AOL Travel

Honolulu Pop Culture

Fish spotting is even more rewarding when you know what you’re looking at: Consult the color photos and detailed species accounts in John Hoover’s indispensable Hawaii’s Fishes: A Guide for Snorkelers and Divers. Meanwhile, John Clark’s Beaches of O'ahu describes what you’ll find at each of the island’s beaches, including rich historical and cultural references. For imaginative, candid glimpses of local culture, try these two novels: The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings (the film starring George Clooney is currently in production) and Hotel Honolulu by Paul Theroux. (A copy of Pidgin to Da Max might help translate the dialogue within their pages.) Hawaiian culture is what distinguishes the islands as a beach destination (otherwise, you might as well go to Baja), so get acquainted with traditional folklore in Martha Beckwith’s Hawaiian Mythology. The late Israel Kamakawiwo‘ole conveys his personal sense of aloha through his ukulele in Wonderful World, an album that complements the soothing melodies found in the compilation Hawaiian Slack Key Kings. Grammy-nominated vocalist Raiatea Helm reveals the beauty of Hawaiian falsetto in Hawaiian Blossom, and ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro’s My Life takes finger-picking to astonishing levels. For a colorful dose of island life, point your kids to the adventures of Lilo & Stitch, while you patrol the streets of Honolulu with Magnum, P.I. and Hawaii Five-O’s Steve McGarrett. Finally, honeymooners who recall Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr rolling in the shorebreak in From Here to Eternity can reenact the sexy scene that put Halona Beach on the map.