beach plans

It looks like our Europe plans this May are getting put on hold due to the unknown. We’ll hopefully go soon, but have decided it would be best to keep things simple with our trip this Spring! But why?? Well, Michael is graduating grad school then and who knows what sort of opportunities will come his way. We’re crossing our fingers for good ones! Also, we’ve been itching to move to a bigger space, which will most likely happen around graduation time, too. SO, our busy schedules have made us re-think and Hawaii is the answer. Almost positive.

With Europe, we would have wanted to stay much longer, which just isn’t in the cards right now. Hawaii, on the other hand, will allow us to have a shorter but still fulfilling little vacation. So this is where you guys come in! We will be going to Oahu and any tips, advice, or recommendations would be much appreciated! Accommodations, beaches, food, activities, hikes, you name it … we want to know!

OH – and I’m pretty sure the photo above isn’t from Hawaii, but it sure is beautiful, right?? I think it gets the point across, so oh well!

  1. bethany jane says:

    Look into Hotel Renew! It’s a beautifully designed little boutique hotel just a block (less actually) away from the beach. My husband and I loved it. It’s also on the very south end of Waikiki, which means it’s a little quieter, but you can still walk a few blocks and be where the night life is. It’s close to the zoo, and pretty close to the Diamond Head crater, which is a really great little hike, if you’re into that. It’s also close to our favorite place to eat there – South Shore Grill!!! It’s away from tourists, feels very local and fresh and is delicious! Look it up. Have fun planning! Nothing beats the anticipation of a trip… besides the trip itself.

  2. I would love to go to Europe but like you said I would love to take a longer time there then just a 4 or 5 night stay. I wish you all the fun in the sun in Hawaii!! I would much rather take a shorter and fulfilling vacation then to be rushing all over the place!

  3. Ashley Fine says:

    I’m so excited that you’re going to visit Hawaii. My husband is in the Air Force and we actually live on Oahu. As Bethany mentioned, the Hotel Renew is gorgeous and not as touristy as some of the other places. Of course, sometimes it’s fun to partake in just a little bit of cheesy touristy stuff:) When in Hawaii, right?! I would definitely make a trip or two up to the North Shore; it’s really laid back. I would also make it a point to go to Boot’s & Kimo’s in Kailua. Their Mac Nut Pancakes are pretty spectacular. It’s best to get there early because the line gets long, but it’s definitely worth it! The sauce is to die for:) If I think of anything else, I’ll let you know!

    • bre says:

      Thank you so so much for the recs! We will probably want to do a few hikes, so I’ll make sure I look into all that you mentioned. :) And you’re right – nothing wrong with being a little cheesy + touristy. I kinda like it sprinkled in! Thank you again!!!!

  4. My family and I went to Maui a long time ago (was high school really that long ago? yikes, now I feel old!) and we did the Road to Hana one of the days we were there. I’m not sure exactly what Oahu has to offer, but definitely take a bread from the beaches one day to do some hiking in the rainforests/volcanoes while you’re there! Those are always the best opportunities for some gorgeous photography ;)

  5. Angel Y. says:

    How exciting! I had an amazing time on a trip almost two years ago to Kauaʻi and I loved every moment of it. The beaches are great and the lifestyle is so calm. Kauaʻi is one of the least commercialized of the islands so it was a true getaway. I’ve also heard lovely things about Oahu but all of the islands are amazing! What a great choice!

  6. Patti says:

    Sounds like a good change of plans! Wish I had tips for you, never been!

  7. Michelle says:

    I think you’re doing the right thing by saving Europe for when you have more time! There is so much to see and do and eat!

  8. Jade Sheldon says:

    I’ve actually never been to Hawaii. My parents went every year for 8 years… then I was born and they stopped going, haha! I was so gypped!

  9. Joana | myseastory says:

    The picture is from a beach on the south of portugal, you must keep it on the buckett list for your trip to europe!

  10. My husband and I lived on the North Shore of Oahu for a year and loved it. I’m listing my recommendations below. Sorry for the information overload! Have so much fun!
    FOOD BY CITIES
    Laie: Hukilau Cafe-from 50 first dates
    Kahuku: Kahuku Grill has the best coconut shrimp, burgers, fries and a delicious banana nut bread for dessert. One of our favorite spots.
    Inbetween: On the way to Haleiwa is Ted’s Bakery which has great pie’s. Impossible Pizza has amazing pizza that is so big it comes out of the box-they drive around the island in a food truck so you have to call and find out where they are.
    Haleiwa: Opal Thai-some of the best Thai food I’ve ever had, Matsumoto’s for shaved ice, Kua’Aina Hamburgers (get the avocado burger), Banzai Sushi, Waialua Bakery & Juice Bar has yummy cookies, drinks, and sandwiches.
    BEACHES:
    Ke Iki Beach-Kind of a hidden beach but you should be able to find it when you google it. Its quite and has lots of fun big waves.
    Sunset Beach-Great for Sunset
    Sharks Cove-Snorkeling
    Pounders Beach-If you like to boogie board
    Waimea Bay-Always busy but has a fun rock to jump off
    The Point in Laie-Beautiful view of the island … not really for swimming but a fun place for sunrise or a great view
    HIKES
    Mauna Willi-Actually outside of Koneohe but this is a great hike up to a waterfall with cliffs to jump off. Google it and you should be able to find it.

  11. Lisa says:

    ooohhh! welcome to our home! hawaii is a beautiful place to explore … and a perfect location to unwind. there are some beautiful hikes – some strenuous, some that are better called easy strolls – all will give you a different taste of this place. a few of our favorites (and these lean toward the strolls):
    *manoa valley falls (http://hawaiitrails.ehawaii.gov/trail.php?TrailID=OA+19+007) – lushly tropical hike – make sure you wear mosquito repellant!
    *diamond head (http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/hiking/oahu/index.cfm?hike_id=2) – it’ll give you a bird’s-eye-view of the waikiki area – go early to beat the heat!
    *makapu’u lighthouse trail (http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/hiking/oahu/index.cfm?hike_id=23) – it’s a paved trail – again, i suggest going early to beat the heat. keep you eyes peeled for humpback whales – they hang around through march/april and love to breach, play and spout off the makapu’u point
    *maunawili (http://www.everytrail.com/guide/maunawili-falls-trail) – a beautiful hike, a bit more rigorous but will lead you to gorgeous falls

    as for food … there are actually some great places in waikiki to eat, but i usually suggest some of the small mom & pop places off the tourist trail:
    *Pae Thai (http://www.yelp.com/biz/pae-thai-restaurant-honolulu) – our family fave for thai! love the yellow chx curry, the panang fish curry, the thai fried chx, the papaya salad … ooohh! i’m hungry now!
    * Himilayan Kitchen (http://www.yelp.com/biz/himalayan-kitchen-honolulu) – another great little place for good food and a fun experience
    * Ono Hawaiian Foods (http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/37/411690/restaurant/Hawaii/Kaimuki/Ono-Hawaiian-Foods-Honolulu) – truth be told, some people love hawaiian food and some, not so much. as a local girl, born and raised on it, hawaiian food is a staple for me, but i get that it’s not for everyone … but i do encourage all to at least try it!
    * Lulu’s (http://www.luluswaikiki.com/) – it’s typically american fare with a hawaiian flair, but the location can’t be beat – especially for a mid-week sunset and cocktails

    ahhhh …i could go on and on, but, well, basically i hope you enjoy your trip! hawaii is a magical place …

    aloha mai …

  12. Alli says:

    I was in Oahu last summer and it’s amazing! Waikiki Beach is beautiful and I would recommend a surf lesson. I was terrible at it but it was a really fun experience! Oahu is a great place to do it too because the water is extremely clear and it’s surprisingly shallow.

    You MUST go to Pearl Harbor and get a proper tour. It’s sad and leaves you speachless but it’s just incredible to see and experience. There is also a huge shopping market across from Waikiki Beach that has amazing jewelry and souvenirs for great prices. Plus make sure you go to an ABC store…they’re everywhere!

    Oahu was definitely my favorite island of the three we went to. You are goint to have an amazing time!!!

  13. bettina says:

    Hawaii is actually my dream ….. unfortunately it is so far away from Germany, where I live. I’ve noticed that Europe was actually your plan to visit. If you want to know more just let me know. There are many exciting places to explore. My favourite cities are Berlin, Paris, Zuerich and Stockholm. But my heart beats especially for Amsterdam! Small streets, design spots, great food and architecture, lot of bikes and fabulous canal cruises.

    But for now I hope you’ll have great vacations on Hawaii. Will be much more relaxing then a Europe city tour.

  14. Mae says:

    I actually live on Oahu! I could give you a ton of places to visit!

    If you like beaches, the best beaches in all of the Islands are on the east shore of Oahu: Kailua Beach and Lanikai Beach – which is the most gorgeous beach and the closest thing we have to Tahiti in the state. Sunset Beach and Pupukea beach on the north shore are best for watching sunsets. But Waimea Bay is also pretty epic for swimming. Just not sure about the surf this time of year. “Winter” is when the north shore surf is a bit rougher, so I’d advise trying to swim on the East Shore if that’s what you’re jonesing for.

    If you like hiking, you must try hiking Mariner’s Ridge or Kuliou‘ou trail in east Honolulu. They’re great and offer EPIC views of the turquoise waters of the East Shore. Manoa Valley Falls hike is also a great one for beginners. Some of the trails in Oahu are pretty technical and harder for most basic recreational hikers. So bring good shoes and bug spray.

    Snorkeling are best at Lanikai and Hanauma Bay – Just be wary, parking at Hanauma is not the best and you will have to pay. It’s also a steep walk down a steep road, so you would want to pay to take the tram down.

    For shopping:
    Fighting Eel in Chinatown, Owens & 8th in Chinatown, The Butik, Bamboo Sky nearby – google for locations and Ward Warehouse is near all of those – a mini mall, but really interesting stuff. And a Korean Natural beauty and skincare store called The Face Shop is there right next door to The Honolulu Cookie Company – which is AMAZING. Waikiki is also pretty amazing for big name, big label and some local kine stuff. But the traffic and foot traffic isn’t always worth it.

    For Breakfast:
    Boots & Kimo’s as someone recommended above is good, but I think Cinnamon’s is better. Both are in Kailua town. There’s also Moena Cafe in Hawaii Kai. That’s great.

    All around fare:
    HANDS DOWN my favorite restaurant on the entire Island: Sweet Home Waimanalo Cafe in Waimanalo (east shore/Windward side). Their fish tacos are great, but if you’re a meat eater, their other menu items are amazing. You must try the vanilla mochi cake… epic. And their smoothies, especially the Peanut Butter Bellows… to die for. If you’re a shrimp eater, you may want to try Giovanni’s shrimp truck in Kahuku on the north shore. It’s a long kine hike from Honolulu, but it’ll be worth it. Their garlic shrimp tacos are apparently epic. (I don’t eat shrimp, but these are legendary.)

    Kona Brewing Company in Hawaii Kai also has some amazing fish tacos and a great selection of Hawaiian beer! One of my favorite places to unwind.

    Dessert:
    Matsumoto’s Shave Ice or Aoki’s Shave Ice on the north shore both serve legendary Shave Ice and will often have crowds lined up around both buildings for a taste of their local treat. It’s not snow cones we’re talking about here… there are delicious creams and fruits and tartes and gellies and syrups included in this stuff. You gotta try it!

    You can rent catamarans or a yacht by the hour with bottle service in Waikiki – a great experience and not too expensive. You can also do a sunset cruise in Waikiki for a minimal amount, but you’ll have to google that.

    For adventures:
    Head to Kailua town and visit Kailua Sailboat and Kayak rentals and rent a kayak and paddle around Kailua Bay and out to the two islands (called the Mokes) near Lanikai and Kailua beach. You can tour a flat island (called, creatively, Flat Island) and see a bunch of amazing birds and rock formations and get great views of Kailua Beach and the mountains surrounding it. I did this in September and it was FABULOUS.

    If you like history… well, go to Bishop Museum. You can learn all about Hawaiian history and explore some of the amazing artifacts found here. And of course, there is Iolani Palace, which is the only royal palace ever established in the US ever. Gorgeous place. Amazing tours just downtown with all the old royal outbuildings as well.

    Have fun! If you ever have qny questions about Oahu, please feel free to email me directly!

    Love + aloha,
    Mae Xx // thereafterish.com

  15. Mae says:

    I left a long ass amazing comment with advice on where to visit here in Oahu, but either it went into moderation without a confirmation screen, or it got lost. :(

  16. Mae says:

    Let’s try this again.

    I actually live on Oahu! I could give you a ton of places to visit!

    If you like beaches, the best beaches in all of the Islands are on the east shore of Oahu: Kailua Beach and Lanikai Beach – which is the most gorgeous beach and the closest thing we have to Tahiti in the state. Sunset Beach and Pupukea beach on the north shore are best for watching sunsets. But Waimea Bay is also pretty epic for swimming. Just not sure about the surf this time of year. “Winter” is when the north shore surf is a bit rougher, so I’d advise trying to swim on the East Shore if that’s what you’re jonesing for.

    If you like hiking, you must try hiking Mariner’s Ridge or Kuliou‘ou trail in east Honolulu. They’re great and offer EPIC views of the turquoise waters of the East Shore. Manoa Valley Falls hike is also a great one for beginners. Some of the trails in Oahu are pretty technical and harder for most basic recreational hikers. So bring good shoes and bug spray.

    Snorkeling are best at Lanikai and Hanauma Bay – Just be wary, parking at Hanauma is not the best and you will have to pay. It’s also a steep walk down a steep road, so you would want to pay to take the tram down.

    For shopping:
    Fighting Eel in Chinatown, Owens & 8th in Chinatown, The Butik, Bamboo Sky nearby – google for locations and Ward Warehouse is near all of those – a mini mall, but really interesting stuff. And a Korean Natural beauty and skincare store called The Face Shop is there right next door to The Honolulu Cookie Company – which is AMAZING. Waikiki is also pretty amazing for big name, big label and some local kine stuff. But the traffic and foot traffic isn’t always worth it.

    For Breakfast:
    Boots & Kimo’s as someone recommended above is good, but I think Cinnamon’s is better. Both are in Kailua town. There’s also Moena Cafe in Hawaii Kai. That’s great.

    All around fare:
    HANDS DOWN my favorite restaurant on the entire Island: Sweet Home Waimanalo Cafe in Waimanalo (east shore/Windward side). Their fish tacos are great, but if you’re a meat eater, their other menu items are amazing. You must try the vanilla mochi cake… epic. And their smoothies, especially the Peanut Butter Bellows… to die for. If you’re a shrimp eater, you may want to try Giovanni’s shrimp truck in Kahuku on the north shore. It’s a long kine hike from Honolulu, but it’ll be worth it. Their garlic shrimp tacos are apparently epic. (I don’t eat shrimp, but these are legendary.)

    Kona Brewing Company in Hawaii Kai also has some amazing fish tacos and a great selection of Hawaiian beer! One of my favorite places to unwind.

    Dessert:
    Matsumoto’s Shave Ice or Aoki’s Shave Ice on the north shore both serve legendary Shave Ice and will often have crowds lined up around both buildings for a taste of their local treat. It’s not snow cones we’re talking about here… there are delicious creams and fruits and tartes and gellies and syrups included in this stuff. You gotta try it!

    You can rent catamarans or a yacht by the hour with bottle service in Waikiki – a great experience and not too expensive. You can also do a sunset cruise in Waikiki for a minimal amount, but you’ll have to google that.

    For adventures:
    Head to Kailua town and visit Kailua Sailboat and Kayak rentals and rent a kayak and paddle around Kailua Bay and out to the two islands (called the Mokes) near Lanikai and Kailua beach. You can tour a flat island (called, creatively, Flat Island) and see a bunch of amazing birds and rock formations and get great views of Kailua Beach and the mountains surrounding it. I did this in September and it was FABULOUS.

    If you like history… well, go to Bishop Museum. You can learn all about Hawaiian history and explore some of the amazing artifacts found here. And of course, there is Iolani Palace, which is the only royal palace ever established in the US ever. Gorgeous place. Amazing tours just downtown with all the old royal outbuildings as well.

    Have fun! If you ever have qny questions about Oahu, please feel free to email me directly!

    Love + aloha,
    Mae Xx // thereafterish.com

  17. Kate says:

    Okay this one is an obvious one that probably all the guidebooks will tell you, but DO NOT miss Matsumoto’s Shave Ice on North Shore. I swear I would go back to Oahu JUST to go there, it’s that amazing! Get the green tea syrup with a snow cap! :)

  18. jade says:

    Which island are you going to? we just got back from a long two week trip to Maui and Oahu- great snorkeling, hiking, secluded beaches, long road trips, romantic sunsets… Hawaii really has everything. Hope you have a great time! If you need any specifics, let me know!

  19. Teri O says:

    Oh you have got such great advice! I am going to the north shore in May and cannot wait. I’ve been to all of the islands and without a doubt you picked the best one! Ironically my boyfriend has never been as he used to always go back to Minnesota to visit family every year! This was before we were together so the deal is I’m taking him to Hawaii and next vacation he’s taking me to Minneapolis!
    My only two cents would be to check out vrbo.com for vacation rentals. That is how I’ve gone every time and its always been a great experience. I’m not a big hotel/resort person, though. When you’re in Honolulu, check out the Royal Hawaiian. It’s stunning! Have a drink in the outdoor restaurant and then just stroll around. Last but not least, go to Ted’s (by Sunset beach), for coffee and baked goods Hawaiian style, the ride a bike through the bike paths to the beach and enjoy every second! Aloha and Mahalo.