For once, we slept in and “we took it easy” (as Herbie would say). Started off our morning going to Kamehameha Bakery. They are famous for their – poi glazed donuts. I also got a poi haupia donut as well.
In this same plaza, if you really enjoy ube, Ubae is situated. I grabbed a ube crinkle cookie.
The plan for today was to explore the city and take a break from hiking and beaches and explore the city. I’m an avid fan of graffiti and have been following the whole Powwow movement that gathers artists in different cities to create giant art murals around cities. Similar to what Miami has with Wynwood. The place to go for this Powwow Hawaii movement is Lana Lane in Kaka’ako. The Lana Lane Studio is a good starting point which also houses some art exhibits as well. The murals are all different in terms of style and look but definitely brighten the areas and give it more flavour. The area is mainly industrial in terms of car distribution warehouses but it’s like a hidden gem. There are some really cute boutique shops nearby called SALT at Kaka’ako.
Kaka’ako is relatively near Ala Moana Mall. We decided to leave the mall to another day but stopped by Don Quijote. Don Quijote is a major chain in Japan that has a bit of everything and where you stock up on food and souvenirs and other little nicknacks. For lunch, I wanted to take my friends to a local spot called Rainbow Drive-in. Its the typical fast food that Hawaiians love – you can get mixed seafood plates, loco mocos, burgers etc. I got myself a mini loco moco bowl and a salad (because we weren’t really eating greens).
Our plans were very much in the air for the afternoon so we messaged Herbie to see what they were up to for the day and in Herbie style he told us he was “taking it easy”. They went to the zoo earlier in the day but also mentioned that a beach volleyball court is usually set up at Waikiki Beach. We slowly made our way to the beach (word to the wise, Kuhio St is a one way and you need to loop around again if you miss the parking. There is paid parking closest to the beach but there is a lot that is slightly further away which is closer to the zoo where locals park for free). It turns out the beach court is set up sporadically when they feel like it nearby the pier in the middle of the beach where people jump off to boogie board from. It turned out that that day they indeed did not set up a volleyball court. Luckily Herbie and Elvia showed up with Tristan and a volleyball to pepper with for a bit and we did “take it easy” with the Ku’s on Waikiki beach for the afternoon.
We stayed at Waikiki Beach and took in the free Hula show called Kuhio Beach Hula Show that occurs every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, weather-permitting from 6:30pm to 7:30pm (6:00pm to 7:00pm Nov-Dec-Jan), free to the public at the Kūhiō Beach Hula mound on Kalākaua Ave near Uluniu Avenue across from the Hyatt Regency Waikīkī. It was very fitting and ended with the sun setting.
To end the night off, we stopped by the Mall and had dinner in the The Street food Hall. I got the largest bowl of greens I have had in such a long time from Indie Girl. I ordered the Kailua Sunrise bowl – $15.99USD (Baby kale, Quinoa, sunflower butter, roasted purple sweet potato, pomegranate dressing). The best part of this meal was most definitely the salted roasted sweet potato. It took me such a long time to eat it that I was entirely stuffed and the girls finished it off.
I’m usually not one to travel in the summer due to the fact that for a short period in time, Toronto has great weather and also because I dedicate my summer travels to volleyball (9-Man). It also is prime time for work opportunities. I made an exception this time around as it all started with my friend Lulu trying to convince me to join her and Renee back in Feb/March to goto Hawaii with them. With this being said, it led to us booking a one-way ticket to Maui. With the one-way ticket purchased, it left me to planning a trip that we could do in a 2 weeks span and also island hopping. Once my itinerary was made, I was able to convince (not very hard to) my friend Tiffany to join us making us a group of 4. I have previously been to Hawaii back in 2014 to photograph my high school friends wedding and staying in Oahu for 13 days – it was amazing and I was mistaken for a Kama’aina surfer girl (a local).
Looking at my last few trips, you can probably tell that I am a very ambitious person and my itineraries are jam-packed. This one was no different. For 2 weeks, we made it so we would island hop – Maui to Oahu to Kauai. This itinerary was made 1.5 months before the trip was to happen and a month before, I injured my leg – side note: sprained my hamstring a month before and didn’t let it rest enough – knee irritation during trip.
For good quality poke anytime, anywhere – goto Foodland.
Download the Gypsy Guide – for your most in-depth car ride. It is an off line audio guide that tracks where you are and will tell you where to stop off to get the most of the islands. It is also very informative and fills you in with all the history that makes Hawaii what it is. We downloaded it for Maui especially for the Road to Hana and also for Kauai.
And of course, last bit of advice: Check airport car rental hours before booking your flights to ensure the offices are open when you land. Late late night flights are no good if you can’t actually leave the airport.
Some facts about Hawaii:
Hawaii is one of the only places in the world that I cannot really tell ethnicity apart. That is because it is a mishmash of many ethnicities and of course tanned complexions. The reason for such mix of ethnicities comes from back in the day when the concept for having an owner and workers started. Before that, people believed they could just survive off the land and live well that way. There was a shortage of workers to work plantations once they adopted the owner and workers system. Since there was a shortage, Hawaii took in workers from different parts of the world such as China, Japan, Philippines, Korea, Puerto Ricans, and Portuguese etc.
After each ethnic group started to immigrate to Hawaii for a better life, the locals started to feel like they were taking all the jobs and started to xenophobia them over and over as a new group came in. Sugar cane plantations were a huge source of income however in 1990, 150 years of plantation ended as the introduction of high fructose sugars started being put into food and the demand for real sugar dropped.
100% Kona Coffee is one of the highest qualities however the price that comes with it isn’t always ideal.
Hawaii has also banned non-coral friendly sunscreens.
Now onto my itinerary. To make the most of our time, I tried to align each day to explore certain areas of each island and tried to alternate hiking days with beach days. I think the biggest thing I am happy to have done was reversing the Road to Hana route – Drive all the way to the end of Road to Hana and explore in reverse for optimal time at Pipiwai Trails and less tourists.
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.
Final night in Waikiki. Melissa & family went to High tea and had to run errands and since they still had mopeds they took advantage of it. A group of us did a early morning beach session before we headed over to Ala Moana mall once again to shop.
We ventured around Ala Moana for a bit checking out some stores and of course stopping by Foodland for more poke. We went to Kicks HI again and finally hit up Don Quijote (801 Kaheka St). It’s a little different from the Don Quijote I’ve been to in Japan but it’s very similar. Don Quijote is a one stop shop for everything from souvenirs, fresh food to electronics and and even facial products. To make it even better – It’s 24 hours! For food products that you can find in the ABC stores, Walmart & Don Quijote as the places to go to purchase them for cheaper. They also had tons of green tea related candies and chocolates.
We ended up grabbing poke again at Foodland before heading back and stopping by Food Pantry – Hi Steaks for steak plates. We brought it all back and ate by the poolside. Afterwards, the girls went up to help Melissa with wedding preparations. What the made the night even better, the boys came back from a night moped ride with treats from Leonard’s Bakery – Malasadas!
As a full group of 15, we visited Aloha Stadium (99-500 Salt Lake Blvd) bright and early for their swap meet. We caught a bus that apparently went the long way around (should’ve caught the 42 but caught the 20 instead). Took about an hour to get there. The swap meet takes over the exterior perimeter of the stadium with tents set up and vendors sell everything and anything. Similar to ladies market in Hong Kong and any other markets you have ever been to.
Picked up souvenirs and lots of trinkets as well as some locally made foods. I also was able to find a beautiful double infinity bone necklace from the auntie who was selling real authentic Hawaiian costumes.
Back to Ala Moana mall for lunch – I had this amazing acai bowl ($7.95USD) from Grylt. Acai bowls are similar to a yogurt parfait but replace the base with acai frozen yogurt and place granola, honey, banana, strawberries and blueberries on top. And of course, went to Foodland for poke and also to grab mochi ice cream from Beard Papa. My friends wanted to visit some local stores like Fitted and Kicks / HI (1530 Makaloa St) where I bought my first 5 panel hat – Publish Gold Motif ($40 USD) which is this nice dark blue with gold floral. Headed over Walmart and bought everything macadamia nut then we caught the bus home and met up with our friend Justina who just arrived after major delays.
For dinner, went made reservations at Sansei Seafood & Sushi Bar by the beach at the Marriott. I ate the cucumber and wakame salad and Sansei Special Roll ($2.95 & $9.95USD). Went to Lawson (2255 Kalakaua Ave) where they also have Bubbies Ice cream mochi. So far on this trip, I’ve had 14 mochi’s and I still haven’t tasted every flavour and have only doubled twice. We didn’t want our night to end so we walked the beach at night to the end with the huge rainbow mural on the Hilton Hotel.
Woke up and did a workout before we started our day. Melissa, Juancho, Jaira & Ronnel went for a run, Juan did a workout and I did a workout in the pool area myself. Melissa and Juan had to goto the department of Health to get their marriage license paperwork done. So the rest of us (Ronnel, Eric, Juancho, Jaira and I) headed for a quick little beach session.Nothing beats masubi (onigiri but with spam) and leftover Li Hing malasadas for breakfast.
We then joined Melissa & Juan at Ala Moana Mall (1450 Ala Moana Blvd) which takes about 15-20 minutes by bus (take the 8). It’s the biggest outdoor mall in Oahu. We ate at the food court and went to Foodland Supermarket to get fresh poke (marinated ahi ahi sashimi) which apparently is one of the best places to get poke. What makes its even better is that when you purchase items at Foodland, you give them the same phone number and that acts as your membership card and the more you buy, the more you save when you give them your phone number.
The sun isn’t as strong at 4PM as it is at noon. We wanted cheap but good food tonight and returned to Hi Steak at Food Pantry as well as Surf N Turf Tacos (2310 Kuhio St) for some grilled fish taco and garlic shrimp ($4.50 & 4.99USD). I really wanted the kalbi and spicy sesame poke tacos but they were sold out! The tacos were delicious but the grilled fish stood out and over the garlic shrimp.
First full day at the beach – literally. We were there from 8AM until about 4PM I left. Everyone got destroyed by the sun today. NOTE: the sun is extremely strong at noon and it will feel as if your skin is cooking. Re-apply often! Our friends Justin, Kim & Megan arrived however we were still missing a few people. For a late night dinner, we went back to Mac 24/7 with 16 people. I had the hawaiian boneless short ribs (too salty for my liking).