Where to Eat- O’ahu

Note, the following restaurants are listed in alphabetical order, not in order of preference. Additionally, as we continue to visit Hawaii and experience more restaurants, we will continue to update this post.

Azure

We didn’t have the best experience at Azure- it was basically overpriced cocktails. But we sat on the roof. But it was a low (like 2nd/ 3rd story) roof and it was also windy…. So the views weren’t really worth the chill. Just trying to be 100% honest 🙂

I have heard great reviews of the restaurant however, and would consider going back. We visited Azure on our first night on O’ahu in 2017.

Cuckoo Coconuts

Okay this place was PERFECT! It was the absolute best kitschy tiki bar that we could ask for! They had live music that was actually GOOD, silly drinks that came in fun glassware, and cheap bar food. Kyle got his first Mai Thai of the trip!

We visited Cuckoo Coconuts on our first night in O’ahu back in 2017 and plan on returning to celebrate Kyle’s birthday this year!

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Nico’s Pier 38

This one is a touch out of the way. But it was the BEST fish that we had in Hawaii, and we had a TON of pretty amazing fish (Kyle said it was 100% the best raw fish, bar none, that he’s ever had in his entire life!).

We went to Nico’s both on our second day on O’ahu and returned on our last day!! So, obviously, we think it’s completely worth going there.

If you’re not into raw fish, they also have a restaurant with cooked foods and fishes :). It’s a cool place and if you sit outside, you can see some docks and piers and stuff. Pretty neat and seems like a mostly-local place.

Cost:Parking: Free. Poke Bowls: (~.5-1.o lb fish) $15. Total: ~ $30.

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Maui Brewing Co.,

Sadly, this was not the actual brewing company, just a restaurant. It’s basically like going to Taco Mac. But it’s also a must-do if you’re in Hawaii. We went both on our first night and back on our last night on O’ahu and got a fun glass-set! Another plus: they have a “mocktail” menu, which I really respect since (1) there’s a lot of driving in Hawaii and (2) it makes this restaurant both pregnancy- and kid-friendly. We are hoping to visit the original brewing in Maui on our trip this year!

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Moku Kitchen

This was a very casual-dining experience in this neat little shopping center that looked like it had been constructed out of shipping crates. It’s by Peter Merriman, who has several other restaurants scattered across the islands, and we’re determined to someday visit all of them! We went with friends to Moku Kitchen on our second night in O’ahu.

It combines traditional Hawaiian, polynesian, and southeastern asian flavors. Get the duck tacos. You won’t regret it! Kyle’s been trying to replicate them ever since!

The Royal Hawaiian. IG.

Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha. IG.

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Restaurant Review: The Boathouse

While strolling through Disney Springs on a Sunday morning in April, doing some last-minute shopping before hitting the road, I realized that I wanted a truly memorable lunch. The weather was gorgeous, and I was in the mood for some seafood. Sadly all of the restaurants serving sushi were closed, but that ended up being a wonderful accident because it meant that I got to eat at The Boathouse!

Of course, I was drawn in by the nautical themed shop which, at least at one point, was a Tommy Bahama retailer. They have the most wonderful beach-themed accessories and goodies. Definitely a must-shop, even if there’s nothing with a special mouse embroidered in sight.

Upon entering The Boathouse, I was greeted by a charming 1940s style Oyster Bar, which perfectly fit the theme of the restaurant. While it did make me crave oysters, I was much more tempted by what I saw past the bar…

They have a Dockside Bar! I walked across a dock to this adorable extension of The Boathouse and grabbed a lake-side table.

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I started with a margarita…. I was ready to not have anything else to drink after the Flower & Garden Festival on Saturday,

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Oysters! I love oysters. A perfect portion size for one.

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The scallops on grits was INCREDIBLE! I wanted to eat every single bite, but I was so stuffed, I couldn’t finish it. The corn flavors played nicely and the scallops were perfectly seared and seasoned so the outsides were packed with flavor and the insides soft and succulent.

Where’s your favorite place to eat at Disney Springs? Tell me below in the comments!

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Check out this view from my lake-side seat at The Dockside Bar
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Have you ridden in one of these floating cars? I haven’t yet, but it’s definitely on my someday list!
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Marvelous Maui: Eating Our Way Through our First Day

Our third day in the Hawaiian Islands was our First Day on Maui!

As I’ve mentioned, we don’t like to sit still for long, and we recognize that with our crazy work schedules, we only have a limited amount of time for vacations, so we choose to make the most out of that little time wherever we go. With that being said, if you are planning your own Hawaiian Vacay, do not-by any means- feel the need to stick to our itinerary! Know yourselves, the kind of vacation you’re after, and plan accordingly. Our general rule of thumb:

1 fun-tivity + 1 relaxing thing + 1 dining experience = the perfect day!

Leaving O’ahu & Traveling to Maui

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We narrowed our stuff down to 1 big suitcase and 1 carry-on tote-size bag each. We were staying with friends on O’ahu, so it was easy to pare down like that, and leave the suitcase on O’ahu. If you plan on island jumping, I recommend speaking with the concierge at your hotel to see if you can check any spare bags with the bell hop.

Note: We wanted these smaller bags so we could throw a good bit of stuff in our rental car and take it with us. We knew that once we left our hotel in the morning, we would be out and about most of the day and would need a change of clothes, water bottles, towels, sun screen, and chargers.

Island Air 6:00 am flight to Maui.

  • This super early was totally fine because, once again, we woke up before dawn. It was an easy uber, two seconds through security, and we were off to the romantic part of our trip. It was just a 22 minute flight and the flight attendants were really cool because they gave us tropical juices, local coffee, and pointed out things outside the windows! Other islands, the history and formation of the state, etc. It was fun 🙂 Checked bag: $25.00
    • *Note: Island Air has since shut down, however Hawaiian Airlines also offers inexpensive island-hopping flights!
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We got our car and first thing we did was drive through Kehei towards Paia (town). We rented a Hertz car using a vacation package booked through Expedia. For 3 nights at the Grand Wailea, 4 days of our rental car, and two round-trip plane tickets, we paid about $1500!!!

Breakfast in Paia

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Breakfast: Paia Bay Coffee.  

  • This place was cute because it had a gorgeous mural across the street and all of the seating looked like it was in the middle of a jungle
  • Cheap, fairly basic coffee. The most froo-froo coffee drink would probably be a latte or cappuccino. We also got a nutella/cream/strawberry stuffed fresh croissant, and it was delectable!
  • The croissant was so yummy! IG.

*Note: We should have gone to Wal-Mart or Costco immediately when we landed, but we weren’t thinking about it. We stopped at the local gas station & bought a bottle of Aleeve (should have brought some, but we knew we’d want it after the hike) and a bottle of sunscreen (we just didn’t have the weight in our suitcase before!)

Funtivity Time!

Funtivity: Twin Falls hiking trail at Mile 2 on the Road to Hana

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We chose not to drive the road to Hana because that would have taken at least 1 full day, if not two and we just didn’t have that kind of time when there were so many things we’d rather have done.

There was a great farmer’s stand at the entrance & we got a smoothie! (At the exit, we also got some more fruits for the drive/ to make drinks at the resort)

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This hike was cool, we wore gym clothes, brought the gopro and hiked the first bit in to the little fall. But, if you go up farther, through the gate that says “experienced hikers only” you’ll find a bigger fall. Most people don’t jump off that one. We did, and it was truly exhilarating. Be careful though, scope out your landing spot first so you know you’ll have a deep enough place to land!The jump off the big falls.IG.

Cost.Parking. Free. Smoothie. $5. Fruit. $2. Postcards. $2. = $9 BRING CASH.

*I wish that I’d had a fanny pack or small hiking backpack with me. I did have a good-size (mid?) fairly water-proof crossbody purse that we managed just fine with on the hikes, but a backpack or fanny pack would have been easier since the crossbody moved a lot and sometimes pulled me in funny ways

This is my first attempt at a YouTube video… Enjoy the screams!

Fruit stands on the sides of the roads.

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  • Yeah. We stopped at every single fruit stand that we found.
  • BRING CASH- they mostly work on the honor system.

Funtivity

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Tour: Surfing Goat Dairy Farm.

Kyle was really skeptical about this because he really doesn’t like goat cheese. I love it, so i was excited.

It was fun though! We got to feed baby goats, see where they milk the goats and watch the process of making the cheese! Then we also go to do a tasting, and it was super good! A lot of restaurants on the islands use their cheese.

Cost: Tour. $26.04. Postcards. $5. = $31.04

Lunch

Lunch. Paia Fish Market.

  • We went back to Paia for lunch! This place had some super yummy fresh fish options (good grilled fishes too!). Excellent fish and chips and excellent Definitely cheaper at lunch than at dinner, also from what we’ve heard, people didn’t have as good of experiences at dinner as we did at lunch.
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Wandered Paia. Went into little shops, explored.

Wal-Mart.

  • I repeat. We should have gone here sooner. But we stopped by for a few essentials:A case of water, a cutting board, a knife, 2 towels, some spray sunscreen, a pineapple. (we needed the board & knife to make cocktails :p)

Relaxing. Makena Beach.

Not really any photos from Makena on day 1, we just really wanted to relax and soak it all in.

Time to Check-In to the Resort.

Resort: Grand Wailea.

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  • Back at the hotel, after we got checked in and settled in our room, we chilled and popped a bottle of champagne that we’d brought…. From Atlanta. Yes, we were willing to go all out on the resort, but wouldn’t pay their prices for the alcohol. Haha. We toasted and got ready for our photo shoot.
  • I cannot possibly write enough good things about this resort. The pools were amazing, the beach was private, it was walking distance to the nearby shops and happy hours, Humuhumu is one of the best restaurants that I’ve ever eaten at… They even provide sunscreen at the valet stand so you can re-apply before hitting the road for adventures!
    There is the first (only?) water elevator in these pools, and the pools connect through water slides and lazy rivers, in the middle of which is a swim-up bar behind a waterfall. Heaven! I’ve also had one of the best mojitos of my life here! I’ll post a video later in this series about the resort and pool!
  • So. While I LOVED this resort. It was gorgeous, so affordable with our Expedia deal, in a fabulous location, had restaurants, was breezy, open, and included a deluxe sunset photoshoot. If you decide to book here, be aware that there is a resort fee of $30/day and (if you rent a car- which you pretty much have to) a valet fee of $30/day. Additionally, anything that you spend will have an excise tax. So each of those are really $31.25
  • Cost:Resort Fee. $31.25. Valet Fee. $31.25. Bellhop tip. $5.

Photos with Pacific Dream Photography.

  • Our stay came with a free photoshoot. (We had Anna, she did a fantastic job).
  • The shoot was a ton of fun, and really captured “us” nicely. The pictures cost ~$80/piece, sadly.
  • But even Kyle walked into the sales pitch thinking that we would, at max, buy 1, and that they would try to sell him really hard. They didn’t at all!
  • They also made a beautiful video of our shoot that captured not just the still shots, but also video clips (similar to a “live” picture on an iPhone). That was really expensive. But we both admitted that if we were there to get engaged, go on a honeymoon, or were there with our kids (or if I’d had a job at the time), we definitely would have bought it, that’s how awesome it was!
  • However, the only negative was that they changed our time of the photoshoot (so we only got 30 minutes) because the sun was setting earlier in September than it was in May when we had scheduled the appointment. It was frustrating that they emailed us when (1) we were staying in the hotel and they had that information, so they could have communicated that way; (2) they had our phone number and could have called; (3) we don’t check our email while on vacation and they emailed us that morning, so not even a few days in advance when we might have seen. However, 30 minutes with Anna was plenty as she took fabulous photos!
  • CostFree-$160
  • Tips:Wear a flowy dress. IG.
    • Check out HeatherKCookPhotography for tips on doing your make-up for a photoshoot.
  • The photos turned out amazing!

Sunset cocktails in the room.

Dinner. Humuhumunukunukuapua’a (aka Humuhumu)

  • This is the restaurant at the Grand Wailea.
  • We got a seat with a view of the sunset and had one of the few truly fantastic service experiences that we’ve ever had. It was tapas style, (or at least that’s what we focussed on).
  • I think our waiter’s name was Justin. And we could not sing his praises enough.
  • He even timed our small plates so that they came out in the order that optimized our experience. (e.g. even though everyone around us had already gotten bread, he brought out our crudo small plate first because you should have crudo before). He guided us with a kind but firm hand through the menu and it was a very pleasant experience actually!4 cocktails, 2 crudo, seeevvverrrallll other dishes, dessert. $171.67.
  • We’re honestly scared to go back because we don’t want to not have the same impeccable service! Justin- if you ever read this, please know that you made our dinner experience truly magical.
  • Kyle’s Review:
  • Overall- 4 Stars
  • Food- 5 Stars; Service- 5 Stars; Ambiance- 4 Stars
  • “A little empty since we were there at the beginning of the slow season, but the great food made up for that. What really put our experience over the top was the outstanding service we received from our waiter, Justin. He was perfectly attentive without being overbearing, which is a hard balance to strike. He gave great advice after taking the time to get to know our taste, and paced our meal perfectly even though we chose to order a bunch of small plates and one entree instead of a more traditional coursing. I’d come back just to experience his service again.”
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Staying on Eastern Time to Get the Most out of Honolulu

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Have you been to the Pearl Harbor Memorial? What did you think?
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#HawaiianVacay Day 2.1- Pearl Harbor Memorial Museum
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We were still on Atlanta time, so we woke up around 4:30, which turned out to be a good thing!
By 6:30 am, we’d showered & gotten ready and called an Uber (not expensive) to go to the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. Note: If you get to the memorial too late, you’ll have to pay; even later, and they might cancel the boat ride out to the memorial because of the wind.The first ~200 persons tickets are free. Including the uber, it took maybe 2-3 hours. Cost: Ticket: Free. Postcards: $1.05. Uber to/from Pearl Harbor: $30(?) Total: $32.00

As a side note, for graduation, my dad got me a new mirrorless camera, the Sony a6000 and that is what I used for most of the pictures from this trip! (Although, sometimes I just used my iPhone and at the time, I had the iPhone 6s.)

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Oh my goodness, one of the best parts of this whole day was the fantastic Uber we got returning from the National Memorial. It was completely Hawaii Five-O themed, played the theme song, and was decked out with paraphernalia inside!

After exploring the Pearl Harbor Memorial Museum, we went back to our friends’ apartment and decided it was time to venture out to our first beach!

Back at the apartment, our friends were awake and we changed to go to the beach.

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  • Waikiki Beach. I mean, you just have to do it.
  • Paddle Boarding. later on we also rented surf boards, paddling was so much easier! The main reason we went for these was that the surf was pretty flat. Our friend got us the military discount.Rental. $40.
  • Cost: Parking. $15 at the Zoo.
  • Photography: while in the water, we used the GoPro Hero5 Session.
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Lunch: Nico’s Pier 38.

  • This one is a touch out of the way. But it was the BEST fish that we had in Hawaii, and we had a TON of pretty amazing fish (Kyle said it was 100% the best raw fish, bar none, that he’s ever had in his entire life!).
  • So, it’s completely worth going there!
  • If you’re not into raw fish, they also have a restaurant with cooked foods and fishes :). It’s a cool place and if you sit outside, you can see some docks and piers and stuff. Pretty neat and seems like a mostly-local place.
  • Cost:Parking: Free. Poke Bowls: (~.5-1.o lb fish) $15. Total: ~ $30.
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Funtivity: Koko Head Trail.

  • This was a super intense, almost straight-up hike. It was AWESOME though.
  • This hike also had some seriously incredibly beautiful views! It’s definitely work, and it was hard and a little freaky at some points. But it was really breathtaking and I would definitely do it again.
  • Cost: Parking: Free. Hiking: Free.
  • Pictures: IG IG 
  • Fav Gym Clothes: Fabletics!

Dinner: Moku Kitchen.

  • This was a very casual-dining experience in this neat little shopping center that looked like it had been consructed out of shipping crates.
  • It’s by Peter Merriman, who has 2 other restaurants (I’ll reference them later)
  • It combines traditional hawaiian, polynesian, and southeastern asian flavors. Get the duck tacos. You won’t regret it! Kyle’s been trying to replicate them ever since!
  • Photos: IG.
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Honolulu Happy Hours

adobe-spark-post-11Several people have asked for Hawaii vacay tips, so I’m going to share our itinerary with you! In 2017, I graduated from law school, took (& passed!) the Georgia Bar Exam, and we decided to move in together. To celebrate, all of this, and or four-year anniversary, we planned our first big vacation together, to Hawaii!! I’ll be using the hashtag HawaiianVacay to mark these posts, so hopefully you’ll check back in with them. Follow the hashtag to see the entire itinerary.

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So here it goes: #HawaiianVacay Day 1.1- Arriving in Hawaii!

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We booked out tickets in May and found that the best time of year to go, for the cheapest miles was in September. This is probably because most kids are just going back to school, so people aren’t taking family vacations. We used that view on the Delta website where you can see a grid showing days you leave against days you return and picked the cheapest date range that allowed us to have 10 days. We also knew ahead of time that we would each need a checked bag. I get 1 free each leg, Kyle would need to pay for his. For this round trip flight, we each spent: 45,000 miles x 2 + $11.20 x 2 + $25.00 x 2 = $72.40.

We were able to get two roundtrip tickets for only 45,000 Delta miles each!! Direct flights ATL to HNL.

Also- you can see the whole itinerary including links to the companies that we used, and costs of the “funtivities” (we like to be very open about how much activities cost in case other people want to se the same companies or want to know how to budget most effectively.

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Tips for keeping flight costs down:

  1. if you don’t mind layovers, don’t be afraid of them
  2. if you’re booking with Delta (or any airline that offers it) be sure to check out the “grid view” to maximize your savings!
  3. check out deals on HawaiianAirlines from LA or Phoenix or Seattle and consider buying a separate ticket on a different airline to one of those cities if you can get a good deal. United has also been advertising affordable nonstop flights to different islands from “the main land”! Southwest also launched flights to Hawaii!
  4. know your airline rewards! I have a Delta credit card that gets me a free checked bag, and builds up miles quickly, so for us, this is how we cut down our costs majorly.
  5. check out Expedia vacation deals; Costco Travel; Amex Travel; Delta Vacations plans – all of these are good options if you want some help planning your whole vacation
  6. follow the flights on hopper; kayak; kiwi; google flights; and sky scanner to keep up do date on the best prices available!
  7. comment below to share how you find the best deals!

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We were very lucky because Kyle’s good friend was stationed in Honolulu (airforce) with his fiancé ((we’re actually going to their wedding in 2 weeks!!)) They were celebrating a friend’s birthday, so we tagged along to some happy hours! Have you been to any good happy hours or cocktail bars in Honolulu or on O’ahu? Comment below!

After all of that fun, we crashed pretty early. Our GOAL was to stay on Atlanta time. We wanted to be able to wake up early and do fun-tivities and then go nap on a beach or by a pool, and wake back up for dinner. *This time difference is exactly the reason why I think you actually could do a Hawaii trip in 6 days (budgeting for 1 travel day on either end & 4 fun-filled days!). As long as you stay on mainland time, you can do sooo much stuff!

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Some highlights from our first day:

  • Our friends’ apartment had an incredible view. We saw a rainbow almost every day! It was amazing! I’ve never seen one start to finish before, & it looked so close. #HawaiianVacay Day 1.2Screen Shot 2019-05-09 at 8.12.50 AM
    • If it wasn’t a rainbow, it was a stunning sunset.adobe-spark-post-1
  • We went back to their apartment, then went out with them to one of their friends’ birthdays.
    • Maui Brewing Co., in Waikiki #HawaiianVacay Day 1.3
      • Sadly, this was not the actual brewing company, just a restaurant. It’s basically like going to Taco Mac. But it’s also a must-do if you’re in Hawaii. We went back on our last night on O’ahu and got a fun glass-set! Another plus: they have a “mocktail” menu, which I really respect since (1) there’s a lot of driving in Hawaii and (2) it makes this restaurant both pregnancy- and kid-friendly.

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  • Azure, in Waikiki #HawaiianVacay Day 1.4
    • I think this is the next place that we went to. It was basically overpriced cocktails. But we sat on the roof. But it was a low (like 2nd/ 3rd story) roof and it was also windy…. So the views weren’t really worth the chill. Just trying to be 100% honest 🙂
  • Cuckoo’s Coconuts, in Waikiki #HawaiianVacay Day 1.5
    • Okay this place was PERFECT! It was the absolute best kitschy tiki bar that we could ask for! They had live music that was actually GOOD, silly drinks that came in fun glassware, and cheap bar food. Kyle got his first Mai Thai of the trip!
    • I would absolutely go back here!!

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Tell me your favorite places to eat in Waikiki!