Aloha! If you missed my first post regarding our latest Hawaiian vacation, click here. Today, I’m sharing all of the details about our stay in the Honolulu/Waikiki area. For those of you unfamiliar with Honolulu, it’s a very large city. Based on census data, Honolulu’s population is on par with San Francisco. It’s that big and crowded.
We left the North Shore on Wednesday for Honolulu. On our way to the city, we made a stop at Dole Plantation. Ryan visited Dole Plantation many years ago, and I had never been. If you’re looking for an educational experience, I encourage you to ride the train. It was very informative. I didn’t realize how dangerous harvesting pineapple could be. The plantation also offers the world’s largest maze and a botanical garden. Each of these activities can be purchased separately or as a package. I would grab a bowl or cone of Dole Whip before or after the activities. One serving is big enough to share, trust me. I also don’t recommend taking your sweet treat into the botanical garden unless you want to be attacked by bugs. I may have done this!
Another activity that we enjoyed was hiking Diamond Head. It’s not a difficult hike, but it isn’t easy either. The park opens at 6AM, and if you want to make it to the top to see the sunrise, you need to get there before 6:30AM. We got there shortly after it opened and used the flashlight on our phone. The first section of the trail is sidewalk. It eventually becomes rock, and you should watch your step. The worst part about this hike was all of the damn stairs towards the top! Once you complete all of the stairs and walk through the tunnels, you’ll enter a bunker. You can then climb out of the bunker to enjoy the magnificent views. The views really are amazing! Just some tips if you plan to complete this hike.
- Use the restroom before you start the hike
- Take advantage of the stops/views along the way
- The top will more than likely be super crowded
- The cost is $5 per car
- Arrive early or you’ll have to wait in line, because parking is limited
- Bring a water bottle with you
Even if history and war are not of interest to you, I highly recommend visiting Pearl Harbor. Like Dole Plantation, there are several activities to choose from. The USS Arizona Memorial is a must. I honestly can’t describe this one to you. Words don’t do it justice. I just can’t imagine the fear on that December day. I can only relate it to September 11th. Before and after your excursion to the memorial, there are several exhibits and memorials to see. They’ve actually got the original anchor on display. The anchor was found 200 feet way from the ship. That anchor is not light. That fact really put the force of these bombs and damage in perspective for me. We didn’t do everything, but we could have easily spent an entire day there. We’ll be back. Here are some tips.
- Reserve your spot online 60 days in advance. There is only $1.50 service fee
- Pay the $7.50 for the narrated tour
- Remember this is sacred ground and a memorial, be respectful
- Please note you have to take a boat to the memorial
- You have to leave your bags in the car or rent a locker
We decided to revisit The Kahala Hotel & Resort, which is located outside the city. It’s a beautiful resort with plenty of activities onsite like cycling and paddle boarding. We recommend booking one of the Dolphin Lanai rooms, which overlook the dolphins at the resort. You’ll get to see the dolphins swimming, performing tricks, and more. It’s really neat. They’ve also got turtles and a variety of fish. The pool is beside the beach, and both are wonderful. I really enjoy kayaking at this resort. This was our second time staying here, and I highly recommend it. One of my favorite things that we did this time was indulge ourselves at the spa. Olivia was my massage therapist and esthetician. That was one of the best experiences! All of the staff was very attentive, and it was a super relaxing way to conclude our vacation. The last thing I’ll say about this hotel is that it’s perfect if you don’t want to be directly in the city. I’m not a city girl, and honestly, nearly every city stresses me out. By staying at The Kahala, I can get to the city quickly and still feel relaxed.
Ryan and I love food, so vacation is our time to enjoy a variety of onolicious (tasty) dishes.
If you want really good Italian food, I highly recommend this place. Everything Ryan and I had was delicious. My meal actually got quite a bit of attention. I ordered the Parmesan Risotto, which they finish at your table. They bring out a huge cheese wheel that they pour your cooked risotto into. They then mix the cheese and risotto to create a rich flavor. I had no problem eating it all with my Strawberry Italian Soda. Ryan really enjoyed the lobster bisque. One of the best dinners we had on this trip for sure.
Ryan and I have previously had dinner at the Japengo in Maui. We actually prefer the one on Maui because of the atmosphere and location to the beach. This one doesn’t have a view, but it has nearly the same menu. I love the fried rice, and the Huli Huli Chicken is also very good. It’s a quiet restaurant, so please don’t bring young children here.
Plumeria Beach House
On both occasions, we’ve had breakfast at the Plumeria Beach House. Whether you choose the buffet or something off the menu, their breakfast is really good. I really like the pancakes and the Kalua Turkey Tostada. You also have a wonderful view of the ocean while you enjoy your meal. We’ve eaten lunch and dinner here, but I haven’t been as pleased with the options at those times. Ryan had the seafood buffet one night. It’s highly recommended, and he love it. Seafood isn’t my thing, so I wouldn’t bother for dinner.
Cattle Company Steakhouse in Pearl City
If you are looking for something closer to the airport, I would give Cattle Company Steakhouse a try. I would compare it to a LongHorn steakhouse but with Hawaiian flare. We split a steak with teriyaki sauce when we arrived. The food was really good, and parking wasn’t a hassle. Parking in Honolulu is expensive and quite a hassle.
There are a ton of other restaurants in the city, and a couple of others we’ve tried include Duke’s and Tommy Bahama. Both of those places have decent food and service. Ryan and I prefer the Duke’s on Maui. The view just can’t be beat! Another place to try for a quick lunch is Cheeseburger in Paradise. They have really good smoothies. I recommend searching for restaurants online and reviewing the menus before you go. Reservations are also a really good idea. If you’re looking for food you’d find on the mainland, like Cheesecake Factory, you’ll find those options too. Ryan and I personally prefer to avoid those options when vacationing.
We were so glad that we got to further explore Honolulu since we ran out of time on our previous visit. As noted in my previous post, I do prefer the North Shore. It’s more my style. I hope you found both of these posts helpful and enjoyed the photos. Check back in the next couple of weeks for generic tips when traveling to the islands. Mahalo!
Special thanks to my husband for making this one of the best birthdays ever!