If you haven’t visited Waikiki in awhile, you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise when you do.

This iconic Hawaii destination, which is a Honolulu neighbourhood, has gone through a major renaissance over the past few years, enhancing everything from accommodations to shopping and dining.

Making perhaps the greatest retail splash, the Waikiki Beach Walk has stepped onto the stage with a collection of eateries, shops and upgraded Outrigger Hotels & Resorts properties.

There’s even a new Embassy Suites Waikiki, with the upscale Trump Waikiki Hotel opening in mid-November.

Also adding to the revived retail mix is the Royal Hawaiian Center, revamping a former concrete fortress into a pleasant shopping and dining venue that’s home to the Royal Grove — Waikiki’s largest garden area that’s tucked on the grounds of the center fronting the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.

One of those newbies generating the biggest buzz amid this mix of fresh faces is the $21 million US renovation of the OHANA Waikiki Beachcomber and the grand opening of its colourful Jimmy Buffett’s at the Beachcomber, a new dining, entertainment and retail venue that’s Hawaii’s first Jimmy Buffett eatery.

This new gathering place for Parrotheads and those who simply seek good food, libations and fun occupies a prominent location on Kalakaua Avenue above Macy’s in the OHANA Waikiki Beachcomber’s lobby level. It’s a lively celebration of Jimmy’s adventurous life­style and the natural wonders of Hawaii where you can dine or enjoy your favorite beverage on an open-air lanai or within one of the extraordinary island atmospheres created thr­ough­out the facility.

Specialities include Calypso Mahi Mahi, Big Island Vegetable Stir Fry, Bayou Shrimp Pasta, Coconut Shrimp, Jerk Salmon and assorted savoury sandwiches. And naturally, since it’s in paradise, Jimmy offers his signature cheeseburger — a food icon in itself.

As for decor, the restaurant is visit worthy even if you’re between meals.

Unique technology allows for beautiful sunsets, crashing waves and majestic mountains to blend seamlessly with the Hot Spot Bar (dramatically honouring the molten lava formation of the islands); the Ocean Waves Dining Booths (inspired by the towering waves found on Oahu’s North Shore); and the music of Jimmy Buffett and the Islands.

Buffet has commented that from the first time he caught a wave at Canoes on Waikiki, he began to figure out how he could become more deeply linked with this destination.

“I have had a long love affair with Hawaii and her people,” he said. “Mark Twain called these ‘the loveliest fleet of islands anchored in any ocean’ and I couldn’t agree more. I have written many stories and songs inspired by my time in Hawaii and can’t wait to see what the future holds in the land that is so far but yet so near.”

The icing on the Buffett cake is the Honolulu Surfing Museum, an interactive immersion into surfing culture. The museum’s collection of unique artifacts, displays and experiences celebrates Hawaiian heritage and the ever-evolving sport of surfing.

Good to know

• Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau: www.gohawaii.com
• Waikiki Beach Walk: www.waikikibeachwalk.com
• Outrigger Hotels & Resorts: www.outrigger.com
• Embassy Suites Waikiki: www.embassysuiteswaikiki.com
• Trump Waikiki Hotel: www.trumpwaikikihotel.com
• Royal Hawaiian Center: www.royalhawaiiancenter.com
• Royal Hawaiian Hotel: www.royal-hawaiian.com
• OHANA Waikiki Beach­comber: www.ohanawaikikibeachcomber.com
• Jimmy Buffett’s at the Beachcomber: www.jimmybuffettsatthebeachcomber.com

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