It's common knowledge - there's no such thing as a bad Hawaiian vacation. The minute you step off the plane and that warm, sweet-smelling air hits your skin, the human happiness hormone increases. This island's fruit is extra-sweet, the Mai Tai's are strong and some of the most delicious discoveries are found roadside.
On a recent five-day trip to O'ahu, land of the biggest avocados and papayas you've ever seen, I discovered dozens of flavours that you simply must try and a handful of fun activities to fill your days.
A few spots I hear are great (but didn't get a chance to visit): Manifest (cocktails),
Koko Head Cafe (brunch), Via Gelato, Otto Cake (cheesecake), Morimoto (sushi), Fresh Catch
(seafood), Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, Romy’s Kahuku Prawns (food truck), Fumi’s Kahuku Shrimp
(food truck), Ted's Bakery, The Curb (coffee).
Thanks to Oahu Visitors Bureau for hosting such a wonderful trip!
Heavenly Island Lifestyle
Hunting for the best resort hotels on O'ahu? Here are two great options for travellers who prioritize convenience, urban proximity and luxury...
The Modern Honolulu
If an urban vacation is what you’re craving, The Modern can’t be beat. It’s easily one of the most stylish hotels I’ve experienced, from the monochromatic, wooden-accented bedrooms to the fern-basket wall decor. Anyone with an affinity for minimalist, modern design will appreciate their surroundings here. The property is also riddled with delightful surprises, like a tropical sandy bar poolside, romantic fire-pits and a beautiful dark blue wading pool (ideal for catching some rays and sipping strong Mai Tais). Located three minutes from the beach and just blocks away from the shopping district, The Modern is the ideal resort hotel for an upbeat vacation in the centre of this bustling city.
Turtle Bay Resort
Turtle Bay Resort is the only resort hotel on the peaceful North Shore and the only resort on O’ahu from which one can enjoy the sunrise and the sunset. Turtle Bay is also one of Hawaii’s only farm-to-table resorts, with local farms growing ingredients specifically for their restaurants’ menus. Complete with a golf course, seven eateries and bars and plenty of family activities, this massive property is ideal for families and travellers who appreciate convenience — activities and dining are at your fingertips. And a recent multi-million dollar renovation means the building is looking fresh and new — no stinky, out-dated rooms here.
Besides eating, there are a plethora of fun thingsi to do on O'ahu. Here's a list of my favourite Hawaiian activities...
1. Flower Crown-Making Workshop at Paiko
Ladies, if your schedules allows for but one activity, let it be this: a flower crown making work-shop at Paiko, a most-charming, locally-owned and run botanical bar offering locally-grown blooms and expert advice (from founder Tamara Rigney herself) on how to make fun floral crowns that will instantly unleash your inner Hawaiian goddess. This is a perfect activity for a pre-party, a birthday celebration or a friend date. Base price of $350 includes 7 guests; add additional guests for $48. Minimum 6 guests; maximum 15 guests. More on Paiko here.
2. Horseback Riding on The Beach at Turtle Bay Resort
Is there a cooler way to take in the sprawling ocean view than by horseback? The sweet animals you'll get to meet at Turtle Bay's stables are extra-friendly and calm -- it must be the Hawaiian air. Cruise miles of beachfront trails that twist and turn into forest areas that you might even recognize from productions like The Hunger Games, Lost and Pirates of the Caribbean. Learn more about Turtle Bay's horseback riding packages here.
3. Soap Stamping & Tour at North Shore Soap Factory
You probably won't realize just how cool the soap-making process is until you see it with your own eyes. Be mesmerized by the beautiful process that's oddly, a lot like baking. North Shore Soap Factory is set inside the iconic Waialua Sugar Mill (a destination in itself). Owners Debora and Jerry are passionate about their natural soaps, which are made the labor-intensive old-fashioned way. They use locally-sourced oils like Hawaiian kukui nut Oil & macadamia nut oil to add moisture. Take a tour of the factory and stamp a design into your own soap. More on North Shore Soap Factory here.
4. A Visit to The KCC Farmer's Market
Immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture by visiting the largest farmers market around. Your senses will be overwhelmed! The new sights, smells and sounds (live music) are intoxicating. Sorbet-stuffed tropical fruit and produce shopping is a must (plan for a beach or hike picnic?). The eggplant-sized avocados are particularly impressive (just make sure you buy a ripe one so you can eat it before you fly home and aren't forced to ditch it at customs!). The market is open from 7:30am-11:00am and you can follow them here on Twitter
for market updates, specials & pics.
5. Stand Up Paddle Boarding (& Turtle Watching) at Turtle Bay Resort
Turtle Bay is named appropriately - these green reptiles are abundant. One of the best ways to observe them up close in their natural habit is by stand up paddle boarding, also a great little work-out and an excuse to take a dip in the warm North Shore waters. Turtle Bay's instructors are highly experienced (ours was a formers professional snowboarder) and helpful. Learn more here.
6. Sunrise Coffee Walk at Turtle Bay Resort
Turtle Bay Resort is an ideal location for sunrise-worshippers, providing the perfect vantage point from which to watch the sky illuminate in a rainbow of colours as the day begins. Join the handful of hotel guest early birds who gather on the point to gaze at the sky. Before you head out, grab a latte (soy milk option available) from the lobby's coffee bar. See it here.
7. Hike to Manoa Falls
Hawaiian waterfalls are something else, as are the vibrant green, tropical forests -- so completely different than what we have here in the Pacific Northwest. Have your own TLC moment in the Manoa Falls, just a 30 minute hike up from the parking lot. The trail is pretty flat, so don't anticipate a big sweat. Get there early to avoid tourists getting in the way of your perfect waterfall photo opp. And on the drive in, stop at Morning Glass Coffee for a creamy almond mylk latte and scone. More info on the Manoa Falls hike here.
8. Sunset Hike at Lanikai Pillboxes
Feel like you are absolutely on top of the world
when you reach the peak of the Lanikai Pillboxes trail. The 360 degree view is worth the hike, and despite a steep start, it's not all that challenging. In fact, you'll probably notice locals running the trail which extends along the mountain ridge, far beyond the hikers' look-out points. Take a seat on one of the graffiti-covered concrete ledges to take in Oahu's beauty and watch the sunset. Bring a headlamp or your smartphone flashlight for the hike down - you probably won't be alone. This is a fairly well-traveled trail by locals and visitors alike.
9. Shopping & Cocktails in Chinatown
Honolulu's Chinatown reminds me a little bit of Vancouver's -- it's gritty, but riddled with hidden gems throughout. Many young entrepreneurs have moved into the neighbourhood, adding colour, flavour and style. Since cocktails and shopping go hand in hand, start with a drink at Livestock Tavern and then make your way to either Grondin, Manifest or Pig and the Lady. For boutiques, get to Fighting Eel, Owens & Co, and Roberta Oaks.
View more activity's from the Oahu Visitor's Board here