Aloha is a Lifestyle: Our two night stay on Waikiki Beach
The only downside to an extended layover in Hawaii is that it’s so hard to leave it all behind after just three days. We spent our time on Oahu, the island which Honolulu is situated on. When you think about Hawaii your mind may turn to Maui or Kauai for the tropical resorts in movies (think Jurassic Park or Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and Instagram posts. But Honolulu and Oahu have as much to offer if you can’t make it to one of the other islands. Despite our short trip to this beautiful island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, we had an incredible time exploring its stunning landscapes, beaches, and crystal clear waters, as well as indulging in scrumptious food, from Hawaiian bbq to shrimp scampi from a food truck, fresh poke caught that day, and to die for malasadas (fried doughnuts filled with custard).
Follow along below for our Honolulu / Waikiki recommendations and check out our North Shore Hawaii post about food and beaches we loved along the way.
While we were stuffing our faces and enjoying the beautiful beaches we couldn’t stop talking about the people we had met along the way. “The friendliest people in the U.S.” is a bold statement, but quite possibly true. Wherever we went, whether it was our hotel, the small poké shop, Uber and Lyft drivers, everyone was incredibly friendly and welcoming.
Sharing is caring, right. So we’ve decided that as well as sharing our journey and thoughts of Honolulu and the island of Oahu, we are also going to share with you how much we spent and what we spent it on. That way you can get a better sense of how much a three day trip might cost you. However, we are excluding the cost of a flight from New York City, because we were able to get our one-way flights on credit card points. Read below to hear about some of the things we did, places we went, and the foods we ate.
There’s loads of taxis and Ubers around Honolulu, and what looked like a frequent and modern public bus system. If you do take Uber/Lyft to get around be sure to ask them for recommendations, despite reading blogs we only found out about Leonard’s Bakery and Ahi Assassins (poké) from our first Uber driver from the airport to our hotel. You’ll get to eat and see like the locals do this way.
Waikiki beach is Hawaii’s New York City (as stated by one of our Uber drivers). It’s main strip is filled with designer storefronts, tourist shops, and hotel + restaurant chains. To us this doesn’t feel anywhere remotely like New York City but it is interesting to experience these high fashion vibes on tiki torch lined streets next to one of the most beautiful beaches.
Most of our recommendations for this area have to do with food because there were so many great options! Here is a small list of great food options, which again we only found out from our hotel or Uber drivers.
Here you will find freshly baked malasadas. Don’t worry, I hadn’t heard of a malasada before either. They are basically fried doughnuts filled with a flavoured custard. We got malasadas filled with chocolate, guava, and passionfruit, as well as a plain cinnamon sugar coated doughnut ball.
This second floor poké shop is a hole in the wall with no seating but they have the freshest poké in town. Ask them what’s popular, you really can’t go wrong. They don’t offer seating but suggest going downstairs to the boba restaurant to get a drink and sit inside their air conditioning to enjoy your meal.
Hawaiian bbq, say no more. Think pulled pork nachos and sliders, and fresh lemonade.
The Pig and The Lady
A Vietnamese restaurant with really nice “pizza” and hot wings. Despite the great meal we had, walking the streets of Chinatown felt ghostly and a little dodgy.
Ala Moana Center
A huge mega Japanese inspired food court. There are tons of different restaurant kiosks to try from. They have a great bustling atmosphere and even a game system. You can purchase tokens to pay for food and prizes and possibly win more food and prizes.
Honolulu Cookie Co. - these famed cookies can be found all of Hawaii and make a great gift for friends and family back home. If you’re feeling peckish, then stop in for unlimited samples ;)
Foodland Farms (supermarket) - Our Uber driver told us that this supermarket uses his Uncle’s recipe for poké and it’s where all the locals would eat their poké to avoid tourist prices. We never got a chance to try this poké.
Enough about food...for now. Other things we did were to hike up Diamond Head. It’s best to do this hike in the morning before all the tours, but also importantly before the heat of the day sets in. Even in the morning the path was a bit crowded. The hike is mostly paved and toward the end there are some stairs. It’s not a difficult hike and shouldn’t take too long but remember to take water, sunscreen, and your camera for the views at the top. After you’ve climbed down, head to Cafe Morey’s for a light refreshment.
The Hawaii Army Museum in Fort Derussy Beach Park was a nice break from the heat. The museum is free and provides a lot of education on the history of Hawaii and its role in many wars over the years.
We didn’t have time to go to Pearl Harbour and its national museum, Halona Blowhole Lookout, Tantalus Lookout, or surfing in countless spots with rolling waves, but all are recommended if you have time.
We both love to travel but aren’t millionaires so staying on a budget is very important. Hawaii was the first stop of our three month adventure so we had to be pretty conscious of our spending so our wallets aren’t depleted by November. Like we said earlier, we used our credit card points to get us to Hawaii. This would have cost us around $350 each for a one way ticket. We can’t stress enough how important it is to get a good credit card that will give you points for spending your own money. We also booked our hotel through my credit card and received a $100 food credit towards the hotel restaurant. This was what we used for breakfast every morning.
Take a look at the graphs to see how much we spent on food, transportation and hotel for two people.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this post on our short stay on Waikiki Beach. Check out our post on the North Shore of Oahu. , both Kelly and Eoghan are eager to get back to this wonderful group of islands.