Aloha! Ashley here! I just recently got back from Hawaii, and I wanted to share some of my favorite parts of the trip with you guys so if any of you go in the future, you'll have some tried and true recommendations! When I travel, I like to turn to people for endorsements rather than just using Yelp.
Hawaii is made up of multiple islands, but I only went to one: Oahu, which is home to Honolulu. I was there for 7 days, but I definitely could have used more to venture out to see other parts of the island, like the north shore, which is home to GIGANTIC monster waves in the winter. (Watch this) It was a 3 hour bus ride to get there from Waikiki (where I was staying) so I didn't have the time to go. Just another excuse to visit again! Anyway, here are some of my favorite things I DID get to do!
I never got into the world of hiking until last year when I did a couple in California. Even if you're not a hiker, you NEED to do at least one hike in Hawaii. I've never seen such breathtaking views anywhere else!
The Diamond Head Trail hike is not too long, but it is challenging. On top of regular hiking, there are also spiral staircases and super steep stairs you will encounter as well. Once you're at the top, enjoy the view of the ocean and the Honolulu skyline.
The first waterfall I've ever seen in real life! Ahh! This hike was probably the easiest physically of the four I did—but definitely the muddiest! My converse were pretty much ruined for the rest of the trip. Once you reach the top of the trail, you'll be rewarded by the view and sound of the waterfall. You can't swim in it, though (unless you want to get arrested).
This one was SO COOL! Look to your left on the way up and see endless ocean, and look to the right and see endless mountains! I remember hiking this and thinking, I have never seen so much green in my life! I did this the same day I went to Lanikai beach so I only had my flip flops on. I would not recommend this, but if you must, it's doable. I only fell once!
I saved the best (and hardest) for last. This hike is literally just steep stairs all the way up. The stairs are made up of what used to be a railroad track. This one is definitely not for the faint of heart. Looking backwards as you're climbing up those steep steps is scary! And at some points, there's nothing beneath those railroad track rungs, so, uhhh, you can fall between them! If you make it to the top alive, you will see the most incredible 360 degree view of the island. SO rewarding!
This is at the start of the trail. IT'S STEEPER THAN IT LOOKS! I had no idea what I was getting into. Also, this is an earlier iteration of our Girl Gang shredder which had a lock on it! And below, here I am at the top. I got way too sweaty to wear a shirt.
Obviously you gotta go here—it's a world famous beach! They even have these big rock structures in the water that stop waves from coming into a safe swimming area. You can also watch all the surfers, paddle boarders, and sailers out in the sea.
The clearest water on the island! This beach is much quieter and more secluded than Waikiki beach. Totally different vibe. There are also two big islands out in the sea that you can kayak or paddle board out to.
This felt like we were on a private beach! There were literally five other people there. It's in a super residential area, but not very far from Waikiki at all. It's so peaceful! You can swim out to a little island there as well and feel like you are a mermaid. Apparently, a lot of people take wedding photos here. I don't blame them.
If you like Asian food, you're in luck! I feel like there were more Asian spots than any other kind of food.
This place always has a line, and for good reason. They hand make their noodles and they are the most amazing texture—AND it's reasonably priced! So so so yummy. And it has 6,000 almost 5 star reviews on Yelp.
Kamitoku Ramen Lunch Wagon
BEST RAMEN I'VE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE! I recommend the beefy wild bowl, which is what a local I befriended recommended to me. I had to go back again and stop myself from going back more times because I kept craving it. It's in this really cool little courtyard of food trucks, which also all looked really good.
I don't care where you get it, but you have to get it. A Hawaiian staple! I got coconut and pineapple flavor with condensed milk and sweet beans—I know it sounds so strange but it was SO GOOD! There are stands all around Waikiki, which is where I got mine. But I hear that the north shore is home to the BEST shave ice.
Duke's is a bar and grill that is right on the beach. You can get extra AF tropical cocktails for $10 and regular drinks for less. They usually have live music from 4 to 6, so you can go grab a drink, hear some amazing acoustic guitar and ukulele, and watch the sunset! Nothing better.
Hawaii is a great spot for snorkeling, with its diverse fish population and reef. PLUS, you might just see a wild sea turtle! I went to Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve which is one of the most popular snorkeling spots. It was AMAZING!!! I've never seen so many fish in my life. It's so surreal to swim along peacefully with giant schools of fish. Bonus points if you or someone you're with has a GoPro.
I mean, come on, you're in Hawaii! It's time to get out of your comfort zone. I'm terrified of going deep into the ocean, BUT, I really wanted to face my fear. I took a private stand up paddle boarding (SUP) lesson through Big Wave Dave's and it was definitely worth the extra few bucks to get a one on one lesson for the special attention and peace of mind you'll get knowing someone is specifically watching you and will make sure you don't drown (you won't).
Watch Sunsets As Much As You Can
Seriously! Revolve your plans around them. Eat dinner or have drinks outdoors. Go swimming just as the sun sets. Watch from a rooftop. Watch alone. Watch with someone. You get the picture!
Look Out For Rainbows
Hawaii is famous for it's rainbows, and I got to see a few while I was there because there were a lot of little rain showers (which quickly passed) during the day. One of the most surreal moments was watching the sun set from the water and then turning around only to notice a GIGANTIC RAINBOW over the palm trees. So dreamy!
So there you have it! This is only a tiny tiny fraction of all the amazing things there are to do in Oahu. If you've been, leave a comment with any amazing recommendations you have that I missed!