This trip to Hawaii had been an amazing birthday surprise for me and believe me I had no idea! The preparation started months ago, Mr. F asked very casually something like, who would ever take this long flight to Hawaii? (kind of a stupid question don’t you agree?). My answer was: Why, yes! I would make a trip to Hawaii anytime, that’s for sure. And I didn’t waste another thought on this short conversation until my birthday arrived and soon later I found myself on the beach in Waikiki. I had an amazing time and wanted to share some pictures and sightseeing tips with you:
Things to do:
Truth be told I always have been a fan of Magnum PI. But I can assure you that my love for Hawaii didn’t start with Tom Selleck’s tight shorts. It has (also) been the beaches, nature, the ocean and the island life. My family gave me a flight with a replica of Magnum’s buddy T.C.’ helicopter to see Oahu with all its beauty from above and I had a blast. The same time I also had been scared to death, because this helicopter has no doors. At the beginning, I clung to a little handle until my fingers fell off. Soon later I realized this wouldn’t save my life anyways, I still held my breath in every curve. This was totally worth it, I had the most impressive panorama! No doors also mean no windows and a stunning view, which makes it perfect for photography and I took almost 300 pictures.
Tip for the photographer: It is extremely windy up there, don’t even think about changing your lens and set your camera on a very very high shutter speed.
Green World Coffee Farm
We stopped at Green World Coffee Farm on our island road trip. This is a plantation for Kona coffee and they roast their coffee on side. I love that the coffee is very fresh, strong and flavorful. They offer a lot of samples and their staff is happy to explain everything about coffee. You can choose between several kinds of coffee from 100% Kona to blends and flavored coffees and also some souvenirs. They also have a coffee bar with baked treats. You can check out the coffee plantation and sit down between the rows of coffee plants and sip a cuppa.
71-101 Kamehameha Hwy., Wahiawa, Hawaii
Further down the street, you can find the Dole Plantation. They offer tours and you can get lost in the maze if you like, but I was there for the famous pineapple ice cream and wasn’t disappointed. I ordered the pineapple whip float, this resembles a pineapple whip (nondairy, soft serve) floating on pineapple juice – that’s a whole meal. So good!
64-1550 Kamehameha Hwy., Wahiawa, Hawaii
As much as I love the beach and the ocean, my vacation feels like a waste of time, if I haven’t learned anything about the culture (this includes food) and people of my destination. The Bishop Museum with its comprehensive collection of Polynesian artifacts is well done, beautiful and very interesting, also great for rainy days and kids.
1525 Bernice Street, Honolulu, Hawaii
Polynesian Cultural Center
This is a theme park with an educational approach. You can learn about the Polynesian “family” which includes for example Maori, Rapa Nui Moai, Tahitians… It is separated in recreated villages showing arts, dances, and traditions. You get a timesheet with all shows at the entrance. The staff was very helpful in creating a schedule, so we got the most out of our visit. Fun for kids!
55-370 Kamehameha Hwy., Laie, Hawaii
I don’t get the opportunity too often to climb up a volcano. It hurts just a little bit less, getting up way too early due to the jet leg. But it’s vacation and it was freaking 6 am when we passed the gates to this state park. We wanted to get up before everyone else arrives, this didn’t exactly work out so well, everyone else had the same idea and was already there. It is a manageable hike up the volcano, but the heat and especially the humidity (it was very bad this day) can be challenging. Bring enough water and good shoes. The views are spectacular and it is totally worth it.
Round Top Drive, Tantalus Drive, Pu Ualakaa State Park
This is a round tour with a stunning outlook of Diamond Head, downtown Honolulu, and Punchbowl Crater. We took the Tantalus Drive to Round Top Drive, which leads you to Puu Ualakaa State Park (which is where the lookout is). The streets are curvy and there are plenty of pull-out spots for you to stop your car and take in the beautiful views of the island. It’s especially nice at sunset. Bring a picnic to enjoy in the Puu Ualakaa State Park.
Tantalus Drive to Round Top Drive & Puu Ualakaa State Park, 2760 Round Top Drive, Honolulu, Hawaii
This is the northern coastal area of Oahu between Kaʻena Point and Kahuku Point. The waves are a surfers’ dream especially in the winter months when they can reach the height of a house. It’s known as the surfing mecca of the world and many contests are held there, including the famous Triple Crown of Surfing Championships. Several diverse beaches are in this area like Laniakea Beach and I loved beach hopping with “pit stops” at the food trucks.
Take Kamehameha Hwy (83) along the coast, it’s a gorgeous scenic drive!
Turtle Beach / Laniakea Beach
You might get lucky finding turtles on one of Oahu’s beaches or you can just visit them at Laniakea Beach. Green sea turtles come to the shore to eat seaweed and to take sunbaths. I watched them for hours! For sure one of my favorite memories from this vacation. These turtles are protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act, so it is illegal to hunt, injure or even touch them. You might not see any turtles in winter due to the very high waves.
574, 61-574 Pohaku Loa Way, Haleiwa, Hawaii
Old Town Haleiwa
Haleiwa (hah-lay-EE-wah) is a surf village on the North Shore. It’s pedestrian friendly and very laid-back, a relief after the hustle of Waikiki. Great place for strolling through the shops, having dinner and some drinks. It’s about an hour drive from Waikiki (depending on the traffic) to this surfing capital of the world.
Kualoa Regional Park
A waterside park with a lawn great for a picnic. What makes this place so special are the ocean and mountain views.
49-479 Kamehameha Hwy, Kaneohe, Hawaii
Aloha Stadium Swap Meet
Last but not least on my list is the biggest flea market of Hawaii at the Aloha Stadium (home to the University of Hawaii Warriors football team). The stalls are surrounding the stadium and you can find souvenirs, nick-nack, garments (sarongs, Hawaii shirts, skirts, and dresses… ), fabrics and everything else. The Aloha Stadium Swap Meet takes place on three days a week (Wed, Sat, Sun), but might be closed due to University of Hawaii football games (check their website). The Aloha Stadium is just a short walk from the Arizona Memorial.
99-500 Salt Lake Blvd, Aiea, Hawaii
I hope you enjoyed my Best of Oahu list. You can find more photos on flickr!