MG and I recently went on a trip to Oahu Hawaii. It was our first trip together as a couple since our honeymoon (almost 3 years ago!) so a trip to ourselves was overdue.
I was lucky enough to have my parents take me when I was in high school but it had been a while. MG has always lived in the Bay Area and had never been to Hawaii. First let me start out by saying that he’s not a “beach” guy. I KNOW… How is that so?!? His dream vacation has to do with snow and skiing in the Swiss Alps, and I’m definitely a sand and ocean type of girl. My explanation is that he’s only grown up around beaches in the Bay Area, and it’s always so cold here that you can’t get into the water. I accepted this challenge to make him love beaches, especially after a trip to Hawaii, where ocean waters are warm and sand is soft.
I’m happy to say that he’s slowly converting. There’s a small part in his heart to love beaches now. One day, I’ll let him have his snow vacay. One day…
We stayed at the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel, right across from the beach. It’s so convenient to get around because you’re in the heart of downtown Waikiki. Additionally, the hotel is extremely accommodating to their guests. They have lunch box where you can pack breakfast to go for the beach, and they also rent out beach towels, chairs, and mats. I highly recommend staying here!
Look at our amazing view
Instead of walking through day by day, I’m going to simply list out our favorite sight seeing places and favorite places to eat. Hopefully this list will come in handy if you ever plan a trip to Oahu!
Favorite Things To Do:
5. Beach Hopping
All day, every day. Just go from beach to beach and explore the various beaches. The water and sea life is different. Also the sand varies from place to place. If you’re not the strongest swimming, I would suggest Waikiki because there walls to break the waves. For those that are stronger swimmers, definitely go to North Beach because it’s less packed with people and currents are strong.
4. Polynesian Cultural Center Luau
We obviously had to check out some dinner/show since it was MG’s first time. We came across one that was recommended by friends at the Polynesian Cultural Center. It’s kinda like a theme park, where you can visit villages that make up Hawaii. In the evening, there’s a buffet and then a show. We got lucky and booked tickets on the night of the World Champion Fire Knife Competition, which happens only once a year. Now that’s something you don’t see every day!
3. Pearl Harbor Museum, along with Bowfin, Missouri, and Aviation Museum
Wow. There’s a solemn feel to this place, but in a good way. The exhibits were informative, and there are many first hand videos on the day that Pearl Harbor was attacked. You learn to appreciate America’s involvement in the war, and truly respect those that were courageous enough to fight for our country.
The Arizona is a sight to see. This specific exhibit is free, but you can’t also pay a fee to go to the other museums – Bowfin submarine, USS Missouri, and the aviation museum. I must say, all exhibits were well worth the money! We spent most of our day here.
2. Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay
Go pick up snorkeling gear before you come here or else you have to rent it for $20. And YES, you definitely need gear. Because there is an abundance of sea life in these waters. Hanauma Bay is a state park with small entrance fee, but it’s totally worth it because you’ll see many little marine creatures, all kinds, sizes, and colors! Stick your face into the water, and I guarantee that you’ll immediately see marine life.
I wish I had a Go-Pro…
1. Snorkeling with sea turtles at Laniakea Beach
This was our absolute favorite part of the trip. Turtles like to rest on this beach, and there’s always a volunteer that ropes off the area where turtles lay on the sand. It’s a law that you cannot touch the turtles, hence why there’s someone to keep watch.
But there’s an opportunity to get closer. Grab your snorkel gear and get into the water. We were so lucky that during our time here, we saw at least 8 turtles just swimming near us. They weren’t afraid of anyone swimming and some swam less than a foot away. It’s almost scary to be so close because these creatures are huge (some older turtles can grow to be 6ft in length). Most of the time you’ll be swimming, assuming there’s a boulder, but you realize it’s getting closer and closer. Yup, just a sea turtle! It’s an experience of a lifetime.
Oh how I really wish I had a Go-Pro…
Now for you foodies! Here’s a list of our must-eats (in no particular order)!
Helena’s Hawaiian Food – A local mom and pop for Hawaiian comfort food. Short ribs are yummmmm
Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck – Garlicky goodness. It’s a food truck located on the North Shore, famous for their shrimp scampi (perfectly cooked!)
Matsumoto Shaved Ice – Lots of flavors to choose from and top it off with ice cream!
Rainbow Drive-In – It’s a triple D (Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives) hot spot. Think greasy comfort Hawaiian food. Loco moco heaven!
Hi Steak – Don’t laugh, but this place is located in a cafeteria and the steak is amazing… Get the garlic butter!
Ramen Nakamura – two words, oxtail ramen. It’s a small shop with very few tables but worth the wait. This place seems quite authentic in taste and environment. I’m not Japanese but there’s a lot of them in here enjoying the food, so you can’t go wrong with that!
Musubi Cafe Iyasume – Get yummy snacks here. Lots of different kinds of musubi (bacon, avocado, eggs, and combinations galore!). It’s fun to look at all the different spam gadgets here.
Ono Seafood – OMG poke! The fish is so tender and soft; no stringy pieces in the meat. It’s more of a take-out restaurant, with a few patio seats outside.
Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream & Desserts – Mochi ice cream with all sorts of flavors!
Sushi Izakaya Gaku – The seafood is extremely fresh and so sweet. Sit at the sushi bar and ask the chef what’s fresh for the day. He’ll give recommendations. Definitely get the Negihama (yellowtail) tartar! But look at that amazing sashimi!
Marukame Udon – This was our all time favorite meal. I had my doubts because udon is just noodles. But WOW! These are hand pulled udon noodles with a bar of all you can choose sides. Go down the aisle and add in your ingredients, like a tempura soft serve egg. Whaa?!? Yup.
Just some other things worth mentioning:
Pali Lookout – It’s a windward cliff off the mountain with a scenic view, known for it’s strong winds.
Dole Plantation because dole whips and pineapple gummy bears.
^^^ Look at the cute little pineapple!
I wish I could go back to sunny skies, clean beaches and clear waters, large sea turtles, and delicious local foods. I just love the feeling of laying out on the sand without a care in the world. MG is already asking if we can go back! Does this mean Hawaii has won his heart over?
Have you ever been to Oahu? What are some of your musts?
When’s the next vacation?
Jamie!!! You never fail to misspell musubi! 🙂
When I visited Oahu, I always made it a point to visit the USS Arizona museum. Its impact never diminishes. I went to a luau during my first visit, but the drinks were watered down. It wasn’t until much later that I found out that the McDonald’s over there serve Spam.
Love your Saltwater Sandals, by the way. You’d look so good wearing them with socks!
Thanks for the comment! I DID NOT KNOW that McDonald’s served Spam. I totally sad I didn’t get this memo early. Guess I need to book another trip to try it out 😉