About Madison S
Lives in London, United Kingdom
Since Sep 2014
Hello! I'm Maddie- a native NYer whose Wanderlust has taken her abroad again and again. Having lived in six countries, and visiting others for school, work, leisure, and sport, I've adopted many localities, and am an admirer of a great many more. An avid scholar of language and culture, I hope to keep expanding my travel repertoire, and sharing great stories with the rest of the travel community. To give you some background on my travels, I spent months each year since childhood in Old Montreal, where part of my family lives. Summers were spent visiting folks in Ft. Lauderdale and L.A. My first big trip outside of the US on my own was to Australia & New Zealand at 12- I caught the bug early! I then moved to Japan where I studied for part of high school & uni. I am very familiar with Japanese cities, Sapporo and Osaka especially. Some of my favourite travel destinations include Goreme, Dubai, Marrakech, and Queenstown. (Plans for 2015 include China & Uganda!) Nice to meet you!
Historic Sites, Speciality Museums, History Museums
Art Museums, Architectural Buildings, Historic Sites
Hiking Trails, Historic Walking Areas
Scuba & Snorkeling, Boat Tours, Private Tours, Sightseeing Tours, Nature & Wildlife Tours
Surfing, Windsurfing & Kitesurfing, Boat Tours, Water Sports, Private Tours, Stand-Up Paddleboarding
Nature & Wildlife Tours, Cultural Tours, Eco Tours, Private Tours, Photography Tours
, Shopping Malls
Beaches, Parks, Jogging Paths & Tracks
, Gift & Speciality Shops
When traveling in Honolulu, it's a good idea to get to the 'must-see' spots early, as many don't stay open into the evening. While you're letting the waters of the Pacific warm up, visit the Iolani Palace, which qualifies as one of the most important attractions. The only royal palace in the United States, Iolani is the former home of the Hawaiian King and Queen. Here, you can stroll the palm tree-laden paths, learn about the history Hawaii's monarchy, and gape at royal jewels and sumptuous Victorian sitting rooms. This opulent setting will set the tone for your Honolulu vacation by acting as a gateway to the city's past.
Nestled in a garden hideaway overlooking the water, Shangri La is the former home of heiress Doris Duke. Today, the mansion houses Duke's impressive collection of Islamic art. Its manicured grounds are stunning, and the house itself is an architectural marvel.
Why not see the waters of the Pacific before you swim them? A mild hike that leads up to a stunning vista, the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail is a great way to warm up your limbs. The trail's high point gives you gorgeous views of the sprawling ocean below, and on many days you can whale watch from here. With the lighthouse to explore and a short (but difficult) additional climb to the sea tide-pools, this trail is worth exploring.
For a local culinary experience, a late lunch, or perhaps a means to find out where you'd like to eat for dinner, join up with Hawaii Food Tours. The well-informed guides will provide interesting anecdotes, recipe tips, and the latest foodie recommendations while showing you the best of Hawaii's local foods and eateries. From sweet to savory, and drinks to boot, you're sure to discover plenty of places you wouldn't have otherwise. Lots of background information on the historical and cultural contexts of the food really adds to the eclectic selection of the dishes you'll sample — from the culinary heights of the 'five layers of heaven' to the homey comfort of the lowly musubi.
Oahu Diving provides a great opportunity for the adventurers to get out into the sun and surf. In addition to being great for divers of all skill levels (including first-timers), these dives help introduce guests to the exotic aquatic life native to Honolulu's waters. Each day out consists of two dives, in two different locations, with a good amount of time spent underwater, where you can spy sea turtles, reef sharks, and moray eels up close and personal.
A surf lesson is a great way to experience Hawaii's famous waters, and Gone Surfing provides helpful lessons, focusing on safety and comfort. This is a great company for beginners, as the lessons are conducted on a quiet beach with good starter waves and the instructors will stick with you for as many crests as you feel up to trying.
If photography is your thing, then the best way to spend a day in Honolulu is with the Oahu Photography Tours group. The tour combines informative sightseeing throughout some of Honolulu's most beautiful spots, with a lesson in photography that will leave you with stunning images of your visit. With plenty of tour options to choose from, you can easily capture the stunning natural beauty of Hawaii's waves and wildlife, mountains, forests, sunsets, and urban landscapes. Whale watch, take on the full moon, or make light art on the beach. It's all about what you want to see and which techniques you hope to improve upon. A few hours exploring and learning with Oahu Photography Tours will ensure a lifetime a memorable vacation photos.
After a day out sightseeing, swimming, eating, or photographing, take on the trail leading to the Manoa Fall. An easygoing, scenic hike will lead you to the waterfall, but the real pleasure is in seeing the tall bamboo trees that line the pathway, along with the long, ropey vines and beautiful foliage.
Wind down from your busy day with some shopping and good eats. The Ala Moana Center, with more than 290 shops and a massive food court, is perfect for picking up any last-minute items, or giving some interesting dishes a try. Its Japanese department store, Shirokiya, also serves up a number of popular local dishes that are largely unavailable in mainland USA.
Right beside the shopping center, Ala Moana Beach Park is a quiet and quaint location. Walking and bike trails run the length of it, and the calm waters that lap the shore make it a favorite swimming spot for locals. Relax, have a picnic meal, play some tennis, watch the sunset, or go for a jog.
There's always room for dessert. If you have time, pop over to the Honolulu Cookie Company in the Royal Hawaiian Center. The the shop offers more than 15 flavors of shortbread cookies, including mango, kona coffee, and coconut, all baked fresh daily in their trademark pineapple shapes. Buy them plain or chocolate dipped, for yourself or as a wonderful gift for someone back home.