This was going to be a trip recap but our trip was so long (almost 2 weeks!) that I feel like it’s hard to break it down day by day. Instead I just want to tell you guys about our favorite spots to eat at and things to do!
- Our favorite hotel is the Ilikai. It’s in Waikiki but it’s a little away from all the buzz. So you get to be close to the action but it’s much quieter. We always go for the ocean view, but I’ve tried the city view and that’s nice too. The ocean view on the higher floors is one of the best ocean views on the island. I also love how their rooms have kitchens. You save a lot of money making your own food in Hawaii! Check out waikikibeachrentals.com for the best rates! Half of the hotel was sold as condos. So owners of these condos can rent out their place on the mentioned website. I always booked rooms above level 18 for the best view.
- Daves Ice Cream is located in the hotel. Their coconut macadamia nut ice cream and chocolate chip cookie dough ice creams are to die for. But their cones, oh their cones!!!
- Lappert’s Ice Cream is about a 5 min walk from the Ilikai and is located in the Hilton Village shop area. They have such delicious ice cream and there is almost always a line!!
- Hula Grill was my family’s favorite dinner spot! It’s located right above Dukes restaurant. It is kind of expensive so not the place to go to more than once or twice. I’ve also gotten brunch here and it was sooo delicious.
- My favorite lunch on the whole trip was Island Vintage Coffee. I wish I went there everyday but alas I only got to go there my last day. The Shoyu Spicy Ahi poke bowl with brown rice was amazing, and their Haupia Moana acai bowl was also so “wow” 🙂
- Lanikai Beach is one of the best beaches on the island. The sand is incredibly soft, the water is super calm and the sunsets I’ve experienced there have been magical.
- If you have never seen tide pools, look up the Makapu’u Tidepools. This is one of my favorite things to do. You start with the paved Lighthouse hike and about halfway up is the starting point for the tide pools. There is a sign that says “Do Not Go Past This Point” but it is not illegal, the state is just warning you not to go down because it can be dangerous. I would definitely recommend hiking shoes that double as water shoes, and please don’t attempt this if you don’t have strong limbs and good balance. It can also be dangerous if you get close to the edge of the cliff/ocean, or if you go during the winter when the waves are bigger… click here to read about a father and daughter that got too close to the edge. So just relax in the water, then head back up! It’s super beautiful and chill!Here are some wonderful hiking/water shoes options: (updated October 2022)
Vivobarefoot Ultra III | Women’s Drainmaker | Women’s Okolona | Women’s Micro G Kilchis
- Koko Head is an insane hike I kept hearing about about but never felt brave enough to try. You should be in good shape if you want to finish, and amazing shape if you want to finish fast!!! I also feel like it’s important to have good strong joints on this one! And also, make sure you bring a lot of water. It’s probably best to go the earliest you can so it’s cooler and you can maybe catch the sunrise. We went at 3 pm which is the hottest time of day haha!
- Marukame is absolutely famous for their udon. There is almost always a very long line. It moves fairly fast but who likes to stand in line? Not me lol… I have seen the line shortest on rainy days or at weird hours like 3 pm.
- Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin is a restaurant that specializes in katsu curry. It was unique and delicious.
- Don Quijote is a 24 hour grocery store that has almost everything. I think mostly locals go here and it’s HUGE! They have a strong Japanese influence on their stock which is cool.
- The best boogie boarding waves for beginners are on Waikiki Beach near the zoo/pier. You will know it when you see it, because there are tons of boogie boarders! I caught a few good waves last time, it was sooo much fun. It would have been easier with fins, and make sure you get a quality board! A great place to pick up a bodyboard (only $10) is Moku board rentals! It’s only a 10 min walk to the pier, but 5 min drive to the closest parking at the zoo 🙂
- Fumi’s Kahuku Shrimp Truck is the main competitor of Giovannni’s Shrimp Truck and Fumi shrimp is so amazing, I don’t even need to try Giovanni’s! I heard they are over-hyped anyways. I recommend the Spicy Garlic Shrimp plate and the corn on the cob.
- During the summer, Sharks Cove and Hanauma Bay are great spots to snorkel. I actually like Hanauma Bay better, and I feel like even though everyone says the coral is so bad now (it is) and there are way less fish, there are still a lot of fish! I saw this gigantic purple parrot fish, it was so big that I could hear it chomping on the coral even underwater and so I looked it up! I think it’s over 16 years old, because it’s a unique color and some photographer got a photo of it over 12 years ago in the same bay when it was already pretty big. Parrot fish specifically can be judged by their size to determine their age! Back when I used to visit, anyone could come to the park, any day, any time, though the parking lot always did fill up early.As of December 2020, Hanauma Bay requires all visitors to make advance reservations. Only 1,000 visitors are allowed daily. And I just checked the Hanauma Bay (October 2022) website and it says: The Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve (HBAY) is open to the public Wednesdays through Sundays, with entry allowed from 6:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. All HBAY visitors must leave the nature preserve by 4 p.m., with the beach being cleared at 3:30 p.m.
- The Ala Moana Mall is the largest and most modern mall on the island. I used to love it so much but they got rid of a lot of my favorite stores (ie Planet Blue and Lorna Jane) 🙁 They do have a lot of yummy food options now like Mango Mango, Nordstrom Gelato and Habitant!
- Ala Moana Beach Park is more of a quiet local’s beach spot. I like to run there in the mornings and then jump in the ocean. It’s pretty close to the Ilikai, Modern Honolulu, Hilton Hawaiian Village and Prince Hotels so definitely check it out if you’re in the area! It is busy on the weekends when all the local’s come out to have their bbq’s but during the week it’s very peaceful. It is also connected to Magic Island which is a fun place to go and watch the Hilton fireworks on Friday night!
- Moana Waikiki is a privately owned boat that can take you to cool places to dive with the turtle or fishies. The owners are super cool. I went turtle diving with them last year and I swear I saw like 30 turtles!! You must do the 8:30 am tour and don’t forget to mention Hapatime for 46% off! (Updated October 2022). Here is their website.
- Lanikai Pill Box Hike is a fun and fairly easy hike, in my personal opinion. It’s easy to slip on the dirt when climbing up in some spots, and especially if it rained recently, it is sure to be a muddy and slippery hike. But the shot you can get on top of the pillboxes is super cool and so Instagrammable 😀 I once saw a father carrying his baby and needless to say I don’t think he made it up all the way because some parts you really need both hands to climb up! There is a rope in some areas where it is hardest.
- Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach is another hotel we stayed at a few years ago and I really liked it! The location was very different for me, and I loved how it was right in the middle of Waikiki! The rooms were nice and roomy and they had a beautiful pool area.
- Musubi Cafe Iyasume (Ena Rd and another one on Kuhio Ave) or Musubi & Bento Iyasume (Seaside Ave.) – If you like spam musubi, (ok spam is terrible for you but I’ll eat it once a year!) this is where you need to try it. Especially when paired with tamago – sweet egg, it is amazing!! This is a great place to stop at for a quick bite to grab and go.
- Mai Tai Catamaran is great for all ages! You can save a lot of money if you buy your tickets on Groupon. They sell drinks and play music on the boat so you can get tipsy as you try to work your sea legs! They have catamarans going out at different times of the day and all are great!
- Ono Seafood has super high quality poke and they’re pretty famous too! Get there early or else they run out of everything!! Off The Hook Poke and Poke On Da Run have also both been recommended to me but I haven’t had a chance to try!
- The Kuliouou Ridge Trail hike is a good, long and cool (temp wise) hike, with an amazing view at the end. If you want to hike for a few hours, try this one!
- Fort De Russy Beach has a few KOA beach rentals locations where you can get stand up paddle boards and other activity supplies! Stand up paddle boarding is a good, light exercise activity! If you like cruising around the water on a paddle board and getting in a nice workout for your arms, try it out! If you’ve never tried it before, the KOA reps can help you out with a little tutorial. If you don’t want to do anything but lay on the beach, that’s nice too! It’s not as busy as the main Waikiki beach.
- Aloha Kitchen is our favorite breakfast spot hands down. DON’T go on a weekend if you can help it (unless you have 2 hrs to spend there), they’re not efficient with seating, taking orders OR serving food lol… But if you go on a weekday you don’t have to wait and the food is AMAZING!!! The servers are also fluent in both Japanese and English. Our favorite dishes are the eggs benedict and the pancake souffle’s!
- Goofy Cafe is a breakfast, brunch and lunch spot near the Ilikai – their ingredients are so fresh and some of them are even organic. I shared a Local Acai bowl and Bowls Rider local eggs omelette with my sister and I thought it was all wonderful.
- Golden Pork Tonkatsu is a super delicious ramen spot! Great for lunch or dinner. Their bao pork buns are so good too. I always order the Golden Pork Classic ramen 🙂 The only thing is parking is a pain so I do recommend uber.
- The Original Pancake House is another great breakfast spot, and I remember loving their German pancake and scrambled eggs dishes!
- China Walls is a beautiful spot to watch the sunset or visit anytime really. A lot of brave/stupid guys like to jump in the ocean here and I’ve seen them get cut on the rocks before…
- Sweet E’s Cafe is yet ANOTHER amazing breakfast spot… honestly I don’t know why there are so many great places to get breakfast in Oahu but there are, and I love it!!
- The Byodo-In Temple is a non-denominational Buddhist temple a few hours away from Waikiki. It is a replica of the 900 year old Buddhist temple in Japan. This place was so beautiful and peaceful.
This list started at 15 things, but the longer I worked on it, the more places I thought of! So truthfully the list could probably be around 100 places haha! As I said in my last post too, the amount of things to do in Oahu is just endless. So let me know if you check out any of these places, and if you have any spots to recommend to me too! I’m always down to try new things 🙂
What to pack: