We had the awesome opportunity to visit Oahu for a week for our honeymoon. While we got in plenty of relaxation–a must after the busyness of planning a wedding–we also managed to squeeze in lots of adventure.
Where We Stayed
We stayed in a condo owned by family friends on the western shore of Oahu, near Honokai Hale. We loved this location, because it was away from the hustle and bustle of Honolulu and Waikiki in a quiet, peaceful area–but it was also just 40 minutes out of Honolulu and about a half hour from the North Shore. We liked having a kitchen to make breakfast (and an occasional dinner in) AND a washer and dryer!
Where We Ate
There are LOTS of yummy places to eat on Oahu. We didn’t eat out a lot, since we did have the luxury of a kitchen (and we like to cook!) plus a somewhat active itinerary. But we did hit a few spots worth mentioning.
Teddy’s Bigger Burgers
Teddy’s Bigger Burgers was the first thing we did when we arrived in Honolulu after leaving the airport. We were starving, and the restaurant came recommended to us. We were NOT disappointed. They really are bigger, and stacked tall with fresh ingredients. We both had ours with pineapple and jalapeño–plus a side of delicious umami fries. It wasn’t just our hunger that made this place so good…we ended up hitting up another location later in the week for round two!
Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck
We were actually trying to go to a different food truck and somehow missed it, but then we found Giovanni’s and realized it was meant to be! We stopped at the location on Kamehameha Highway in Kahuku. Food trucks are everywhere on the island and actually stay in one place, just like a regular restaurant! We shared a plate of the lemon butter shrimp.
Matsumoto Shave Ice
We didn’t really understand why shave ice is such a big deal in Hawaii until we had some for ourselves. I thought it would be like a snow cone, but there’s definitely more to it than that! We had our first shave ice experience at Matsumoto’s in historic Haleiwa on the North Shore. Matsumoto’s is supposed to be a big deal…but we actually liked the ice better at Island Snow in Kailua, which also doubles as a sporting goods store. They are nowhere near each other, but if you find yourself on the southeastern shore of Oahu, definitely pay a visit to Island Snow.
What We Did
Oahu, especially the part of the island where we stayed, provided the perfect combination of rest and relaxation, with plenty of opportunity for sightseeing and exploring.
Touted as Hawaii’s “Complete Pineapple Experience,” Dole Plantation offers several activities, including the Pineapple Express, a two-mile train ride tour through the working plantation. We were told by some folks that the train wasn’t worth it, but we wanted to hear the story about pineapple pioneer James Drummond Dole. We did it and enjoyed it, but probably wouldn’t need to ride it again if we ever go back.
Polynesian Cultural Center
The Polynesian Cultural Center was low on our list of priorities. We received mixed reviews/recommendations on whether or not to visit, but we ended up with a pretty free afternoon and were in the area–plus we had American Express gift cards to spend–so we decided to check it out. We didn’t do any of the luau or dining options and chose to just explore the island villages, which we enjoyed and found both entertaining and educational. We capped off our visit with a delicious fresh coconut and shopping at the shops surrounding the center.
Green World Coffee Farm
The Carbajals love coffee, so naturally we had to check out Green World Coffee Farm on the North Shore. Green World has a small espresso bar with a wide variety of drink options, a great gift ship with so many coffee bean choices, and a fun coffee garden. Green World actually sells their beans through their website below, so if you’re in the mood for some real Hawaiian coffee, check it out!
We did several hikes during our week on Oahu, including Manoa Falls, a relatively easy 1.5 mile hike, although the trail can be muddy–and watch out for tree roots! This was a fun jungle-esque hike that ends at a gorgeous 150-foot waterfall.
The Lanikai Pillbox Hike (also known the Kaiwa Ridge Trail) was another secret gem on Oahu. Very picturesque, this intermediate hike is short but steep from the start of the trailhead. We just went to check out the first pillbox, but you can continue on the trail to explore a few more.
We also did these hikes:
- Historical Ruins. We hiked to the ruins of a historical site that was the former summer home of King Kamehameha III. Unfortunately, due to vandalism, this area is now permanently closed and requires a permit from the Division of Forestry and Wildlife and the State Historic Preservation Division. To help protect this historically and culturally significant structure, we’ve removed photos and information about this location from our blog.
- Olomana Ridge Trail. Read more about it here, and check out the video here.
- Diamond Head State Monument. Read more about it here.
Oahu was an amazing vacation and honeymoon spot for us. From snorkeling and beach wandering to hiking and eating to just driving around the island and experiencing Pearl Harbor, it was a week of memories.