I get notes on Facebook all the time from people I haven’t seen in twenty years, from people I’ve never met, from close friends who all have one thing in common. They are preparing for a vacation to Oahu. Lucky Ducks! I’ve said 1,000 times, everyone should go to Hawaii just once. So recently I got a text from close friend who used to live on Oahu but a few years before we got there. She asked about a particular tourist attraction and if I had suggestions.

Hahahahahahahahaha…that’s funny. Do I have suggestions? Well, yes. Yes, I do. 

The first thing I usually ask if if the family is military. If you are or if you aren’t but happen to know someone, find someone currently living either on Ford Island, Hickam or McGrew Point that will agree to give you a tour. There are sites that military families can get to that you can’t without a tourist ticket. Next, sign up for Honolulu Groupon. There will be lots of deals that help cut your cost.

A few things I think everyone should eat when they are in Hawaii:

  • Stop at a 7-11 and pick up spam musubi. Yes, you may think I’m crazy but you won’t regret it and 7-11 pretty much has the best.
  • If you are touring The Arizona Memorial a great place to eat is The Forty-Niner. If you make it for breakfast, the Forty-Niner pancake is a must. It doesn’t have to be for breakfast. We also loved the garlic chicken. 
  • Our favorite shave ice was at Aloha General. We loved the Lava Flow Bowl. IMG_6129.JPG
  • Staying in Waikiki? Duke’s is great, especially the hula pie for a special night but we loved the barefoot bar and the Korean Tacos. 
  • If you are interested in Korean BBQ, we always got takeout from Soon’s. You won’t get it any other way. (Cash only.)
  • There is also the Alley Restaurant in Aiea Bowl. It’s a favorite of Guy Fieri.
  • Be open to new experiences. There are any number of asian fusion restaurants. Teddy’s is great for burgers. Saimin is fabulous everywhere.
  • I almost forgot. No trip to Hawaii is complete without a trip to Leonard’s for malasadas and Lillikoi Bakery for cocoa puffs. 

Then the things to do…

  • Snorkle… Haunama Bay is great but my favorite place in the summer is Shark’s cove on the North Shore.
  • Sunset is a great time to see turtles on Turtle Beach. Aloha General closes at 5 so grab some shave ice and head over, then  you can drive back into Haleiwa for dinner a Kua’aina. IMG_2274
  • A MUST DO is the Mac Nut Farm tour. Again. Be prepared. This is a cash only tour but there is an ATM on site if you need it. When you finish, they’ll ship your coconut peanut butter back to your house. Buy some. You can thank me later. IMG_2495
  • You should do a luau. They are all pretty good. My favorite is the one at Sea Life Park.
  • The Arizona Memorial. MUST DO.
  • If you have young kids, this is a no no. If you can handle some filthy language and hard topics, the Red Light District Tour is my favorite. 
  • If you have access to the base, the Jesse Tours (historical tours) that happen out of the MWR office on Hickam are extraordinary. Please tell Jesse I said hello. They are worth every last penny. I would do them over and over because there is something new every time. 
  • Surf? It’s it’s summer take lessons in Waikiki. Spring and Fall, head to White Plains.
  • Summer is a great time to swim with sharks on the North Shore. G0020185OJC_9526

There are tons of hikes. I loved paddling to the Mokes and jumping into Shark’s Cove. Diamond Head is a doable hike for the whole family. Koko Head is a fabulous hike for the view. Take time to paddle board in the lagoons at Ko’Olina. We loved loved loved our scuba trip out of Ko’Olina. We did the submarine in Waikiki. It’s not for everyone but a nice little family adventure if you want to spend the money. The best beach, in my opinion is at Bellows Air Force Base. If you don’t have access to the base, go to Lanikai. 

The best advice I can give anyone on their way to Hawaii is just go, relax and soak up the aloha. I’m so jealous!