Hi everyone! This is the second installment of my Oahu itinerary. If you haven’t seen my first part, you can find it here!
Day 3: Manoa Falls hike and snacking in Honolulu/Ala Moana
On the agenda:
- Manoa Falls hike bright and early
- Driving around Honolulu to catch a glimpse of the Iolani Palace and stopping for various snacks
- Visit the Ala Moana Mall
- Dinner at Shirokiya Japan Village Walk (located at ground level of Ala Moana Mall)
We reached the Manoa Falls hike just after it opened, so that we could beat the crowd. Again, this morning was drizzly, but then it stopped as soon as we started walking. The path is in the middle of the forest, so you get to see all the cool plants (like a random mini bamboo forest). Normally, this hike would be easy with mild inclines, but because it was raining earlier, it was very muddy and kind of slippery. As the hike was coming to an end, we heard a rushing waterfall in the distance. Sure enough, it was THE Manoa Falls in all it’s glory. Even though there was a wire and a sign that blocked off you from going in the water, everybody disregarded it. How else could you take epic pictures and prove to everyone that you saw Manoa Falls?
After the hike, we went back to the hotel to freshen up, so that we can start our day with site seeing and eating all the food on our list. We never really stopped at the Iolani Palace, but we caught a glimpse of it driving by so that was good enough for us. At this time, we were actually very hungry, so our first stop was Char Hung Sut in Chinatown. They sell the most delicious treats, almost like to-go dim sum. However we showed up shortly after 1pm and they close at 2pm, so some of their items were already sold out. My suggestion to you is to get there earlier since they open at 5:30am! Then for our sweet fix, we stopped at Liliha’s Bakery for some of their legendary coco puffs (among other flavored puffs).
The rest of our day was spent at the Ala Moana Mall, looking for some souvenirs. After we walked off the food we had earlier that day, we suddenly got hungry and then went to the ground level to the Shirokiya Japan Village Walk. It was the coolest dining place ever. It’s set up like a food court with different vendors that specializes in a variety of foods (mostly Japanese cuisine). It is a great place for you to come meet up with your friends to relax and eat and drink. This place has my favorite spam musubis and the vendor is called Musubi Café. They have many other different locations, but for some reason this location at the mall tastes the best.
Day 4: Aloha Stadium swap meet and beach bumming
On the agenda:
- Check out swap meet for some snacks and souvenirs
- Bumming at Lanikai Beach
- Dinner at Marukame Udon
- Dessert at Matcha Stand Maiko
- Continue to explore Honolulu, watching street performers and shopping
On the following day, the sun peaked out and shone brightly. Just how I imagined Hawaii. We all packed up spam musubis from the night before in our cooler and made our way to the Aloha Stadium. When we arrived at the stadium, there was a fee of $1 per person. The swap meet is a flea market. The vendors there expect you to bargain with them, so haggle away if you’re not shy about it like me! The event is HUGE. There is no way that you can see it all. If you see something you like, either buy it or haggle. The chances that you’ll see something like that for cheaper that day is impossible. Trust me. I’ve tried. Or maybe I’m unlucky? Anyway, you’ll find so many souvenirs and local treats. There was this one vendor that made the most delicious banana bread and pineapple bread!
After we had our fair share of walking, we got back on the road and made our way to Lanikai Beach (I have written a post about this beach already, describing this beautiful beach here). The journey there was so breathtaking. Hawaii is truly the most beautiful state I have every seen. Upon arriving the beach, you will notice that there is no public parking for the beach. This is because this beach is only accessible to the locals. We had to find parking on the main roads of the residential neighborhoods. My suggestion is that you should go earlier when there should be plenty of parking available.
After we spent our day away, lounging, swimming, and sunbathing, we suddenly got very hungry. We went back to Honolulu for some early dinner/late lunch. Linner? Dunch? No word will be as cool as brunch. But I digress. Anyway, we had planned to be this early, because Marukame Udon ALWAYS has up to a 2 hour wait line after 4-5pm. We actually got there at sometime after 3pm, and it was dead! After parking the car in the parking garage of the mall across the street (street parking is nearly impossible in Honolulu), we ran straight in for some snacks. It was by far one of the best meals I have ever had in my life. This is a must try in my opinion. I would have waited in the 2 hour line for these freshly made udon noodles.
Once we finished our udon, we – by we, I mean us girls – started to crave dessert. Luckily, right behind Marukame was a matcha specialty soft serve ice cream stand. This place was totally not on our agenda initially, but it was the perfect way to end the magical udon meal. I can’t believe that it was at such a convenient location!
Day 5: Pearl Harbor, turtles, snacks, and more snacks
On the agenda:
- Visit Pearl Harbor
- Grab lunches to-go at Alicia’s Market
- Drive on the Kamechameha Highway for some Hawaiian scenery
- Stop at Matsumoto for shaved ice
- Find turtles at Laniakea Beach
- Ramen dinner at Lucky Belly
As usual, we woke up bright and early for this day. From our research, if we showed up before they open at 7am, the first 1500 tickets are free! Also, by going early, we could beat the foot traffic, and we were always down to beat the crowd. When we showed up at around 6:45am, there was already a line of about maybe 50 people. And here we thought we were the crazy ones!
Once you get through the gates, you are given a ticket that has a time on it. That time marks when your tour starts for the U.S.S Memorial. First, you enter a room to watch a video about the history of the tragic day of Pearl Harbor, which I very much enjoyed – I’m a huge history nerd. Then you go to a ferry that takes you out to the memorial. You will learn that the U.S.S Arizona is a sunken ship that took the lives of many. The atmosphere was somber and reverent. There’s also an elderly veteran at the memorial providing insight of the boat and the history of Pearl Harbor.
For a while, I hung onto every single one of the veteran’s word until we had to catch the ferry back to shore. We continued to explore the area, catching glimpses of the other boats and exhibits with more historical facts of Pearl Harbor. Then we noticed a line of people in the middle of the site. It was a line to meet one of the last Pearl Harbor survivors! With no hesitation, this history nerd jumped right in line. It was such an honor to meet him. It is an awesome feeling meeting someone, who experienced this huge event in American history.
When we finished exploring Pearl Harbor, we left to go get lunch at Alicia’s Market, which is a grocery store that serves food to-go deli-style. I recommend just getting the half-sized take out container, because that alone is extremely dense with food. But if you want to go 100% all in with your food adventure, go for it! It’s amazing food and definitely a gem. This is a local joint, because it is not accessible by public transportation.
After we grabbed our lunches, we hit the road and drove to get some Matsumoto’s shaved ice and see some sea turtles. At this beach, sea turtles love to come to shore and lay. However, we weren’t so lucky and only caught glimpse of them swimming in the water. Oh well, I guess this means I have to come back to Hawaii! Even though we did not see any sea turtles, we were happy to be back in the North Shore, but this time, we were on the west side. The towns are so quaint and homey. The area is so fresh and green. I absolutely love the North Shore! I now understand why so many people come to retire in Hawaii. Who could blame them?
Day 6: Some more time in the North Shore and Dole Plantation tour
On the agenda:
- Getting some exercise with paddle boarding and kayaking
- Lunch at Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck
- Exploring the Dole Plantation
- Dinner at Yakiniku Don-Day
Our first activity of the day was some exercise through Sea & Board Sports Hawaii located on Tsue’s Farm. I can’t speak for the team, but I can say with confidence that I needed some physical activity to work off all the snacks I had consumed on the trip. Our instructor was extremely helpful and kind. He explained to us that we had 3 hours to do any activity, meaning that we can go back and forth between paddle boarding and kayaking as much as we wanted. After a few minutes in, I realized how weak my arms were. They were sore for the rest of the trip. That was all of the exercise I did that whole trip other than hiking.
When the 3 hours were up, we drove to Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck to grab some lunch (best garlic shrimp ever yum!). Upon arriving the parking lot, we noticed that there were other food trucks parked in that area. More unplanned snacks? Man, I definitely deserved it after working out my arms for 3 hours. Again, we explored more of the North Shore and fell more and more in love with the area.
Once we finished eating and exploring, we drove back south to the Dole Plantation. The first thing we did there was the maze. I will be honest and come clean. We did not finish that maze. We walked around in circles for 20 minutes and gave up. I applaud all of those, who managed to get out of the maze alive. After our failed attempt of completing the maze, we hopped on the Pineapple Express. It was a nice break from all the walking that we had been doing on this trip. The train took us around the plantation and narrated fun facts about the pineapple business and the plantation. Of course, we finished off this visit with more snacks, particularly the famous pineapple whip, which is the same one in Disneyland! The perfect treat for a hot Hawaiian day.
Thanks for reading 🙂