Aloha! Thank you so much for stopping by my blog! For ten days I immersed myself in all things beach, authentic Hawaiian cuisine, culture, and learning about the Aloha Spirit! Walking off the plane after touching down in Honolulu I had no idea of the massive imprint the island of Oahu would have on me! In this post I’ll be giving you a day-by-day travel series logging all the experiences my family and I had the opportunity of being apart of! Plus, I’ll be sharing a few out of this world, local spots ranging from awesome grub I know you’ll love to desserts that will unleash your sweet tooth! (All of the locations I mention will be linked below!)
Day One: Tuesday
After a long night of travel I was beyond joyous to fall into bed, but at the same time I couldn’t contain my excitement driven desire to explore the island! Our first stop after breakfast at the hotel was Hawaii’s Plantation Village, which is an immersive guided tour that looks into the lives of those who worked on the sugar plantations throughout the 1900s. I highly, highly recommend visiting and can’t express how the whole experience filled me with knowledge I certainly wouldn’t have never learned in a history book! If you’re not much of the tourist type when you travel this little known gem is perfect for you! You’ll be able to not only see the life of the Portuguese, Puerto Rican, Japanese, and Korean immigrants on the plantation, but how the traditions they brought with them inspired and helped build the Hawaii we know and love today! http://www.hawaiiplantationvillage.org/
Our next stop was the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. For all of you history buffs, tourists, or locals. Everyone should at least see this memorial once. There are no words that can express the heartbreak that seeps through the ocean here as you stand upon the sunken Arizona and the seamen, she took with her. What a truly humbling experience to begin the trip with. https://www.nps.gov/valr/index.htm
Day One Lunch: Now for the yummy food! Feast your eyes on the delicious site of Helena’s Hawaiian Food! This place is super casual, incredibly local, and has food that will make your mouth water as you decide what to order. Get the butterfish and the Luau squid, it’s freaking amazing! https://www.yelp.com/biz/helenas-hawaiian-food-honolulu
Day Two: Wednesday
Let me set the scene. Your sound asleep after a five-hour plane ride and a long day exploring Honolulu in your homey Airbnb, when suddenly you burst out of bed from an ear-splitting sound coming from outside! You turn you ear to inspect the noise, and OMG! Are those roosters? The answer is yes and trust me you most definitely will not be going back to sleep! We got a pretty early start to our day after the time difference really hit us. Today’s adventure was a hike though the lush park of Waimea Valley to see the famous waterfall.
Fun Fact: Did you know before it became a historical park for tourists to visit, the locals would drive up to the waterfall and watch movies!
The whole hike averages at about an hour if you aren’t really interested in the exotic plants and only want to swim in the waterfall. My family is more of the “smell the flowers” type and with two little one’s it took around two hours. The view was beautiful! Personally, I didn’t swim because in the few minutes I dipped my toes in to take a photo the water was freezing, and I was not about that life at the moment! https://www.waimeavalley.net/
Day Two Lunch: After a long hike everyone was beginning to spiral into the hangry zone. In preparation for Hawaii all the food blogs I read all said the same, “Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck has the best garlic shrimp!” Let me tell you a secret that will rock your world…There are better shrimp trucks out there with tasty, full-sized, perfectly cooked shrimp! Hono Shrimp Truck totally SLAPS compared to Giovanni’s and has a much shorter line and great service! https://www.yelp.com/biz/honos-shrimp-truck-laie
Day Two Dessert: With full belly’s we waddled down to a remote beach and filled our lungs with salty ocean air, until we all stopped immediately when we all realized we’d been in Hawaii two days and hadn’t gotten any shave ice! I can’t talk about Hawaii without mentioning M. Matsumoto for shave ice. You get to pick up to three flavors in bowl sizes ranging from small to large, and the service is great and very welcoming. We visited the location in Haleiwa, and they have an adorable seating area just outside of the exit. https://www.yelp.com/biz/matsumoto-shave-ice-haleiwa-10
Quick Tip: I wouldn’t necessarily recommend sitting in the courtyard unless you’ve got wipes to clean up the sugary juice’s leftover by previous shave ice lovers! If not, the flies will bother you and are ruthless when it comes to enjoying your sugary treat!
Day Three: Thursday
This was my first Halloween not dressing up, stuffing my face with candy, or trick-or-treating with my siblings! My sister and I didn’t even follow up our tradition of watching our favorite Halloween movies! Instead we began the day at the Bishops Museum learning about ancient Hawaiians and their culture. You got to learn the story of how they believed the world was created, which gives you an invitation as to why the Hawaiians take such good care of the Earth. You’ll learn about ancient ways of fishing, fighting, cooking, training, and the foundation of their society. Bonus points to the ancient Hawaiians for creating a world where woman do more than take care of children! https://www.bishopmuseum.org/
After the museum we poked our heads into the science center and watched a hands-on, informative show on the formation of Hawaii’s most known islands and the several others that are being created as you read this. Please take the time to stop by the planetarium while you visit and take a chance to learn about ancient way finders and how the tradition is being passed on.
Day Three Lunch: We stopped my Southshore Grill in Honolulu for some quick and yummy tacos! This find has some great options for my fellow pescatarians out there! https://www.yelp.com/biz/south-shore-grill-honolulu
Day Three Dessert: Of course, we got dessert! And none other than at the famous Leonard’s Bakery! And how can you go to a bakery that’s been open since 1940 and famous for their malassadas and not get some? Malassadas are a light, airy Portuguese donut covered in messy, lip smacking good sugar. Heaven! Pure heaven! Get them while they are hot, and you’ll agree with me! https://www.leonardshawaii.com/
Day Four: Friday
Friday became a much-needed chill day at a beach just up the street from the neighborhood we were currently living in. We stayed on the North Shore where the locals lived everyday life and to our luck the beach wasn’t crowded! Minus my family there were less than twenty people on the beach, which made for a lovely day. My diet this day consisted of more shave ice and double-stuff Oreos, so no new foodie paradise for today!
Day Five: Saturday
We got up early to catch the Honolulu Swap Meet. The heat was simply horrible! The overall meet was filled with different vendors with all kinds of Hawaiian inspired souvenirs. The only thing that was a pretty huge bummer is that I went hoping to find locally crafted things rather than manufactured goods for the purpose of helping the community, but was sadly disappointed. So, if you chose to go in my opinion, you’d be better off stopping by a shack on the side of the road to better help the heart of the community. After the meet we hopped in the car and drove to Hawaii’s joint Naval and Marine base to visit a friend of my Dad’s. They hadn’t seen each other in over 27 years and the universe perfectly aligned our trip so the two of them could reconnect, and the two of them picked up exactly where they left off. And then we were offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to tour a submarine! We were given a one-on-one tour by my Dad’s former seamen of a submarine he retired from!
The whole experience gave me an inside look on the everyday life of a seaman while at sea, whilst giving me more appreciation for all that they do! But the tour wasn’t the rugged nature I’d expected we laughed, told jokes, and were filled in on all the crazy stories that went on down at sea.
Day Six: Sunday
Today we spent doing the most touristy, never been to Hawaii thing! We went to the Dole Plantation! The crowds were insane, and I probably would never go again. But there were some positives, like the educational train ride through the rain that shows you the history between pineapples and Hawaii, the rich soil that turns the island into a rich plant utopia, and all the different plants, fruits, and flowers they grow on the farm! Not to mention I learned how to properly cut a pineapple and dudes my whole mind was blown! https://www.doleplantation.com/
Pineapple Fun Fact: Did you know that it takes 18 months to grow one pineapple?
Day Six Dessert: Alrighty! Now I know some of you are thinking, “Okay, pineapples are great but on to the food!” Well here you go! How does homemade ice cream sound? Pretty yummy, right? Well if you are staying, visiting, or located in the North Shore area go check out Scoop of Paradise in the Haleiwa area! This local shop has tons of flavors, so pro-tip: Be sure to be super picky on the flavors you’d like to try because you only get two tries! I’d recommend the Coco and Cookies and the Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel! Two delicious flavors to satisfy any sweet tooth! https://www.yelp.com/biz/scoop-of-paradise-waialua
Day Seven: Monday
Today we visited The Byodo-In Temple, which is a Buddhist temple in Kaneoho, Hawaii built by the state to honor the original temple located in Japan and as a gift to the Japanese immigrants that came to Hawaii for work and hopes of a better life a little over one hundred years ago. To walk the self-guided tour takes around 30 minutes to an hour depending on your personal travel schedule. The whole route as you enter will captivate you as you look out the window at the vast rolling hills of cemetery plots as you reach your destination! https://byodo-in.com/
Fun Fact: If you look closely, you’ll see that several graves might have a small treat for past relatives to bring with them to the afterlife. I saw everything from whole take-out meals, cans of soda, and even a Spiderman action figure! These practices have been pasted down throughout many Asian cultures. For example, the Taiwanese culture will leave special offerings every week after the death of a loved one!
Once you complete the loop around than you will witness the wonder of the Buddhist Temple, the calmness that fills the air as you enter the grounds will amaze you and by the end you won’t want to leave!
Day Eight: Tuesday
The day as usual began very relaxed with a lowkey breakfast and of course roosters trolling our yard! I spent most of the day writing and preparing for this post. But as afternoon ended my excitement for our much awaited luau got stronger and stronger! Once we were up the mountain, we got to meet one of the hosts as we waited for the rest of our group to arrive. The whole property is beautiful, and the beauty hits you instantly once you are welcomed into the estate. Once the rest of the guest arrived, we had a total of 51 people, which set the stage for the perfectly intimate atmosphere Nutridge Luau promised! My whole family from five to sixty-five loved every bit of the immersive look at tradition Hawaiian culture, farm to table dinner that you help to make, and all the fun during the after-dinner dance party! By the time it’s over you won’t want to leave! I wish I could do it all over again and I can’t wait to go back! https://www.experiencenutridge.com/
Day Nine: Wednesday
After a long night of partying everyone was ready to kickback and relax. And that’s exactly what we did this morning. Near noon we all felt a bit puckish, so we stopped by a local restaurant near the hose that served farm to table style in their open concept seating area. Afterward, we stopped by Scoops of Paradise for a quick ice cream break, and then finished out the day with a sea turtle spotting and detour adventures trying to find a famous, remote location used in the famous film The Hunger Games: Catching Fire! When we finally arrived back to our temporary home, we packed up for our flight set to depart the next day and took a much needed, early turn in for the night.
This trip was truly transforming and a chance for a much needed breathe of fresh air! To be honest, all the immense insanity of 2019 is nothing I could’ve every planned for at the end of 2018! After this much needed reset, I look forward to the coming year as a chance to breath, be grateful for what the universe has in store, and be thankful for all it will teach me. Hawaii taught me more than anything the importance of allowing your whole soul to detox for however long you have and to just relax. Although, hustling for some opportunities is necessary sometimes it can take a much greater toll on your body than you will ever expect.
You know as I get older, I appreciate things more like watching the sunset till the stars come out, falling asleep on the beach, and waking up whenever I’d like too and without the “Go! Go! Go!” mindset. Maybe it’s because of Hawaii, or all the shave ice I ate, the fact I’ve still got sand in places it shouldn’t be, or maybe it’s the Aloha Spirit but either way I am so blessed I was able to have such a carefree experience at the very new and unknown cusp of my adulthood! More Please!
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