Aloha friends! I hope the holiday weekend treated you well and you are refreshed and ready for the weeks ahead (at least until the next holiday!)
I had a wonderful weekend, which I will get to eventually, but I couldn’t wait much longer to tell you all about my amazing trip to Oahu.
As I mentioned in my last post, I lived on Oahu for three years right after college. While after a bit I couldn’t shake my inner California girl and decided to move back to the mainland, the island still holds a very special place in my heart. This was so apparent as I took Chris around the island, showing him my old stomping grounds and introducing him to all of my wonderful friends there (shout out to my Hawaii peeps! It was so good seeing all of you!)
Even though our five days there were full of so many amazing adventures and delicious eats, and I could probably go one rambling for hours about everything we did, I am going to keep it short and sweet here with lots of pictures, lots of recommendations, and a few other words here and there because, well, I just can’t help myself! XOXO
Our first stop right off of the plane was one of my favorite local joints, Big City Diner. Don’t leave without trying the edamame, kimchee fried rice (with eggs!) or poke.
The next item to check off of our list: a mai tai! Our host mixed up a delicious, semi-non-traditional version (which we paired with Tamura’s poke, some of the best on the island, and smoked ahi spread – I die), and then of course we went to get the “original” mai tai at THE Mai Tai Bar in the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. If you really want to set a high standard for the rest of the (many) mai tais you will consume during your trip, follow our lead.
If you happen to be in the Waikiki/Diamond Head area on a Saturday morning, don’t miss the Kapiolani Community College Farmer’s Market. It’s gotten a bit congested with tourists in recent years, so plan to go early before the swarms descend. I hear there have been some other Farmer’s Markets added in Honolulu on Saturday mornings (probably in response to complaints from locals about the tourists) but the KCC Market is still very impressive and worth a visit. Come hungry, because there is plenty of prepared food as well as fruits, veggies, etc.
Since we were staying right on Diamond Head, I decided to take Chris on the Diamond Head hike. This too is a bit touristy but I felt it was a must-do for Chris’ first trip to Oahu. The hike has a decent incline but it isn’t too long and the views at the top are rewarding, I promise!
As if we hadn’t just trekked up a huge crater, we decided to head out to the Kailua side of the island and conquer the Lanikai Pillbox hike. This hike is even shorter than the Diamond Head hike, although a bit more treacherous and steep. If you’re prepared for some incline (and most likely some slipping and sliding) this is another hike that is DEFINITELY worth the view.
After such an active morning, we headed over to Kailua Beach Park to soak up some rays and take a refreshing dip in the water. This is one of my favorite beaches on Oahu!
On Sunday morning our hosts were kind enough to take us to brunch at the Outrigger Canoe Club. You have to be a member (or guest of a member) to dine there but you can’t beat the oceanfront views.
We decided to get a little change of scenery for our next hike, and headed up to Manoa. Manoa is the home of the University of Hawaii and is known to be quite a rainy area because it is in the mountains. We ended up hiking through the rain to Manoa Falls, but it was worth it to see the beautiful waterfall!
A trip to Manoa wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Island Manapua Factory. We took ours to-go and headed down to my favorite childhood beach spot, Magic Island at Ala Moana Beach Park. This is a great place to go if you want to swim in calm water/have kids. There are some reefs a little ways out that protect the beach from crashing waves and it’s a really great place to get in a relaxing swim.
And of course a Sunday afternoon wouldn’t be complete without stopping by Duke’s. On Sunday afternoons they have live music and everyone congregates at the beachfront bar to enjoy the early evening and watch the surfers catch the waves of Waikiki!
If you’re looking for a hike that will give you a run for your money, head on over to the southeastern side of the island and take on Koko Head. An old military encampment, the “hike” consists of about 1,050 railway ties climbing to a final elevation of 1,207 feet. We hit the trail at about 6:30am so we missed sunrise but the view and lighting were still pretty amazing. You’ll definitely want to spend some time at the top taking photos and catching your breath!
From Koko Head, we decided to take the long way around the island to the North Shore. This takes a couple of hours but the route is much more scenic than the one you can take that goes directly through Oahu. We stopped at Shark’s Cove for some snorkeling, Ted’s Bakery for some chocolate-haupia pie, and Turtle Bay to visit some friends that happened to be visiting at the same time as us. We also made a stop at Sunset Beach.
Tuesday was our last day on the island, and although we had originally planned to take it easy and stay in town to buy some last-minute souvenirs, we decided to fit in one more hike with our friends. This time we headed to Waimanalo to hike Maunawili Falls. This hike took us about an hour to get to the falls, and once we got there we couldn’t help but stay and watch the brave souls doing some cliff jumping off the edge. No thank you!
Since we hadn’t done it once during our trip, that night we decided we HAD to watch the sunset. Kaimana Beach, right near Diamond Head, was the perfect location. And the best part of the trip…as the sun slipped down past the ocean…the man of my dreams got down on his knees and asked me to marry him. Of course I said “YES!!!”