Hawaii Apr05


Related Posts

Share This



Our trip to Hawaii started with a flight delay due to the first, of what will be many, snowstorms. We had organized a last minute sunny trip to Hawaii and were glad to leave snowy Boston behind.


Day 1: We got into Oahu, picked up our convertible and drove top-down to our hotel - Outrigger Reef in Waikiki.


The hotel was great and we were even upgraded to a suite! They have free wi-fi, but they ‘forget’ to tell you to log on to their website (www.outrigger.com) to accept their terms (we figured that out on the tail end of the trip)

Every night, they have live Hawaiian music at the front bar. And they have fantastic (though very sweet) mixed drinks.
I got the Lava Flow – a combination of piña colada & strawberry daiquiri – yum!



We walked around Waikiki, taking in the sights and stumbled onto a small alcove off Lewers street with 5 food trucks – we found our first dinner stop!


Loco Moco is an island staple – rice, meat patty, gravy and fried egg with a side of macaroni salad. It was delicious!



After dinner, we walked on the beach. I wore a light jacket since it was only 70 degrees :) and ended our night with a drink at the hotel bar overlooking the ocean.


Day 2:  Since our flight was delayed by 1 day, we had to cut our time short on Oahu, thus the following day was jam-packed with sights.

First up: Pearl Harbor

The admission is free for the memorial, though you need to get tickets to board the other ships in the area. Also, crime is extremely high in Oahu, so there are signs not to leave any items in the car or trunk. However, Pearl Harbor also doesn’t let you bring in any bags (you can carry a camera), so they have a bag check which is $3.


After an informational video about the attack, you take a ferry to the memorial, which is built directly over the USS Arizona.

It’s amazing! You can still see the ship underwater, rusty but with tropical fish all over it.



 It is still leaking oil, but not at an alarming rate (per the guide)


After the memorial, we drove to the north shore along east coast to check out the beaches known for surfing and a place for lunch.

We found a hole-in-the-wall that served South Pacific food called: Fiji market. We ordered the chicken curry with rice and topped it with their complimentary condiments: mango chutney and pickled carrots (highly recommended). It was great!



Then we walked down the street to a food truck stop and picked up some shrimp from a ‘shrimp truck': Giovanni’s

I ordered a small shrimp scampi – wow was it garlicky and messy, but very tasty! Luckily there are water fountains to wash your hands at after you eat.




Look how happy I am eating my shrimp!

They also had a small fruit stand, which turned out to be VERY expensive, but the mango and pineapple were delicious.

On our way back to the car, we made some friends:

a toad


and a rooster – the official unofficial bird of Hawaii


We continued up along the north shore and stopped at various beaches, including Sunset Beach and Ekihua Beach

The waves were amazing, but apparently not large enough for the surfers





We returned to the hotel and went swimming at the beach adjacent to the hotel. We even saw a rare orange beached whale




Afterwards, we picked up some beers and hula girl tweezers (for me and my sisters) from the ABC store down the street and had some drinks on the balcony of our room.


The tweezers actually look (a little) like us!

ABC stores are amazing – they are upscale 7-11’s + a small CVS. They will become your favorite place for finding random things and snacks while in Hawaii.

We went down to the beach to watch one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen.


After sunset, we returned to the food trucks for dinner

I got a rotisserie chicken dinner (from a truck without a name) – which was very good and the sauces were great.



Kevin got fried dough filled with teriyaki chicken from A-Ge Pizza Domo - he liked it very much.



We continued our night at the Yard house, which is a chain restaurant that has a huge beer selection.

On our way back to the hotel, we decided to grab the other food staple of Hawaii:  Spam , so we headed to the nearest 7-11 for some Spam Musubi.

This is breaded and fried Spam, over rice, wrapped in nori (seaweed). The directions said to warm it in the microwave, so after 45 sec we tried it. Kevin liked the Spam, I liked rice & nori.




Day 3 started with an amazing breakfast at Eggs & things - a little pancake place down the street from the hotel. We got a TON of food (actually too much food):  macadamia nut pancakes, Hawaiian sweet bread french toast with mixed fruit jam, and home fries. They have 3 (!) different types of syrup – coconut, guava, maple. To coconut was soo good, but so sweet that  Kevin said “I can feel myself getting cavities”




We flew to the Big island later in the morning and were able to hop on an earlier flight. We flew Hawaiian air, which small airline that flies between the islands (as well as some international flights).

Since the flight is only 45 min, they just serve drinks, including this Passion-Orange nectar which was delicious!

When we arrived at the Kona airport, the first thing we noticed was the layout – open air! It barely has walls!! It was so refreshing to get off a stuffy airplane and walk into the fresh air.

We picked up our Jeep Wrangler and the woman helping us told us about the green sand beach on the island. Apparently there are only 4 such beaches in the world, but upon further research we found out its a 3 mile walk without shade one way, so we decided that it wasn’t going on the itinerary. 

We drove the 10 min drive to the King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel - which was pretty nice. The room had a side ocean view and overlooked the pool. 


We stopped at Original Thai for lunch. Kevin got the Pad Thai served “thai hot” (and indeed it was SPICY) and I got the Thai Lard Na (gravy noodles) which were just ok. The place was nice and a random customer liked my curly hair and told us that she was a ‘regular’ to Original Thai – she comes every year or so.



After lunch we drove across the island, along the Pepe’ekeo 4-mile Scenic drive, to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens

The gardens are privately owned and were started by a random older couple who bought the land in the 1970s. The couple landscaped the whole garden into a true oasis. 





 (hanging lobster claw)








 (made yet another friend)





 We even saw whales breaching off shore!

The gardens have a huge orchid collection




(this one looks like a hula girl!)

After the gardens, we back-tracked a bit on the scenic drive to do a very short walk – the Onomea Bay hike down to the water (just beware that the hike is downhill for 10 min, which means it’s uphill on the way back).


The hike brings you right to the waters edge, under multiple overhanging trees. It’s secluded, quiet and beautiful.

Afterwards, we stopped in Hilo at Cafe 100 for a snack: loco moco (again because it’s so good)!

That night we drove to the Mauna Kea Visitor Center - to watch the sunset and then do some star gazing

The website informs you to bring warm clothes as the temperature can drop up at 9,000 feet – listen to it! It was FREEZING! It got down to 40 degrees – and we were in shorts and a thin pull over. Despite being cold, the stars were mesmerizing.  There are volunteers at the visitor center that set up multiple telescopes to view the stars and planets. The moon was almost full and one telescope got you so close to the moon, you could see the craters indenting the surface! We were able to see Jupiter and had (unfortunately)  just missed Venus.

We decided that on our next trip back, we need to go during a new moon, when the spotlight of the moon doesn’t obscure the fainter light of the stars.

We returned to Kona and headed straight to Kona Brewing Co - they have great beer, delicious pizza and an amazing brownie sundae!







Day 4: The hotel had a buffet breakfast included with the room which was great – fresh fruit including papaya (!) and fried rice! Who doesn’t need fried rice at 8am??

After breakfast, we went to Mountain Thunder Coffee for a tour and a taste



There are the different phases of the coffee bean: initially covered with a red pulp (berry), then deshelled twice. Each berry contains 2 beans, but sometime there is only 1 coffee bean in the berry which becomes ‘peaberry’ coffee.


(I took this photo because hot dogs just don’t go with anything else listed and it completely confused me!)




(the sorter – it sorts the beans according to size)



This goose looked directly at me as I snapped his picture and I started laughing in the middle of the tour!

 After the tour, we headed to an ABC store to pick up provisions for the Super Bowl, which we watched in our hotel room. It was a great game!

The game was over at 5:30, perfect time to go to Manini’owali Beach for big waves and an AMAZING sunset. I didn’t venture into the water, but Kevin had an great time in the waves







Day 5: After breakfast at the hotel, we walked along the shore in Kona – they have a nice boardwalk with lots of little places to eat, drink and shop.

Then we started our drive across the island to the volcano

We had a pit-stop lunch overlooking the ocean and saw dolphins off shore


Volcano National Park

There are many trails to do at the park, but we opted for the Kilauea Iki Trail – which brings you down into the crater. I recommend going counterclockwise since it is an easier uphill on the way back. Don’t forget to bring lots of water and sunscreen as you literally walk through the middle of a crater (aka no shade)

The pale gray line in the photo below is actually the path through the crater. It was an amazing hike.







Walking on the rocks sounds like walking on broken glass!DSC_5183



We had a nighttime flight to Kauai that night, so we went back to Kona, had dinner at Humpys along the boardwalk and watched the sunset from their deck




Day 6: Kauai
We stayed at the Kauai Beach Resort just outside Lihue. It was ok. The room was ‘ocean view’ but really it was a view of the parking lot, the breakfast buffet was fine, nothing special and the bed was just a bit too soft. Also, they have a TON of roosters on the grounds and one was in a tree outside our room one morning and crowed for HOURS!

There is a beach at the hotel, but there are signs warning of Man of War jellyfish in the water, so swimming isn’t recommended.

We dropped our stuff off and drove to the north side of the island to Hanalei Bay.

The wind was fierce and Kevin lost his hat to it, and had to get in the water to retrieve it. Despite the wind, the water was warm and we had a nice swim playing with the waves




For lunch, we went to Hanalaei Taro & Juice Co  Taro & Poi


Kevin got shredded pork on poi (mashed taro) – weird purple color and strange sticky consistency (I wasn’t a fan).


He also got some pork tacos that were fine.


I opted for the Pork Lau Lau (pork wrapped in taro leaves and steamed) with rice and macaroni-taro salad served with a side of salmon lomi (similar to a salsa with salmon) – I didn’t like anything on this dish, though other customers were very happy with it.

We returned to hotel to shower and change before starting our drive of Waimea Canyon

Once again, we stopped at 7-11 for a Spam snack – this time with jalapeno!



Apparently Spam tastes terrible when you’re sober :)

Waimea Canyon is called the Grand Canyon of Hawaii. The road up the canyon snakes along the edge and has multiple lookouts. There are some parts that seem to be straight uphill and we even drove through the clouds.








At the second to last overlook, you arrive at the cliffs overlooking the ocean.



We drove down the canyon just in time to catch the sunset off Waimea pier.


Then we headed back to Lihue for some Mexican food and Kevin’s first Mai Tai


After dinner, I got Roasted Macadamia nut ice cream in waffle cone – it was so good. I can’t remember the last time I had ice cream in a waffle cone

The hotel had set up lounge chairs overlooking the ocean and we sat there for a while enjoying the sound of the water and the view of a crazy large, yellow moon (pictures don’t do it justice)


Day 7:  The following day, we went to the south shore to swim at Po’ipu Beach park.

5 minutes after we left the water, a Hawaiin monk seal came ashore to nap. Apparently they are in the water for months, then come to shore to rest for a few hours before heading out again.



 We found a random Thai food truck for lunch called Crazy Thai pad


The summer rolls were great – light, refreshing with a perfectly balanced peanut sauce.


The Pad Thai was just ok.


But the basil fried rice was wonderful.

That afternoon we went on a Safari helicopter tour. We did the Refuge Eco-Tour which is 90 min long including a stop over on Kauai Wildlife Refuge overlooking Olokele Canyon.










I made it 85 min before I puked – at least I had enough time to use the little plastic bags the pilot had warned us about :)

After landing and getting my bearings for a while, we went to dinner at Kalapaki Beach Hut - basically a burger shack with really good burgers



Day 8 was our last day on Kauai. There were so many things I wanted to do on this island, including zipl-lining and kayaking on the Na Pali Coast (but waters are too rough in the winter for kayaking – yet another reason to return to Hawaii).

However, one major thing we were able to do was hike the beginning of the Kalalau Trail to Hanakapi’ai Falls. 

This is an 8-mile, 4 hour round trip hike. Probably one of the most challenging hikes I’ve ever done.

Here are some tips for the hike: bring LOTS of water (at least 1 bottle/person), bring snacks/lunch, wear your bathing suit to swim at the falls, and grab a hiking stick at the start of the trail that other people leave for future hikers. Wear shoes that you don’t mind getting muddy – because they WILL get muddy.

The first 1/2 mile is straight uphill, then you wind your way along the cliffs of the Na Pali coast until you get to Hanakapi’ai Beach (2 miles in).

The dangerous waves and undertow, along with rocky shoreline make this a picturesque location, but not one for swimming. There is also an outhouse here but no places to fill up water bottles. (Also, you need to cross a large stream to get to the outhouse and to get to the 2nd part of the hike. This is where I slipped and soaked my shoe).



Kevin with his borrowed hiking stick in front of the breathing taking Na Pali CoastIMG_2830



Once you cross over the ‘stream’, you head inland towards Hanakoa Falls (2 miles). You pass a bamboo forest and many little (and some not-so-little) streams


At about the 3/4 mile mark, you have to cross another ‘stream/river’, this time the trail supplies a rope to guide you across, though we both found it much easier to not use it at all.

We continued into the valley, asking other hikers returning if we were close. And then we looked up and saw the falls in the distance.


A 1/2 mile later, we arrived at the falls. They are immense and beautiful. We ate sandwiches that we had picked up from Safeway and had some water.




Then we headed back.


I am dead tired in this picture, but I kept thinking to myself  “the last 1/2 mile is downhill” (I, too, have a borrowed walking stick)

Apparently I climbed 124 floors during that hike, a stat that I will probably never repeat.


As a reward, we stopped at Dolphin Market for an Ahi tuna roll in the car. Dolphin market is a restaurant with a fish market in back. The market sells fresh fish, poke and sushi rolls.






It was soo good! One of the best rolls I’ve ever had!

We started heading back to the hotel and stopped in Princeville at Kauai Best Shave Ice for dessert. It’s ‘shave’ ice not ‘shaved’ ice and comes in a plethora of flavors. We got cotton candy, pineapple, and mango – yum!


Back at the hotel, we relaxed for a while before going to Bobby V’s for dinner. The owners are from Boston and our waitress was from Malden (small world). The food was good, but the best part is that Bobby V’s is BYOB.




Day 9: We flew back to Oahu and took a shared shuttle from the airport (round trip $22/person).

We decided to stay at the Outrigger Reach hotel once again and were pleasantly surprised to get upgraded to an amazing ocean view room

We quickly changed into our bathing suits for one last swim in the warm Pacific waters.

Then a stop at ABC for refreshments and sunset on our balcony.



For our last dinner in Hawaii we started at Doraku for some ahi poke



And lomi lomi roll (again a make-shift salsa with salmon).  The mixture of rice, salsa, salmon and soy sauce was too strange for me.



I’m not too pleased about this being our last night in Hawaii

After the sushi amuse bouche, we went to Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin for Tonkatsu (breaded and fried cutlet) which is very famous in Japan.

This particular restaurant has 1 other location – Tokyo – and people rave about it. 

The menu is short and sweet and also has lots of pictures (very similar to menus in Japan). Also, their sake pours are VERY generous.


IMG_2869 IMG_2870


We started with fried calamari served with curry powder


I got the chicken tonkatsu – it was delicious – with just the right amount of fat and crisp breading to play well with the juicy dark meat chicken. The dish is served with shredded cabbage with a Japanese dressing that is a perfect acidic compliment to counteract all the fat in the dish.


Kevin opted for the Kurobuta pork loin Katsu, which is a super fatty fried pork loin. Apparently they only make 25 a day and it is high coveted.  We both thought it was too fatty and probably would have ordered the regular pork katsu instead.

However, his katsu was served with sesame seeds and pestle that he ground into a fine powder  to add to his sauce. Something special neither of us had ever seen.



 It was a perfect last dinner in Hawaii.


Day 10: Our last day started back again at Eggs n’ things for take-out breakfast- Macadamia nut pancakes and home fries. Just be aware that they only do take out from 6-7am (or so they told us).

We brought the food back to the hotel room and ate on balcony overlooking water.

We had a 3 hour layover at LAX, where I saw David Chang (!!!) – a famous chef (mostly known for Momofuku in NYC).

This was one of the best trips I’ve ever had. We will DEFINITELY be back!