If you follow me on Instagram (@laura_peruchi) you know that I was in Hawaii last week. I confess: I wasn’t even planning to share content about this trip, as I was focused on enjoying my well-deserved vacation. But some people asked if I would write about it and, as there were several requests, I decided to share. In the end, I think I have a lot of tips to share with you! I am not an expert in Hawaii – our friends who live in San Francisco, Ana and Leo, were scheduling their third trip there and invited us. We liked the idea and agreed. Since they were already knew the place, we didn’t worry much about the travel itinerary – much because we were going to enjoy, rest and have no commitment. I will share everything with topics, okay?
Flight, logistics, transfer
For those who don’t know, Hawaii is an American state. It is an isolated volcanic archipelago in the central Pacific. There are 6 main islands and Oahu is where is located Hawaii’s largest city and capital, Honolulu. That’s where we chose to stay. We had a week and traveled in four adults and two children (8 months and 3 years). It takes about 10-12 hours from New York to get there – we got two flights: one to San Francisco and one to Honolulu. We traveled with Alaska Airlines and the aircraft had no entertainment or meal included. Thiago and I do not check our bags – we only bring a carry-on each. Easy task when you think of a summer destination where you spend most of your day in a bathing suit. The time zone is 6 hours less than New York, which weighed heavily in the early days when we woke up at 5 am and were falling asleep at 9 pm. To help alleviate the effects of jet lag, I tried JetZone, homeopathic medicine that helps relieve jet lag symptoms such as headache, dizziness, etc. For sale at Whole Foods.
We booked a shuttle from Hawaii 123, through the website, two days earlier and when we arrived the van was already waiting for us. No need to pay upfront – we paid on arrival. The transfer cost us $ 51 for our group and they provided car seats for the kids – though it’s not mandatory to use in Hawaii.
We stayed in Waikiki, Honolulu’s main beach. First, we stayed at Ilikai, in a two-bedroom apartment with a living room and full kitchen (and cribs for the kids). There was no breakfast and the hotel provided towels and chairs. It also has a pool (one for children). The apartment was super spacious and convenient, but we didn’t like the location – we weren’t close to downtown Honolulu and we walked too far to the beach – a factor that you have to consider when you’re traveling with kids. And the daily rate was not cheap. A little frustrated, we checked out of the hotel and, as there would be no charge, we stayed there for two nights and looked for another location.
We then went to the Waikiki Resort Hotel, this time in separate rooms, but on the same floor. It was the best decision we made! We were just a few minutes walk from several restaurants and much closer to the beach. Our friends’ room was equipped with a minibar and microwave, as well as cribs for children. The hotel has a pool and also provides towels. Our daily rates included a breakfast buffet with eggs, bacon, pancakes, bagels, that traditional American breakfast.
Our meals there were very varied. One day we ate fast food at the hotel and one day we went to restaurants. I’ll talk about the ones I liked and recommend the most. PS: They are all in Honolulu, central Waikiki.
- OMG Mexican –Mexican restaurant with great prices. It has burritos, quesadillas, tacos, and bowls. Prices are between $ 10 and $ 15.
- Furasato –specializing in sushi. The location is not very large – but it is one of the most recommended according to our research. It serves special rolls and simple rolls. The 8 piece roll can cost from $ 8 to $ 20, depending on the ingredients. We ordered 3 rolls for me and Thiago and it was enough. Delicious, super fresh.
- Doraku – another wonderful sushi restaurant – I think I enjoyed this one more than Furasato! The price of the rolls follows the same average as the previous one and Ana and I shared three rolls, we ordered a special one and two basics. The boys got the yakisoba and it was wonderful.
- Leonard’s – it is a Portuguese bakery known for popularizing malasada. Fried dough, slightly crunchier and more chewy than a donut and no puncture, is well known in Hawaii. It has a version with and without filling.
- Hawaiian cookies – this chain has stores literally scattered all over downtown Waikiki. They have butter cookies with various flavors and the cool thing is that there is a sample area for you to try and decide which flavors to bring.
- ABC Stores – It is not a restaurant, but a convenience store chain with several addresses there and that saved us at various times, because they have many options of snacks and snacks (sushi, salad, cut fruits, sandwiches, etc).
Things to do
We spent many days in Waikiki, enjoying the beach, returning to the hotel, going out to eat. In fact, Waikiki has a lot of structure (showers and toilets). But we did some island tours – Oahu has a lot of activities and a lot of natural beauty. First of all, it is worth mentioning, since people asked me: the water of the beaches is delicious, it is not cold!
- Beaches – Thiago and I rented a car one day to visit some of the island’s beautiful beaches. The car rental came out for about $ 70 – click here to make your reservation. We got it early and returned at the end of the day. Our first stop was at Hanauma Bay, a wonderful bay. You need to arrive early – we get there around 8am – because if the parking lot is full (it costs $ 1) there is no way to visit it unless you go by bus or Uber. Access to the bay costs $7 and you need to watch a video of guidance, as it is an environmental heritage. It’s surreal, beautiful, has coral reefs and you can snorkel. I saw so many beautiful fish! I would spend a day there!
- Then we visited Makapuu Beach and I literally sighed when we spotted this beach. It’s so beautiful and has volcanic lava. Surreal. The landscape mixed with the mountains is a beautiful thing to see, not to mention the color of the water. From there we head to Waimanalo Beach, where we look for a place to eat. We ended up going on the Ono Steaks and Shrimp Shack – I warn you, this is a place that maybe you wouldn’t give anything, but the food is delicious. The beach here was also so blue, but we ended up not getting in the water. Our last stop, and where we also got in the water, was at Kailua Beach. With the exception of the more crowded Hanauma Bay, all the others had free and easy parking. In addition, the beaches have a structure such as showers and toilets.
- Pearl Harbor – Thiago was very interested in going there, so we requested an Uber (it wouldn’t be a good idea to rent a car because this is a program that only takes a few hours). Admission is free and you can even book in advance through the website. We got there early, got our ticket and went to watch an explanatory video of the attack (very interesting, by the way) and then we took a boat to the Arizona Memorial (where the Arizona ship is sunk). You can also get on a submarine by paying an extra $ 15 ticket. It’s very interesting, you get an audio guide.
- Ko Olina Oahu & Beach Lagoons – the lagoons are about 50 minutes from Waikiki (we rent a car) and consist of four “lakes” or “natural pools”. Each of the lagoons has a resort – including Disney’s; they are in a kind of private condominium. The beaches are not private, so resorts have to offer free public parking, but they offer the minimum: there are about 10-12 vacancies at each resort, so you have to arrive early! It also has a structure (toilets, showers) and Marriott’s Lagoon 3 even has chairs for the public. I recommend spending the day, but beware: bring an umbrella. Marriott’s restaurant is also very good, we loved the food.
Did you like my tips?
Laura Peruchi is a Brazilian blogger, author, and entrepreneur. She has lived in Manhattan with her husband since 2014. Since then, she has shared on her blog varied content about the Big Apple. From travel tips, including unusual things to do, shopping tips, etiquette, restaurants, and a lot more, her blog has become a reference in Portuguese (also available in English) for anyone planning a trip to New York City.