One of my friends found an exceptional deal with United to fly to Honolulu, and we booked the flight immediately! Not only was it inexpensive for Hawaii, but I was also able to book the trip with my miles! *mini happy dance* It was great timing because it was in August before my doctoral program began in the fall. So one last friendture before starting something new. I was looking forward to going with this friendship posse partly because I knew I didn’t have to contribute anything to the itinerary, and I knew it was going to be a fun time. It turns out, that’s exactly what it was! The five of us happily packed our bags and were on our merry way. The trip was six days, including travel time, and we had about five full days to explore the island. Since it was Hawaii, I didn’t even bother to question the weather, which was enjoyably hot. Our itinerary was jammed pack and quite ambitious, but we accomplished a lot and still managed to spend a lot of time chillaxing, so thanks Domo for your lovely planning :).
Where I STAYED
We booked an Airbnb in Kailua, and it was lovely! It also had AC (apparently that’s a thing, and all homes don’t have AC as I assumed). Thankfully we booked our trip when we did because Hawaii was in the process of changing their Airbnb policy to no longer booking short term stays. Our host was delightful, and the home was charming. Our house wasn't too far from Kalama, Kailua, and Lanikai Beach (Obama's fave), which we frequently took advantage of. I even joined my friends for a few sunrise bike rides to the beaches, which I'm surprised I got up for but really enjoyed.
Just in case you mix up Oahu, Honolulu, and Waikiki, I can help you out a smidge (if I made a mistake, oops, but I'm pretty confident :)). So listen up! Waikiki is a district, Honolulu is a city and county located on the island of Oahu. Since the County of Honolulu covers the entire island, Honolulu and Oahu are sometimes used interchangeably. Anyway, we went to Waikiki beach, and they had the fiercest waves I encountered, but I'll elaborate on that later. Waikiki is cool, and it kinda reminds me of South Beach in Miami. It's very lively and worth a visit. There's something in the area for everyone to enjoy between the restaurants, shops, and excursions.
We went on a Maita’i Sunset Catamaran ride on the Mamala Bay. Our ride included unlimited Mai Tais combined with a little sightseeing, including Diamond Head and the Waikiki skyline. Walking up the ladder to get on the boat seemed easy enough. It turns out I was wrong! This was when I discovered how fierce the waves genuinely are. Let’s just say my entire frontside was slapped, and I was in pure disbelief this actually happened to me, so be warned when you’re boarding (even though a crew member warned me). When they say it’s a wet ride, they mean it lol. Even with this minor setback, it was a fun ride and worth putting on your agenda. Afterward, we walked along Kalakaua Ave and went to Duke’s Waikiki for dinner. I’m not a seafood lover, but I really enjoyed the coconut shrimp. To my memory, it was my favorite meal, but that could be the unlimited Mai Tais remembering for me :).
We went to Pearl Harbor first thing in the morning one of the days. Even though the entrance fee is free, you have to get there early to reserve your time slot. Surprisingly, we didn’t have to wait long for our time. We planned to go to the Aloha Stadium in the meantime if we were given a late time since it’s close by, but we ended up going after. I’m assuming since the boat wasn’t able to dock at the USS Arizona Memorial because it was under construction might be why, but I could be wrong. Although we weren’t able to visit the USS Arizona Memorial, the experience between the video and boat ride was an educational experience worth having to better understand one of the United States’ pivotal moments in history.
USS Arizona Memorial
We went to North Shore and spent most of the day there since it was further away from our stay. We had lunch as Stormys, and the pizza was delish. We kinda had a mini sampling party. We then went to the famous Matsumoto’s for shaved ice, and yes, the line was long. With the long list of flavors to choose from, I actually benefited from having the extra time. However, I still had a hard time making my final decision lol. I ended up going with blue pineapple, which tasted like childhood and pure bliss according to one of my friends, bubblegum, and green river, which was a lemon-lime combo. Even with the small, it was still a lot! Afterward, we then went to Laniakea Beach or Turtle Beach in hopes we would see some. At our stop, we didn’t see many, but we did see one! He was posted on the shore for hours. Maybe he felt like being a lone wolf that day. Later, we went to the Dole Plantation, and they have a lot of things to do, although we didn’t partake in any of it lol. We did our own thing, just walked around, and snacked on some dole whip, which was a refreshing treat and came highly recommended. It was even better with the roasted nuts at the counter next to the whip!
Matsumoto's Shaved Ice
I think it's safe to say that I'm semi lazy. However, I believe in taking advantage of as many experiences as I can when I go on trips, and hiking Diamond Head was one of them. I was pre-warned by my friend as to what I was signing myself up for, but I thought she was just being a little dramatic lol. Once we started, I learned quickly she wasn't at all, and I was still determined to make it to the top. She was kind in willing to take frequent breaks, which I appreciated. I should've taken my hydration backpack with the heat, so be warned if you're not an active person. It was a tough trek (some parts), but we made it (after our other friends made it before us lol). Some of the views of the coastline of the island were simply stunning! Let's just say that was an experience I'm ok with being one and done lol.
paridise cove luaU
Going to a luau should be on everyone's Hawaii bucket list! We went to Paradise Cove for a traditional luau experience, and this time, we partook in many of their activities. When we first entered the Hawaiian village, we were greeted with a shell lei and Mai Tai. The experience has tons to offer. We made flower crowns and bracelets. The ladies helping us were precious! From arts and crafts to learning net fishing techniques to indulging in traditional Hawaiian dishes and local favorites, dance lessons, and performances, there’s something fun and entertaining for everyone.
southeast and east oahu
We went to Moana Cafe for breakfast and stopped numerous times along the scenic route (*cameras ready*) down Kalanianaole Highway on the island's southeast and east side. The drive was beautiful! Sometimes we just pulled over because the island is so gorgeous, and I’m not even a real-life nature lover. Some of the places we stopped at were Spitting Caves, Halona Blowhole, Halona Beach Cove, Hanauma Bay, Eternity Beach, and Sandy Beach. Although we didn’t make it to China Walls, KoKo Head Crater, and Lanai Lookout, we saw quite a bit, chilled, and simply enjoyed friend time. The beaches definitely vary from the vibe to the waves. Some are more fierce than others. So no, once you see one, you have not seen them all.
Halona Beach Cove
my honolulu tips and recomendations
1. Include time to cruise the island
The island is beautiful even if you're not a nature lover. Give yourself free time and flexibility to pull over, hop out, and take it all in! There are lots of unexpected stops you'll discover as you cruise along the highway. *cameras ready*
2. Save time by visiting particular sides of the island each day
The island is huge, and it takes quite a bit of time to drive around to the different sides. Even with my friends planning the trip this way, we spent quite a bit of time driving around to get to the different areas. I can only imagine how much time we would have spent in the car if it wasn't planned this way. I'm sure we would've seen less and did less.
Whether we were sipping espresso on the patio, simply driving around the island, reminiscing on good old friend times, or telling jokes on the beach, it was very fun quality friend time. Even with us not doing everything we had in mind, everyone still a jolly grand time! Maybe we'll luck up again, catch the same deal and finish everything else on our list!
- XO Amb :)
WRITTEN APRIL 18, 2020