I just returned from spending a couple of blissful weeks in Hawaii visiting my boyfriend (who is living there for a few months). 

From the very moment of my arrival, he managed to break all records as the perfect host and tour guide, greeting me with the traditional lei around my neck and then whisking me off for island fun. 
This guy thinks of everything.....

From seeing the sights, to lolling about on the beach for hours

A great phenomenal time was had!

A little tai chi beachside (AIV a.k.a. Annechovie Improvised Version)

Being serenaded at the Halekulani by great music and Miss Hawaii 2011 dancing 
(talk about ambience!)

No, those are NOT gang signs.....just a photographic record indicating my 8th day of the trip. 
This restaurant had great live jazz, truffle fries, ahi tacos and a picturesque pier view. 
I would definitely recommend - stop by Nico's at Pier 38 in Honolulu.

Afterward, we caught the festive Christmas street parade

and I had a little visit with "The Storyteller".

Fireworks on the beach are a festive weekly happening on Friday night - a great way to close the week.

A visit to the statue of the "Father of Surfing" Duke Kahanamoku, both by night & by day
Duke was a 5 time Olympic gold medalist and cultural celebrity superstar. 
He remains a Hawaiian icon to this day and gets plenty of posthumous attention, believe me.

It was lots of fun wandering the North Shore and dining at the infamous Haleiwa Cafe - this is surfer culture and I felt right at home. Coming from Florida, I was already well supplied with swimsuits, shorts, flip flops and a pretty decent tan. By the time I left, I was a few shades darker and many more degrees relaxed.
Hawaiians like to call everyone "Uncle", "Auntie" or "Cousin". It kind of threw me at first, but before long, I was calling my boyfriend "Cousin" for fun. He is very patient with my cheezy humor. What a good sport!

Another day, another great lunch at the world-reknowned Shrimp Shack - I ordered the coconut shrimp. Definitely everything it's cracked up to be and all this goodness on a paper plate from a food truck!! 
No frou-frou pretense here, just the real deal.

Pretty cute and kitschy tables, huh? Pull up a chair.......
At Lanikai, we continued our daily beach smashball matches and we are holding steady at 115 consecutive hits for now.

I was told that a trip to Hawaii wouldn't be complete without the authentic Luau experience, so I wholeheartedly embraced it and had a blast (even if I refused to get up on the stage for hula lessons - I don't dig forced participation)

This was my "enjoying-fire-dancer-yet-glad-to-be-sitting-at-a-safe-distance" expression.

Ah, the land of fragrant trade winds, palm trees and roast pig in a sand pit removed by primitive costumed dudes that you spotted only 20 minutes earlier in t-shirts driving a golf cart. 
On the island, there are always great food aromas in the air...everywhere! 
Between these aromas and the hearty appetite worked up by a day in the surf/sand, this girl could definitely put away the food, let me tell you!! 
By the way, I did try the poi, but can't say I'll be asking for it ever again. I had a flashback to being in a high chair with a bib around my neck eating Gerber baby food out of a jar while grimacing and wincing.

As the trip drew to a close, I (sadly) prepared to head back to the mainland to gear up for the Holiday rush/grindstone at work. I left rested and recharged with an overflowing heart and irreplaceable memories that I will cherish forever.  Thanks to the most charming, thoughtful, knowledgeable and handsome host/tour guide a girl could have, my visit was better than I could have dreamed and I cannot wait to come back!

Here are some of my must-see OR must-eat recommendations:
Kua' Aina : casual establishment with a killer chicken teriyaki sandwich - make sure you ask for avocado on top!
Nico's at Pier 38 : ahi tacos
Halekulani Hotel - House Without a Key : go here for unbeatable ambience and romantic atmosphere for unwinding at sunset/evening.
Shrimp Shack : fresh and succulent shrimp served in a variety of ways from a cheery yellow food truck on the North Shore.
Lanikai Beach : simply gorgeous spot in Kailua on Windward side of Oahu. Enough said.
Ala Moana Surfrider Hotel : a historic place to stay or dine in Waikiki. Settle into a rocking chair on the sweeping front porch and order an aperitif while the music from the piano bar drifts out into the balmy night.

These are just a few highlights from my trip - please feel free to share some favorite spots of your own as I'd love to check them out on my next visit.