P and I have yearned for a much needed vacation and Hawaii hit the spot. It was relaxing, beautiful, and overall incredible. When my parents got a great hotel deal in Oahu and Maui and invited us to join them, we couldn’t resist! For us, Oahu was much more low key. Naps and drinks poolside, snorkeling in the clear shallow ocean waters, food truck snacking and small hikes. We saved all the ocean adventures for Maui.
In Oahu, we stayed at the popular Modern Honolulu with a young, hip crowd and good looking staff, envious pool decks, and free yoga. Though not right on the beach, the Modern had everything we needed for our four night stay. Great location, sunset views, delicious drinks by the pool, amazing bed and shower, and some of the best service.
We arrived early in the afternoon on Thanksgiving Day, picked up our rental car, and scooted our way to Waikiki. We enjoyed the pool and then spent a low key evening at Roy’s Waikiki for a fantastic Asian seafood fusion Thanksgiving dinner.
The next morning, we got up bright and early to visit Hanauma Bay. In order to beat the crowds and claim a parking spot, we arrived at around 7:30 a.m. I was weary about coming here because many had commented that the water was so murky from all the sun screen and the reefs were disintegrating from the sheer amount people that visit every day. But, my mom insisted we come back to our old watering hole because we had such good memories there.
Despite being touristy, Hanauma Bay was still an incredible snorkeling experience. Plenty of colorful fish swimming below us. Arriving early was key. At 7:30 a.m., the beach and the waters were still relatively empty. At about 9 a.m., tour buses started making their rounds and the beach filled up quickly.
After snorkeling, we headed to Ono Seafood for some tuna poke. On the way, we happened to pass Leonard’s Bakery and decided right then and there that custard filled malasadas were going to be dessert.
Being early risers and with the whole afternoon ahead of us, P and I headed over to Diamond Head. With water bottles in hand, we started our way up the trail and the many many steps up the stairs to the top where we were greeted with amazing views of Honolulu. Afterwards, we treated ourselves to watermelon and passion fruit shaved ice and some fresh pineapple.
For dinner, we went to Chinatown. Not much to see here at night besides graffiti and what some may consider shady encounterings on the street corners (though I’ve heard during the day, a visit to the Chinatown fresh fruit markets are a must). But amidst the abandoned storefronts, gentleman’s clubs, and dingy bars, there’s The Pig and the Lady. This is a place where I tried flavors that I’ve never tried before . A spin on Vietnamese food with fresh ingredients and a fun twist! So delicious and a must when visiting Honolulu!
The next day, we headed up north an hour to visit the Polynesian Cultural Center. When can you visit Tonga, Fiji, Somoa, and Tahiti all in one day?! Despite obvious red flags that this place was a tourist trap and having visited when I was younger, the Polynesian Cultural Center was actually kind of wonderful. I learned a thing or two about each of the islands and thoroughly enjoyed stuffing my face at the luau (We opted for the Ali’i Luau Package). Plus, ending the night with the Ha Breath of Life evening show was so fun! I love me a good show!
We ended our visit to Oahu with a trip to the North Shore. We started off the day at Laniakea Beach (Turtle Beach) in hopes of seeing the sea turtles sun bathing, but… no turtles…
So, we continued for another 10 minutes along the coast to Pipeline, where we watched semi-professional surfers catch waves and be awesome.
Then it was off to the little town of Haleiwa, where we literally stuffed our faces for a couple of hours non-stop. Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck for some shrimp scampi. Fresh coconut water and pineapple juice. Garlic hot dogs. Spicy tuna poke. And to end it all, shaved ice with ice cream at Matsumoto Shave Ice (highly recommend the Ichiban special!). It was all wonderfully amazing!
Oahu, it’s been real. Til’ next time! Now, off to Maui!