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Five-0 Redux

Making the most of a ‘Sunset’ trip

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Alex O’Loughlin talking to the press on the red carpet in 2014.

A “Hawaii Five-0” fan told me she was flying into Honolulu for Sunset on the Beach this weekend and wanted to know what she could do “in 24 hours.” She basically was flying in on Friday, would spend the weekend in Waikīkī, then fly home Sunday afternoon. Sunset on the Beach starts at at 6 p.m. Saturday, so she wondered what she should do and see before and after the event.

Needless to say, I was a little stumped thinking about which places and hot spots would actually make my short list. If you live in Hawaiʻi or have visited before, you know there is so much you could do in a day. But I dug deep and gave her some basics.

If you’re in town just to experience Sunset on the Beach and watch the season six premiere, be prepared for lots of people and — let’s hope — nice weather. CBS will decide sometime on Saturday if the red carpet event will actually happen.

But let’s just hope the bad weather passes. In the meantime, what should you do while you wait for the event to start? What can you possibly squeeze in over the weekend before you have to reluctantly return to your real life?

If you only have a day to kill on Oʻahu, there are certain things you must see. I covered a few of those iconic places a few weeks ago, but in reality you could make a few quick stops and not miss a minute of Sunset on the Beach time.

Once you get off the plane, try to make a stop at the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. Just get your history lesson done before you even see Waikīkī Beach, because once you set foot on the white sands and breathe in the beautiful blue of the ocean you will not want to move until your flight is about to take off. So stop at the Arizona Memorial visitor center and see if you can get tickets for a tour. Depending on the time of day, they may be sold out, but if nothing else, check out the amazing exhibits, take pictures of the beautiful white bridge and pay your respects.

After that, head toward downtown Honolulu and take South King Street so you can wave at the King Kamehameha Statue, Aliʻiōlani Hale and ʻIolani Palace. Okay, stop and take a picture; it is Five-0 Headquarters after all, but don’t spend all day there. You have other places to see and not a whole lot of time.

After getting all that history, you might be hungry, so stop at Rainbow Drive-In for the quintessential plate lunch. Get a loco moco or a shoyu chicken plate. Whatever it is, make sure you add a large slush. And heck, you’re on vacation, so make it a slush float. Trust me, you won’t be hungry until after Sunset on the Beach.

After all that eating and sight seeing, when you finally get to Waikīkī you won’t want to drive anywhere. So once you’re settled into your hotel, take a look off of your lanai, and see where the red carpet will be set up.

If you take a stroll around Waikīkī Beach, you’ll see the iconic Duke Kahanamoku statue, which faces Kalākaua Avenue. The beach walk is lovely, and you could walk towards Diamond Head and find yourself at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and grab a happy hour cocktail at the Mai Tai Bar. Or head next door to RumFire at the Sheraton Waikīkī for dinner and watch the sunset.

After saying aloha to the sun, walk back to Queen’s Beach to scope out your spot for watching the premiere. Fans may already be setting up to camp out overnight and save the best spots for the event, so make some friends so you have some place to sit come Saturday morning.

Some fans try to camp out along the fencing that separates the VIP seating and the red carpet area from the fans. It’s usually warm enough to stay out all night, but it is illegal to sleep on the beaches overnight in Hawaiʻi.

So many fans just head out early in the morning to lay their blankets out and save their spots, and then enjoy the day on the beach, meeting other fans, and soaking up the sun. The ocean is right there to take a dip, and there’s a great place to grab breakfast just across the street from the big screen.

Lulu’s Waikiki starts serving at 7 a.m. and their Black and Blue Eggs Benedict (seared ahi, sauteed mushrooms, and cajun hollandaise) is out of this world. That should keep you in place until lunch — or until the Five-0 production crew shows up to pass out Liliha Bakery Coco Puffs and “Hawaii Five-0” swag. I don’t promise that this will happen this year, but in the years past, executive producer Peter Lenkov has sent Coco Puffs and other special treats to the fans who have camped out overnight before Sunset on the Beach. It’s will be an extra special treat if it happens again this year.

You’ll spend all day Saturday hanging out on the beach, and if the weather holds, it should be fun meeting fans from around the world who came to watch the premiere and see the stars on the red carpet. I am always amazed by all the fans who make the trek. It’s probably the best part of the event, meeting friends from all over the world who you finally are getting to meet in person. It’s lovely, and it is truly one of the best moments of the entire weekend when you meet a fellow “Hawaii Five-0” friend from half-way across the world, or from across the country, or from across the Pacific. Meeting fellow fans is really the most special part of Sunset on the Beach weekend.

When the stars start to arrive, usually between 5 and 6 p.m., the fans will all stand up and the cameras come out, and the craziness begins. Make sure you have an extra charger or a battery pack of some sort, or you may miss taking a selfie with your favorite actor. But don’t worry, there are usually lots of cameras around, and someone will capture your best side with Alex or Scott. Or Daniel or Grace. Or any other actor you’d like to meet. They are always floored by all the fans, and the signs, and some of the requests that fans make.

They love talking to the fans way more than the the press, so don’t be shy! Scream out their names, ask them for hugs, beg them to sign your shirt, your phone, your forehead. (If you have the right pen it should work.)

After the stars walk the red carpet and take a zillion pictures and talk to the press, they will make their way to the end of the red carpet to meet more of the fans. And then around 7 p.m., just as the sun is about to set, the actors will make their way to the stage, say a few words of thanks to the fans and supporters, and once it is dark enough, the episode is shown on the big screen.

It’s really an awesome experience, sitting there, watching the show under the stars, with the surf rolling onto shore. There are no commercials for you to catch your breath, and in 45 rocking and rolling minutes the episode is over and you are looking around, wondering if what just happened was for real.

Luckily, you are surrounded by your new friends, and while everyone kind of shakes the sand off their feet and makes their way back to their homes or hotels, there is someone to talk to about what you just saw and what you just experienced.

On Sunday morning, if you feel like it, grab a coffee and a little breakfast and go sit on the beach. Watch the sunrise and then go for a morning swim. You’ll have plenty of time to get back to your hotel, clean up, pack and head to the airport to make your flight.

And as you leave O’ahu, just think about all the cool stories, and fabulous pictures you’ll share. Think about the fact that in two weeks, you can watch the season premiere at home with your friends and family and regale them with your experience at Sunset on the Beach.

And next year, come back, and do Hawai’i all over again. Just next year, try and scheduled your visit for a few more days, so that you can see and do more. Either way, Hawaiʻi awaits your return.


For those of you not attending Sunset on the Beach, the season six premiere will air on CBS on Sept. 25. ”Mai hoʻoni i ka wai lana mālie” (“Do Not Disturb the Water that is Tranquil”) leads Five-0 to investigate a centuries-old Oahu palace raid involving pirates, buried treasure and a killer who is using a stolen painting as a map. I’m sure that tonight’s red carpet premiere will be amazing to watch on the big screen on Queen’s Beach.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

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