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~ Hey, I’m Carolyn (or CC) and I’m a lifestyle blogger with a passion for fashion! I’m also a nature nerd and travel bug so I love anything combining these! I live in Atlanta, GA where you can find me walking my pup Lucy, or stuffing my face with mostly ice cream! You can read more of my work on my blog www.tailoredtreehugger.com ~
Sun kissed Hula dancers swaying in grass skirts, pristine beaches next to spewing volcanos. That’s right I’m here to talk about my favourite holiday destination, Hawaii. I love being out in nature, so to me, Hawaii is in fact, paradise and well worth the long flight. The islands of Hawaii are full of culture and one-of-a-kind experiences, and it’s no wonder it’s meaning in Polynesian is “place of the gods”. In this post I’ll be focusing on the Island of Oahu, home to Hawaii’s biggest city, Honolulu.
Everything You NEED to Do in Hawaii:
Try the famous Hawaiian snow cone
My first MUST-DO is to get shaved ice, the famous Hawaiian snow-cone. CJ’s shaved ice is the definition of a “hole in the wall” because it’s in an odd location and also a party supply store but it’s close to the airport and SO GOOD! CJ runs the place with his family and he’ll give you flavour recommendations.
If you’re up for trying something new, check out the Li hing mui powder, (lee-hee-muy) which is something like a salty plum flavour but it’s really good on mango or pineapple flavoured shaved ice.
Snorkel in Hanauma Bay
Again, let me just say that I’m not a great snorkeler, nor am I an excellent swimmer, but I enjoy both and that is why I picked this spot, Hanauma Bay! It’s a state park meaning everyone knows about it so GET. THERE. EARLY. Like before it opens (I’m by no means a morning person but believe me it’s worth it for this).
You can also take a shuttle from Waikiki but it gets really crowded later on and the best animals are there in morning. When you get there you have to watch a little video about avoiding the coral but then you get to dive on in! Bring a waterproof camera like a Go-Pro! The times I’ve been snorkelling here I’ve seen sea stars, all kinds of fish and sea turtles!
Skip Waikiki and go to the Turtle Bay Resort:
My personal favourite resort in Oahu isn’t in Waikiki, it’s actually in the complete other side, BUT it’s SO worth it. Turtle Bay Resort is on the ‘north shore’ of the island. This is the part where the locals live, and where you can find expert surfers and even surfing competitions! Turtle Bay feels removed from it all, while having modern style that we all want. If you’ve ever seen the movie ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’, it was filmed right in Turtle Bay!
If you do stay here, even just for a night, you MUST rent bikes and explore their grounds. The huge Banyan tree and lava rock blowholes are literally breath-taking (not to mention amazing photo ops!)
Explore the history of Hawaii
One of the most informative parts of my trip and my favourite historic site was the Pearl Harbor National Monument. First of all, it is a bit tricky to find so make sure you put in the right address, as there is an active military base with the same name. This site is an incredible monument remembering the 2,403 people who died in this attack.
You can take a boat to the place where the USS Arizona sunk, which is a truly sobering experience and I was amazed that the ship is still slowly leaking fuel, yet you can see fish swimming under it, because the fuel was not as toxic then. They even had people and veterans who were in Hawaii at the time giving short interviews, but obviously they are getting quite old so this is a definite “must visit now” experience.
Party the night away in Waikiki
My favourite nightlife location: Wakiki is the famous part of town located right in Honolulu! It’s home to lots of shopping and beautiful beaches. There are also a lot of cool “tiki” bars and restaurants in Waikiki. My favourite is Arnold’s beach bar, which is a simple bar with delicious drinks (the Mai Tai is literally TO DIE for).
I also have a lot of fun at Cuckoo Coconuts, which has live music and offers all the must-have Hawaiian drinks like a Pina Colada right in a pineapple! There are a lot of beautiful hotels offering wonderful drinks right in Waikiki and you can really bar-hop here for days! Plus, there’s a lot of people around, and I have never felt particularly “unsafe” at any of these bars.
Go hiking and take in the beautiful views
Let me start by saying I’m not a marathon runner, nor an expert rock climber. I know that there are a lot of amazing hikes in Oahu that offer insanely gorgeous views, but a lot of them require long time commitments and expert hiking skills. SO, my favourite hike is called “The Crouching Lion.” It’s a hike that few tourists know about, but it provides a view that you will never forget, with scenes of the jungle, ocean and mountains all in one!
It can be slippery, and it’s not easy but talk about Instagram-worthy pictures! You can find more about it by reading here https://www.theoutbound.com/hawaii/hiking/hike-the-crouching-lion-trail
Take in the views at Halona Blow Hole
Nature is so striking and no place is that more obvious than in Hawaii. There’s such a magical feel about these islands and the Halona Blow Hole is one place to really stop and take it in. Other than the hike I mentioned above, this place is my favourite view, as you can climb down to stare at the steep cliffs of layered lava rock or watch as waves blast through and create the Blow Hole geyer. There’s usually enough parking spots and along this drive you can see other scenic lookouts!
Go to a Luau!
Last but definitely not least is a thing most people have on their Hawaiian Bucket-List, a Luau. There are a ton of different ones and they all offer a chance to learn about Hawaiian customs, eat traditional food and watch an exciting show. I’ve done a few different luaus in Hawaii and my favourite is the one at Paradise Cove. This one has great food, a good show AND the fire dancing is included in the price, which makes it more affordable. It’s also a great chance to see another part of the island if you’re staying in Waikiki or the North shore. I would also recommend getting to the Luau early and exploring the grounds and little stations in order to get the full experience.
Top Tips in Hawaii:
Don’t bring anything you’re not allowed to!
Hawaii is a place unlike so many others, it’s very developed in parts, and so untouched in others. Being so unique, once you arrive in Hawaii you fill out a little form in the airport saying you’re not bringing in anything that could contaminate this beautiful place.
Rent a car
My first recommendation is really before you get to Oahu, and that is to rent a car. A lot of hotels and resorts offer shuttle options from the airport but believe me, the island is BIG and to explore all sides, you’re going to want a car!
There is so much more to do and explore in Oahu (and on the other Hawaiian islands) but this is a guide of my most favourite things.
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