This post is LONG overdue since coming back from O’ahu (aka heaven)! I’ve been asked a million questions about where to eat on the Island and what to do (from you lucky ducks who have vacations planned to that dreamy island) I thought I would finally publish this blog post!
So first of all, that trip was EPIC. What a blast! Jillian, Mackenzie, Shay, Mindy, Tyler and Kaitlin and I all piled into a Westjet plane for 3 crazy fun-filled days of sun, sand, spa and sips on the beach. Not a MOMENT was wasted (Jilly sure knows how to put together an agenda)! Here is what we did, and just as important in the foodie world, what and where we ate!
DAY ONE: Honolulu
We started our day with a VERY early morning photo shoot on the beach. What a way to start a vacation …wait, I thought I got to sleep in? The lighting was perfect and we were all happy as clams despite the early rise. After frolicking on the beach like a bunch of gypsies playing dress-up (something you can only do on a girls-only trip lol) we ate breakfast at the iconic Moana Surfrider Beach House.
What a STUNNING white airy restaurant; it was like stepping back in time to a plantation style setting with the most gorgeous architecture. The windows were open with the fresh ocean air breeze flowing through the restaurant, it was such a perfect way to start our trip! I could simply move in.
We kicked off our day with the most delicious guava mimosas and split a few dishes among us. The omelet was amazing (you can choose your own fillings) and the breakfast wrap was out of this world but be warned, it’s VERY cheesy (I’m sure you could ask for less)! The Acai smoothie bowl was good but a bit sweet, I would suggest getting it without the honey. We then hit the beach and spent the afternoon lounging on the crazy comfy beach lounge chairs at the Moana Surfrider Hotel.
After a lazy day on the beach we decided to have lunch at one of the most highly recommended restaurants in O’ahu: Bills. The décor is really unique with a mid-century modern flair, and soon discovered that the reputation is well-deserved. Most of us ordered the Chopped Salad with Avocado and Haloumi and Lemon while others ordered the Shrimp Burger and Calamari. We divided and conquered with the drink menu, and agreed that there is NO wrong choice in this restaurant on any level! The Watermelon Spritz and Bloody Mary (complete with a huge handful of fresh cilantro) were both ON POINT. This is a must stop for any visit to O’ahu!
A casual afternoon of shopping followed by a second swim in the ocean left us feeling, well, hungry of course! We followed a recommendation to dine at House Without A Key, and were thrilled to discover that they had a live Hawaiian band playing, bringing this ocean-front restaurant to a whole new level. Most of us ordered the Steamed Onaga with Bok Choi, Rice & Ponzu Sauce upon the strong recommendation of our server, and were blown away! Mind you, the Purple Potato (Poi) Buns that hit the table when we sat down were soft, slightly sweet and completely perfect, and we all enjoyed the wine that we ordered with the meal (it was a Sauvignon Blanc called Craggy Range from Martinborough New Zealand). I would skip the appetizers as I found that they are a bit over-priced for what you get, but whatever you do, leave room for the Halekulani’s Coconut Cake which was light, fluffy and like a piece of heaven on a plate… dietitian’s orders! I’ll be dreaming about this one for a long time.
We were up with the birds (we may have even beat them out of bed, again, no sleeping in for this mama), and started the day grabbing a quick bite to eat in the VIP area of the hotel before heading out for our adventure-filled day. Holy cow Jilly you sure know how to make an agenda!
Wanting to grab something healthy and quick, we made a pit stop at Whole Foods to get us set up for the day. Of course, they have such a great selection! We loaded up on a combination of Vegan Breakfast Burritos, Tropical Garden Smoothies, Maui Kombucha (loved the Papaya Lime) and how can I forget, Mochi Ice Cream – best thing on EARTH, we gobbled them up in a blink of an eye (these are mini balls of ice cream wrapped in a layer of glutinous rice paper, all with different flavours…don’t knock it till you try it, I swear you’ll be addicted just as fast as we were!).
Jilly and I hadn’t been to Hanauma Bay since 1986, and were SO excited to see that it really hadn’t changed! Such a trip down memory lane, I can still remember that family trip and our granny rolling in the waves and giggling. Hanauma Bay is a protected area with the most incredible reef full of colourful tropical fish (that nibble at your toes as we discovered) and water so crystal clear that you don’t even need a snorkel. We lounged at the beach for a couple of hours and invested in the $2.50 two-way shuttle ride up and down the hill, which may have been the best money we spent on the entire trip!
Tried to go to Lanakai Beach, but there was no parking so we carried on to the Byodo-In Temple, which is a majestic Buddhist temple along the way, which is a really nice and peaceful stop.
We piled ourselves back in the minivan and carried on around the Island searching for a food truck or local restaurant. Let us say, don’t give up! You need to drive for what seems like eternity to be greeted by a never-ending line-up of the most incredible little food stops selling local seafood! We opted for one called the Shrimp Shack (one of Food Network’s “Unique Eats”…not the one pictured below) and proceeded to eat our weight in clam strips, popcorn shrimp, calamari along with the most incredible coconut shrimp the size of our faces dipped in house-made sweet guava chilli sauce. Yes, that actually happened, zero regrets.
- Macadamia Nut Farm. Very touristy, lots of nuts. duh.
- Hole in the Rock. Yes, just as it sounds, there’s a rock formation off the shore with a very cool HUGE hole in it. Worth the stop for a photo op, but be careful it’s a sharp drop!
- Sunset Beach. Such a great beach to hang out on, we drank fresh coconut water from a local selling them on the side of the road, swam (very close to shore, there’s a strong current and warning signs everywhere) and took pictures on the iconic 100 year-old palm tree that grows horizontal to the ground. It’s a great place to pack a picnic and chill out for a few hours.
- Haleiwa. This is such a cute little town on the North Shore, we all wished that we had more time to spend here! Highly recommend a stop. Kaitlin found the BEST shaved ice, with ice cream on the bottom with a POG (Passion Orange Guava) shaved ice topping at San Lorenzo.
- We also had an awesome soy latte at Island Vintage Coffee, and lest we forget Mahina, a boutique chain exclusive to Hawaii with adorable clothes at a steal. We didn’t have time to eat a full meal here, but Sprout Sandwich Shop, Killer Tacos and The Beet Box Café all came highly recommended.
We decided to go casual for dinner and ate at the restaurant Dukes next door to our hotel in Waikiki. Dukes is known for their fish tacos, and after ordering them it is clear to see why! The Cajun Fish Tacos were spicy but amazing, served with a healthy scoop of guacamole. If you can handle the heat, make sure you try their house-made hot sauce, it’s SO good! Jillian and Shay ordered the Steak Street Tacos, and made them meatless by substituting the steak with black beans which turned out to be so yummy and a great way to make them vegetarian! If you want an appetizer the nachos are killer. The drinks were a bit sweet so keep that in mind when you order, but this is a great place to have a laid-back lunch or dinner on the beach.
DAY 3: SPA DAY
We woke up super early and had a light breakfast (including miso soup which was actually an awesome way to start the day!) at the hotel VIP lounge and spent the morning chilling out in the cabanas on the beach: there may or may not have been a Pina Colada or two ordered…
We ate lunch on the beach and ordered veggie burgers and curry fries for everyone, which were both delicious!
We were all so lucky to get spa treatments during our stay at the Moana Surfrider Hotel, and left feeling relaxed after a series of much appreciated massages and salt scrubs. The view from the spa is epic, with a cool breeze coming through the open windows and a panoramic ocean view as far as the eye can see.
We ate a relaxing and very classy dinner at the Beach House restaurant at the hotel, ordering a number of different dishes off the menu. We recommend the Crab Cakes, Maui Onion Soup, Mushroom Risotto and the Beach Bim Bop. If you’re feeling indulgent and eat meat, one of the girls had the Short Rib Pappardelle and it was apparently incredible.
All I can say is…take me back! xo