At the end of 2013, we were planning a trip to the Basque Country (which includes southern France and northern Spain areas). Before we booked the airline tickets, I found out I was pregnant with our first baby, so our European travel plan got cancelled. I wasn’t happy about it, but Steve insisted that we should stay within the U.S. in case there were any medical emergencies during the pregnancy. Reluctantly, I agreed to a Hawaii trip instead. It’s the farthest we could travel and yet still within the U.S.
We flew into Oahu and spent four and a half days there before traveling onward to Maui.
Day 1 – Arrived Honolulu, picked up rental car and checked into our condo. Had dinner at Palace Saimin. Drove around a bit to get to know the area and called it a day.
Day 2 – Checked out the farmer’s market at Kapiolani Community College. Then hiked up Diamond Head Summit for an awesome view. Treated ourselves to sushi buffet and Leonard’s malasadas for lunch. After lunch, headed onto Iolani Palace and nearby area for sightseeing. Had plated dinner at Rainbow Drive-in.
Day 3 – Started the day taking in the scenery at the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout. Had pancake lunch at Boots & Kimo’s. Then took a road trip to the North Shore, stopping at various vista points. Ended up at Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck for dinner.
Day 4 – Spent the morning touring Pearl Harbor. Spent the afternoon relaxing at the beach. Had dinner in downtown near our condo.
Diamond Head is a crater that was formed about 300,000 years ago from a volcano eruption. Take a hike up the Summit Trail for the panoramic view on top of the crater. The whole trail is about 1.6 miles round-trip and will take approximately 2 hours to finish.
4182-4190 Diamond Head Rd, Honolulu, HI 96816
Daily 6:00am – 6:00pm
The KCC Farmer’s Market is held every Saturday from 7:30am to 11:00am. It’s right across from the Diamond Head State Monument entrance.
4303 Diamond Head Rd, Honolulu, HI 96816
Sat 7:30am – 11:00am
(3) Iolani Palace
Iolani Palace was the royal residence for the Hawaiian monarch. On the birthdays of King Kalākaua (November 16) and Queen Kapi’olani (December 28), there will be celebration ceremonies. We happened to visit on November 16 but I did not realize it was King Kalākaua’s birthday, and we went after the celebration was over.
364 S King St. Honolulu, HI 96813
Mon-Sat 9:00am – 4:00pm
The summer palace is a retreat for Queen Emma of Hawaii from 1857 to 1885.
2913 Pali Hwy, Honolulu, HI 96817
Daily 9:00am – 4:00pm
The Nu’uanu Pali was the site of the Battle of Nu’uanu, in which Kamehameha I conquered the island of Oahu and brought it under his rule. The Nu’uanu Pali Lookout provides a panoramic view of the windward (northeast) coast of Oahu.
Nuuanu Pali Dr, Kaneohe, HI 96744
Daily daylight hours
(6) Chinaman’s Hat
Chinaman’s Hat, or Mokoli’i, is a basalt islet in Kaneohe Bay. The island is shaped like a hat and is best viewed from Kualoa Regional Beach Park. Although there’s nothing of interest on the island itself, it’s a great place for picture from afar.
(Address of the Kualoa Regional Beach Park)
49-479 Kamehameha Hwy, Kaneohe, HI 96744
Daily 7:00am – 8:00pm
(7) Dole Plantation
It was originally the location of the pineapple fruit stand, now it’s turned into a museum. Go for a garden tour, a train ride, or get lost in the world’s largest maze.
64-1550 Kamehameha Hwy, Wahiawa, Hawaii 96786
Daily 9:30am – 5:30pm
Learn about the different Polynesian cultures. If I didn’t book the luau in Maui, this place would have been my second choice.
55-370 Kamehameha Hwy, Laie, HI 96762
Mon – Sat 12:00pm – 9:00pm
(9) Byodo-In Temple
Byodo-In Temple was established in 1968 to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. It is a smaller-scale replica of the 950-year-old Byodo-in Temple at Uji in Kyoto prefecture of Japan. The temple is a non-practicing Buddhist temple.
47-200 Kahekili Hwy, Kaneohe, HI 96744
Mon – Sat 9:00am – 5:00pm, Sun 10:00am – 4:00pm
(10) Pearl Harbor
At the Pearl Harbor Visit you can visit the USS Arizona Memorial, Battleship Missouri Memorial, USS Bowfin Museum & Park, and the Pacific Aviation Museum. Of which, the USS Arizona Memorial is free on a first-come first-serve basis, so you may have to go early as the free tickets are limited.
1 Arizona Memorial Place, Honolulu, HI 96818
Daily 7:00am – 5:00pm
Makapu’u is located on the eastern tip of Oahu. I didn’t visit here but if you want to do more hiking, this is another option.
Makapuu Lighthouse Rd, Honolulu, HI 96825
Daily 7:00am – 6:45pm/7:45pm
How can you go to Oahu without visiting Leonard’s for their malasadas? If you don’t know, malasadas is a Portugese doughnut and comes in different coatings and fillings.
933 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816
Sun – Thurs 5:30am – 10:00pm, Fri – Sat 5:30am – 11:00pm
(2) Shave Ice
There are a lot of shave ice places everywhere in Hawaii. Here are a couple more popular ones I found:
Waiola Shave Ice
3113 Mokihana St, Honolulu, HI 96816
Daily 11:00am – 5:30pm
Matsumoto Shave Ice
66-087 Kamehameha Hwy #605, Haleiwa, HI 96712
Daily 9:00am – 6:00pm
(3) Boots & Kimo’s
Banana pancake with macadamia nut sauce. Go get it.
151 Hekili St., Kailua, HI 96734
Mon & Wed – Fri 7:30am – 3:00pm, Sat – Sun 7:00am – 3:00pm
It’s a shrimp truck but it’s fixed on the same location so you don’t have to track it down. They serve three different flavors of shrimps and they are all delicious.
56-505 Kamehameha Hwy, Kahuku, HI 96731
Daily 10:30am – 6:30pm
(5) Palace Saimin
Saimin is a bowl of noodle soup that was created in Hawaii during the plantation era inspired by the noodles eaten in Asia (i.e., Japanese ramen, Chinese mein). It’s a simple bowl of thin noodle in a soup base with various toppings, which usually include green onion and char-siu.
1256 North King St, Honolulu HI 96817
Tues – Sat 11:00am – 11:00pm
BEACHES & WATER ACTIVITIES
(1) Hanauma Bay
It’s a popular place to snorkel but the drive along the curvy cliff can be long. I seem to recall seeing a banana bread stand at one of those hairpin turns so if you need a break, stop by and enjoy a loaf of homemade banana bread before continuing on.
100 Hanauma Bay Rd, Honolulu, HI 96825
Wed – Mon 6:00am – 6:00pm
(2) Kailua Beach
Located a few minutes from Boots & Kimo’s, Kailua Beach had been voted Best Beaches in America.
526 Kawailoa Road, Kailua, HI 96734
The North Shore is where a lot of people go for surfing takes place. Also in Haleiwa is the Laniakea Beach, also called Turtle Beach, where people go for the green sea turtle sighting.
We rented a car during our stay in Oahu but I’ve heard that the bus system is very extensive and will get you to most of the popular places.
Photos taken by Vean Chen and Steve Chou