hope everyone had a great Easter and got to spend time with their families and loved ones! Shad and I decided to use these extra holidays to set off to a new destination. We planned to go Hawaii for a while now, because you don’t need to spend a long time there, plus there’s so much to do to keep you on your feet! Last time I went to Hawaii was in ’13 with my mum and Grandma, and we visited a resort in Maui. This time, we spent a total of 5 days in Honolulu and 5 days in Maui. Shad and I headed to the main city of Honolulu so we could surround ourselves with crowds as well as explore the heart of Hawaii. We put together a little city guide of the amazing things you can do, see, and eat, whilst you’re there. Happy reading! xx
WHERE TO STAY
For our trip, we were so lucky to be hosted by the wonderful team at Alohilani Resort. Alohilani is a new boutique resort that had just undergone renovations early-late last year and have completely transformed themselves into #AlohaChic. From the moment you arrive at the entrance, you are greeted with high ceilings, open space and even your very own aquarium in the lobby! The hotel is painted with neutral brown tones that make you feel very tranquil and at home.
We were checked in to a beautiful room that looks to the iconic Diamond Head Crater and the famous beaches of Honolulu. The room was bright and very resort-like, and I loved the idea of not having a single dark colour in sight! The bed was a massive king size, and the linen was so comfortable I wanted to fall asleep straight away. However, we had more things to explore!
What I really wanted to check out was the Swell Pool and Bar which had only finished renovating in December. The pool was an amazing infinity pool with views of the ocean, perfect for sunrises and sunsets! The Swell Bar at night transforms into the perfect night out, with comfy cabanas and table fireplaces that light up the night. A lot of guests head up there after a long day to relax with a Mai Tai or two, plus you can never go wrong with live music being offered every night!
The only negative thing I would have to say about this hotel is that it is still fairly new, so the amenities are still being developed. For example, the hotel has no room service, although you can order from the lobby and take the food upstairs. They also lack slippers and robes, which I found to be quite disappointing. Furthermore, they are still undergoing renovations to the front of the hotel, which can be noisy and disrupt your stay. But overall, I had a fantastic time and would definitely consider going back in the future!
WHAT TO EAT
What I didn’t realise but should have, is that Hawaii is known for their fish. Ahi and Mahi Mahi in particular are Hawaii’s most popular as they aren’t caught anywhere else in the world and is seen as the state’s pride. By day 4, I had been consuming my whole monthly recommended diet of fish, and was looking for a change of scenery. However, the good thing about Hawaii is that they cook their fish in many ways!
Because they love fresh ingredients, Ahi Poke is a great dish that all locals eat! Poke (pronounced Poh-keh) is a raw fish salad, usually accompanied by a home made sauce, and garnishes. The dish is super fresh and the flavours are amazing because it’s so simple. We usually had it just on it’s own with a side of tortilla chips, and it felt like we were in heaven. There is no particular place to get Ahi Poke, just about any Hawaiian restaurant will sell it. We had our first Ahi Poke at our hotel Swell Bar and it was delicious!
Being a girl that was raised in the land of brunches (Sydney), I crave a good avocado on toast here and there, but the chances of finding that in Hawaii are second to none. Enter Arvo Cafe, I had a feeling it was owned by Australians from the word Arvo (Arvo = Afternoon), and my suspicions were confirmed when I found they sold Vegemite toast and Avo toast (Avo = Avocado)! I’m always down for a good Avo toast, especially when they’re made brunch style. Arvo Cafe is a very small cafe, but has plenty of outside seating and has probably one of the best decor I’ve seen in Honolulu! Their juices taste amazing and I highly recommend visiting if you’re ever missing simple cafe food, because it tastes just like home!
Have you ever been to America if you haven’t eaten at a Cheesecake Factory? This restaurant chain is well known to tourists for their gigantic servings plus their 50+ flavours of cheesecakes. I would avoid going during weekend nights as it tends to be very crowded, Shad and I had to go back twice because the first time we couldn’t get any seats! Once walking in, it feels like you’ve just entered a maze. The Cheesecake Factory is huge – and that is no understatement, I almost got lost trying to remember where the bathroom was. There are about 500 items on the menu, which is a pain if you‘re someone like me who is very indecisive about what to order! I didn’t have high expectations but it honestly blew me away by how tasty everything was. The highlight was definitely the original cheesecake, it was heaven and not to mention extra large so I could grab it to go! Unfortunately we were so hungry I forgot to take a photo of my meal 🙁
OTHER NOTE WORTHY FOOD STOPS:
✢ HULA GRILL
✢ HEAVENLY ISLAND LIFESTYLE
✢ THE PIG AND THE LADY
WHAT TO DO
This was probably one of my favourite activities in the whole trip! The Kualoa Ranch is about 40 mins from central Waikiki, and is the filming location to many many films such as Jurassic Park, 50 First Dates and Jumanji – just to name a few. The ranch is 4000 acres and is a private nature reserve, with mountains and valleys painting the scenery. They offer a whole heap of activities to suit your mood, whether it be a walking movie spot tour or horse riding around the area. However, we were feeling a little adventurous and decided to not only one, but TWO activities throughout the day! The first was an ATV tour, which is similar to a quad bike. We got to ride for 2 hours across the ranch, stopping to take in the view and to learn about all the different movies that were filmed here as well as the history behind the place. It was definitely a thrilling adventure as it could get quite bumpy, but I enjoyed it so so much.
In the afternoon, we took a zipline tour. This 2.5 hour activity took us across 7 ziplines, 2 bridges, and a few nature trials. It looks scary at first because you’re so high up, but the guides make sure you’re safe and secure (they follow really strict safety rules), and all you need to do is scream your heart out when you glide across the ranch! It’s definitely not your average ziplining tour either, because the guides will spice things up and add challenges for every course you’re at, making the experience much more enjoyable. If you’re not up for any activities, simply visiting the ranch will be worth it too as there are plenty of photo opportunities – there is no cost to visit the site!
DOORS OFF HELICOPTER
Getting high up in the sky and seeing Hawaii’s amazing coastline is definitely a must when you visit the island! Some companies are even great enough to offer a doors off experience, meaning you literally feel the wind on your face as you soar over everyone. We booked with Novictor Helicopters who have been in the business for decades, specialising in door off tours. Our heli ride was 15 mins, and whilst some would like to enjoy more time, we found it the perfect amount and we got to see amazing sights such as the Diamond Head Crater and the crystal blue oceans. Our pilot was also very friendly and pointed out some sights for us! I definitely recommend taking a helicopter ride as it gives you a new perspective and shows you something you usually do not see. It was my first time and I absolutely would love to jump back on another.
HO’OMALUHIA NATIONAL PARK
Hawaii is known for it’s greenery, but nothing ever prepared me for visiting the Ho’omaluhia National Park. The name literally translates to “to make a place of peace and tranquility.” Think less national park and more rainforest oasis. Ho’omaluhia is a botanical garden that is open every single day of the year (except Christmas and New Year), absolutely free of charge! Visitors can explore on foot or on car, the lush green plants and go fishing in the ponds around the park. Heading to the gardens, there is a sense of calm that envelopes the place, the only noise you’ll ever hear are the occasional tire sounds of cars coming. The rest is the sound of nature at it’s finest. Ever since it has become a tourist hot spot, photos are frowned upon as some visitors put themselves at risk by standing on the road for too long, so make sure you do ask an employee for permission if you see them!
OTHER NOTE WORTHY DESTINATIONS:
✢ ROYAL HAWAIIAN
✢ HONOLULU OUTLETS
✢ SUNSET BEACH
✢ HONOLULU SHOPPING STRIP
I’m so glad I went to visit Honolulu this time. It’s not as crowded as everyone makes it out to be and there are so many amazing sights to see. I will be making a Maui guide soon for those that want to island hop, I highly recommend this as they are both really different. Do make sure to visit these places and trust me, your photos will turn out amazing!