Hello, folks – I’m still alive! This summer has been insanely busy – filled with work, travel, birthdays, weddings, outdoor activities, and… food. I think “bikini bod” was somewhere on my checklist this year… but, things happen. Things = food. Travel happens. Travel = food. Celebrations happen. Celebrations = food. And, well, next thing you know, your friend’s wedding in O’ahu happens. Yup, you guessed right. What better way to celebrate than with… food?
When the day came, I spent 12 hours on a plane with a totally illegal 30-min layover in LA to get to Honolulu. I have to say… the time difference really throws things off. The minute we walked into our hotel room in Waikiki, I basically passed out. ^^; Oops?
In all fairness, we woke up at the crack of dawn the next day to embark on two amazing hikes. Give me some credit here!
Before our day of activities, we made a quick stop. PRIORITIES…
Truth be told, you cannot spend any day in Hawaii without spam musubi. C’mon now…
The Diamond Head Trail was a very easy 1.5-hr round-trip hike with a great view of downtown Waikiki.
The heat makes it a bit harder to do, so make sure to slather on that sunscreen and wear plenty of protection from the harsh UV rays! Afterwards, we were still energized and decided to continue onto another hike. See?? We do physical activities (sometimes)! =P
This hike was our favorite! It’s not surprising that Jurassic Park and Jurassic World were filmed at this site. I mean, look at all that green shrubbery! We would not be surprised if a brachiasaurus actually appeared from behind the trees, seriously. Here, we had to be careful of slippery rocks and a bit of mud, but the overall hike was very easy, especially since all the plants provided cover from the sun. The best part was ending at Manoa Falls.
We then headed over to a highly recommended restaurant called Ono Hawaiian Foods. To clarify, there are two locations. One is a quick take-out spot that specializes in poké. I think the picture speaks for itself.
The other is located right across the street and is a no-frills sit-in restaurant. They’re known for a unique Hawaiian dish called Lau Lau, which is pork that has been steamed in banana leaves, eaten with various side accompaniments. I can’t say that I was a big fan of this, but it was simple and had a very tea-like flavor from the banana leaves.
We hung out at the beach in Waikiki, swimming in the clear waters and soaking in the sun. It was crowded, but we managed to find some space for our group. After, we headed over to our next food destination: Marukame Udon. This was my favorite restaurant from the entire trip. They make the udon right in front of you. The fresh noodles are the perfect amount of chewiness. There is also a buffet-style selection of sides and tempura to go with your entrée – definitely can’t go wrong there.
If we didn’t have a wedding to attend, we may have gotten carried away and just ordered seconds. =P Though… self control was not enough to keep us from squeezing in brunch at Cinnamon’s (with a moderate wait) for guava chiffon pancakes, kalua pork benedict and frittata before the wedding. =P
With a hearty brunch to start, we drove 1.5 hrs along the shore to get to Turtle Bay, the exact opposite side of O’ahu. It was far, but a very pleasant and scenic drive. The most refreshing part was escaping from the crowded, tourist-y areas and admiring the solitude and beauty of North Shore’s clean and bright turquoise beaches.
Our beautiful friend had an intimate wedding right by the beach. It was amazing to be outside with warm sunshine, cool breezes, open skies and endless greenery. When you’re in New York, this is such a rejuvenating break from the concrete jungle. Omg, what, fresh aiiirrrr?!
We were greeted with the cutest table and seat assignments:
Fun festivities followed with beloved friends and family as we celebrated the union of two incredible people for the night.
We spent a good part of the next day with the newlyweds, nursing our hangovers with Giovanni’s shrimp truck and loco moco from Rainbow Drive-In (not pictured). The scampi shrimp was the perfect cure! With time to spare, we stopped by the Dole Plantation, where we were welcomed into the arms of a full rainbow and their Dole Whip soft-serve. Needless to say, the sweet tooth got eager and received more than it asked for.
So… the one down-side of staying in North Shore is there are not as many places to eat, besides the food trucks. We found ourselves driving back to Waikiki to catch dinner and, not gonna lie… I kind of had that “double rainbow” moment. We were driving into its arches and I was completely awestruck by what we were seeing. I may… or may not have… asked my friend to pull over a couple of times to take some photos. 0:] But, really, how often do you see a FULL double rainbow?!?! The Hawaii license plate design is so accurate!
Yes, give me this moment. Please. Haha. Anyway, onward… we dined at Izakaya Naru with a fancily seared mackerel, gyoza pizza and many other Japanese tapas.
Along with spam musubi, no trip to Hawaii is complete without trying every shaved ice place we could find! Verdict: Waiola has the best ice and Matsumoto’s has the best syrups. If those two had a baby, it would be beautiful! …Dare I say it? …MORE beautiful than a full double rainbow! THERE, I SAID IT.
Overall, I would say this was a very successful trip if the additional pounds on my scale count as bonus points. Thanks for reading through this play-by-play story of our O’ahu trip and hope you’re able to make it out to this paradise soon. I’ll leave you with one more photo of Hawaii’s natural beauty and farewell with our family photo from the wedding.