Welcome back for the second part of my Hawaii vacation recap! In case you missed Part 1, head over here.
Now, here’s what happened on the second half of our trip.
Day 3: Diamond Head hike, breakfast at Koko Head Cafe, Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, Chief’s Luau, Mike Love at Hawaiian Brian’s
Bright and early on a Monday morning, Sam and I headed for Diamond Head State Monument for our second hike of the trip. We thought getting there around 7:30am would be great to escape the heat and crowds, but it looked like everyone else had the same idea. Upon arriving, we saw busses full of visitors and a full parking lot. 🙂
The hike brought up uphill to the top, twisting around the base of the monument and then at one point, walking through a tunnel and then climbing 100 stairs (Yup, 100). The view changed each 5 minutes or so, which was really cool to see.
Once at the top, we looked out to some spectacular views—of Diamond Head itself, the city of Honolulu and the Pacific Ocean. A total 360.
Sam and I felt pretty accomplished. If you keep a good pace, you can go up and back down the hike in a solid hour.
We got some refreshing Dole pineapple juice as a treat on our way back to the car.
After getting that exercise in, we were ready for a hearty breakfast. I had done a ton of reading about great restaurants and Koko Head Cafe was at the top of the list. We made our way over to that part of the city (only about 10 minutes) to sit down to a scrumptious meal. We went a little overboard because we couldn’t decide what to get.
– Iced coffee for Sam and a cappuccino for me
-Homemade pork dumplings (apparently the chef is known for her book of over 200 variations)
-A vanilla bean biscuit with butter and guava jam to split
-For me: North Shore garden frittata, daily vegetables, goat cheese
-For Sam: Breakfast Bibimbap – bacon, Portuguese sausage, heritage ham, kimchi, soy-mirin shiitake mushrooms, ong choy, sesame carrots & bean sprouts, sunny up egg, served over crispy garlic rice in a hot skillet
Everything was outstanding and the service was great!
We headed back “home” to change for the beach and then made the 5 minute ride to Hanauma Bay for an afternoon of sun and snorkeling.
Once you get through to Hanauma Bay, you have to watch a short video about the reef and snorkeling dos and don’ts—and then you walk (or take a shuttle) down to the bay. It’s all pretty amazing! The colors of the bay are so breathtaking — blues and greens.
We settled into a nice spot in the middle of the bay and laid out for a bit. About an hour in, I turned to Sam and said, “Okay, we gotta get in there!” Neither of us had ever snorkeled and we were pumped to try it. Okay…. I was a little nervous but still, I was open to it.
We didn’t see anything for a little bit but then as the minutes went by and we grew more comfortable, we saw rainbow and zebra fish, and even schools of fish—like 1-2 feet from our faces. Crazy! I’ve never witnessed anything like that before.
The whole day was super relaxing.
Around 3, we made our way back to get ready for our night at Chief’s Luau at Wet ’N Wild at 5:30. We didn’t quite know what to expect but we had a great time once we got through the crazy Honolulu weeknight traffic… wow!
Looking around you could tell so many people were on vacation and ready to have a great time. There were mai-tais, activities, a buffet of Hawaiian food and tons of entertainment (traditional dancing and a fire show).
After the luau ended around 8, we headed back to the city for some live music that was recommended to us by our server at Kona Brewing Co. He said to check out the reggae singer Mike Love at a bar called Hawaiian Brian’s. As soon as we entered, we loved the vibe. Mike had TONS of fans and his style of music was totally us.
We stayed for the whole set!
Day 4: Breakfast at Cinnamon’s, Driving along the east coast, Beach day at Lanakai and Kailua, Sunset in Honolulu, and dinner at Side Street Inn
This day was the perfect combination of good food and great beaches. What can top that?
We started off the day enjoying a scrumptious meal at Cinnamon’s which was recommended to us by many people. (There was a bit of a wait so we got coffee next door at Egghead Coffee – very tasty.)
Cinnamon’s is known for their red velvet pancakes, as well as their guava chiffon ones. I, obviously, had to try both—and man, they were amazing! So rich and decadent. I somehow demolished them both, haha!
Sam had a crab cake benedict. Classic Sam!
After we were nice and full, we headed for the beaches! Hawaii’s known for their beaches for obvious reasons—the white sand, clear waters, swaying palm trees. It all cannot be beat.
We spent much of the day on Kailua beach and it was perfect. We went for a nice 10-minute walk to the famous Lanakai Beach, which looked just like a postcard, especially with the smaller islands perched right in the background.
It was pretty hot, so of course I had to take a dip later in the afternoon.
We loved how the whole day just became a lazy and relaxing one. We had been on the go for much of the trip, so it felt great to kick back and take in the scenery.
Around 4pm, we decided to head back to our side of the island and catch our last sunset in Honolulu—jeep style.
Such a pretty sunset!
After showering and getting ready for the night, we headed downtown for dinner at Side Street Inn—another recommendation—for their kimchi fried rice and pan-seared pork. We legit ordered enough for a huge family (their portions are made for families), so we ended up taking more than half of it home. Haha!
Side Street offered delicious local food in a cool, laid-back atmosphere. We sat at the bar because it was packed, and I had to top of vacay with a pina colada!
Day 5: Island Brew Coffeehouse, Uncle Clay’s Shave Ice, Rental car return and flight home
Aw man…. the last half day on the island had us bummin’. We were NOT ready for vacation to be over, but we really did have the best time!
We wanted to find a local coffee spot to have some of that Hawaiian local blend, so we did some Googling and found Island Brew Coffeehouse. As soon as we walked in I was like, “Man… I really wish we discovered this on the first day!” It was SO cute.
I got a vanilla latte with coconut milk! Yum.
After packing up and leaving our airbnb (tear), we knew we had to do one more thing… get some local shave ice! A Hawaiian must.
We heard about Uncle Clay’s and how highly regarded it was, so that was our last Hawaii stop of the trip.
Back to the airport we went with full hearts and tummies. The flight left at 4pm and had us in LA before 11pm. We zonked out around midnight and got right back into our routines… slowly.
I ❤️ Hawaii,