One of the first surf movies ever made — shot, in 1906, by none other than a Thomas Edison camera man — takes place on Waikiki Beach, the famed beachfront neighborhood in Honolulu. Amazingly enough, what the black-and-white footage captures — surfers gliding across smooth, rolling waves, beachgoers frolicking in sun-warmed waters, the occasional outrigger canoe cruising up to the sand — isn’t much different from what you’d see today.
This is all to say that the essential, seductive pleasures of Hawaii are still available to you for a song. Yes, the two-mile stretch of Waikiki’s beachfront is now lined with hotels, and the main promenade, Kalakaua Avenue, is largely reminiscent of an outdoor mall. But amid a sea of exorbitantly priced designer boutiques, I recently found that you can surf dawn patrol ($10), eat fresh pineapple ($3) and hand-pulled noodles ($3.75), bed down in a stylish hotel a block and a half from the beach ($119) and, of course, soak in million-dollar views (free). At the end of the day, I had my mai tai ($4) and drank it, too.