Happy belated 2016 everyone! I’ve been on vacation for the past few weeks, hence the mini hiatus. I apologize for not being able to post until now, but I really wanted to unplug from my computer (not the case with my iPhone/Instagram/Snapchat, hehe!). Last year I traveled a lot but I never really got to detach from work or the blog so it never truly felt like I was relaxing 100%. Fun as blogging may be, it’s also tedious. Specially editing photos! It can take a long time to edit just one post, more so ones like this one where I’m sharing more than 25 photos! It’s too much time on the computer for a vacation… So I just decided to wait until I got back and wasn’t missing out on any fun activities. Speaking of which… I will be posting about all the things we did during our travels in the next few days.
First up are a few must do’s in Oahu, Hawaii:
Breathtaking views just a short drive northeast of downtown Honolulu. This was the perfect thing to do on our first day. We had just flown in and settled into our hotel room. After having traveled 7 hours to San Francisco from Panama, and then 5 hours more to Honolulu, we were a bit overwhelmed. So this was a great way to get a quick overview of the whole island before setting out to explore it in detail during the next few days. Make sure to take a denim jacket, scarf or something to keep you warm. It can get quite cool and windy, so hold on to your hats!
We got to Oahu on a Thursday and stayed until Monday, so we only had one chance to visit the Kailua Farmer’s Market, held Thursday’s from 5:00pm to 7:30pm. I’m so glad we were able to make it! Mostly because it’s a great place to grab dinner and satisfy a variety of tastes if you’re travelling in a group. For example, I went with the famous Pho from The Pig & The Lady’s stand, while my in-laws went for burgers.
Hanauma Bay was the first beach we visited the next day after we arrived to Oahu. I had read that it was a great place for snorkelling and a beach with relatively calm waters for swimming or taking a dip in. What I didn’t know beforehand is that there’s always kind of a long wait to access the beach because, first there’s a line to pay for the entrance fee (it’s a State Park) and then mandatory video about the reef and wildlife conservation every 20 minutes or so. I even overheard some park employees talking about it being a “slow day”. It took us almost an hour to get down to the beach! I don’t want to know what a busy day must be like down there. I didn’t go snorkelling so I don’t know if the wait is worth it for that (though I assume it might be) but for just sitting around on the sand, sunbathing or swimming in the water, it’s most definitely not worth the wait. There are other, much more incredible beaches in Oahu that don’t require fees or long waits to get in, plus you’ll get a more “local” experience elsewhere too.
Lanai Lookout (by Koko Head):
There are many lookouts and amazing views all around Oahu. One of my favorites, besides Pali, was the Lanai Lookout by Koko Head –which coincidentally, I read, is a great hike.
I always research whenever I travel. I don’t remember any blogs, websites, Instagrammers or Pinners recommending eating at Teddy’s Bigger Burgers. After spending the day at Hanauma Bay and driving up Kalanianaole Highway, we were starving and ready to refuel. Unfortunately (or fortunately!) we found ourselves in an area where I had no recommendations of where to eat. So I did a quick Google search, read out loud all the options near us and everyone in the car agreed to have burgers at Teddy’s. Let me tell you, this is one of the most memorable burgers I’ve had so far in my life. People always recommend In-N-Out Burger in California? This one is 1000 times better! I’m almost tempted to say it’s better than my beloved Shake Shack burger!!! It’s a chain so you can just visit any location around the island.
Right next to our hotel in Waikiki was the mega posh Halekulani hotel. Step through the lobby towards the inner patio, pass high end boutiques like Loro Piana and Chanel, and you will reach their legendary beachfront restaurant and bar House Without a Key. Arrive any day at 5:30pm for a sunset Mai Tai and live Hawaiian music and dancing.
I always like to get a taste of different hotel’s vibes via their restaurants or bars whenever I travel. Through my research, I found out about the Royal Hawaiian and made it one of my top five most important things to do while in Oahu. Man, it did not disappoint. I originally wanted to stop by their bar, aptly named Mai Tai Bar, for some afternoon cocktails but then Jose and I changed our plans and decided to visit one morning while everyone else was taking it slow back in our hotel. Little did we know that day was the annual celebration of Makahiki at the hotel –which is built on what was once sacred land (Helumoa)– a New Year celebration of peace and prosperity. So on top of getting to know the design jewel that is the Royal Hawaiian, I also got to presence an authentic Hawaiian ceremony. It was such a magical morning.
Both Jose and his father were surfers back in their respective days, so a visit to Pipeline was a must as well. We drove up via Kamehameha Highway from Downtown Honolulu. It’s great to access Pipe that way because you can stop by all the restaurants, food trucks, shaved ice, etc. along the road in Haleiwa. I had a great flat white at Coffee Gallery and later stopped by for a Poke Bowl as well!
Yokohama Bay & Ka’ena Point:
For me, the Leeward Coast of Oahu was the most local spot I visited in all the island, and by far the most breathtaking beach and landscape ever! I mean, “Lava shoreline” is the phrase used to describe it. Truly amazing.
The place to shop around for leis!
Beautiful gardens and a nice waterfall (Lost fans will recognize it!)
Morimoto at The Modern:
Arrive early to dinner and enjoy some drinks before by the pool bar of the hotel.
If you like Donuts or Beignets, you have to try a Malasada! A Portuguese puff pastry that has become a staple in Oahu. I even ventured into the non gluten free zone and ate about 3/4 of a sweet and sour flavored Malasada. It was really amazing and fortunately I chased it down with some activated charcoal so no hardcore symptoms came in afterwards, hehe!
Other things to consider, which I did not get to do! (more reasons to go back to Hawaii!):
Photos of me by Jose Castrellon. All other photos by me.