I Dream of Hawaii
Post Hawaii depression is real, guys. Never understood it. It’s something you won’t be able to explain until you’ve gone through with it…especially coming from Texas. Honestly, why did it take me forever to get this up? Life…that’s all I have to say but nevertheless, it’s finally up! Condensing this visit into one word would never be enough to justify my experience.
Honestly, I didn’t think Hawaii would happen to me this year. It was one of those trip you plan with your friends, all agreeing that we would love to go and that we should someday. One from said, yeah we are going this date to this date…then plan tickets were looked up, bought and bam, suddenly we were actually going. Now to finally be able to afford it. Don’t know how I pulled it off but I did, comfortably. I honestly still don’t know how I did it. I went with 3 other friends….that’s probably why.
Before I knew it, It was the night before and I was rushing to get my stuff together in my suitcase. I got to the airport extra early (this never happens) because I wasn’t about to miss this flight! 3 movies later, I looked outside the window and saw nothing but blue water and the natural beauty of freakin Hawaii.
Once inside the airport, I met up with my friends and off we went to grab an Uber to our resort. The day already seemed so long but Hawaii is 5 hours behind Dallas, so by the end of the day, I was DEAD. We all were. We tried so hard to make the most of our day but we crashed around 7 pm.
The next morning, I woke up around 5:30 am and took a run along the beach. One day i’m running on the treadmill and then next, on a beach in paradise. Not bad eh? Once we all got up and around, we made our way to North Shore. Before hitting the beach, we stopped by a small smoothie place and picked up some Acai bowls. Honestly, we just ate our bowls and laid there. It feels so good not to do a thing! stress free.
Next stop: Waimea Valley
The Waimea Valley Trail is a 1.9-mile out and back trail that is great for all levels! It is considered more of a leisurely stroll than a hike. You get to walk through the botanical gardens full of wildflowers and enjoy the sights. The star of the show, however, is the gorgeous 30-foot waterfall you will see on your hike. Not only can you admire the beautiful waterfall views, you can swim in the pool at the bottom!
First stop: Lanikai Pillbox Hike
The Lanikai Pillbox Hike, also popularly known as the Kaiwa Ridge Trail, is one of the most picturesque and pleasant Oahu hiking trails. This intermediate hike rises just above beautiful Lanikai Beach, rewarding hikers with some of the best vistas of Oahu’s windward side.
The initial 10-yard (approx) vertical climb through thick brush might seem a little intimidating at first, but the steep part is short and you will be fine once you get started and the trail opens up to the fabulous ocean views to the left.
Although this Oahu hiking trail is rated moderate because of its initial steep climb, you often find kids and families along the ridge top, enjoying the adventure and views!
Next Stop: Lanikai Beach
Right after hiking, we walked back to the car, changed, and headed out for some much needed beach time! A ½ mile stretch of beautiful white sand and palm trees look out over the crystal clear waters at Lanikai Beach. Two islands called “Na Mokulua” less than a mile off-shore, create a beautiful paradise atmosphere.
Lastly: Waikiki Starlight Luau
At sunset, we attended a Luau because when you’re in Hawaii for the first time, you have to go to a Luau right? We were able to snag our tickets for free…we had a connection. Waikiki’s only outdoor Luau features extravagant Lei greetings, Hula kahiko performers, 4 acrobatic fire dancers and authentic Hawaiian dining. It was so fun to watch and the food was so good.
First stop: breakfast at Cinnamon’s
We just googled a place that was close and walked there from out resort. Cinnamon’s is known for their pancakes, specifically their Guava Chiffon Pancakes. Naturally, I had to try them and they were so good and filling. I ate the whole plate with no carb shame. Worth every bite, so if you go, I definitely recommend those.
Last stop: dinner cruise
So this dinner cruise experience was so funny to me. We saw all these beautiful pictures of this cruise and it looked so fancy. haha it didn't really hit the mark. Honestly, even though it wan’t what was pictured on the website and I felt like I was being punked, I still had a lot of fun and the views were worth it. Plus we got a good deal of tickets.AND the views were gorgeous. Would I recommend this to my friends to go on? Probably not but a fun experience nonetheless.
First stop: Manoa Falls
When you first start the Manoa Falls hike, you’ll see a wide open area filled with greenery, trees and vines. The beginning of this hike is very open and it’s a beautiful place to stop and see what’s growing.
Generally, the ground is flat with a very low incline. Unless it’s been raining heavily, there won’t be many puddles or mud here (yet). The conditions of the pathways early on are a great indicator of what the rest of the hike will be like. Since you’ll be hiking toward the waterfall, know that the wetter the beginning is, the more muddy it will be as you climb higher. The hike itself is very easy and I recommend it first thing in the morning.
Next stop: YogurStory
Right after hiking, I looked in my saved Instagram “Hawaii-food” folder to see if there was anything close by. We all agreed that YoguStory looked liked something we would all like. They are known for their Ube pancakes. Pronounced as ooh-beh, the purple yam has been a long-time staple ingredient in Filipino cuisine. Ube is known to have a sweet creamy texture that is perfect for incorporating into delicious treats and desserts. These are a must try! So good! I’m usually never pick sweet pancakes over something savory like a Benedict but i’m so glad I gave these a try. Also, I tried my friends chicken and waffles and we all have to agree they were 10/10 next level good. I highly recommend both of these.
Next stop: East Coast Drive/Cockroach Cove
Surrounded by the cliffs with secret caves and clear water, this is one of our favorite beaches on the East side of Oahu. Cockroach Cove located to the right of the Halona Blowhole parking lot is one of the best beaches on Oahu because of how beautiful it is.
While it is right down from the main highway that takes you along the scenic coastline of the East side, it isn’t a super touristy beach.
Along the way, you’ll see a variety of different food trucks parked off the main highway. I picked up some Filipino food. So good!
First stop: Xtreme Parasailing
Parasailing is something I always wanted to do so we agreed that we should just go for it. Honestly, heights scare me but this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. We reserved our spots and that morning we walked from our resort to the dock. I was nervous as hell but so worth it! You can choose how high you go up (500-1,000 ft). We all decided to go for the 500 ft and that was enough for me. It was surprisingly peaceful and the views of Diamond Head from Oahu’s south shore was gorgeous. We had a great crew and made the experience that much more enjoyable.
Next Stop: Cream Pot
If you’re looking for a super Instagramable place, this is it! We passed by this place on our way to the resort and I knew we had to stop. It’s soooo cute. It’s ambiance from the inside out screams little french cafe. Not only is the food pretty, it tastes amazing because everything is fresh and locally sourced. 10/10 would recommend.
Next Stop: Ho’omaluhia botanical garden
We’ve all seen that illustrious photo of a beautiful pathway somewhere in Oahu that looks like the grand opening to Jurassic Park. Nestled beneath the majestic AF Ko’olau mountains lies picturesque 400-acre rainforest garden that is home to many plants from tropical regions across the globe. It provides many facilities like guided nature walks, camping, hiking trails, botanical drawing and painting, art exhibits, fishing and a keiki fishing derby and a preschool nature hour.
Pro TipYou can enter through the side gate before it opens at 9am so your photoshoot isn’t disrupted by other tourists and cars driving on the road!
Lastly: China Walls
One of my favorite memories of Hawaii-sunset and China Walls. My favorite place for sunsetting is China Walls. Although this point is on the East side and yes I know, the sun sets in the West, you still get a nice view of the horizon because the point curves in a way that gets a shot at the West. It’s really gorgeous. China Wall isn’t sandy at all, it’s basically just cliffs. I highly recommend grabbing some friends, dinner, maybe a bottle of wine and enjoying the sunset while you watch the surfers. Honestly so memorable. It’s a must if you’re in the area.
First stop: Kualoa Ranch
Located on the windward coast of Oahu (one of the most dramatically beautiful areas of the island), Kualoa Ranch is a major tourist draw because of its beauty, history, and unique activities. We spent the majority of the day here (8am-2:45pm). We bought the “ATV Adventure” package: Ocean Voyage, 1 hour ATV tour, and Jurassic Jungle Jeep Expedition (also includes ranch buffet lunch). There’s a lot more activities that you can book (I linked their official website above). Out of all three, the ATV tour was my favorite.
Next stop: Rainbow Drive-In
I couldn’t leave Hawaii without getting a traditional Loco Moco. Rainbow Drive-In was another place that was on my Instagram Hawaii-food hit list. What is a Loco Moco? A traditional loco moco consists of white rice, topped with a hamburger patty, a fried egg, and brown gravy. As a side, it’s served with some kind of macaroni salad. SO freakin good. I swear. I repeat, SO freakin good.
Pro-Tip: if you don’t plan on eating there, call it in and just pick up at the window so you can avoid the long dinner-time line.
Lastly: Dinner on the beach
We all got what we wanted for dinner and met back on the beach. We got some towels together and found a good place on the beach to eat dinner and chill while we watched the sunset. Perfect way to end the last night together in Hawaii.
Goodbye Hawaii! Until next time.