Honolulu is a strange mix of acai bowls [+ massages] at every corner, shopping centers after shopping centers, a beach that is packed like a spring break trip — but without the excessive drinking, the most beautiful weather, ++ trees that look like they belong in a fantasy land. At every time of day, the city is alive + there are a TON of people on the streets. It feels both familiar [like the USA] + different [like a different country] — it’s so lovely.
#1] Hideout Coffee: Isaac + I stayed at The Laylow, which houses The Hideout… so we had cold brews here every morning. The coffee shop opens at 4 AM! Perfect for the tourists who have a hard time adjusting to the time ; ). I got up between 5 + 6 every morning + freaking loved it simply because I got to see the pink clouds during sunrise — so pretty.
#2] Kona Coffee Purveyors: OMG. We sadly discovered this the last day. All of the pastries are to die for… get the black sesame pastry [the best!] ++ if you want a sweet, gooey pastry — you’ll love the chocolate banana almond croissant.
#3] KonaRed Cold Brew, Hawaiian Vanilla: You can most likely find this cold brew at any grocery store in Hawaii… it is so good — a must to take on the beach.
For Next Time: Island Brew Coffeehouse, Ali’i Coffee, Local Joe, The Curb Kaimuki, Hana Tea
#1] Arvo Cafe: Located in SALT, a cute outdoor shopping center, this cafe reminded me of Sydney… they serve Vegemite toast, lol! Plz get the loaded avocado toast with poached egg, organic house salad, + meatballs. YUM.
#2] The Sunrise Shack: Yes, yes, yes. If you can only go to one place in Honolulu, go here… + don’t be intimidated by the line. Everything here is incredible, but I love the Coconut Bullet, Monkey Bowl, Tropical Bowl… + the popcorn ; ).
#3] HiBlend Health Bar + Cafe: A delicious hole in the wall, perfect for lunch. I tried the HiBlend Acai, The Balt Sandwich, + one of the salads on the seasonal menu. Ask for extra honey on the acai bowl!
#4] Leahi Health: I wish I could eat these smoothies + salads every day. So nourishing… you can taste the health, lol but really.
For Next Time: Nalu Health Bar + Cafe, Hawaiian Aroma Caffe, Waioli Kitchen + Bake Shop
#1] Ono Seafood: If you’re looking for a no frills, authentic poke spot — this is the place. Don’t make the mistake of going there 30 minutes before close though, or there will be no rice left ; ). After grabbing poke, get dessert at Anu — a plant based dessert pop up. So freaking good.
#1] The Hideout: I love the fun, swanky atmosphere here. Start with the Mai Tai — a must in Hawaii. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu… I loved the Crispy Pork Belly ++ the Rice Bowl.
#3] Mahina + Suns: Tucked inside the Surferjack hotel, we went here for brunch — I got the Surfjack Breakfast [get it with mushrooms + add avocado!], + Isaac was obsessed with the Pork Adobe Fried Rice.
#4] Manukame Udon: Okay, so funny store. This restaurant was right across from our hotel + there was always a massive line. I’m typically skeptical of restaurants on the main streets… even if it is highly reviewed + rated [4.5 on yelp ++ 10K reviews!]… however, on the last day I looked at Anais’s recommendations + saw Manukame Udon was on the list, so I was like okay I’ll try it. SO GLAD I DID! The noodles though, omg. ++ a full tempura bar, aha… which was surprisingly amazing [I typically don’t like fried food]. YUM.
#5] Summer Frappe: If you’re walking around Chinatown, go to Summer Frappe strictly for the Avocado Banh Mi. We ordered one to share as a snack… + then instantly got a second one. So good. All the smoothies looked amazing, too.
For Next Time: Maguro Brothers Hawaii, Tamashiro Market, WorkPlay, Insomnia, Off The Hook Poke Market, Sprout Sandwich Shop, Nana’s Green Tea
#1] Purple Yoga: If you’re into Ashtanga Yoga, this studio is incredible + intense. The instructor Glenn was amazing.
#2] Open Space Yoga: Loved this studio, the vibes, + the instructor — perfect if you are into Vinyasa, but they also have other classes. I took a class at the Diamond Head location with Diana!
#3] Red Earth Massage + Wellness: 5 star review for sure! It’s in the same plaza as Purple Yoga, so you can go to Ashtanga + then get a massage ; ). This was one of my favorite masssages ever — I added the facial massage at the end, which I’d recommend.
#4] Down To Earth: An all vegan grocery… great for grabbing beach food!
For Next Time: SuperNova Energetics — they do gong yoga every Monday, which I wish I could have experienced! ++ the Farmer’s Market!
#1] ALL. THE. HIKING! We only did two hikes in Honolulu — Diamond Head + The Lighthouse. I would NOT recommend Diamond Head… it was so crowded, which made it not enjoyable. I would recommend The Lighthouse, though… there were tidepools throughout the hike, too! It was an incredible view the entire hike. Next time, I’d love to hike Koko Crater Railway Trailhead.
#2] The Beach, Of Course: This is a given… along with all the water sports that come with it. My favorite beach was Diamond Head Beach Park — local vibe + way less crowded.
#3] Botanical Gardens: There are quite a few botanical gardens [+ I’m sure all of them are glorious!] — we went to Foster Botanical Gardens, which was in Chinatown!
#4] Get Fruit Off The Street: That’s an outdoor adventure, right? ; ) There’s fruit everywhere… + it’s all incredible.
Fun Things To Explore
#1] ALL. THE. SHOPPING! I swear Wakiki has every single store in the world.
#2] Chinatown: It’s a mix of hip boutiques, massages, outdoor markets, + all the eats. It’s a fun area to explore! SALT, which is close to Chinatown is a must check out area, too.
#3] Doris Duke Theater: Isaac + I have been dating for 3 years, ++ this was the first time we saw a “movie” in theater together, lol. We saw the 2019 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour here!
#4] Take a day trip to Kailua: Visit the Byodo-In Temple, beer taste at Lanikai Brewing, explore the cute boutiques, + eat at Himalayan Kitchen for authentic Indian food. Use Turo to rent a car for a good price!
#5] Take a day trip to The North Store: Get acai bowls from the original Sunrise Shake, explore the town of Haleiwa, get food at any food truck, + watch the waves at Banzai Pipeline.
#6] Bike all around the city with Biki: The bikeshare of Hawaii — it’s the best way to explore Honolulu! ALSO. While on the bike, make sure you get shaved ice… anywhere. ; )
#7] Find live music: Whether it’s through SoFarSounds, walking around the strip, or searching Kimberly June or Paul Izak [both local artists who I’ve seen that are great!].
I loved The Laylow in Waikiki — it’s right next to the International Market Place [aka all the shopping], all the incredible restaurants, ++ is walking distance from the beach. However, it is very touristy as you’d expect… so, if I were to go back to Honolulu for a longer stay, I’d choose an Airbnb close to Diamond Head.
Did I miss any of your favorite spots in Honolulu? Let me know!