Hawaii
Hawaii Hawaii

 

Hawaii
Kualoa Ranch

Hawaii Hawaii

 

Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii Hawaii

 

Hawaii
Hawaii
Hanauma Bay

Hawaii Hawaii

 

Hawaii
Hawaii Hawaii

 

Hawaii
Hawaii Hawaii

 

Hawaii
Hawaii Hawaii

 

Hawaii Hawaii

 

Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii HawaiiGoofy Cafe

 


Hawaii Hawaii
Left: Koko Crater Arch

 

Hawaii
Hawaii

I don’t like going to the beach. I don’t like tanning or being in the sun too long with not too much to do, and I dislike it when beaches are crowded, which the ones I’ve been to often are. I also get restless and antsy when I have to wait for friends and family to finish having their fun at the beach. I just always feel like I could be doing something else rather than sitting under the sun. So, I never thought of myself as a beach person – or at least that’s what I thought!

My boyfriend, who has been going to Oahu in Hawaii every other year for vacation, planned an entire trip for us and three friends to get away from the cold. We stayed with his aunt and uncle who warmly welcomed us, like the way the Hawaiian sun felt on my skin when we arrived at the airport from chilly New York City. At first, I was really wary about going to Hawaii because, as I mentioned, I’m not a beach person. I also thought the weather in Hawaii was a bit nippy by my standards to enjoy the beach, but when we went to our first beach, my boyfriend kept encouraging me to go into the water. After being so reluctant, I went in and loved it after I got used to the water temperature! I regretted not going in sooner. The beaches we went to weren’t crowded, and for the first time in my life, I enjoyed the beach and taking naps under the sun… but with lots of sunscreen because I still don’t like to tan. Maybe the beach is something I’ve finally started to appreciate now that I’m older.

As a general rule when I go to someplace new, I try to eat a range of cheap eats to at least one meal from an upscale restaurant and everything in between to try everything a place has to offer. To celebrate the New Year, my boyfriend treated me to an upscale tapas restaurant in Oahu’s Chinatown, but we found that we much preferred the diverse, no-frills food that could be found all over Oahu at makeshift food stands, food trucks, and local mom-and-pop restaurants. Almost everyday, we had either an acai bowl or shaved ice to cool down when it felt too hot. We bought lots and lots of spam musubi to take the beach. And we loved the fresh poke and shrimp scampi plates that were unlike anything we could ever get in New York City. It just hit me that I probably had three cans worth of spam in just a week and a half at Oahu. A little horrified now that I realized that!

While in Oahu, besides going to the beach, shopping around, hiking, sightseeing, and eating so much food, I also did one thing that I thought I would never do in my life … I went skydiving! It feels like it never happened now that I’m back home in New York, but I have a video to always remind me of the exhilarating and terrifying moment of jumping off the little aircraft into the clouds and then seeing the world down below before me. A close friend told me that if you can skydive, you know you can overcome any fear. With that little piece of pep talk in the back of my mind, I forced myself to do it at the very last minute and am so happy I did! Props to our friend who insisted we all do it with her. What a way to start off the New Year.

I’m going to miss the dreamy sunsets, the flowering trees that had the brightest red flowers, the lush mountains, handwritten signs, shaved ice and acai bowls, and unexpectedly… the beaches! I will be back, Hawaii!

See + Do
  • Koko Crater Arch We did this short hike, and as a person with sadly no hiking experience whatsoever… I thought I was going to die climbing up this thing. Just kidding. It was scary at first, but getting up to the arch and successfully making it back down was really rewarding for me (and relieving)!
  • Skydive Hawaii One of the more crazier and exhilarating things I’ve ever done – if you’re going to do skydiving, do it at Hawaii where it has some of the most beautiful views from above.
  • Polynesian Cultural Center Probably the most touristy thing we did, but I think it’s essential to come here to learn about the Polynesian villages. I also think it’s one of the more beautifully done theme parks I’ve gone to, and the food here was delicious no matter what we got.
  • Kualoa Ranch Movies like Jurassic Park and 50 First Dates were filmed at Kualoa Ranch, and you can tour this place on single passenger or multi-passenger ATVs! It also gets really dusty as you tour, so that means unless you are wearing a mask covering your whole face … you are going to get dirt on your face, literally.
  • Lanikai Beach A popular beach with really calm waves. We came here a couple of times.
  • Sandy Beach In contrast to Lanikai, the waves here are big! So it’s perfect for body surfing. And you can watch the perfect sunset here. I loved that there were food stands here serving coffee and snacks.
Food
  • Jewel or Juice I had my first acai bowl here! We tried a couple other places, but my favorite is still here at Jewel or Juice.The texture of the acai smoothie was slightly icier and creamier, reminding one of my friends of ice cream. The granola was our favorite here, and the ratio of toppings to acai smoothie was perfect.
  • Fresh Catch The poke here is famous! It is unlike anything I’ll ever have in New York, and that makes me sad. Ask them for recommendations and they’ll let you try samples!
  • Waiola Shaved Ice My first shaved ice was here at Waiola! So many flavors to choose from, and I highly recommend adding sweetened condensed milk because that always makes everything better and, of course, don’t forget mochi balls!
  • Musubi Cafe Oyasume Spam and egg musubi was my first bite of food in Hawaii, and I remember closing my eyes after my first bite, savoring it, and thinking to myself, “This is what Hawaii tastes like”. It was so simple, yet delicious and was the perfect snack food. We pretty much came here everyday, ordering about twenty musubis each time to share among the five of us to take to the beach.
  • Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck This food truck had the the longest line I’ve waited in, but it was worth the wait. Giovanni’s is famous for their shrimp scampi plate, which is shrimp sauteed in lots of garlic, butter, and lemon and served with more garlic that goes on top of their rice. Eat it with ice cold coconut water! It was the best.
  • Goofy Cafe A healthy cafe with a Hawaiian and Japanese twist! We came for brunch and enjoyed their acai french toast and eggs benedict with taro muffins and pork belly.
  • Olive & Oliver Possibly the cutest coffee shop with cute typography and all of my favorite colors! And the coffee cups had different prints! Honestly this place is a graphic designer’s dream, or at least mine. This coffee shop has a a really well curated shop at the back where I snagged a shirt and a tote bag. Just about all the drinks and coffee we had here were good!
  • Leonard’s I love doughnuts, so I was excited to try the malasadas served at Leonard’s. They are made to order, so that means they come out freshly made, soft, fluffy, and hot … all the adjectives I love when it comes to doughnuts.
  • Helena’s Hawaiian Food While I’m not a fan of traditional Hawaiian food, I enjoyed trying the food at Helena’s. The long lines here speak for itself.
  • Pig & The Lady A hip, Vietnamese restaurant serving good pho and sandwiches, but what piqued my interest was their signature sandwich that you dip in a bowl of pho broth. I was so eager to try as it was something new I never really heard of.

Photos by Ray Sison, Sojin Ouh, and me