We were sad to leave Maui’s peaceful tranquility. Oahu is a more developed island than Maui and food is more reasonably priced. Normally, we wouldn’t go from peace and tranquility to a big city, but we met up with some good friends of ours who flew in to look at wedding venues on Oahu. When in Hawaii, island hopping is highly recommended to experience more during the trip.
We stayed in world-famous Waikiki, located on the Oahu’s south shore. Waikiki is like Miami, Venice Beach, and Ginza in a tropical climate. The strip that lines Waikiki Beach is dotted with high end stores and shopping malls, restaurants, hotels, and ABC stores. (The ABC Store is the one-stop shop for convenience and souvenir items.) Some notable spots to grab a bite to eat are Cinnamon’s for brunch, Musubi Cafe for quick snacks, Marukame Udon for delicious udon served Chipotle-style!
While walking down this strip, you’ll notice little alleys leading down to the beach. These alleys are lined with 8-10 foot tall surf boards. No, they’re not for renting. The locals “park” their boards here so that they don’t have to transport them back and forth.
A day trip to the North Shore
Just like Maui, the other regions of the island are so different from one another. The North Shore is more remote and not as developed. In other words, closer to what you imagine Hawaii to look like. We visited Turtle Bay Resort, one of the potential wedding venues on our friends’ list. When you visit Turtle Bay, you may think it’s grounds look familiar. That’s because several movies and tv shows have filmed on their property. Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, and Jurassic Park to name a few. Turtle Bay Resort is the northernmost point on Oahu. They have stunning shoreline views and unobstructed views of the sunset each day. Perfect north shore wedding venue, to be honest.
After leaving Turtle Bay, we passed through Haleiwa, a small, sleepy town with arguably, one of the best garlic shrimp food trucks (Giovanni’s) and shave ice (Matsumoto’s) in the area, on our way back to Honolulu. If you stop at Giovanni’s, don’t be deterred by the long wait or pesky flies and make sure you order the scampi. Don’t order the spicy unless you really like very spicy food. They actually warn you that they will not issue refunds if it’s too spicy! At Matsumoto’s, there will be a line there too, but it moves fairly quickly! I think this trip had the most lines we’ve ever waited on outside of Disney World.
Pearl Harbor Historic Sights
If it’s your first time on Oahu, the Pearl Harbor Historic Sights are a must. It’s important to know and understand the events that brought us to today. You can reserve a time slot online for $1.50 a person, or if you’re an early riser, pick up entry tickets for free. The audio tour ($7.50 a person) is narrated by Jamie Curtis, whose father lived through the events at Pearl Harbor, is an excellent way to learn more about the exhibits and sights. Your self-guided tour begins with a short movie, then you’re ushered on to a ferry that brings you to the USS Arizona Memorial.
Because of the volume of people there, you only get a few minutes to explore the USS Arizona Memorial, take it all in, and pay your respects. It’s a somber and sobering experience.
If you’re ambitious, you can purchase the $65 All-Access pass to all four of the Pearl Harbor Historic Sights that includes the USS Arizona, USS Battleship Missouri (“Big ‘Mo”), USS Bowfin, and the Pacific Aviation Museum. It’ll take all day to do all four, but after two, we were hungry and beat! All of the sights are on the Naval base, so complimentary shuttle service is provided for all guests. Also be advised, you can’t bring any bags (not even purses!) into any of the memorials. $3 locker rentals are provided on-site to keep your valuables safe!
There’s a lot of Asian influence on Hawaiian cuisine. At the Ala Moana Mall, there is an amazing Japanese food hall on the lower level near Nordstrom’s that transports you to Japan. Shirokiya Japan Village Walk is filled with rows and rows of food stalls that will make it impossible for you to make a simple decision of what to eat. We walked the entire hall before deciding on a burger and miso-glazed prime rib fries from Honolulu Burger Co and a bowl of ramen. There’s also a stall that makes delicious milk shakes from soy milk. Here’s hoping that they make their way out to NY someday soon!
Shop where the locals shop
Not far from Ala Moana mall is Don Quijote market. From the name, you’d think it was a Spanish market but when you step inside, it feels very Japanese. Not only will you find cheap souvenirs, but also many Japanese goods that you can’t find on the mainland. Stock up!