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Insider Guide to the Big Island

Honolulu Nightlife

Friday: Check out LaMariana Sailing Club (50 Sand Island Rd.; 808/848-2800), one of the last true Hawaiian kitsch bars, with its glass fishing floats and tiki statues. The baby-boomer crowd gathers to sing Hawaiian songs most Friday nights. Meanwhile, yuppies make the scene at Palomino's (66 Queen St.; 808/528-2400), a sleek bar with white marble, red leather booths, and fabulous munchies.

Saturday: Have a cocktail or a glass of port in the seedy but up-and-coming Chinatown at Havana Cabana (1131 Nuuanu Ave.; 808/524-4277), a chic pastel-hued cigar club where jazz fills the smoky air. Finish the night with dessert and coffee in the back room of Duc's Bistro (1188 Maunakea St.; 808/531-6325).

Sunday: Duke's Canoe Club Waikiki & Barefoot Bar (2335 Kalakaua Ave.; 808/922-2268) is one of the few places in Waikiki popular with both locals and tourists. Sunday afternoons are raucous affairs, but try it later in the evening for music and drinks under the stars.

Honolulu Shopping

Avanti Fashion 2229 Kuhio Ave.; 808/924-1688. Crepe de chine aloha shirts in patterns from the 1940's and 50's. Buy a Diamond Head shirt just like the one worn by Montgomery Clift in the 1953 movie From Here to Eternity.
D*VA Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, 2201 Kalakaua Ave.; 808/922-3482. Nails Honolulu's urban surfer-girl look.
Gas Station Trading Post 66-082 Kamehameha Hwy., Haleiwa; 808/637-1970. Retro thrift shop with a fab attitude, owned by a broker turned surf bum with a great eye.
Native Books & Beautiful Things 222 Merchant St.; 808/599-5511. Hawaiian crafts, like Niihau shell leis.
Nohea Gallery Ward Warehouse, 1050 Ala Moana Blvd.; 808/596-0074. Classic wares by local artisans, ranging from homey mango-wood rocking chairs to fragile copper-glazed raku pottery.
Surf & Sea Kamehameha Hwy., Haleiwa; 808/637-9887. The largest selection of men's surf wear in Hawaii. Also a good place for the novice surfer to rent a board.

Where to Stay

Halekulani 2199 Kalia Rd.; 800/367-2343; doubles from $295. The most intimate of Honolulu's grand hotels, with 456 rooms built around an 80-year-old beach house in the city's Waikiki section. Sunday brunch at Orchids is excellent. locals' picks: boutique hotels

Colony Surf Hotel 2885 Kalakaua Ave.; 808/924-3111; doubles from $225, including continental breakfast. The Surf has emerged from its recent renovation with new verve. The 90 rooms are pure Indonesia, with plantation chairs and teak mirrors. Lest guests forget they're in Hawaii, videos of surfers play in the elevators.

New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel 2863 Kalakaua Ave.; 800/356-8264; doubles from $115. The lobby of this 124-room hotel is an open-air atrium that leads to the sands of Kaimana Beach, where locals come to see and be seen-- thus the nickname Dig Me Beach.

Da Surf Scene: Best Places to Catch the Waves

TO WATCH
(surf can be dangerous) North Shore: Waimea Bay The biggest waves, on a green bay with a wide, sandy crescent. Bring binoculars to see the pros in action.
Rocky Point The most acrobatics, off a hidden beach with a reef that comes right up to shore.
South Shore: Sandy The body-boarding capital of the universe.

TO LEARN
Waikiki: Canoes The mellowest surf on the island.

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