POSTCARDS FROM OAHU
Back in December, I flew out to Hawaii for a friend’s wedding! This was my second trip to Honolulu. My first trip was a family vacation over a decade ago. Honolulu is a really unique place to visit. It’s the biggest city in Hawaii so it’s urban, but also footsteps from one of the most famous beaches in the world. The natural scenery is incredible and unlike anywhere else in the United States!
Back when my family visited, I remember paying our respects at Pearl Harbor, experiencing a luau, surfing on Waikiki Beach, and visiting the Dole pineapple plantation – all of which I would recommend! This time, my friends and I decided we wanted to do some scenic activities. The weather was uncharacteristically gloomy for Hawaii, but it never full on rained so we were still able to participate in outdoor activities. We ended up going on two hikes, the Lanikai Pillbox Hike and Diamond Head.
The Lanikai Pillbox Hike is a pretty easy and short hike with a big reward. The beginning of the trail is a bit steep and unsteady, but within a few minutes you are met with sweeping views of Kailua Bay and Lanikai Beach. The pillboxes are leftover from WWII and many hikers will stop at each one to take pictures. There is no official parking so you’ll have to find street parking.
The Diamond Head Summit Trail is probably the most popular hike in Oahu due to it’s close proximity to Honolulu and the simultaneous views of the city and beach. This hike is also pretty easy, but there are a couple spots where you will have to climb a bunch of stairs and go through a narrow tunnel. There is parking at the park, but it fills up fast so I would recommend getting there early. Treat yourself to an açaí bowl at Bogart’s Cafe after the hike!
One of the mornings we tried to go kayaking, but it was too windy so we ended up driving around the island. The first stop was at the Halona Blowhole Lookout, a scenic cliffside area where you can watch the waves crashing into the rocks and see a geyser-like sea spray. The second stop was at Waimanalo Beach. The turquoise water was beautiful and we had the whole beach to ourselves. Be careful of jellyfish on windy days though. One of my friends was stung on the arm in the water by a Portuguese Man-of-War. Thankfully, she recovered quickly with the help of some hydrocortisone and antihistimines.
The last day, the sun finally came out in full force so we were able to lay out and go snorkeling by the hotel on Waikiki Beach. Altogether, this trip was the perfect mix of relaxation and adventure!
- If you are looking to explore Oahu, rent a car. Oahu is small enough to get around in one day, but there are so many things to do that it’s nice to spread them out and go at your own pace. Don’t forget to take your valuables out of the car though!
- Try some shave ice. Hawaiian shave ice is made from crushed ice and traditionally served with ice cream. Famous family owned places on the island include Matsumoto and Uncle Clay’s.
- Eat at The Pig and the Lady. The first group dinner we had was at The Pig and the Lady and both the food and ambiance were great. Apparently everyone else loves it too as you can also find their food at several farmers markets. I would recommend making a reservation for the restaurant.
- Have some spam. Hawaiians love spam and they actually know how to prepare it. The most interesting thing I tried on this trip was probably spam musubi, a slice of grilled spam on top of a small block of rice, wrapped in seaweed. At Musubi Cafe Iyasume, you can get it with different options like egg or kimchi. Sounds weird, but it’s cheap, delicious, and portable.
- Bring some cash. Most places take credit cards, but some places it will be easier to have cash.
- See this prior post for a hotel recommendation!