So what do Florida, San Diego and LA all have in common? …Warm summers and beaches and all are places I used to live. When I moved to SF, I knew it would be cooler in general, but 63 degrees in the July, seriously, what was I thinking? All jokes aside, I thought, “expand your horizons Heather, change will be good for you.” Over four years later, I would have to agree that moving up here was one of my better decisions. I’ve even grown to enjoy other activities that don’t include the beach: hiking, camping, running, and of course, wine tasting.
More recently my mother even asked me, “are you a nature person now?” Initially, I was offended when she said that but, she is right, these days hiking is more than going to Runyon Canyon with my friends after brunch with a soy latte in hand.
All things said, nonetheless, I’m still a beach girl at heart. So where is my favorite place for some fun in the sun in the US? HAWAII. Yes, LA is much easier to get to, as is San Diego for that matter. But, if we are going to take time off and make a trip out of it, let’s just do it right and go to Hawaii.
If you’ve never been to Hawaii, I highly recommend going to Maui first. As much as I love Maui, we have friends that live in Oahu, so we tend to visit that island more often. Obviously, you have to go to Waikiki Beach and visit the Duke Statue, hike Diamond Head, etc. However, if you want to do Oahu like the locals, look no further than this and the next couple posts. I’ve included a map of all of my favorite spots – beaches, hikes, food, you name it.
Hotel or AirBnB?
First things first, hotel or AirBnB? For your first time in Oahu, I recommend getting an AirBnB around Waikiki. Don’t bother with the hotels in my opinion – they are overpriced and you aren’t going to be spending much time in them anyways. My main pre-req is that the room is clean, has a comfortable bed and working A/C. You can easily get that for ~$100/night with AirBnB. You should also rent a car as you’ll want to get away from Waikiki after a couple of days and explore the rest of the island.
Now on to more important and interesting things…
Wake up early and take a surf lesson. We really liked Moku Hawaii for surf lessons. If you want, you can rent a GoPro that they’ll attach to your board. We had our own and the guy was cool with us using our own instead. The instructors are super patient and you’ll be up and surfing in no time.
You will probably work up quite an appetite during your lesson, so head to Bogart’s for and acai bowl and vegetarian fried rice. This place makes one of the best acai bowls I’ve ever had. The fruit is so fresh, it’s perfection. As for the vegetarian fried rice, I have tried many times to recreate it at home on my own, only to be severely disappointed. One acai bowl and one bowl of fried rice is perfect for sharing.
Personally, after this, I’m pretty full and not exactly ready to throw on a bathing suit again. If you are feeling the same way, it is a perfect time to go to Diamond Head for some amazing views of Honolulu. This is an easy hike, don’t forget sunscreen and water. You are fairly exposed during the hike and nobody wants to get sunburnt their first day – it will ruin your trip.
After Diamond Head, take a load off. Either head back to your room to shower and rest or take a nap on the beach before heading out for dinner and some drinks.
Cocktails/pre-date night drinks – Halekulani. This 5-star hotel is beautiful and has an amazing outside area where you can get a drink, watch the sunset and listen to the band playing the most relaxing music ever. After a long day in the sun, it really doesn’t get any better than this. Seriously, do it. Go easy on the mai tai’s, they are strong and will not disappoint.
I haven’t had the food at the Halekulani, however, based on the drinks, I’d bet its pretty good! Let me know how it is if you go. Otherwise, while it may be ‘touristy’, consider going to a luau – especially if it is your first time in Hawaii!
Be sure to check out Part II of this series as we get out of Waikiki and explore other parts of the island and continue eating and beaching our way around Oahu!
If you’ve already been to Oahu, what are some of your favorite spots? I’m always looking for places to check out on our next visit!