I flew 14 hours to Hawaii in May last year. It was my first time to the US and needless to say, I was excited as hell! My partner is from Oahu and he tries to go back every year - this time with me tagging along. We had only about 8 days there, and in between visiting his family and friends and doing all the touristy stuff, time was definitely not on our side! We have a trip coming up in October and I can't wait to explore more of this beautiful island.
Below is a list of some of the amazing things that I have done in Oahu. Luana!
1) Eat incredibly fresh and delicious Miso Poké at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel – This is the first dish I tried in Oahu, and since then, I had to have it every single day there. We have poke in Singapore, too, but whereas here in Singapore it is served with rice as a meal, it’s usually served as an appetizer in Hawaii. Trust me: if you have a chance to taste the real thing, it is 10x better. You can get it practically anywhere in Oahu - even at supermarkets - which makes it convenient to pack along to the beach or on a hike.
2) Hike down the steep and rocky trail to Makapu'u tide pools – The hike down was definitely no easy feat - especially for someone like me, who has phobia of heights - but I made it down in one piece anyway. While it is amazing to snorkel in crystal clear blue water and get up close to little sea creatures there, it is also extremely dangerous with the high tides and strong waves that could pull you into the ocean anytime. I can’t stress enough how important it is to look out for your safety. Don’t forget to wear proper hiking shoes with good grip; the rocks can get very slippery, especially on a wet day!
Tip: To get there, hike up the Makapu’u Lighthouse trail and at the second Whale Lookout Point, you will see a rocky trail leading down to the tide pools.
3) Enjoy the breathtaking view at Lanikai Pillboxes - This was my favorite hiking spot in Oahu! It was quick and relatively easy, and ended off with such an awesome view! I highly recommend this hike to everybody - both the young and old can do it!
Tips: Gloves might come in handy as you will definitely be doing some climbing uphill. Use the tree branches and fences along the way to pull you up!
We did tandem skydiving with http://www.skydivehawaii.com/
5) Shop til you drop at Waikele Premium Outlets – This is the only outlet store in Oahu. They have a good selection of stores with brands like Kate Spade, Calvin Klein and Coach, just to name a few. Kate Spade was having a 70% storewide sale when I was there and I literally went crazy in the shop – it was so hard to decide what to get when everything was so pretty and largely discounted! Calvin Klein is half the price of Singapore’s. Parking is easy and the best part – no crowd. I usually avoid sales because I cannot stand shops that are packed with people, so Waikele was just perfect for me!
6) Take a domestic flight to the island of Hawaii – Commonly called the Big Island, it is also home to the popular Big Island Candies which is one of the top favorite souvenir snacks among tourists. In less than an hour away from Oahu, you will be treated to the lush and green countryside of Hawaii.
7) Indulge in a plate of super rich and savory Loco Moco – This comfort dish invented by Café 100 in Hilo can be found in many restaurants island wide. It consists of steaming white rice, topped with a hamburger patty, a fried egg, and lots of brown gravy. Try this when you are looking for a big tasty meal – you won’t be disappointed!
8) Get the best snorkeling experience at Kapoho Tide Pools - The tide pools are located at a very unique location - right at the back of a residential area. To get in the water, you will have to step on slippery and sharp rocks, so take extra care and mind your feet. Once you get in, you will be greeted with more than 50 different species of sea creatures - truly an amazing experience! I have read many reviews commenting on how nice and warm the water is, but the water was freezing cold when I was there. It was quite impossible for me to stay in the water for too long. Also, some parts of the pool are very deep, so if you can’t swim very well, make sure you bring along some floaties like I did! Overall, this is the perfect place to relax and unwind, and definitely a must-go for people who love snorkeling! It might get quite confusing on the drive there - GPS is recommended!
Directions: From Pahoa, take Highway 132 east. Where Highway 137 intersects Highway 132, make a right turn. Right before mile marker 9, make a left turn onto Kapoho Kai Road. Continue driving straight ahead through this neighborhood until you reach a T in the road. Turn left and follow the sign that says "Reef Parking." There is a small parking lot (unpaved and rocky) fronting the Wai'opae Tidepools Marine Life Conservation District, a public access snorkeling area. Parking is $3 (this is not a park and the community maintains this parking area).
Source - www.to-hawaii.com/
9) Walk along the endless stretch of cooled lava to Kaimu Black Sand Beach - Kalapana used to be a fishing village before it was destroyed by the Kilauea volcano, which buried everything under 80 feet of lava. 20 years later, a small beach with fine, jet black sand was created by a lava flow - Mother Nature is amazing isn’t it?! In the recent years, locals and visitors have been bringing sprouted coconuts and planting them in an effort to restore the lost trees. I wish I had more time to explore this hidden gem, but the rain came pouring in and we had to make a dash for the shelter!
Tip: While on the lava rock, follow a path made of red rocks that will lead you right to the beach.
Directions: Drive Highway 130 or Highway 137 all the way to the end at Kalapana. Park at the parking lot near the Kalapana Village Café.
Source - www.to-hawaii.com/
Tips: Bring warm clothes as it is very cold at the summit, and even colder as night falls. It is advisable to drive with a 4x4 vehicle - like a jeep - as you will be driving on a gravel road, and it can get really steep.