Aloha! A week in Oahu? Where to go, what to see, where to eat? I tried my best to forego my beloved “type-A traveler” itinerary, and “let Hawaii happen.”
My husband and I spent a week in Oahu, in September of 2015. We spent the first five nights on the south western part of the island, at the Marriott Ko’Olina Beach Club. It’s located in the resort area of Ko’Olina, in Kapolei, HI. Besides the Marriott Vacation Club, Disney’s Aulani is also located here, along with Beach Villas Ko’Olina, and a Four Seasons.
As we planned to do quite a bit of exploring around the Oahu, and stay two nights in other areas, we rented a car. We had been warned that traffic is pretty horrendous, but luckily we only got caught during rush hour once.
Renting a car was a great decision, and made exploring Oahu quite convenient…especially since we wanted to check out local restaurants outside the resort areas.
We could have taken a direct flight from Las Vegas to Honolulu, but for the dates that we were travelling, we saved a significant amount of money by flying to Los Angeles via Southwest, and then taking Hawaiian Airlines to Honolulu.
I loved our Hawaiian Airlines experience, it was nice having a little row for two, and you felt the Aloha spirit as soon as you boarded the plane. I insisted on flying with them again on our upcoming Maui trip.
After picking up our rental car, we headed to our hotel, got our room, and pretty much passed out. I had been looking forward to an ocean view balcony, but we were given a ground level room, facing the pool. This turned out to be awesome, because it was extremely convenient to come and go without having to wait for elevators, and also because the lush landscaping gave us a lot of privacy, and felt like our own little garden. I will request a ground floor room if we stay here again in the future!
I had been pretty tense in the days leading up to this trip, so sticking my toes in the sand and then joining a guided meditation class as the sun came up was the most perfect way I could have fully immersed myself into vacation mode. The guided meditation was so relaxing I actually got the name of the program the instructor used and found it on YouTube. She dotted our hands with lavender and orange essential oils which really completed the experience.
After the class, I was in search of a good cup of coffee. I walked up the beach to a place I found on Yelp – Island Vintage Coffee. It was a nice little coffee shop in the resort’s marketplace – Ko’ Olina Station.I settled on an iced Island Latte with flavors of macadamia and coconut. I would pay a ridiculous amount of fictitious money to have one of those lattes in my hand as I write this, but alas I am drinking a sad cup of lukewarm coffee from my own kitchen. I picked up a couple of bagel sandwiches, and a fresh squeezed orange juice to take back to my husband for breakfast.
I chose a taro bagel for my own sandwich, and the color was magnificent. It was a really good sandwich – thick, crispy, bacon, perfectly cooked egg, avocado, tomato…my mouth is literally watering at the memory…and what gal doesn’t want to eat a bright purple bagel?? It came with some mixed greens in a delightful vinaigrette. We enjoyed our breakfast here so much that we ended up coming back a second day…something we never do while traveling! There are a couple of other locations around Oahu (and other Hawaiian Islands) — I would definitely recommend it.
After a little time in the pool, it was time for our first planned activity. We had lunch at Nico’s Pier 38, Once again, Yelp did not let me down. I do not eat a lot of seafood, but I thoroughly enjoyed my fish sandwich.
Try to get a table outside, it’s very busy and loud in the dining room, but outside you have a lovely view of the boats docked in the harbor. My favorite was called “Gutsy Lady.”
After a slice of passion fruit-mango cheesecake, we headed over to Pearl Harbor, and the USS Arizona Memorial.
The National Park Services hands out 1300 walk-in tickets a day, but I reserved a time several months in advance, for a very small convenience fee.
We walked around the visitor center before watching a short film, and taking a ferry to the USS Arizona Memorial. Flower petals swirled around in the water, as the oil from the sunken ship created rainbows on the water’s surface.
It was a very powerful and moving experience, not unlike seeing the monuments of Washington D.C., in person for the first time. My grandfather served in the Navy during WWII, on a submarine in the Aleutian Islands before he was medically discharged. It was sobering to think about as I read the names of those who lost their lives that day.
Some things in life just need to be experienced first hand, to understand the human emotion that comes along with them; I would place the USS Arizona Memorial on that list.
On the way back to the resort we stopped at Leonard’s Malasadamobile Wagon, located in the Waikele Shopping Center, just off H1. Malasadas are Portuguese donuts with delicious fillings. We ordered dobash (chocolate), haupia (coconut), and vanilla custard, all rolled in sugar, and one without filling, rolled in li hing powder –a salty, sour, sweet powder made from dried plum. Don’t worry if you need help with pronunciation – the employee who took my order was very friendly. The malasadas were very good, a little bit greasy…but it is a donut, and we were on vacation. The haupia was my favorite, while my husband preferred the vanilla custard.
We got back to the resort and headed for the beach, where we were treated to one of the most incredible sunsets I have ever experienced.
We finished a perfect day with Mai Tais and live music at Monkeypod Kitchen. If you plan on going here make sure to make a reservation because it was VERY busy. Honestly we were pretty under-whelmed with our food, but the atmosphere, live music, and our drinks were fantastic.
They use a house-made macadamia nut syrup for their Mai Tais, and they are topped with a honey-lilikoi foam that sets it apart from any other Mai Tai I’ve ever had. I would skip Monkeypod for dinner, and check it out for happy hour, or after-dinner drinks instead.
I hope you enjoyed this recount of our first day in Oahu! More Oahu adventures are coming up very soon!