After a long period of travel restrictions, my friends and I decided to go to Hawaii for Spring Break. We spent five nights and six days on the island of Oahu, vacationing in Waikiki, a district of Honolulu, located in the center of the south coast of Oahu. It’s a tourist spot with lots to see and do, and it’s even nicer with a view of the beach and town. Taking advice from those who have lived or been to Oahu, we compiled our recommendations and set off for an action-packed week in Hawaii.
Food and drink
Typical food and drink associations with “Hawaii” include poke, musubi, acai bowls, and piña colada – and we didn’t miss those. We enjoyed ahi poke at Ono Seafood, avocado eel roe musubi spam at Musubi Cafe IYASUME, a classic acai bowl at Sunrise Shack, and a pina colada served in a pineapple at Aloha Table. At Aloha Table, I also ordered loco moco, a Hawaiian dish consisting of a burger patty, fried egg, and gravy over rice. All the food we had was so fresh, flavorful and perfectly textured.
Leonard’s Bakery serves freshly baked Portuguese donuts with tasty failments; SKY Waikiki, a rooftop bar, overlooks a beautiful sunset accompanied by tasty nachos and poke cocktails; and Duke’s Waikiki presented us with live music, a cool ocean breeze, and rum cocktails. Shabuya at the Ala Moana Center is only $20 for an all-you-can-eat shabu-shabu, an affordable meal after spending all my money on souvenirs. At Dole Plantation, I tried the Dole Tropical Fresh Pineapple Soft Whip which helped me beat the heat. Overall, every dish, drink, and dessert was so well organized and complemented the sights, weather, and vibes of Hawaii.
For coffee lovers, Hawaii is the land of Kona, Ka’u and Maui coffee. As a coffee lover, I’ve tried americanos, lattes, and cold brews at several cafes. Stores such as Island Vintage Coffee, Kona Coffee Purveyors, Green World Coffee Farms, and Honolulu Coffee Experience Center used Kona coffee beans. Personally, Kona coffee is not something I would go out of my way to buy, but it was still excellent with its fruity, vibrant and subtle tart flavors. I particularly liked Green World Coffee Farms, located in the middle of the island near Dole Plantation. The farm has an open garden where visitors can see the coffee plants up close, and inside the store it offers pre-made coffee tastings. The farm also sells dozens of assorted single-origin to blended, whole, and ground coffee beans in small batches so you can try several without committing. All of the cafes we visited also had great pastry options, freshly made in the cafe.
The closest beach to our accommodation was Waikiki, a perfect beach for relaxing and surfing. We also made reservations to enjoy a few hours on an island on the east coast of Oahu called Secret Island at Kualoa Ranch, where many major movies such as “Jurassic Park”, “50 First Dates” and “Soul Surfer” have been shot. The island had plenty of beach activities, including canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding, and beach volleyball. With its beautiful view, the beach became our shooting spot which overloaded our galleries. We heard that North Shore was the place to go for snorkeling, so we explored Laniakea Beach, which we found better suited for relaxing on the sand and enjoying the waves. We then headed to Turtle Bay Resort, where we were able to snorkel. It was my first time, and it took me a little while to get used to only breathing through my mouth, but once I got used to it, life under the ocean was a whole new world. Seeing the tropical fish, corals and rocks so clearly underwater was an eye-opening experience.
Located on almost every corner of the city were the ABC stores, the best place to go to quickly buy basic necessities such as water, snacks and sunscreen. On the recommendation of a local, we also visited Don Quijote, a huge 24-hour Japanese discount store. Here I bought delicious Kona Coffee Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts – as well as the toasted coconut version – and they tasted absolutely amazing. Ala Moana, a neighborhood less than 10 minutes from Waikiki, is home to the Ala Moana Center, one of the largest open-air malls in the world. On Saturday, we visited the Aloha Stadium Market, where hundreds of vendors had set up shop all around the huge stadium. It was literally endless, and we probably checked 10% of the stores in an hour. I received a chicken skewer, as well as some souvenirs in memory of Hawaii.
We wanted to catch the sunset at Diamond Head, but it turns out the hike closes at 4pm. Instead, we rushed to China Walls, a ledge above the ocean, located southeast of Oahu. It was such a memorable scene – the music playing through my Bluetooth speakers blended in with the sound of waves and wind, and in the distance, surfers watched the sunset with their friends. The Mermaid Caves on the west side of the island also offered a nice view of the coast. Caves had formed from uniquely shaped holes on a huge rock platform, and some even dared to jump off the rock into the water to explore the caves. We did a few hikes throughout our stay: Maili Pillbox on the west coast for sunset, a 30 minute hike to a pink structure highlighted by golden hour, and the Lanikai Pillbox on the east coast for sunrise, a shorter but more slippery hike with views in all directions. Although it was cloudy at sunrise, we still caught glimpses of sunlight through the clouds alongside magical colors of teal and orange reflecting off the ocean. At Lanai Lookout, on the southeast tip of Oahu, we could see other Hawaiian islands in the distance, and there we saw a rainbow in the sky.
Our stay seemed just long enough to explore most of the island’s surroundings, but I wish we had more free time to relax in one place. I will definitely miss the warm weather, the wild chickens and the high quality seafood. Hawaii made me realize and rekindle my love for the beach and hiking. While I want to visit other Hawaiian islands, I would return to Oahu in a heartbeat to experience a lūʻau on Paradise Cove, take in the views of Hanauma Bay, and enjoy a piña colada while reading on the beach. My last undergrad spring break in Oahu went well. Mahalo, Hawaii!
Contact Eunkyo Jo at [email protected].