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Oahu & Big Island June 2012 – Days 1 and 2

Day 1: We arrive in Honolulu!

We arrived in HNL around 3pm, direct flights from New York on Hawaiian Air. We all liked the airline and although we were in coach, we thought the included meal service was nice (meh food, but considering it was a 10+ hour flight, more than welcome). In-flight entertainment only had a few free videos playing on loop, and the rest you had to purchase. We prepared by storing movies on our ipad/laptop. Service was great, and definitely lots of “Aloha” to get us in vacation mode. We all drank POG (passion orange guava) because I told everyone that they should.

Arrival at HNL – it was hot and humid, and my husband went to get our rental car. We got a full sized car, as that was what our budget would allow, and lemme tell you, it was a little hard to squish 5 adults and our luggage but we made it, with some of the luggage on our laps. LOL.

Our hotel was the Hyatt Place Waikiki – modern and newly renovated, and quite lovely, at a good price. We booked two rooms, and my sister would be sharing with my parents. Check in was easy. They gave us rooms only a few doors down from each other which was nice.

Hyatt Place Waikiki

Lobby of Hyatt Place Waikiki

We went for our first meal at Da Kitchen, a short drive away, and got a taste of local food, We got some saimin (noodle soup), a Hawaiian plate with kalua pork, lomi lomi salmon, and chicken long rice, and some local style fried opakapaka with ginger and scallion. Ono! (sadly, since I wrote this trip report, Da Kitchen has closed their Oahu location but the one on Maui remains hugely popular.

Traditional Hawaiian plate. It can be found at many places around Hawaii. The Lau lau is my favorite, pork and fish wrapped in taro leaves and steamed. The bowl contains chicken long rice which is a brothy gingery soup and the small salsa like container has lomi salmon which is Hawaii’s answer to lox.

After that, dessert was at Bubbies, only a few minutes away for some mochi ice cream (ice cream covered in pounded rice dough, and frozen.). This is one of my sister’s favorite things to eat of all time, so we had fun trying different flavors. I recommend the Green Tea and Lychee.

Bubbies delicious mochi ice cream

Parking at the Hyatt Place though is 25 a night. My dad balked at how much everything is here. Steve decided he’ll look for someplace cheaper the next day. We headed over to the ABC store, the closet one which is half a block away (and it’s a nice one too). My mom and sister love to shop, like me, and they had a lot of fun browsing all the knick knacks and souvenirs. My mom fell in love with the koa wood plates. I don’t know if she bought any right then but let me tell you she had a suitcase of koa wood stuff when she left Hawaii. My sister fawns over the Hello Kitty Hawaii merchandise. Since we’re all on east coast time, we’re all pretty tired at this point so we call it a night.

Day 2: A Circle tour of Oahu!

Up super early, Steve and I decide to get a workout in, because knowing my family we’ll be eating non-stop. The gym is small but has new equipment, and is located on the same floor as the small pool and the breakfast buffet. We were done with our workout right when breakfast buffet opened and we met my family there. The buffet is included with the price of your stay, and it was great! It’s one of the few included breakfasts I’ve had in a while in the US! 2 different hot breakfast sandwiches, pancakes or waffles, oatmeal, yogurt bar, fruit, pastries, breads, even an Asian station with miso soup, rice, pickles and kimchee. My parents loved this (we’re Chinese) as we never usually see this on the mainland.

Breakfast area at Hyatt Place Waikiki

And because we’re such a true foodie family, after breakfast we did a short drive through Waikiki, then back up towards Leonard’s, because I thought we should all have some malasadas. We all split a few malasadas, and took some pictures.

my sister and our parents at the home of the famous malasadas, Leonard’s

Some of the baked goods at Leonard’s. Sorry no malasada picture because we scarfed them down

After that, since we were only a few blocks from Ono Seafood, I had to get a few boxes of fresh poke bowls for my family to try. Sitting out on the picnic table outside the small take out shopped, we indulged in some super fresh fish. We got the spicy ahi, shoyu ahi, and wasabi take (octopus) for my sister who doesn’t eat raw fish. We all admit poke is one of the greatest things ever. We vow to eat here again before we depart Oahu. Poke bowls are marinated raw ahi tuna, served over rice)

One of the best poke places on Oahu, The famous Ono Seafoods in Kapahulu

What’s everyone else gonna eat?

poke bowl trio up close – spicy ahi, shoyu ahi, and wasabi tako (octopus) 

At this point, I think we’re (somewhat) full, so we headed up the Pali Highway to the Pali lookout where we take the customary “hair blowing in the wind” pictures. After that – we headed on over to Kailua for a look buy generic propecia online around. My mom wanted to visit a Whole Foods because she likes to see what local produce is for sale. We also got some Ono pops, because, well, we’ve never had any before. They were yummy!

hiding behind the sign because it was so windy I didn’t want my dress to blow up



view from the pali lookout

It’s windy up here!

We drove around some more, visiting the “Chinaman’s hat” aka “lizard’s tail” formations and taking pictures. Oh my family does love to take pictures.

In front of Chinaman’s hat

We continued our journey towards the north shore. We stopped at Romy’s for some shrimp. It takes 20 minutes to order, and another 40 minutes to get our food. Was it worth the long wait? A reluctant YES. We got an order of the garlic shrimp, the fried sunfish, and steamed shrimp. Everything was delicious. The sunfish was fried perfectly golden – for all those squeamish about fish with their heads on, well then don’t get this. Shrimp were huge and plump with great flavor. The dipping sauces were great, instead of regular shoyu, their shoyu has a little kick to it, and they also had a sweet red chili dipping sauce. Yum. I wish the wait wasn’t so long. I’d come here again if I weren’t too hungry and was willing to wait.

Romy’s = garlic shrimp heaven


Steamed shrimp with 2 kinds of dipping sauces.

Garlic shrimp – sooooo good! The rice soaks up all the butter and garlic, yum!

Deep fried sunfish. Delicious!

Heading on up the North shore, we stop at Turtle Beach where we saw 2 giant sea turtles resting, and then to Waimea Bay Beach park for more pictures. It’s so beautiful up here, and my family thought the turtle sighting was super fun.


Waimea Bay Beach


heading down to “turtle beach”


can you tell turtle from rock?


my dad cooling off in the water

Heading into Haleiwa, we made the obligatory stop at Matsumoto’s. I got my usual: lillikoi, li hing mui, and lychee flavors with ice cream and azuki bean. I always get the plastic holder or else I’ll be a dripping mess. The wait wasn’t too bad, maybe 15 minutes. I’ve seen it worse. We all enjoy our shave ice and walked around Haleiwa a bit.

An Oahu landmark


inside of Matsumoto’s


shave ice!! mmmmm

Everyone enjoyed their shave ice!

Heading back down, we stopped by the Dole Plantation, because my sister loves dole whip. Yes you can have shave ice and dole whip on the same day. My dad liked the pineapple cutting demonstration with the free sample of pineapple with li hing powder. My mom wanted to buy the pineapple cutter/corer that the lady was using in the demo, but they didn’t sell the exact same one in the gift store, it was made of a completely different material. You’d think they would sell what they were using but I guess not. We walked around the gardens outside a bit, but we didn’t go on the tours or the maze (was too hot). We were happy just hanging out in the gift store.

Aloha from the Dole Plantation!

Really beautiful grounds

Lots of local products for sale, even though the place is a bit touristy. It’s still fun to look at everything!

See different varieties of Pineapple! (My personal favorite are the Maui Golds)

We drove back down the island and into downtown Honolulu – we stopped at a few places including Don Quixote, which is a huge Walmart-type store but with a lot more Asian products and food. My parents really enjoyed it as they saw a lot of Asian foods that weren’t readily available to us back home. My sister and I bought some Asian snacks and my dad bought 5 dollar bottles of wine which he enjoyed back at the hotel.

We also stopped at Ala Moana shopping center for a quick walk through. We also took a quick look at Shirokiya, which is a Japanese department store. We almost always pick up some stuff to eat here, either take out or eat-in. The 2nd floor is a foodie’s paradise.


Dinner was back near the hotel, at Tenkaippin Ramen. One long U-shaoped counter with a few other tables. We were lucky to find space at the counter. I tried the specialty, kotteri ramen, which is ramen noodles in a rich and very thick broth which is supposedly boiled for a long time and full of collagen. It was good, the soup takes a bit getting used to because it’s so thick, but they have this wonderful chili garlic paste condiment which really brightens the whole dish up and gave it a kick. I really loved that stuff and will go back there on another trip just for that chili paste.

the thick-brothed kotteri ramen at Tenkaippin – beautifies and satisfies!

After a long day of sightseeing, we headed back to the hotel for the night. I wish the hotel had a hot tub or Jacuzzi. It would have been fun to use at night. The pool was just too cold and the area windy. It’s ok, we were going to hit the beach tomorrow. Day 3 here.

Read more about our Family Trip to Oahu June 2012!

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