 last year (except for the posts by @supercw). For the premiere I did a crash catch up course on the show via the Internet.
But attending the premiere was a reality check into the pop culture force the show has become. Moreso than Lost, Hawaii Five-0 has branded our islands in the entertainment business. Nothing ran that fact home like watching 10,000 fans in the crowd holding signs, and none of the fans were more vocal than Alex O’Loughlin (who plays Steve McGarrett on the show).
At the red carpet party, producers, directors, stars and VIP mingled around hosted pupus and Red Bulls–there were no cocktails in the park, as per Honolulu liquor laws. O’Loughlin said he was learning pidgin and “loves poke.” This is not surprising, considering that in the show he plays a third generation Oahu haole. The crowd did get a bit restless as the governor spoke, but then the A-listers were introduced and hula was performed. None of that mattered when the credits started to roll on the first show of the new season. The cheering began as a full moon rose over Diamond Head.
Before the show ended, I realized I’m a Hawaii 5-0 fan. The show airs Mondays on CBS.
Got a hot scoop? Contact Jen Russo at 808-280-3286 or fax to 808-244-0446.