For Part II of this Oahu series, we are going to get out of Waikiki, drive east and spend the day driving along the coast all the way up to Bonzai Pipeline – while stopping occasionally for snacks and a swim or two. Make sure you bring your snorkel gear!
We like to get a sunrise hike in while we are on some version of Mainland time. One of my favorites is the sunrise hike to the Lanikai Pillboxes. Make sure you wear tennis shoes and bring a headlamp. Leave extra early to get a prime viewing seat on the roof of one of the colorfully graffitied pillboxes. You’ll need to find parking on the street (the hike starts at the end of a residential street). The trailhead is marked by a street sign that has been drawn over to say “Lanikai Pillboxes”. Follow the trailhead and you’ll see the pillboxes soon enough.
Okay, so now you are probably ready for some breakfast, the best spot to hit up is Cinnamon’s. It’s hard to say what they are famous for, because well, its pretty much everything on the menu. If you have a sweet tooth, get the guava chiffon pancakes. They also have really eclectic variety of eggs Benedict and Hawaiian style omelets to choose from. This place is nice and casual and not to be missed.
After breakfast, now comes a fork in the road (no pun intended) on where you day will go. If you have a car, you should just make this an ultimate food and beach day. Take the 83 (which at some point will turn into 830 before going back to the 83), rive up north, you’ll run into Kualoa Regional Park – this is where you can see China Man’s hat. Personally, I think you can skip it or literally go there, park, take your picture then continue on your way.
In Kahuku, that’s when you can make your first stop at Giovanni’s shrimp truck. This place is famous amongst locals, but if it’s not open when you get there, just stop at any garlic shrimp shop that looks busy, it’s all good. There’s also plenty of fruit stands in Kahuku if you want some for the day.
The next stop is Waimea Beach – you’ll pass Bonzai Pipeline on the way to Waimea. If you go in the summertime you’ll be shocked to see how glassy flat the infamous Pipeline is. Parking is hard Waimea, but its a really pretty beach to get in some snorkeling, swimming and a chance to jump of the famous rock cliff.
When you finally have some room in your stomach again, backtrack slightly to Ted’s. Share an order of the famous loco moco and a slice of chocolate haupia (coconut) pie. You might be stuffed after the loco moco, but I promise you, you don’t want to pass up on a slice of the pie. Eat there, or drive a little down the road and park at sunset beach to enjoy your snack with a nice view.
One last stop of the day before heading back to Honolulu, is not to be missed. Laniakea Beach is known for its sea turtles that sit up on the beach. It is quite crowded as everyone is gathering around the turtles for a picture as you can “look but don’t touch” these docile and cute sea creatures. However, I’ll share a small secret…
All private roads that have access to the beach in Hawaii are required to have parking for some public access. So, drive a little further down the road to Papailoa and find parking there. You’ll find public beach access among the space between the houses – just look for the signage. Don’t forget your snorkel gear, you will want it for sure.
Once you get to the beach you’ll notice that there aren’t nearly as many people as the main part of the beach. It takes a moment, but once you see one turtle, you start to notice they are EVERYWHERE. Go in the water and float, and you’ll see them swim right by you. The experience is incredible.
If you make it to the town of Haleiwa and have time to walk around some of the shops go for it, or just get a mocha freeze from the coffee gallery, maybe a bag or two to bring home as gifts and enjoy the drive back to Waikiki. You’ll probably be beat after this day of food, sun and hopefully fun – I know we were.
Later that night we met up with our friends and went to Izakaya Naru for dinner. Make a reservation if you don’t want to wait.
This is a lot of information to digest, I get it. I’ll let you noodle on these suggestions. Hope you check out Part III of this series for my last few thoughts on Oahu including honorable mentions and other sites that are great for planning out hikes and chasing sunsets.