Aloha from the beautiful island of Hawaii! 🤙🏾
Hawaiians are very friendly, warm and fun loving people. The Aloha spirit is alive wherever you go in the island so as tourists we need to be nice to them if not, leave. Driving around is no trouble, there can be a little traffic but not as bad as living in the Bay Area. Not once did I hear someone honking their horns anywhere in the island of Oahu. It truly is a relaxing place with a very slow pace of life, a perfect way to enjoy a vacation.
Hawaii is the 50th state of the US, joining them in 1959. It has 6 main islands and O’ahu is the biggest city and capital, Honolulu. This island home to the iconic crescent shaped Waikiki Beach and the Pearl Harbor Memorial. Beautiful beaches throughout this island and there are so much to see and do. If you like city life but still enjoy getting away to the beach, you can stay in Waikiki area. There are shopping centers, beaches and bars that you can go to or just spend the day at the beach snorkeling and surfing. If you are like me who likes being away from the city on vacations, you can stay in North Shore through airbnb or VRBO. You have a lot of things to do up there, enjoy the nature, fishing and it is definitely more tranquil and serene. The island of O’ahu is known to be “The surfer’s paradise”, where they actually held Van’s Triple Crown Surfing competion every year.
Where to stay
- Hotels and places in Waikiki come with a very steep tourist tax and resort fees. You also have to pay for parking, around $30-$40 a day.
- If you decide to stay in North Shore, you can rent a house or a room through airbnb or VRBO. Remember, you are visiting so respect the locals and their culture.
When we went there at the end of September, we wanted to experience both sides of the island so we stayed 3 days in Hilton in Waikiki and 3 days in N.Shore through airbnb. I personally like our airbnb place because it came with the kitchen which means we can save money by not eating out all the time. It also came with washer and dryer which was great so we didn’t have to pack our dirty clothes back home.
What to do
- Swimming/Snorkeling/Surfing or walk in Waikiki Beach and North Shore beaches.
- Stroll around Waikiki’s Shopping centers with only 4% tax and some of them have tax free buying at DFS or “duty free shopping”. One of my friend buys her LV bags there when they go on vacation since they don’t have tax.
- Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay, just make sure you go early as it gets pack. We didn’t get a chance to see it but people have said that they have a lot of fishes even in very shallow water.
- Go fishing, you can rent poles and get bait there.
- Go for a hike and see Diamond Head State Monument. It was packed when we got there so we were not able to go up and see the view.
- Go see Turtle Bay and swim with the turtles. If you get lucky enough, you’ll see turtles swimming around or just resting on the sand. Make sure not to disturb or touch them.
- Go to a luau. You can never go to Hawaii without going to a luau. It is a traditional hawaiian party or feast that includes entertainment. My recommendation is Polynesian Cultural Center where Elvis Presley filmed his movie, Paradise Hawaiian Style. Do not miss the luau, canoe rides and the evening show “Ha, A Breath of Life”. We got lucky enough to take a picture with Ricky, the star of the show, when we were walking around the park.
- Go for a helicopter ride to get a clear view of the whole island or you can tour the “Jurassic Park” film set in Kualoa Ranch in North Shore. We didn’t go but the locals said it is a must visit.
- Visit Pearl Harbor and pay your respect to all the people who served and lost their lives in the attack. We didn’t get a chance to visit since it was raining for the most part of our trip but this is on top of my list when I go back.
What and Where to Eat
- If you are craving for soup to warm you up after beach day, go to Rai Rai Ramen in Kailua, south side of the island. It may sound too crazy but this is the best ramen I’ve ever had in my life.
- Helena’s Hawaiian Food is a place where the “Man vs Food” guy ate a pipikaula short ribs and Laulau, pork and cod wrapped in Luau and ti leaves on the show. We came here to eat lunch and shared combo B with butterfish collar, my only regret is I didn’t order extra rice. 🙂 You definitely need to try them! There is few parking in this place and always packed so be prepared to wait in line.
- Liliha Bakery is an iconic bakery shop since the 1950’s, also featured in Food Network. They are well known for their coco puffs which they sold at least 4,800 and 7,200 per day. That balance of sweet and salty that explodes in your mouth makes these puffs so addicting. I have sampled each one of them and my favorite is the cream puff.
- Because of the humidity in Hawaii, you may wanna cool down with a shave ice after a whole day of fun at Waiola Shave Ice. Try this one when you are in Waikiki, they have their own parking lot so it is easy. Bring cash only!
- Another dessert place in Waikiki is the Ice Cream Roll. The experience is so fun to watch when Alex, the owner makes the ice cream roll in front of you. He is very nice, he opened his stand 45mins early for us and only cost $6 for a cup compared to the shave ice. Please go and try it. I can’t wait to go back again and try the other flavors 🙂 They accept card 🙂
- Right next to this stand is a hotdog stand called “Hula Dog.” The Bacon Taro Bread is unbelievably amazing, I got it with polish sausage, spicy, mango relish with lilikoi mustard. They have different tropical flavors to choose from but I suggest you just go and see if Anthony Bourdain (RIP) was right of featuring this stand on his show “No Reservations”. I approved!
- Driving to the north side of the island, you should not miss getting shrimps from food trucks. I like both Giovanni Food Truck and the Romy’s Kahuku Prawn. The latter is much more tastier and they farm their own shrimp. I’ve had enough rice in both these places and I’m “shrimped” out. (If there is such a thing)
- When you are driving up, you’ll see fruit stands alongside the road. Be sure to stop by and chat with the locals and eat açaí or fruit bowls.
- The Dole Plantation is also there. You can pay extra for the train ride tour of the location that shows local crops and their garden maze. Admission to the ground is free so while you are walking around, don’t forget to try their pineapple sundae ice cream. I’ve never had anything like that except when I was back home in Philippines.
Hawaii is already one of my favorite places to spend a vacation, away from the hustle and bustle of the city life I have in the Bay Area. Taking it day by day, enjoying nature at its best and just being thankful that I can enjoy these things are the main reasons why I had the best time there. I cannot wait to go back and check out other islands to see their beautiful beaches, people and most definitely try their food.
Mahalo for reading this blog entry.
The Travel Forks xx