Travel blog written by an average traveler that focuses on "real" experiences. Not quite budget, not quite luxury. Real.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Waikiki Beach (Oahu, HI): Hidden Gems

Travelers/Trip Type: My Husband And I
Method of Travel: Air
Would I Return: Plan On Being A Snowbird Here!

I must forewarn you, this first post is going to be exceptionally long due to my personal connection with this location (much, much, MUCH longer than my upcoming posts).  Here goes....It seems only fitting that I begin this blog with my absolute favorite place on earth: Waikiki Beach. Now hold on, I know what you must be thinking. You're about to click out of my blog because you are assuming that since I am the only person in the entire world who would rate Waikiki Beach as their favorite place that I have no taste and that my opinions shouldn't be taken seriously. Please give me a chance, I think I have a few valid points if you just hear me out. I am not saying that Waikiki Beach is the most beautiful beach in the world, there are clearly more beautiful beaches (I will name many in this blog alone). Nor is it the most relaxing beach seeing that it's a mere 100 feet from the hustle and bustle of the city and it certainly isn't the most user friendly beach having to literally fight for every square inch of sand to rest your towel on. With that said,  there's just something about this place that makes Waikiki Beach not only my favorite overall beach but my favorite overall place to be. Period.

Initially I thought that my loyalty to Waikiki was due to nostalgia. After all I spent four years of college at Chaminade University treking nearly a mile to the beach every weekend to swim, tan and people watch. It was also somewhere on this beach that my husband asked me for my hand in marriage. What can be more special than that? But after further contemplation I realized that my love affair with Waikiki began many years before. I first visited Waikiki my seventh grade year on a family trip and I will never forget seeing it for the first time. It's an image that is permanently etched in my mind. The connection between extreme natural beauty juxtaposed with the energy of a bustling city mesmerized me. Magical is the only way I can describe it. I vowed to myself that I would return one day and make it my home. My second visit was my sophomore year of high school when I convinced my mother to let me accompany a friend and her family on their vacation (I was invited). Even though we were staying at her grandma's house in Hawaii Kai we rode The Bus an hour each way to Waikiki Beach every single day of our vacation. Although much of that trip was a blur due to our overindulgence of various devices, it reconfirmed my love for Waikiki and I made a commitment to myself that I would attend college there in a few short years.

During those four years of college, every single time that I walked to the beach my heart literally skipped a beat the moment that I caught a glimpse of that sparkling blue water. The water twinkled, like it was greeting me with a pleasant "hello".  I never once took for granted living in absolute paradise. I stayed in the Pohaku dorm for two years and from my lanai I was able to view Diamond Head to my left, Waikiki Beach straight ahead and the Honolulu skyline to my right. You can't get a much better view than that at a college dorm! Now that I am no longer a resident, each subsequent visit results in the same thing: sheer anticipation to once again arrive in Waikiki. Every time I drive east towards Diamond Head on Kalakaua Ave and the hotels finally give way for my first view of Waikiki Beach I nearly swoon (below). It never disappoints!

So what is it about Waikiki that makes it so special? In my opinion it's because there's a certain energy there that can't be defined, it's like no other that I've ever experienced. I recently visited South Beach in Miami expecting it to be somewhat comparable to Waikiki because everyone I'd ever talked to said it was so vibrant and had a great energy. Ummm, no. No comparison at all. It was a complete and utter disappointment. Not saying it's not a cool place, but it does not compare favorably to Waikiki at all in that respect. Of course there are also physical factors that add to it's appeal (that other beaches lack). First of all I find it amazing that the beach is literally steps away from the city. Look at this picture: street, sidewalk, sand and then ocean. How cool is that? I find it amazing to swim out and then look back to see not only the Waikiki skyline but also a majestic "mountain" to the right (Diamond Head). It makes for a beautiful sight, especially since the beach is lined with beautiful palm trees and other foliage. It's also nice to be able to sunbathe without being bothered by beach vendors harrassing you. Nearly every other beach that I have been to (in the Caribbean) I've had to practically beat them off me with sticks. The beach (and Waikiki in general) is also an excellent spot for people watching. I can't tell you how many hours I spent in Waikiki just hanging out and watching all of the interesting people go about their day (or night). Compound all of these factors with the great nearby shopping venues, delicious food and drink options and the fact that it's easy to navigate and you've got the perfect scenario.  In addition, the beach is equally as attractive at night. The crowds pretty much disperse so it's a nice romantic spot to enjoy a sunset. Finally, you can round out your night by enjoying all of the free nightly entertainment along Kalakaua Ave. I still can't decide if I like Waikiki Beach better during the day or at night and I've spent a considerable amount of time there.

So what about the actual water? I find Waikiki to be one of my favorite places to swim. In the summer the waves are great in Waikiki (in the winter it's flat because the waves are all up at the North Shore)! The waves are big enough to have fun with and to play in but it's not too dangerous. I 've gotten "worked over" and nearly drown at several beaches on Oahu (Makapu'u and Sandy Beach) but I have always felt safe in Waikiki. The shorebreak isn't bad and the undertow is minor unlike the previously mentioned beaches. There are also numerous lifeguards mere feet away in case something does go awry (they also keep an eye out for sharks and jellyfish) and there are enough places with a sandy bottom (rather than coral) that you don't cut your feet up when you are "riding" the waves. And finally, there's something nice about the fact that this beautiful paradise is in our very own country. Other countries are fun to explore and I love learning all of the unique and varying cultures that accompany them but I am also fond of supporting our own economy and I do have to admit there's just something comforting about being on American soil (or sand in this case).

So now that I have possibly convinced you to abandon your immediate hop over to another island and to give Waikiki (and Oahu in general) a chance what should you do?  I've got a whole list. Ready? First things first, where should you stay? I have stayed at a variety of hotels throughout the years but have come to love one in particular.  My decision is based on several things but the most important factor is the location. I prefer to be right in the middle of Waikiki because it's nearest to what I want to do the most (my favorite swimming spot, shops and restaurants). If you stay down at the east end (closest to Diamond Head) then you are further away from the decent shops and restaurants. If you stay on the far west end (furthest from Diamond Head) then you are right in the heart of the restaurant scene but you have to walk a bit for shopping and the best swimming spot. I also try to balance the price with the amenities and I have found the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani (above - behind brown building) to be my favorite when taking all things into consideration. Starting with the perfect location your choices are the Sheraton Moana Surfrider, the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani and the Hyatt. Obviously they are all fantastic! The Sheraton Moana Surfrider is right on the beach but you have to fork over some serious dough to have a room with an ocean view. With that being said you still have to walk all through the hotel and down through the pool area to get to the beach so what's a few more steps crossing the street? But if I was willing to tack on an extra $1000 to my stay for an ocean view I would stay here. Unfortunately I'm not. The Hyatt is a beautiful hotel with an amazing pool area that overlooks Waikiki Beach. It's gorgeous but again you would have to pay a lot more to have a high floor ocean view. I love Hyatts in general because they always have the best locations and beautiful common areas, but they seem to lack in offering good amenities in their basic rooms (which most of the time is all that I can afford). They also aren't very kid friendly (which they have recently been taking great strides to change). With the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani you can get a high floor and an ocean view room for what you would pay for a low floor city view room at the other two. The rooms were comfortable (although not extravagant) with a fridge and a lanai (no microwave though). The lobby area is inviting and offers free nightly entertainment. Oh, and the ahi poke at the bar is FANTASTIC! The pool area is very relaxing, you don't even feel like you are only a few steps away from the heart of Waikiki. The noise level was surprisingly low for the pool being at ground level (unlike the majority of hotels that have their pools on their roof) and the drinks are super tasty! Also, the free pineapple in the lobby (during their pineapple cutting demos in the afternoon) is definately refreshing after spending all day in the hot sun. Finally, they make great efforts to share the Hawaiian culture with their guests which I find invigorating.

My favorite part of this hotel is that it's right across the street from where I cut through to get to my favorite swimming spot. There's a row of surfboards next to the Police Station and if you cut through them you will end up at the best spot on the beach to swim (in front of the Sheraton Moana Surfrider). The waves are great there and it seems to be the sandiest spot (I hate stepping on coral). There's also a lifeguard tower right there so I feel safe knowing there aren't any jellyfish or sharks nearby. The hotel is also located right next to the International Market Place which is fun to wander through. I don't recommend shopping there unless you can't make it to the Aloha Stadium for the flea market but if you weave through all of the booths you will eventualy find the food court which offers excellent international cuisine.

Across the street from the International Market Place is the Outrigger Waikiki where Duke's is located. If you eat nowhere else in Waikiki you must eat here. The fish tacos are amazing and the local fave (ahi poke) is awesome as well. If you don't want to hang around to eat (there's usually a wait because it's so popluar) then at least order a lava flow at the bar! It will truly be worth the ridiculous price tag. My other favorite place in Waikiki to eat is a breakfast joint called Eggs & Things at the corner of Saratoga and Kalakaua. It is amazing! I get the macadamia nut pancakes with guava and/or coconut syrup and it is to die for! My husband usually gets eggs and sausage b/c the Portuguese sausage you find in Hawaii is outstanding. On our last trip we arrived there at 6 am (because the time change was throwing us off so we were up at the crack of dawn) and there was already a crowd. They actually handed us a pager for our wait. I have to say it was the first time I've ever had to use a pager for breakfast! It wasn't a long wait but even if it had been it would have been worth it! It's a popular local spot so if you wait until the work crowd is gone you may fare better. Our personal favorite restaurant was Tony Roma's (for sentimental reasons) but it's not exclusive to Hawaii. However, if you've never eaten there get the original baby back ribs. They are better than any rib joint I've ever tried and I live in Kansas so I've tried my fair share of Kansas and Texas BBQ. The final spot in Waikiki that isn't to be missed is the Top of Waikiki restaurant. It's a revolving restaurant located in the heart of Waikiki. I usually find these types of places to be gimicky and overrated with horrible food but this one is actually worth going to. Make a reservation for around 6:30 and you will have a wonderful sunset dinner. The food is amazing and the view is spectacular. If you're willing to venture out from Waikiki head to either Sunset Grill at Restaurant Row or Big Island Steakhouse at Aloha Tower. There are so many other great restaurants located downtown and in other sections of town I just can't remember them off the top of my head. Sorry, at some point you will have to find your own hidden gems!

On Friday nights, head down towards the Hilton Hawaiian Village (or at least on the west end of Waikiki beach) to witness the aloha friday fireworks display. It is quite a showing considering they do it every friday night, and best of all it's free! The nightlife in Waikiki is also free and the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani is right in the heart of the action. If you walk either right or left from the hotel down Kalakaua Ave you will get to enjoy all of the various street performers. There are a few that have been there for more than a decade (like the blind man with the brief case and the painted guy) but they do change nightly so you never know who you are going to see. My favorites are the guy who is completely covered in newspaper and becomes a statue on his newspaper-covered-bench and the guy with the bulldog who has his very own pet mouse perched on his head (the dog's head). It's craziness! You may also get to witness some of Waikiki's "ladies of the night" which is quite interesting in itself to watch them out in full force mingling among the tourists.  I have not seen this in any other city. Usually they are in a completely different part of the city away from the tourists, or at least they aren't as obvious and easy to spot. All this said, you still feel safe walking around, mostly because everyone minds their own business and  no one haggles you or begs for money. The performers have tip jars (which you should use if you want to take pictures) but noone hassles you. There's a fair number of homeless people in Waikiki but they tend to stay down on the east end of the strip (by the zoo) and I have never had a problem with them bothering me, asking for money, or making me feel unsafe (and I walked around alone at night quite a bit during my college years).

Outside of Waikiki there are a number of fun things to do. The first thing you should do is CLIMB DIAMOND HEAD. You cannot go to Oahu and not climb Diamond Head, that would be preposterous! The hike may be a bit exhausting for some as there are over 100 steps in one spot but the reward is so worth the hike (see above)! And duh, it only costs $5 per car or $1 for each pedestrian to experience this amazing view. From Kalakaua head E toward the zoo. Once you reach the zoo most lanes turn left onto Kapahulu but you want to stay going straight. The road will split but you can go either direction because it loops around in a big circle and meets back up together, the prettiest route would be to keep right and eventually end up on Diamond Head Road. Once you get up the giant hill you will end up turning left to stay on Diamond Head Road and then will take another left to drive up into Diamond Head Crater. You may want to stop at the top of the hill to view all of the kite surfers and just the overall view. Caution, if you climb down there a portion of the beach is a nude beach. In addition if  you park on the pull-off before going through the tunnel into the crater you will have a nice view of Hawaii Kai (upscale neighborhood) and Koko Head in the distance  (former volcano like Diamond Head).


Another amazing hike that cannot be missed during your trip to Waikiki brings you to a completely different world, a lush Eden of sorts within arm's reach of the city. Drive west down Kalakaua (away from Diamond Head) until you reach Kapiolani Blvd. (Hard Rock is on the corner). Turn right and head E until you reach University Ave and then turn left. Head N on University, you will pass UH Manoa and it eventually turns into Oahu Ave. At a 4 way stop go straight and you will get to a crazy intersection that goes 5 different directions with a fork ahead of you. You want to go straight and to the right fork onto Manoa road. You will follow this to the end and will reach Manoa Falls (above). Pay the $5 to park in the secure parking lot rather than at the trail head because there are a lot of thefts in this area. You will be rewarded with a gentle but gorgeous hike through a tropical forest (including a bamboo forest) on the way to Manoa Falls. They don't allow you to swim there anymore because of falling rocks but it's still neat to see (especially considering the heart of Waikiki is literally only 10 minutes away)! I would also refrain from drinking the stream water as it may be contaminated.

If you enjoy animals there are several ways to integrate them into your trip (beyond the birds flocking your hotel lanai, your new pet gecko in your room and the late night/early morning cockroaches that you may or may not see). The Honolulu Zoo is at the far east end of Kalakaua Ave (continue straight right after it forks into Kapahulu and veer to your left). The Waikiki Aquarium is a little further down the road (need to veer right for this after it forks into Kapahulu). Both of these are half off with your local zoo membership card which is nice (if you have one). There is also Sea Life Park across from Makapu'u Beach (windward side of island). Or, if you are interested in seeing a couple dolphins and a big sea turtle for "free" just cruise over to the Kahala Mandarin Oriental (above). Drive like you're going to Diamond Head but instead of turning left at the top of the hill just continue going straight (Kahala Ave). This exclusive hotel is at the very end of the road (it's where many celebrities and The President stay when they are in town). I would suggest getting a drink at the Seaside Grill or eating dinner at Hoku's (make reservations) to complete your experience (you do have to tip the valet parking attendants but it doesn't require validations).
My absolute favorite thing to do in the Waikiki/Kaimuki/Kahala area is to travel local style, with a moped! I highly recommend renting one for at least a day (especially if you are travelling as a couple without kids). They are so much more fun than you would expect, trust me on this one! Mopeds really allow you to fully explore the area and to really feel like you are a part of it. The best place that I've found to rent from is Hawaiian Style Moped Rentals (2556 Lemon Road). You can even reserve one online for a reduced rate. I rent mine on a Saturday so that I can cruise up to Kapiolani Community College (right across from the entrance to Diamond Head) for the local farmers market (7:30 - 11am). They have so many yummy local foods and delicious fruits like apple bananas which you absolutely MUST try. I am particularly fond of the homemade popsicles in various tropical flavors (see right)! It makes for a perfect breakfast! Another neat drive is to check out all of the amazingly ridiculous homes in the Kahala area (on the way to the Kahala Mandarin Oriental). If you are ready for lunch you can also eat like a local by stopping at a few of the local drive-ins for some mixed plates. The Rainbow Drive-In on Kapahulu is popular, as is the St. Louis Drive-In on Waialae Ave. Our personal favorite lunch spot was L & L Drive on Waialae Ave (right across from Chaminade University). My husband's fave was orange chicken all fry and mine was chicken katsu two scoop rice. Order it just like that and you'll feel like a local. Continue up the road (E on Waialae) to Boston's Pizza if you want to eat the largest piece of pizza ever, it's another popular local spot (especially for college kids because it's so affordable). For dessert head back towards Waikiki on Kapahulu to Leonard's for the best damn "donuts" you've ever had in your life. They are actually called Malasadas, get a bunch of them or you will be making a trip back for more!

Another local style of transportation is The Bus. It's affordable, usually punctual and goes all over the island. There are quite a few buses that run in Waikiki extensively. The Ala Moana Shopping Center (which should be explored as well if you're a shopper because it's the world's largest outdoor mall) serves as the main hub for The Bus and it is here that you would normally make any bus transfers. Keep in mind that there are bus stops on the north and south side of the mall so you may have to walk through the mall depending on where you want to go. It seems like generally speaking if you were headed west then you would stop (or get on) on the south side and if you were heading east you would stop (or get on) on the north side of the mall. If you are interested in getting a REAL feel for the city and want to see how the locals reside then take the bus from Waikiki to the airport or vice versa. It meanders through downtown Honolulu and Chinatown (which can be pretty sketchy at times) so you get a good glimpse at real life but you are in the safety of the bus.

Another day trip would be to take advantage of the Aloha Stadium flea market and to explore  Pearl Harbor. I like to maximize my time and gas money so it makes sense to do these on the same day since they are right next to each other. The flea market is only open on Wed and Sat, 8 am to 3 pm and Sun 6:30 am to 3 pm. Take Ala Moana/Nimitz Highway or H1 West and  look for the USS Arizona/Stadium exit # 15A, then take the stadium exit. You have to pay to park (not sure how much) but in those books along the strip in Waikiki there are coupons for free parking, $1 admittance. There is much more variety at the flea market (versus the International Market Place) and you can barter more so it's a great place to do your shopping. I would recommend going early because it gets quite hot walking around the seemingly endless stadium. Fortunately there are vendors selling fresh fruit (the best damn pineapple you'll ever eat) and shave ice to cool you off. When you're done shopping head over to Pearl Harbor (which is the same exit from H1 but a different direction, just follow signs or ask when you leave the stadium). The visitor's center is open 7:30 am to 5:30 pm, with boat trips to the USS Arizona begining at 8 am and ending at 3 pm. There are no purses, backpacks, camera bags or anything else allowed in the visitor center. There is free admittance on the boat tour and the outdoor exhibits but the USS Missouri Battleship tour is $16 each. I have never done the Battleship tour but have heard it was pretty neat. The memorial itself is pretty eerie, it's obviously a powerful place to visit.

My final day trip would bring you around the entire island, or the "circle island tour" as I refer to it. Definately take your own car rather than booking a tour so that you can stop where you want to. I would begin my day (and I would make this an early day because there is A LOT to get done) by driving to Hanauma Bay for some early morning snorkeling. It's open 6 am to 6 pm, closed on Tuesdays ($1 to per car to park, $7.50 each to get in).You can either rent snorkel gear down at the beach or you can bring your own. Hanauma Bay is just off Kalanianaole Hwy (Route 72). To get to Kalanianaole Hwy head east on Kalakaua (towards Diamond Head). Instead of going straight, turn left onto Kapahulu Ave and follow it to the end. You will reach Waialae Ave and here you will turn right. Stay on Waialae the entire way as it turns into Kalanianaole Hwy. The first neighborhood you will go through is Kaimuki which hosts Chaminade University and is a pretty average (middle class) neighborhood for Honolulu (although one of these “average” homes here would cost over half a million dollars to purchase). Then you will go through Kahala and finally into Hawaii Kai. After some time you will go up a very large hill and the road will turn slightly to the left. Your turn (right) will be at the top of the hill into Haunama Bay National Park. If you want to see TONS of all different colored fish that come up right next to your hands then this is by far the best place to go on Oahu. You will definitely want an underwater camera! Even if you can’t swim well it’s easy to snorkel here because it is so shallow and the waves are broken by the reef. A helpful hint would be to remove your shiny jewelry though as the eels are attracted to shiny things. The last time we went they didn’t bother us but we have had problems in the past with them going after my ring…. I have included this in my circle island tour because it is already on that side of the island but you could easily make a day of it at Hanauma Bay alone or combine it with Sea Life Park which isn't too much farthur up the road. I guess it just depends on how much time you have and how much you want to relax.

If you continue on Kalanianaole Hwy your landscape will change considerably with really rocky shores and you will shortly come across a pull-off for the blowhole. The water spouts through the rocks and sprays up. It's a neat sight. If you look over the edges of the cliffs you will see some sandy beaches below, you may even get to see a sea turtle swimming nearby. We used to party a lot down on those beaches during college (particularly Cockroach Cove) and would see them all the time. Continuing on you will reach Sandy Beach (above top). The name speaks for itself as it is a beautiful beach. The waves are beautiful to watch but as I mentioned before this beach is very dangerous because of the shore break and strong undercurrents. You should not swim here if you aren't a strong swimmer, and even then please use caution. It is a popular spot for body boarding but many people are injured and even killed here (I'm pretty sure an ambulance is on standby here because everytime we are there we see one just sitting there). Continuing on you will come to another pull-off on the right side which gives you a good view of Makapu’u Beach and Rabbit Island (above bottom)  just off the beach. Then you will descend down a huge hill and will pass by Sea Life Park (I’m sure it’s great we just never wanted to spend the money on it while we were poor college students).

At this point you will head into some really “local” parts of Hawaii, like Waimanalo. The two beaches that I think are the most beautiful on Oahu are Waimanalo Beach (above) and Lani Kai (which is more off the beaten track near Kailua). On your left you will start to see some gorgeous mountains and the terrain will be quite different from where you started off (it is much more lush). Finally you will reach the end of this highway and you must make a decision as to which way you want to go. If you are tired and are wanting to head back then turn left and stay on highway 61 to go on the Pali Highway where you can take an exit for the Pali Lookout to get a great view of the valley. It is simply gorgeous and you should do this at some point during your trip anyways (as well as seeing the gorgeous H3). Be careful when leaving here and make sure you take the exit heading to Honolulu and not Kailua or you will be going the wrong way and won’t be able to correct yourself for quite a while. From the Pali Highway you will get onto H1 East and then take the Wailae exit and go back the way you originally came (if you get off before this exit by following the signs to Waikiki you will deal with more traffic, especially if it is rush hour). If you aren't ready to head back yet then turn left for just a bit (at the same spot) and turn right onto highway 83 ( Kamehameha Highway). You will follow this around a lot of the island and will see some gorgeous scenery.

At one point you will see a tiny triangular island off to your right, this is China Man’s Hat (above). On the other side of the road is a lush valley and is one of the spots where Jurassic Park was filmed (among many other movies). I think Lost was filmed up around here as well. If you are interested in the Polynesian Culture Center it's on this route also. It's a bit expensive but if you want to learn about the culture of all of the Polynesian Islands then it's great! It's definately an all day event though so you would want to make sure to plan accordingly. If shrimp is your thing then make sure you have room in your tummy to stop at the Kahuku shrimp truck just past Kahuku (you will pass Giovanni's and Romy's shrimp trucks first). The garlic scampi is the local fave but I prefer the coconut shrimp. It is to die for!
Continuing on you will eventually make it to the famous North Shore with Sunset Beach and Waimea Beach. Right before you get to Waimea Beach is Pupukea Beach Park which is filled with tidepools, it's strikingly beautiful and worth checking out. It is past Waimea beach where the famous Pipeline” is located but it's not advertised so you won’t know exactly where it is. If you see big waves and lots of cars then you are there. At sunset beach you can usually buy fruit out of a guy’s pickup and he will cut open a coconut for you and give you a straw to drink the milk. It's simply marvelous! Once you get to Haleiwa (which is a really neat little surf town) you will turn onto highway 99 to head back to Honolulu but I highly recommend checking out this fun little town first. There are two places in particular that you should visit (hopefully you've spent enough time at the beach that you're hungry again). The first is Kua' Aina Burger (corner of Auahi and Kamake'e streets)  which serves up some famously delicious burgers and some equally addicting french fries. It is THE spot on the island to eat burgers (there's also one at Ward Center in Honolulu). The second is this charming little artsy fartsy cafe that I accidentally discovered on my last visit. It's called Paradise Cafe and it's located in the rear of the Celestial Natural Foods Store near the end of the "main drag" in Haleiwa. Pick up a smoothie for your drive back and you won't be disappointed as it's made with fresh yummy ingredients. Now you're finally ready to head back.... The drive back is not as pretty but you will get to drive through pineapple fields and can even visit the Dole Plantation along the way. They have a pineapple maze that you can go through and have great things to eat. Keep going on 99 and then eventually onto H1 to take your Waialae exit back to Kapahulu and then Kuhio for your hotel. Again, if you follow the signs from H1 to get to Waikiki you will have much more traffic because those exits take you right downtown before funneling you into Waikiki. Taking the Waialae exit will get you back quicker, particularly during rush hour. One final driving tip: avoid the downtown area (and even H-1 for that matter) from 12-6 pm on Fridays as it's pretty much considered a holiday (Aloha Friday).

As I finally bring this ridiculously long blog to a close I will conclude with telling you about three popular spots among the locals to "get their crazy on". I am referring to cliff jumping but in my opinion you gotta be crazy to do it. My husband has jumped at all three spots but I would not jump at either of them unless my life literally depended on it. Even then I would probably pee my swimsuit. The first popular spot is the "Jump Rock" at Waimea Bay Beach up on the north shore. Apparently this jump is relatively safe with a nice sandy bottom, but I would still ask someone who has jumped before for tips. It's a popular spot so there will most likely be someone else up there jumping when you do. But beware of this beach in the winter as the shorebreak and currents are tremendous! The other two are located in Hawaii Kai (on the way to Haunama Bay). One is called China Walls and the other is called Spitting Cave (above). Of the two, China Walls would be the "most mild" because it isn't as high and you don't run the risk of getting sucked into an underwater sea cave if you don't time your jump just right. With that being said it can still be extremely dangerous and many have lost their lives here. The current is extremely strong and even if you choose not to jump you can still be killed if you aren't paying attention and and are swept away by a large wave at high tide. I would recommend just packing a lunch and having a picnic on the rocks (sunset is nice) and watching the experienced locals jump rather than risking your own life. I can't remember exactly how to get here but it's in the wealthy neighborhood of Portlock and the entrance is known as Koko Kai Mini Beach Park.  Make sure you park on Hanapepe Loop not Hanapepe Place as that cul de sac is a tow away zone. Nearby Spitting Cave is no joke, even the hike down can be dangerous. It's definately not for the faint of heart because it is so high up. It's a bit eerie because so many people have died there, in fact there's even a marker up there in rememberence of those who have perished. I remember reading an article in the local newspaper one time while I was living there about how they wanted to somehow close this public place because the locals were sick and tired of hearing the screams when someone didn't jump correctly and died. As you can expect, it's horrifying for the nearby residents. These three jumps are for strong swimmers and extreme adrenaline junkies only. I do not recommend any of these jumps, however it's neat to go and watch the experienced locals do their thing.

In closing, I think it's safe to say at this point that Oahu offers a lot, it's my favorite island for this very reason. You can find extreme adventures, wonderful hikes, stunning/relaxing beaches, a unique high energy all-in-one beach (Waikiki), great shopping, a thrilling nightlife and so much more! You can do pretty much anything you want somewhere on this island. Of course all of the Hawaiian islands are incredibly beautiful and offer many fun activities as well, but they are not as all-encompassing as Oahu is. Obviously this info doesn't sum up the whole of Oahu, but at some point I've got to bring this to a close. I'm sure there are many cool things that I've forgotten to mention and many more that I have yet to discover. If you have a question, please feel free to ask. If you have something to add, please feel free to comment (I will make many more trips to Oahu so any info is great). If you love to travel, then please join my blog so that we can begin this travel journey together! Aloha and mahalo for reading my da kine ramblings. I promise I am finally all pau. Lol. Please forgive my haole attempt at pidgen.


  1. Ridiculously detailed. Great post, great post indeed. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

    1. Thank you so much, I am glad that it was helpful.

  2. This just blew my mind. I literally lived this blog. From staying on exact same spot on beach, which is the perfect spot with hotel playing music in the backround, to my exact thoughts on Miami. Thank you for the read, I felt as if I had written it myself.

    1. Awww, thanks! I am SO ready to go back for a visit. Honolulu (Waikiki) will always have a piece of my heart!

  3. Thank you for all this information--I am helping my daughter plan a trip to Waikiki with her husband--they have never been there and this definitely helped.

    1. You are very welcome. I hope she has an amazing trip!

  4. We are about to head there next week and this has been the best blog with great detail that I found. Thank you for all your tips and expression of loving nature.