Ever since I went to Maui in 2014 I have been itching to go back to Hawaii. So at the end of April my boyfriend and I flew to Oahu. We found a great deal with Hawaiian Airlines, one of the few (if not only) airlines that still provides free meals on domestic flights. Before we landed they offered complimentary Koloa rum punch to those of age.
We landed in Honolulu around noon and picked up our rental car. Then we drove to our hotel, the Holiday Inn Waikiki Beachcomber. This hotel is right on Kalakaua Avenue, the main road in Waikiki, located across the street from the beach. Walking down Kalakaua at night reminded me of the Las Vegas strip, except more enjoyable because there was no cigarette smoke or obnoxious drunk people. Each hotel room has its own private balcony, and we were able to get a partial view of the ocean from the 16th floor.
We dropped off our stuff and then drove to Kailua to eat some poke at The Hibachi, which is a small convenience store with a poke bar.
After eating we went to Lanikai beach. It took a few minutes to find parking (there’s only street parking in the neighborhood; watch out for “No Parking” signs in certain areas). Lanikai is one of the prettiest beaches I’ve been to. The water is so clear and the sand is soft and white.
For dinner we had Yakini Kuhio, which was a quick walk from our hotel. We had the delicious pork belly dinner which the server meticulously cooked for us.
Our first morning we had a Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) lesson in Haleiwa (North Shore) at 8AM with Steve at Sea and Board Sports. The lesson was so enjoyable. Steve was very detailed and encouraging in teaching us how to balance, paddle, and turn. You start off in the calm Anahulu river, then once you get the hang of things you make your way out to the ocean. During the two hour lesson, we saw about 5 sea turtles swim right past us! Highly recommend Sea and Board Sports for water sports lessons and equipment rentals (they also have kayaks available).
Right after our lesson we drove to the nearby Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck. We were there a half hour before they opened because we wanted to avoid the line (which started to get long around 11AM). The shrimp, especially the Scampi plate, definitely lived up to the hype.
After lunch it was time for a nice refreshing snack at Matsumoto Shave Ice. Since it was still early afternoon, there wasn’t a long line like there usually is. I recommend getting condensed milk and mochi with your shave ice.
On the way toward Honolulu we decided to stop by the Dole Plantation. It’s basically a huge pineapple gift shop with a few activities, but something you should visit if it’s your first time on Oahu. We did the train ride, but I would opt for the garden tour instead.
For dinner we ate at Ono Hawaiian Foods, a family owned restaurant. Service was great and our combination plate (which consisted of kalua pork, laulau, pipikaula, lomi salmon, rice, poi and haupia) was delicious.
We were pretty close to Leonard’s Bakery, so we walked there to have malasadas for dessert. We got one regular and one chocolate filled malasada. They tasted good, but I don’t see what the big hype is. A lot of people go here multiple times during a trip but once was enough for us.
Saturday morning my boyfriend had a surf lesson with Alysha Surf School. They have really great discount if you have a YELP account. There were five people in his class and they all got to surf about six times each. I walked around the beach and read a book during his two hour lesson.
It was our last day with the rental car so after the surf lesson we dropped off the car back at the airport. We would be relying on TheBus for the rest of the trip. TheBus is $2.50 per ride (the fare includes 2 transfers) and is fairly timely. The bus ride back to the hotel took a lot longer than expected because of the Spam Jam festival going on right in front of our hotel. Hawaiians sure do love their Spam.
We had dinner at Murakame Udon, which was right behind our hotel. I’ve heard the line gets really long, but the wait isn’t bad because of the fast turnover. The restaurant has a cafeteria style set up and self seating, so it isn’t exactly the place to linger after you’re done with your meal. The udon itself is very cheap, and you can add on food items such as a soft boiled egg and tempura for about $1 each.
The next morning we took the bus to Diamond Head and hiked up the crater. The hike was quite crowded, but there are nice ocean and city views, plus you get to go inside an old bunker.
Monday was our last full day in Oahu, so we started it off at Manoa Falls Trail. Since we went early in the morning, we barely saw people on the trail (which made for a peaceful hike). The hike is fairly easy, but there are a few muddy areas you need to watch out for. Also: SLATHER YOURSELF IN BUG SPRAY.
Since it was our last night in Oahu, we spent it at Beach Bar that’s in Moana Surfrider Hotel, a quick walk away from the Holiday Inn.
The next day our flight was in the afternoon so we spent a little time at the beach before catching a shuttle to the airport. I would say Oahu’s a good island to visit if it’s your first time in Hawaii. It has a good balance of the city/tourist attractions, but also a lot of beaches and hikes.