Nate surprised me with a trip to Oahu, Hawaii for my birthday and I couldn’t have been more excited. I was under the impression we were going to Mexico, which is one of my favorite places in the world, but Hawaii was definitely on my wish list. I’ve always been detoured because of the 8-hour flight but I had been missing out. Oahu is an island similar to the size of Houston. Honolulu is the capital and Waikiki is the beach in Honolulu. We flew out on a Thursday at 9:30 am and still made it to Hawaii by 2 that afternoon. We were unsure on whether or not we needed to rent a car, but we knew we wanted to explore the island and not be confined to our hotel area. Once we landed, we decided to get a rental and that proved to be a great decision. We checked in at Prince Waikiki, which is a newly renovated resort and it certainly lived up to its name. The hotel lobby was stunning and that didn’t end there, we were greeted with cold face towels and checked in very quickly. Our room was on the 26th floor overlooking the marina and the sunset from it was worth every penny. The hotel rooms are very well thought out and service our entire stay was exceptional. From the telephones having chargers for every phone device just in case you forgot yours, to the toilet seats being heated – the entire room had things I wanted to bring into my own home. I asked for a clothes steamer my first night and they let me keep it my entire stay. They also put water bottles in our fridge daily and gave us a chic black and gold Prince Waikiki bag to carry to the beach or around town with us if we needed somewhere to store towels or items we purchased. Parking was included in the standard hotel fees, unlike some hotels that make you pay per day so we were very relieved to find parking wouldn’t be additional.
We went down to the pool on the 5th floor and had Mai-Tai’s while the sun set. I’m not the biggest rum drinker, but those drinks weren’t playing! We had enough time to relax, get situated and ready for our dinner later that night. We’d Yelped a handful of restaurants earlier and so many had great reviews, but they were also off of the beach and since we’d missed the sunset we figured we’d try something more in town. A couple we met in the elevator suggested Roy’s and it did not disappoint. I wasn’t too hungry but still got the Misoyaki Butterfish while Nate had Mahi Mahi. Both were delicious. Our waiter at the restaurant suggested that we go to The Study inside of The Modern Hotel for live music. After leaving dinner, we caught the tail end of a guitarist playing Marvin Gay’s “What’s Going On” and I wished we would’ve gotten there earlier. I was loving the old school R&B vibes they had going but was having a hard time adjusting to the time difference. It was midnight in Hawaii, but 4 am Houston time so we decided to call it a night and start fresh in the morning.
Thanks to the time change, I couldn’t sleep past 6 am so we decided to get up and enjoy the day. We knew we had a few places outside of Honululu we wanted to go, and since rain was on the radar everyday of our trip we decided to go to the North Shore because it’s almost always dry. We grabbed coffee + a pastry downstairs at Honolulu Coffee then took off. If you do visit Honolulu, I highly recommend exploring other parts of the island.
North Shore is mostly known for it’s surf worthy waves and delicious food trucks. We had lunch at Haleiwa Beach House before heading to the beach. They were just opening up but the food was awesome. I had the Kahlua pulled pork grilled cheese and Nate had the salmon sandwich. They also have a seaweed and Parmesan topping you can put on your fries that was so good! Sunset Beach Park is popular and when the tide permits, there’s a cliff you can jump off of. Unfortunately, the waves were way too rough for us to jump off of the cliff or to hardly swim (and I consider myself a pretty good swimmer) so we enjoyed the water from a distance.
We heard that the Hilton Waikiki has a firework show every Friday at 7:45, so we wanted to get back into town in time to watch that. Barefoot Beach Cafe was said to be one of the best places to catch the show so we took an uber there at about 7 since seating is on a first-come first-serve basis. We ordered two plates of food and a pineapple and spent $52 bucks, so it was a bit pricey for what it was worth. The food was still pretty good and they also had live music so it was a great place to vibe. This famous firework show, wasn’t a show at all. In fact, it was so short that I couldn’t even get my camera out fast enough to snap a photo. We legitimately felt bamboozled, but we were enjoying ourselves so we ended up asking our Uber driver to take us to a karaoke bar. We ended up in a hole in the wall karaoke spot where 4 drinks cost us $20, my kinda party. We stayed there for a while before heading back to the hotel because my allergies were kicking my ass. That was a wrap for day 2.
The next morning we woke up and knew we wanted to go to Lanikai Beach. If you do visit, start with the Pillbox Hike in order to get the best view of the town. It’s pretty easy and only took us about 45 minutes to reach the highest pillbox. The sun over this island is to die for! After the hike we stopped to eat at Kono’s, which is kinda like a Hawaiin Chipotle with bombers or “burritos” and rice bowls. They’re known for their 12-hour slow cooked Kahlua pork and both of our bombers were sooooo good! I think we ate them in record time. We spent the rest of the day drinking at the beach, which was so much prettier and (actually swimmable) than North Shore and we got lucky because the sun would peak out from under the clouds every so often. On our way back to Honolulu we ate at Bob’s Pizzeria, where one slice of pizza is actually 1/4 of a huge NYC style pizza. We had the option to go to two night clubs that night, but I honestly didn’t go all the way to Hawaii to go out. We heard both District and Ginza were good, but we were just fine enjoying ourselves at the hotel. The pool area at our hotel was open 24 hours (MAJOR PERK), so even if we didn’t want to sit in our rooms, we could go down and order drinks, swim, or grab food.
We hadn’t been getting very much sunshine throughout our trip so the next morning we took an early morning swim. The pool area at our hotel was good enough to not need to go to the beach. They had a salt water infinity pool overlooking the marina, a large pool in the middle, a hot tub, a bar and cabanas. We enjoyed our morning before finding a bar to watch the Super Bowl game at since it started at 1 pm in Hawaii. This had to have been one of the funnest things we did! We ended up at Mai Tai Bar, which is an open-concept bar on the third floor of Ala Moana Center, a huge shopping mall. Nate is an Eagles fan, so this was his moment of glory. The bar was already packed when we walked in, but there were two guys sitting at a table with two seats open across the way that I signed Eagles wings at and we laughed. After walking around and not being able to find an open table we were just about to leave when the two Eagles fans I waved at earlier offered us their table. They had happy hour all day long, so we had pitcher after pitcher of beer and ordered wings and fish tacos (which were delicious) and had the best time watching the game. We sat with a Chicago couple that were so much fun and stayed for about an hour after the game was over just chatting.
That night we forced a dinner at Noi Thai Cuisine after a lot of beer and several shots of Patron, which is why I have no photos to show for it (I looked cute though!). The decor of this restaurant was so pretty and the ambiance was awesome. We weren’t very hungry so we shared some salmon fried rice and crab wontons but the food and service was 5-star. We also spent less than $50, so for it to be a gourmet restaurant, I’d say that’s quite the deal.
On our last day in Hawaii our flight didn’t leave till 8:30 pm, but check-out was at 11 am. We tried to be strategic about mapping out our day and knew we wanted to go to one more beach before leaving. I called down and asked about a late check-out and they happily extended our stay until 1. That would give us enough time to head to Waimanalo Beach and still get back in time to shower and get dressed for the day. We arrived at the beach by 9 am and it was pouring rain. I didn’t care, I wanted to soak up all of Hawaii in the time I had left with it. Before we could even reach the water, the rain had stopped – which was so weird. The sun was shining over the water and on different parts of the beach, and behind us it was pitch black. This beach was hands down the prettiest we’d seen and because it’s not a big tourist area, no one was on it except for us. It was beautiful and peaceful. It was literally like being in someone’s backyard with the perfect mix of beach, trees and mountains. The way the clouds would hang over the tops of the mountains was stunning. We swam and laid out for a few hours before having to head back to the hotel.
Since we still had a full day ahead of us, we showered and got ready to check-out. We didn’t make it out of our room until 1:30 and they didn’t once call us and ask us when we’d be out or tell us our time in the room had expired. Our hotel was THAT awesome. They held our bags for us so that we could explore the city before our flight. We grabbed a quick lunch upstairs at the bar of 100 Sails. The restaurant was so pretty it make us regret not eating there one of the nights for dinner. We decided to visit Pearl Harbor and I’m so glad we did. It was one of my favorite movies growing up but to see it with my own eyes was really moving. We took the free tour where they show you a quick 15 minute video in a theater on the history of Pearl Harbor and then take you out on the water over the USS Arizona, which is still sitting where it landed after the attack. Most of the men from inside that ship were never removed. It was a really sentimental and eerie memorial and I loved every second of it.
After leaving Pearl Harbor, our final stops of the trip were going to be spent eating goodies Hawaii is known for – shaved ice and malasadas, which are like donuts without the hole. Several locals told us the best place for shaved ice was Shimazu Shaved Ice and they were right. The kid size shaved ice looked like an extra large but was SO good! It’s not like the sno-cones we have here in Houston, the ice was shaved so thinly and the flavors were lighter and less sugary but still the perfect amount of sweet. Leonard’s Bakery is famous for their malasadas so we ordered the original, which is just sugar, one cinnamon and one li hing, which is kind of like a sweet and sour version. I’m glad I tasted it, but it had nothing on Shipley’s. I’ll remain loyal to my American donuts LOL.
We made it back to the hotel in time to change our clothes, grab our bags then head to the airport. Oahu has so many other things that are worthwhile that we didn’t get around to doing like Electric Beach (known for its sea turtles, so bring fins and a snorkel!), Pipeline Beach, Chinaman’s Hat, Cockroach Cove, Dole Plantation, Diamond Head Crater Hike, Mermaid Caves, Waimea Bay, and activities like zip lining, luaus, underwater scooters, tours and hikes. What I loved most is that Hawaii felt like I was out of the United States, without the trouble of exchanging currency or not being able to use your phone. I’d heard rumors that Hawaii was pricey and for the most part, it was. You can still have a fairly inexpensive trip depending on what you decide to do and spend your money on during your stay. This isn’t an island where you’ll be bored. I suggest spending at least 5 days, since there is so much to do and the first two days you’ll easily spend trying to adjust to the time. If there are any other questions you have about Oahu, feel free to comment below and I’ll get them answered!
Items Packed but Not Worn: