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Barack Obama now a major tourist attraction in Hawaii

November 25, 2008 | 10:11 am

Barack Obama catches a wave off Honolulu during a break from campaigning in August.

Sen. Barack Obama is no Duke Kahanamoku, the man who popularized modern surfing in Hawaii.

But the Hawiian-born president-elect is just as popular, and the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau today launched a website revealing to tourists many of the places Obama frequented while growing up or during recent trips to Oahu.

They include the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, where Obama was born on Aug. 4, 1961.

The man who will become the 44th president of the United States attended Punahou School from fifth grade through graduation.

Some of his favorite hangouts are Puu Ualakaa State Park, on Mt. Tantalus; Kapiolani Park, on the outskirts of Waikiki; and Sandy Beach, a bodysurfing paradise.

Visitors might want to stop in for ice cream at Baskin-Robbins on South King Street. Obama once worked there. In Honolulu, tourists also might try a traditional plate lunch at the Rainbow Drive-In or Zippy's, which are two of Obama's favorite places to eat.

He has played golf at Olomana Golf Links in Waimanalo and Luana Hills Country Club in Kailua. He has snorkeled at world-famous Hanauma Bay. He has loitered at Kailua Beach Park and paid respects to his grandfather at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

According to a statement on the website, "The Hawaiian word kamaaina means someone who is native born or who has lived in Hawaii for some time. When Barack Obama returns to Hawaii with his family, he comes as a kamaaina, a local who knows where to go, where to eat and what to do."

And now visitors, in a manner of speaking, can follow in his footsteps.

--Pete Thomas

Photo: Barack Obama catches a wave off Honolulu during a break from campaigning in August. Credit: Associated Press