Travel Tales: Hawaii

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For those of you who are new to my blog, welcome! My name is Hamy and I post blogs about fashion and lifestyle. For those of you who are frequent readers, thank you so much for supporting my blog by subscribing and liking my posts, I really appreciate it!

Long story short. I somehow ended up going to Oahu twice this year, within three months of each other. When I came back (both times), I started getting lots of questions for recommendations on what to do, where to eat, and where the best places to take pictures are in Oahu. So I thought to myself, why not compile everything into a blog post? So that’s exactly what we’re going to do. Here are my top activities to do, restaurants to check out, desserts to indulge in, and photographic hot spots in Honolulu, Hawaii.


Activities

Snorkeling: Hanauma Bay is a nature preserve that’s filled with beautiful marine life. About 400 species of fish are known to inhabit the bay, which makes it a very popular destination for tourists to go snorkeling. You can book tour packages that include snorkeling equipment rentals, or you can bring your own snorkeling gear for personal use. I do urge you to use sunscreen that is organic to preserve the bay to the best of our abilities. Hanauma suffers from overuse and tourists are urged to not harm or touch any of the marine life, including the coral that inhibits the bottom of the bay’s floor.

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Sailing: If you’re on the island of Oahu, chances are, you’re probably staying in the Waikiki area of Honolulu. On Waikiki beach, you can purchase tickets to go sailing and sightseeing. We bought tickets to go sailing in advance so that we could plan accordingly for our itinerary. It was such a fun experience to go sailing on the beach. You’re able to see all of Waikiki and our group even got to see a mother and baby whale up close!

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Shopping: Aloha Stadium Swap Meet is Hawaii’s largest flea market where the locals and smart tourists shop for the best deals in town. Open only during weekends, they have around 400 local merchants offering the best value on handmade items, art pieces, local snacks, and other souvenirs. This is sure to be your one-stop destination to find that special gift for everyone on your list.

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Swimming: Sure, Waikiki beach is the most popular in Honolulu. But it’s heavily populated by tourists and is polluted by the chemicals in sunscreen, making the water a bit murky. My friends Judy and Johnny who are locals to the area took my boyfriend and me to Kailua Beach. The sand was pure white and the water was turquoise blue– it literally looked like a postcard! If you’re looking to escape the tourist traps and swim freely in peace and serenity, consider checking out Kailua.

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Good Eats

Marukame Udon: There is a huge Japanese influence in Hawaii– especially in their cuisine. Marukame Udon is a famous noodle chain in Japan. They have locations all over, I’ve tried both the one in San Francisco and the one in Waikiki, both of which had the same amazing flavors. Marukame is a self-service restaurant, kind of like a cafeteria, that allows you to choose from a variety of different dishes including udon and various tempuras. I recommend getting the Nikutama Udon, sweet potato tempura and rolled eggs.

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Musubi Cafe Iyasume: I never had musubi before going to Hawaii, but I absolutely fell in love with this dish– I even tried making them myself for lunch when I got back to Minnesota! What is musubi? Musubi, or Spam musubi, is a popular snack and lunch food in Hawaii made with of a slice of grilled teriyaki Spam on top of rice, wrapped together with nori (seaweed wrap) and can be topped with things like rolled eggs, avocado or bacon. You can find them anywhere– from a local convenience store to a high-end Japanese restaurant. My favorite place to get them is Cafe Iyasume, there are many locations throughout Waikiki but all of them get really busy. Consider calling in and placing an order beforehand if you can. I recommend getting the ones with eggs, bacon, and avocado to get the full experience.

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Gen Korean BBQ House: If you eat meat and think you can eat a lot of it, go to Gen for all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ. Located in the Ala Moana mall, Gen Korean BBQ House is the perfect dinner option for hungry meat-eaters. I say dinner specifically because you will smell like meat for the rest of the day. I would avoid going until you know you can go home and shower immediately afterward. Dinner is $24.99 per person and offers a selection of 35 options. You get a limit of two hours to eat premium meats, seafood, and Korean side dishes. Pro tip: wear stretchy pants and ask your server to replace your grill plate often so you don’t end up burning your meat.

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Shirokiya Japan Village Walk: Also located in Ala Moana mall, Shirokiya Japan Village Walk offers tourists a unique dining experience. Shirokiya is reminiscent of old Kyoto and highlights traditional Japanese culture through cuisine and decor. There are endless rows of food, desserts, and drinks. There were so many different options, I definitely had a hard time choosing what I wanted to eat, but ended up getting ramen. I would recommend looping around the entire village to see your options and then make a decision.

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Desserts 

Island Vintage Shaved Ice: You’ve never truly tasted shaved ice until you’ve gone to Hawaii. I feel like (at least in Minnesota) shaved ice simply means crushed ice topped with artificial flavoring (also known as a sno-cone). At Island Vintage Shaved Ice, the crushed ice sits beautifully on top of a mountain of soft-served ice cream and is drenched with tropical-flavored syrups like passion fruit and guava. The shaved ice is also served with fresh fruit, popping boba, and soft mochi.

o-3.jpgUncle Tetsu: Uncle Tetsu’s is a bakery store that originally began in 1990 in Fukuoka, Japan. The bakery sells Japanese cheesecake as its signature dish. Yes, these are the jiggly cheesecakes you’ve probably seen in viral videos on Facebook and Buzzfeed. They’re just as fluffy and airy as you think they are! I opted to get just a single slice but I saw tons of people buying multiple full cakes to go.

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Leonard’s Bakery: Leonard’s Bakery is a local favorite for its malasadas (Portuguese donuts), bread, pastries & other sweets. The lines can be crazy and the parking lot is always full, but if you have time and are willing to wait— the malasadas are definitely worth it! They come in all different flavors including the original plain sugar, custard, macadamia nut, cinnamon sugar, Guava, passion fruit, and more. Another great plus is that their bakery is super Instagram friendly.

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Where to take photos

Diamond Head Lookout: Definitely a tourist trap since EVERYONE comes here, but they come for good reasons! The hike at Diamond Head is really easy, I’ve hiked with both young kids and elders and all of them were able to make it to the top so don’t worry if you’ve never hiked before. Once you get to the top, there is a lookout that you can climb through a fence to get to. The view is magnificent, as you can see from the photo below.

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Lucky Strike Social: Located inside of Ala Moana mall, Lucky Strike Social is a fun arcade loaded with games and more importantly, neon lights. My boyfriend photos of me with my iPhone XR and I think they’re super dope. We also played games here so not only do you get to have cool photos, but you’ll also have a fun night. You don’t have to pay to get in but you do have to pay for game cards if you’re planning to use the arcade. Prices are comparable to Dave and Busters if you’re familiar.

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Dole Plantation: The Dole Plantation is a bit further away from the Waikiki area so if you have a rental car, this is the perfect place to visit and take photos. There are many brightly colored plants and photo ops surrounding the plantation. You could even go take a tour via train or get a taste of their famous Dole Whip ice cream.

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Byodo-In Temple: This temple is a hidden gem in Honolulu. There’s a small fee to pay to enter the temple but as you can see from the photos below, it’s breathtaking. The temple feels secluded and is surrounded by nature. They also have a pond where they raise koi fish and two beautiful black swans. You can purchase food to feed the animals at their gift shop.

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That’s it for this post, friends! As always, thanks for reading. If you’re new here, please subscribe! You’ll get my blog posts sent directly to your email whenever they’re posted and will get first access to my content.

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