I had the privilege to spend two weeks in Oahu, Hawaii with my family in May. It was the perfect vacation after graduating. Salt water heals the soul! My favorite parts were watching my baby cousins sink their chubby toes in the sand, slobbering over banana macadamia nut pancakes with coconut syrup, and waking up to the salty breeze brush over my face. When it’s time to leave, we all sit at the airport asking ourselves why we don’t live here.
It’s been a month since I got back and I’m in denial. I’d like to keep goo goo gawing at my pictures forever. So hey! Here’s all of my favorite things to do in Oahu.
We often do a non-beach day on Sundays to see some of our favorite places, like Pali Lookout. Pali Lookout gives a beautiful view of the eastern part of the island and it’s also a historical spot where the Battle of Nu’uanu (Uniting of the Islands) took place. There’s always wild chickens running around this place. And it’s windy. Like, windy windy.
My mom and siblings being cute
I feel like a little girl when I get to Haiku Gardens. All I want to do is run through the bushes and play hide and seek behind the flowers. Our favorite family photos are from Haiku Gardens. There are always giant orange fish and turtles swimming around. This time I saw baby chicks following their mama’s every foot. It’s one of my favorite places.
Like Haiku Gardens, I love this temple’s architecture, but I love walking around its gardens. Black swans glide in the water, koi hang out near the bridges, and all of us take turns ringing the bell outside. Inside you can pay your respect to Buddha.
I’ve jumped off this rock several times, but I always forget how scary it is once you’re standing at the top of that thing. The best. We love snorkeling around the rock where you can often find sea turtles. This time we saw dolphins pretty close to the beach. I have fond memories of us big cousins charging through the waves. It’s deep and the waves are big and the water is so clear. We quadruple our sunscreen usage at this beach, but it’s my favorite.
Me jumping off the rock!
HAUULA LOOP TRAIL
I love this hike because it takes you through forests and jungles and then to the top where you see the ocean. There are so many little treasures on this hike. You can often see papayas growing next to the trail. It’s a 2.5 mile loop of heaven. Except for the mosquitos. Mosquito repellant is a must.
Snorkeling galore! I saw the most amazing fish this time. In both the shallow and deeper parts, you can see the most glorious (and big!) fish. One day I’ll get a GoPro to show you how amazing it is beneath this water, but for now you just have to trust me. It’s rocky and sharp and you may leave with sore toes, but the snorkeling is one of the best on the island.
Although we didn’t get there on this trip, Hanauma Bay is magnificent for snorkeling. In 2013 we even saw humpback whales in the distance! Looking at the picture, you can imagine what incredible fish are hanging out in that rock. Someone always comes back with a sea turtle story.
This is our favorite place to shop on the North Shore and to grab some food (well, when we’re not stopping by the yummy food trucks). After beach days, we go to Haleiwa for shave ice at Matsumoto’s and buy post cards and other goodies at the general store.
Me at Matsumoto’s with Lilikoi, Passion Fruit, and Coconut Shave Ice.
This trip was my first time at Waikiki! Seeing all of those old hotels and getting the city-beach feel all in one was a rad experience. I think it’s a must-see when you’re on the island, especially if you want to learn how to surf. It is a crowded, tourist-y spot, but still, I loved it.
If you’re hanging around Honolulu, Leonard’s is a MUST. Go grab some malasadas. It’s deep fried galore. It’s a sugar coated portuguese doughnut and they are always hot and ready. I’m slobbering just thinking about it. Of course I didn’t take a picture, because… I ate them. Also, they come in pink boxes which makes it extra fun.
SWAP MEET, ALOHA STADIUM
On Wednesday and Saturday at 10am-3pm, the swap meet and marketplace at Aloha Stadium is our favorite place to buy cheesy souvenirs and get your Hawaii fix before leaving home. This time I bought turquoise jewelry, tiki shot glasses, a tiki mask for my hubs, multi-fabric wrap skirts, dream catchers, and more.
Things that you have to do at least once that I didn’t list are Pearl Harbor and the Polynesian Cultural Center. Both are great experiences.
For more Oahu pictures, check out my 2013 Oahu trip.
Have you been to Oahu? What are you favorites? What did I miss?