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Once we got settled in, we drove over to James Beach (60 N Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291) where we intended to have dinner but in the end, we went across the street to Plancha (2024 Pacific Ave, Venice, CA 90291) for tacos. James Beach has many reviews and is known for their fish tacos and made famous from the movie I Love you Man featuring Paul Rudd. At Plancha, I ordered the Tiger bowl ($6.95USD) which consisted of garlic tiger shrimp and the contents of a burrito.
After dinner, we decided to drive over to LACMA (5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036) to see the Urban Lights by artist Chris Burden. His installation is located at the Wilshire Boulevard entrance of the LACMA and consists of lamp posts that at one point in time have lit the streets of Southern California before being restored and installed in that one location. We spent a lot of time here just taking photos and just hanging out. It’s a great atmosphere to be in with friends.
After a late night, we drove over to Hermosa Beach for surf lessons. My friend JP created a website called GOJPGO that makes exploring LA so much more accessible with helpful tips and advice. My group wanted to go for surf lessons and JP had recommended us to go with his friend Kawika at Pier Surf (21 Pier Ave Hermosa beach, CA 90254) and we were not disappointed. 8 of us took part in the 2 hour surf lesson that Kawika along with Ryan another instructor took us to the beach and taught us the basics before hitting the waters. The waves were perfect for beginners and they explained to us that the waves are about 5-10 miles per hour and we want to reach that speed to catch a wave. It was a tiring but a very rewarding experience for sure and we definitely recommend them!
Right beside Pier Surf was Hooked where we ordered Poke bowls. You can customize your own bowl and I decided to go with a large ($12,50USD) with Kelp noodles, spicy tuna, sunomono cucumber & fish roe. If I were to go again, I would change my base to rice as the kelp noodles texture was strange and a little too tasteless for me. Otherwise, the poke was tasty with a little kick of heat to it. We ate and recovered from our surf lesson and just laid out on the beach for a few hours before a few of our friends headed to LAX to head home. I couldn’t leave the beach without getting myself a acai bowl. As the gang napped on the beach, I walked over to Paradise Bowls (1246 Hermosa Ave, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254) and got myself a mini $6.95USD (the small is massive) Guava Pipeline acai bowl (blended acai, banana, mango, guava juice with strawberries, bananas, granola and honey as the topping) delicious.
After a little more time lounging on the beach, we packed up and drove back to our Airbnb area in Venice beach but not before stopping off at Trader Joe’s to pick up some groceries and also my favourite – Unsulfurated Dried Mangoes – sad to say my other favourite – dark chocolate edamame beans have been discontinued!
After everyone showered, we drove over to Little Tokyo for dinner and dessert. Since we arrived late, we went for dessert first at Mikawaya (Japanese Village Plaza, 118 Japanese Village Plaza Mall, Los Angeles, CA 90012) for Ice cream mochi. I fell in love with ice cream mochi 7 years ago from this place. The Ice cream mochi is fresh and comes in multiple flavours that rotate through. They are about $1.30USD ea but well worth it. I had the Pistachio, Guava, Toasted Almond & Raspberry (my favourite). Once we finished devouring these tasty pieces of heaven, we walked across the street from the plaza to the well known yellow awning ramen restaurant – Daikokuya (327 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012). I fell in love with this ramen place 7 years ago and to this day, I still think this place makes the best ramen (and I’ve been to Japan before). It could be an overstatement but the line outside proceeds me and from memory, the broth, the atmosphere, the taste still lingers and just makes it my top notch choice for best ramen I’ve ever eaten. With a group of 9, we walked in to write our name down and waited outside as they slowly went down the list. Trust me, it is worth the wait. I ordered the Combo meal – Daikoku Ramen with beef bowl ($9.95 USD for the regular ramen) and that is more than enough food. The ramen on it’s own is filling enough and you can also customize it with their special broth (Kotteri flavor from the back fat extracts). The soft-boiled egg just adds to it.
With our trip to Trader Joe’s and going across the street to the dollar store, we gathered enough ingredients to make a big family style breakfast that consisted of coconut pancake mix from TJ’s, cookie butter ice cream, cookie butter, eggs, bacon, bananas, grapes, apples, cereal and beer. It was a great bonding experience and also a great use of the outdoor patio we had.
After breakfast, we all went to Venice Beach and of course one of the main attractions ( I could’ve just stayed there all day) was the Venice Beach Skatepark. Not only were the locals out in full force skating, a few did intricate tricks which were great to see front row centre. We also walked over and tested our ability at the free muscle beach which consists of a few bars and rings. You can also pay $10USD/day to use the actual outdoor Muscle Beach gym but looking at the equipment, everything was wrapped in saran wrap and not my cup of tea.
Our main group then said our goodbyes to Susan and Kevin and off we went to drive east of Los Angeles to Joshua Tree. We made a stop at Toys R Us that detoured us south before heading east. Since we didn’t go according to our original plans, we started our drive to Joshua Tree really late and we got stuck in traffic. We made one more stop at In-N-Out (well done fries and a animal style cheeseburger are the way to go). What is so mystifying and entrancing are the wind turbine fields. The drive does get a little windy as you drive through mountains. Once we arrived by the main Joshua Tree visitor centre (which was closed when we arrived) the sun was starting to set. We drove in and stopped off on the side of the road to climb some rocks and take photos of the trees. Our end goal since we didn’t really have a chance to hike especially with the remaining light was Key Views Road which is the highest point in the national park that overlooks the park and the city. We took in the remainder of the sunset and light before laying down on the ground and gazing up into the sky as it darkened and the stars glistened and covered the sky. Incredibly sad that I wasn’t able to spend the day there and hike. I also hear and have been recommended to check out Cholla Cactus Garden.
After taking in all the stars and the vastness that we were surrounded by, we made a run for it back to LA. Koreatown was our end point for dinner at Tangji Gamatang (3470 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020) for a family style meal with our group before calling it a night.
We drove over to Kailua and Lanikai beach. The sand was so soft and white but the water was a little choppy. NOTE: It is easier to find parking at Kailua Beach surrounding area then walk over to Lanikai Beach. We walked over to Lanikai beach which has a few alleys/access points to get to the beach – Enter through the 3rd entrance / gate. The journey over to Lanikai beach just looks like normal residential making the beach seem like a hidden secret. The waters were calmer at Lanikai. Such a relaxing oasis. If we had the time we would’ve tried to go for a hike to the pillbox. We were hungryso we ventured back to our car and made our way to Agnes Portuguese bakery (46 Hoolai St) for malasadas. We then walked over to the next plaza and ate at L&L drive-in for Chinese/Hawaiian food. I got the Saimin Burger (fried ramen buns) and it was only $4.99USD. So oily because it was fried but so tasty after it cooled down.
After re-fueling, off we went to Makapu’u lookout but we really wanted to head to the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse. We hiked up to get to the lighthouse which technically is in a restricted area. We climbed around the fence and walked where the white fence was. We walked all the way about 10 meters from the lighthouse which was also blocked off with barbed wire. There was a cliff where the fence ended and it was such a sight.Juan and Melissa climbed the cliffside and placed their blessings of flowers that was wrapped at their ceremony and put it up in a little corner where the wind wouldn’t take it away and stay forever peacefully (hopefully). They put it high enough that it would be hard for others to reach. They took the remaining flowers and threw them over the cliffs. The hawaiian saying is if you throw flowers into the ocean and they return to the shore it means that you will return back to Hawaii once again.
Also located at Makapu’u trails are tide pools which you must climb down to (there is no true path down but you figure it out as you go). I ended up driving home after a McDonald’s run. The drive back seemed so long but not too bad. We ended up just hanging in the living room together and talking, eating and sharing photos with one another.
Woke everyone around 545AM so that we could all take in the last sunrise of the trip. We walked over to the field where the basketball courts were and just took it all in. The sun started rising fast and it started to sink in that we were nearing the end. We all hopped into the 3 cars to head back to Waikiki. As we arrived at Aqua Bamboo, we unloaded and the shuttle for Juan & Melissa’s family arrive forthwith.
From there, 6 remained who were leaving later in the evening and Megan & Kim who were staying a day or two more. We decided to go back to Surf N Turf Tacos for lunch – I finally got the kalbi and spicy sesame poke tacos but they just didn’t compare to the grilled fish taco. The spicy sesame poke taco was pretty good though. We walked over to Lawson’s for mochi ice cream. I grabbed the guava, passionfruit, cantaloupe and li hing mango. We ended up just hanging by the beach for a little bit as we had about 3-4 hours to kill before our shuttle to the airport arrived. Ronnel, Jennifer and I decided to walk the beach one last time and it was such a great day for it. The waves were perfect but too bad we didn’t have time to surf. At 330PM Jennifer, Eric, Ryan and I went to Food Pantry and got our final steak plates and mochi ice cream. I finished off with pistachio, chocolate peanut butter and finally the azuki red bean bringing my total to 20 mochi’s eaten this trip. My true love of Hawaii. The airport shuttle arrived and we said aloha to 13 blissful days in Hawaii.
Recap the trip. I love the culture & lifestyle here with the integration of so many multicultural groups that it still phases me how I can’t tell ethnicities apart especially realizing that we were still in America. I kept getting mistaken for a local surfer girl because of the long hair (longest I’ve ever had which is almost to my butt) and how dark I’ve gotten. Hawaii is beautiful and relaxing but it is a little too laid-back for me to ever consider moving there. I need more city life, more hustle and bustle. I do however love the weather though and wish Toronto had it year round.
I travelled to Oahu, Hawaii for 13 days for my friend’s (Melissa & Juan) wedding celebration. I did not plan any second of it and just went with the flow of things.
Our main group for the trip was large (15 people – many more joined afterwards). But we managed to stay in Waikiki for a week and then North on the island in Kaʻaʻawa.
We flew with United Airlines to Oahu, Hawaii with a detour in Chicago. The plane ride felt like it was never-ending. The first leg to Chicago was decent but then you get corralled into groups to board the next plane. We took a Boeing 77 so it holds more people. What sucks is that even with this large amount of people and the flight alone being 8-9 hours, no food is provided unless purchased. There was also no outlet or television however they had this United wifi setup so you can view the movies and shows on your electronic devices.
We finally arrived in Honolulu and hopped on the Reliable Shuttle to bring us to our hotel for the week – Aqua Bamboo – It’s a cozy hotel a block away from the beach which lowers costs. After we settled into the rooms, we went straight for the beach and for food. We went to this corner restaurant called Shore Fyre (2446 Koa Ave) and I got a steak and garlic shrimp platter ($14.95USD) which came with salad and brown rice – delicious.
Walked over to the beach and we just took to the water. Palm trees everywhere, bodies everywhere, the salt water was so warm and waves coming in. This is one of the more touristy areas but man this is the life. I could definitely get use to waking up and heading to the beach all golden everyday.
We stayed at the beach on the rocks watching the sun set (which came early and went down quickly) then back to the hotel to rinse off and go for food. There is literally an ABC store on every corner. It has everything you would need but apparently Ala Moana Mall has the items cheaper or head to Walmart (especially if you want the macadamia nuts). We walked to Food Pantry (2370 Kuhio Ave) which is their grocery store but also has a little food court. Right by the main entrance is one steak place called HiSteaks and you can get a steak plate (rice and egg) for $9.99USD. Melissa had noticed they had ice cream mochi but not any ordinary mochi – the have Bubbies (cantaloupe, green tea, pistachio, sakura) which I have been going on and on about. I decided eating only mochi for dinner was a bad choice so I got white truffle oil shoestring fries and 4 ice cream mochi with a small (not small at all) Fanta fruit punch ($9.91USD in total – $1.69/mochi here). Mind you, we ate only an hour or two ago so don’t judge me.
We hit the beach bright and early and stationed ourselves by the beach bistro and police station. There was a surf competition so the water was filled with surfers. The area we anchored ourselves had water that was a little more choppy then the previous day but nonetheless, after you got in it was delightful. Once it rolled around to noon, the became filled with tourists as it was also a Sunday. For lunch, we went to the Hilton Hotel to Mac 24/7 which by the name is open 24/7. Man vs Wild made it known to the world as the manhole cover sized (14 inch) pancakes (3 stacks). Jaira, Melissa and myself attempted it (Pineapple, macadamia nut and coconut with maple syrup and coconut syrup) for $22USD. It was delicious but even though we divided it into 1/3 each, I was the only one able to finish my piece and that was painful to say the least.
Our friends Ronnel and Eric whose flight never left Toronto finally arrived and quickly threw their stuff into our rooms and we all headed to the beach. Took in the afternoon sun and then walked a distance as a whole group to Rainbow Drive-in (3308 Kanaina Ave) and Leonards (933 Kapahulu Ave). Rainbow Drive-in is a good ol’ local eatery – nothing fancy but they sure make some good local comfort food. I had the mixed platter plate with BBQ, chicken and ahi ahi fish with rice and mac salad ($7.95USD). Great food that tasted amazing and best part is that it is cheap! Leonard’s is a Portuguese bakery that specializes in Malasadas – Portuguese donuts with no holes that are usually filled. Even though the walk to dinner was a long one, we decided to go for a night walk and ended up at the Pier and just hung out in the dark. Its amazing how you can see the commercial part of the beach where the hotels are light up the sky but the other side has no lights so its a beautiful chiaroscuro on the ocean and you look up and the stars are so bright. We called it a somewhat early night after that.