I was given the wonderful opportunity to travel to Hawaii with my beautiful friend Erin, who happens to be the world's greatest flight attendant. We traveled on a dime and stayed on a dime because we also had a free place to crash and a free car to explore with thanks to friends. This is the absolute best way to travel but not alway attainable so of course I had to jump at the chance!
This is my absolutely gorgeous friend Erin and her beautiful cat, Boris. You may remember her from the Catalina trip!
As a child my family took ONE vacation, if you could call it that. When I was probably 4 years old my Mom and Dad loaded up all five of us in their tiny car and we drove to Maryland from Tennessee and hung out with my Mom's sister and her kids. Never traveling as a child is probably what gave me my wanderlust to begin with. I'm certainly making up for my lack of travel as a child now as an adult.
Like most people, I have often dreamed of visiting Hawaii and its blue waters. But not even Elvis could prepare me for the blue of Hawaii. I'm in love and now obsessed with going to visit the other 7 islands. By the way? does anyone have a connection to Niihau or the Robinson family? Kidding/not actually kidding.
So why did my gorgeous friend gift me with such an experience and how did I find myself in Honolulu on a random Friday in August? Well, it's been on her bucket list for quite sometime to see Jack Johnson perform in his homeland and she was down with me tagging along. What an experience! I found out so much about Jack Johnson and his thought process into songs I've been listening to for years and most of his stories are outstanding and hilarious.
I also found out that he's extremely green and cares much more for the environment than any other artist I've ever seen before. He cares so much that he had lights made out of the plastic that he recycled from the beaches in Hawaii and he took those string lights on tour with him to tell the story to make people more aware of their plastic consumption. In fact this entire two night concert series at the Waikiki Shell in Honolulu was a fundraiser for the Kokua Hawaii Foundation which he is a co-founder of.
He had several compost and recycling setups throughout the venue and he allowed very little amounts of plastics in his event. He even sold these tin souvenir cups which are so cute, and for only $10 you could buy one and have all the free water that you wanted throughout the entire event because he also had several water stations set up. How thoughtful. Never have I seen an artist perform and be more aware of their surroundings and the message they are giving to their fans than that of Jack Johnson. Not only does he love his family, his friends, and the environment, but he cares about you. That Jack Johnson is a solid dude.
This souvenir tin cup was only $10, the straw was an additional $3. I filled my water up so many times. It would have easily cost me $25 to $30 in bottled water at any other event. Bonus, I was hydrated at an outside venue in the sun for free and there was zero plastic littering the ground after the show. Such a smart and environmentally friendly way to go. Kudos, Jack!
Of course we had to take advantage of the banana pancakes.
This is the Waikiki Shell in Honolulu. The string lights are are made from plastics found on the beaches of Hawaii that Jack Johnson took on tour with him.
Jack Johnson and Zach Gill performing on the keoki stage of the venue for the kids.
We made the show that Friday, met up with some friends and had cocktails and upscale bar food at this really wonderful place called Pint and Jigger. I've been to so many places in the continental U.S. that are like Pint and Jigger but I don't think Oahu has a lot of places like this to offer, but what do I know, I've only been once. If you are looking for a craft cocktail bar with a decent menu, this is right up your alley. The servers are knowledgeable, interesting and show a general passion for their work. It's very refreshing to me when I encounter folks who are passionate about their careers in the service industry. It means I'm not alone.
Saturday started with a trip to the cutest coffee shop ever, Coffee Talk. It's in the same neighborhood as the house we were staying at so it was an easy stop. Delicious coffee, tea, pastries and croissant sandwiches just to name a few.
Erin sipping on her iced Lilikoi coffee.
This amazing almond bear claw.
Spinach, egg, and cheese croissant.
While we could have done many many things, like touristy things, we chose to skip Waikiki and drive both coasts instead. It was a wise decision. We pretty much just ate our entire way up the east coast of Oahu on Saturday.
My favorite thing from our coastal food tour was the Holoholo Stop which is a food truck located in Kahalu'u with the gorgeous Kahalu'u stream as the backdrop.
The Kahalu'u Stream
This is a very unassuming stop. It's right next door to a church and a gas station. The gas station is an open front store that has the owners adorable and chubby little dog tied to a rope out front. He is a fat little thing but you can tell he's loved, happy, and well fed.
The Holoholo Stop food truck has the freshest, softest tuna I've probably ever had. At first I wished that it had been marinating in the sauces that they offered but I can see now how the acids from the soy sauce would cook the fish and make it tougher in texture. Not to mention if someone has a gluten allergy they could totally skip the sauce all together. If you have an onion allergy, just leave the island.
At first, maybe it it was exhaustion from travel or maybe it was that 2nd cocktail from Pint and Jigger from the previous night, or perhaps it was even our breakfast croissant sandwiches from Coffee Talk, but I really didn't appreciate what this was when I first received it. It took the entire day of food for me to recollect and deem this guy the absolute winner. This is Hawaiian poke fresh in its prime. Everything else is an imposter.
I will say that it's weird that no prices are posted. He charged us $15 for this poke but there was so much of it that even sharing we couldn't finish it. I feel like he charges whatever he wants to whoever he wants and that makes it kind of weird but like I said it was delicious. I would have paid more for this amount of fish in Los Angeles.
Driving the coast is magical and can at times be unnerving because you are so close to the water that the road in some parts is wet from the waves. I'm sure during certain seasons you can't drive on certain parts of that coastal road. Erin and I talked about being swept away in a wave, not the best idea for someone with transportation anxiety.
A scenic overlook off of the Kalanianaole highway in east Honolulu.
Panoramic view of the same overlook.
Our first beach stop was the Makapu'u Beach. It's gorgeous.
We hit up a couple of more food spots as well, including the local chain of Tamura's Market which has a huge selection of previously frozen ahi tuna poke, and it even had a delicious mussel poke. We also made a pit stop at a food truck lot kind of thing that is owned by Giovanni's shrimp truck. We shared some amazing Baja style corn on the cob, lemon butter shrimp with rice, and a fresh coconut to drink. After we finished the coconut they cut it half and scooped out the meat which we enjoyed on the beach.
Finally at the very north eastern side of Oahu we found some water that was calm enough to swim in. It wasn't that rich blue and turquoise color but it was clear and you could see your feet. I met a yellow lab named Harry who liked to swim with people. His owner was from Orange County though he had lived on Oahu for 18 years. Erin and I sunbathed and swam for a couple of hours with the calm waters of the Waialua Bay at Hale'iwa Beach Park. It was prefect.
Saturday night found us in Honolulu's China Town and at a highly recommended restaurant by the name of The Pig and The Lady. We had a total of 5 dishes. Some dishes seemed very simple like the tomato, tomato salad but it definitely hit the spot. It's a pricier spot but it's worth the experience. I wasn't completely overwhelmed with the food but I have a pretty high bar to meet I guess. The house made pastas are yum. The beet dessert was my favorite part of the meal. The decor inside is awesome with random pigs all around. The bathroom is wall papered with scenes from The movie Big Trouble in Little China. The servers are knowledgeable and friendly and the staff is welcoming. Erin and I were lost in deep conversation over a glass of wine and didn't realize that we were the last guests, we were never made to feel like we were either. Per our server's recommendation we ended the night at a beautiful wine bar with a beautiful wine list by the name of Tchin Tchin where we met some very interesting locals.
BBQ SPANISH OCTOPUS A LA PLANCHA-sweet corn cream, "takoyaki", summer vegetable giardiniera, ogo seaweed
RICOTTA GNOCCHI- various summer squashes, parmesan, espelette, squid ink bottarga
HAWAIIAN PRAWN TAGLIATELLE- fried lemon, shishito peppers, anchovy XO, chives
TURN THE BEET AROUND- vanilla roasted golden beets, cotton soft cheesecake, valrhona ivoire white chocolate mascarpone espuma, coconut liquer compressed pineapples, blueberry, crispy quinoa
Sunday began our last day of journey on this beautiful island. We decided to drive up the west coast of the island, which is considerably less green than the east coast. We were deep in local territory here as well. For lunch we ate at the L&L Hawaiian BBQ in Waianae. The L& L Drive Inn is native Hawaiian comfort food that is almost kind of like fast food but not if that makes sense. I didn't even realize until a few minutes ago myself that this Hawaiian chain dates back to 1976 and has since spread through parts of the continental U.S. as well as parts of Japan. Pretty rad.
The famous plate lunch. Chicken Katsu for her, garlic shrimp for me. The plate lunch is served with rice and macaroni salad.
Again we found ourselves on some local beaches, which are probably some of the chilliest places on earth. I don't know if this is an everyday thing or just a weekend thing, but huge families gather under giant tents and just spend the day together, living, swimming, eating, loving. I wish that happened here more often. It's so hard to get family together even once a year and this seems like an every weekend kind of thing. It is the Aloha spirit.
At Makaha Beach Park
Makaha Beach Park.
Erin taking a dip in the waters off of Makaha Beach.
Erin walking along Maili Beach on the west coast of Oahu.
As our day to came to a close we knew we had to get back and pack before our flight took off that night at 11:30 pm. It was hard because even though we had felt like we had been there longer than three days, I could feel it slipping from us and we were both pretty bummed that the trip was coming to an end. If I could spend every day on a beach in Hawaii, I would.
We were pretty bold and decided to sit down for dinner even though we probably didn't have enough time. We had stopped by Tamura's to get poke to go but the poke station had already closed so we went to another recommended restaurant called Mud Hen Water. This is where my second favorite dish from the trip came from.
The Chef Ed Kenney is a local chef who is serving updated and cool Hawaiian dishes. The name Mud Hen Water is an English translation of Wai'alea. I suggest if you are ever in Honolulu to definitely hit this place up for traditional Hawaiian food with a twist. I'm glad that we were able to squeeze this gem in because it is here that I discovered 'Ulu or breadfruit.
Buttered 'Ulu with fermented black beans, sour orange, cilantro.
Even though we didn't spend much time in the actual city of Honolulu. I was able to snap some pictures as we were driving through and that's what I'll close this post with. If you ever get the chance to go to Oahu, jump on it. Step outside of the city and the tourism and spend your money with the locals and not the large corporations that litter the busy tourist areas. I wish I was joking when I say that there was a Red Lobster in Waikiki. I love cheddar biscuits as much as the next guy, but come on! Find the Holoholo food truck and pay whatever he charges you because it's worth it! Be aware of signs that alert you of dangerous waters "when in doubt, don't go out" and remember, always remember to Aloha.
Until the next adventure my friends. Peace, and love.
The man made Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Lagoon
Panoramic view of Waikiki Beach with a view of Diamond Head in the background.
Surfers in Ala Wai Harbor in Honolulu
Ala Wai Harbor
Trolley Car in Honolulu
A look into the neighborhoods of Honolulu.