What can I say about Honolulu, Hawaii? So many things. I was born here and lived here my earliest years. Once we moved to California, I visited every summer. I feel like a native and this is my home. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth. And the ALOHA spirit is real.
Growing up, I was lucky to have grandparents who lived in Honolulu. I would visit each summer for weeks, soaking up the sun, hospitality, spirit and culture of the islands. To me it was home. Some of my favorite memories are food memories. Rainbow Drive-In’s lunch plate – beef, chicken and shrimp with a scoop of macaroni salad and 2 scoops of rice. A Hawaiian classic.
And Duke’s at the Outrigger Hotel on Waikiki Beach – ahi poke and their famous mud pie. A restaurant honoring the famous surfer, statesman and representative of the islands, Duke Kahanamoku.
There are many beautiful places to stay in Honolulu. We like to stay in Waikiki just for a few days to take in the full experience. And although we have tried many of the hotels, our favorite is the Sheraton Moana Surfrider – an old, Hawaiian-plantation style hotel right on Waikiki Beach. It has a quiet elegance and a sense of being back in time. Here is the view from our room in the tower.
Around the island of Oahu, one of our favorite activities is to visit the beach in Kailua – a vision of untouched beauty and not far too far from Waikiki.
Our kids especially love Hanauma Bay, now a Nature Reserve Park. A cove protected by coral reef, Hanauma Bay offers amazing snorkeling, warm water and gorgeous views. It is a must on any visit to Oahu, Hawaii but you must get there early. Admission is limited to protect the reef and attendance can sell out early.
Most visitors, including myself take a day to visit Pearl Harbor and the Memorial. It is a moving experience as you re-create what happened one morning almost 75 years ago. A boat ride takes you to visit the Memorial which has been built on top of the USS Arizona. It is difficult not to appreciate the sacrifice of the crew who gave up their lives and an important history lesson to children about the true devastations of war.
A trip to Honolulu for us would not be complete without a visit to Leonard’s Bakery, a Portuguese Bakery that has been a standout in Honolulu for many years. The classic item that is unbelievably delicious is the malasada or Portuguese donut.
There is so much more to Honolulu and the island of Oahu than I have touched on here. The North Shore. Local neighborhoods. Punchbowl. Makapuu. The Fish Market. Ala Moana. Sam Choy. Alan Wong. Mai Tais.
There will definitely be a follow-up to this Honolulu, Part 1 post. But, suffice to say – if you haven’t been there yet – GO. If you have, you know what I’m talking about and you can’t wait to go again. ME, TOO.