Oahu, Hawaii: Part 1

Hi friends! How are things?

Sam and I just got back from our first trip to Hawaii and we had the best time! 🏝 It wasn’t too long of a trip—4 days and 4 nights—but we absolutely made the most of it between all that we saw, ate, and did around the island of Oahu.

Before our trip, I asked a ton of friends who had been before for their recommendations and we headed into our trip with a pretty lengthy itinerary (of course with lots of wiggle room). Basically, I laid out a few things to do each day with addresses, hours, tips, and prices. It was great to have the list handy when we were driving around in our rental jeep as a quick reference.

For us, vacation is a nice mix of adventuring and lounging. We love to see sights, but we also love to slow down and enjoy the beach for hours at a time. I’d like to think we accomplished this in Hawaii!

Today, I’m walking you through Days 1 and 2 in Oahu with lots of pics. 😉

Day 1: Flight (7am in LA), arrival (9:30am in Hawaii), Settling in to our Airbnb, and Getting acquainted with our surroundings in Oahu

We decided to rent an open-air jeep for our time in Hawaii. Best idea. “When in Rome….” right?! After the 5 hour flight from LA it felt really good to walk a little and have our own car to get around.

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Believe it or not, our first stop in Hawaii was… Wal-Mart. Lol! We stocked up on healthy snacks like granola bars and popcorn, grabbed a huge case of bottled waters to have handy all week, and a bunch of other travel necessities.

After that, we made our way to the highly-recommended Leonard’s just down the street for malasadas. Yummm. Warm, sugary donut-like goodness. I had the original and Sam tried their li hing flavor, which had more of a sweet and sour taste. Both were great and the perfect post-flight snack.

 

Not long after driving through Honolulu and Waikiki to get a taste of Hawaiian life, we were getting hungry for an actual sit-down lunch.

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I quickly searched Eater (great food site by the way) for local yummy eateries and saw that Scratch Kitchen and Meatery was high on the list. It also happened to be super close to where we were in Honolulu. Win, win!

We both had some of their berry iced-tea and then for brunch, I got their mushroom truffle grits with soft-boiled eggs and arugula (an unusual pick for me), and Sam had a pastrami melt with smashed potatoes. Everything was delicious and definitely made to order.

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Now feeling nice and full, we were ready to explore more. Plus, we had about 2 hours to kill before checking into our Airbnb at 3pm. We headed along the coast, taking a leisurely drive by the ocean and taking in all the sights and sounds.

We ended up at Hanauma Bay, which we later learned was only about 5 minutes from our apartment for the week. This natural preserve was truly breathtaking from our perspective at the top parking area. The coral reef stood out loud and clear.

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We walked around a bit and decided to return for a fuller day there when there would be more time to explore/sunlight to enjoy the scenery.

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A little further up the coast we saw some more beautiful sights. The road curved and all of the sudden, THIS! The contrast of green mountains and deep blue water was gorgeous.

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We snapped a few photos and then decided it was time to head to our Airbnb and settle in.

Here’s what our Airbnb studio apartment looked like:

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C’mon. Look at this view. We spent lots of time out here having coffee and enjoying sunsets.

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I forgot to grab photos of the kitchenette, bathroom and stairway up to the studio, but let me tell you… this Airbnb was the best one we’ve ever stayed at.

Parking was convenient too—right in front.

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Our host, Meera, thought of everything—tons of beach towels, beach chairs, snorkeling gear, an umbrella, laundry, plenty of coffee, fresh papaya waiting for us in the fridge, granola bars & other snacks. Super thoughtful and sweet host. We appreciated her hospitality!

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After unpacking and getting the lay of the land, we headed to the balcony to watch the sunset. Amazing. I definitely had to pinch myself (and pat myself on the back for finding this place…. haha).

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At around 7, we headed off to Kona Brewing Co. for some dinner, which was only about a 5 minute drive. (That’s one thing we ended up realizing… there was plenty to do around our area if we wanted to stay close by but we were still only 25 from the city.) We ended up splitting a caesar salad and a large pizza. Fancy, huh? I tried their Gold Cliff IPA and it was tasty.

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Our server, Chris, was really nice and down to earth. He ended up sitting with us and telling us more about Oahu and things we should check out while there. (More on one of his awesome recommendations during my post on Days 3-4….)

Day 2: Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail, lunch and beach time at the North Shore, Sunset on Waikiki Beach, and Halona Blow Hole for stargazing.

The second morning of our trip started pretty early—after waking up around 7:30 and having some hot cups of coffee overlooking the bay, we headed to the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail, which was only about a 10-15 minute drive up the eastern coast. The 2-mile hike had us climbing mostly uphill, taking in many different views at each twist and turn. There were little stopping points to take it all in.

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Then we got up to the lighthouse and saw these views:

 

We couldn’t believe our eyes. We could see way out over the coast to the eastern shore beaches and cliffs. We were even greeted by a rainbow while looking out. (Hawaii’s tropical climate brings a lot of quick showers throughout the day. We got used to it pretty quickly. Most of them lasted just 5-10 minutes.)

The trek down was a lot easier and the constant breeze on the island offered a nice cool-down.

After heading “home” for a refreshing shower and snack, we headed for the North Shore area—a part of the island we had heard many great things about, especially when it came to food, shops and beaches. Haleiwa Town was really nice. Shops lined the streets and there were countless food options.

We stopped for some of Ray’s Kiawe Broiled Chicken…

 

And an acai bowl at Haleʻiwa Bowls.

 

The lines at Giovanni’s Shrimp Trucks were crazy long during the lunch rush, so we made a mental note to return before they closed at 5.

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After that, we jumped back in the jeep and traveled toward the beaches. Pipeline, one of the beaches with the largest waves in the world, was a must on our list. We soon found out that this time of year doesn’t bring the biggest of waves… oh well… haha!

Soooo instead, we laid out for a bit at Shark Cove to relax a bit.

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After about an hour or so, we headed back to Giovanni’s and this time, we were ready to wait in the line. 🙂

After a 30-minute wait under a bed of trees, we got to finally enjoy the meal we’ve heard so much about—Shrimp Scampi with sticky white rice. It was delicious! So delicious and garlic-y that I forgot to take a photo of it. Google it. 😉

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After eating our hearts out on the North Shore and poking around in the cute stores, we made the hour drive back to Honolulu to catch the sunset. We found a lovely spot near Waikiki Beach to sit and take it in.

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Live music played behind us, as we watched the colors change. So peaceful.

Before calling it a night, we got some ice cream, watched TV at home, and knocked out. It was definitely a full day!

I’ll post more about the rest of our trip soon, don’t worry. 🙌🏼

Have a lovely weekend!
Ari

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