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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Marvelous Maui: Speeding Down Haleakala Mountain and Wailea Happy Hours

For our Complete Hawaii 2017 Itinerary- visiting O’ahu & Maui-Click Here.

Sunrise Over Haleakala Mountain

Funtivity. Maui Sunriders Bike Tours.

We woke up around 2:30 a to get to the Maui Sunriders location extra early. From there, we got sized for bikes, rain pants, and helmets. Check out Maui Sunriders’ instagram here. It was absolutely stunning to watch the sunrise over the mountain, into the crater below, and then to bike down the mountain. I absolutely love going fast, it was an incredible adrenaline rush!! It was about 40*F for the first hour+ that we were up there watching the sun come up, very chilly for our tropical vacation– but by the bottom of the mountain, we had stripped to shorts (leggings) and tanks.

What to Wear: Haleakala Mountain

  • Clothing: leggings (or shorts with leggings), tank top, sweatshirt/ athletic jacket, windbreaker, scarf, gloves, sunglasses, sneakers
  • GoPro, helmet mount
  • Backpack – you’ll want it to put the extra layers of clothes as you strip

Brunch on the way down…

While biking down from the top of Haleakala Mountain, we stopped at Kula Lodge & Restaurant– a little mountain side restaurant. We went from feeling like we were on a tropical vacation to a ski holiday. It amazes me how mountains are mountains and the types of restaurants that crop up on them are so similar no matter where in the world you are. We got a hearty brunch and enjoyed the views.

Wandered Paia

We just spent a little more time wandering the adorable town of Paia- I definitely recommend spending some time there.

Lunch. HuliHuli Chicken + Ribs

  • An AMAZING stand on the side of the road, you can walk your tray over to the beach and sit in the sand to eat.
  • Another one to keep an eye on the days that it’s open!! Check before you plan 🙂

Resort Pool

We used to have the GoPro4 and the photo quality was decent, but the new one is even better. Thankfully we’ve also improved our photography skills! As much as I want to share with you the pictures from the pool, they don’t do it justice. We’ll include a full Grand Wailea Review in our posts from our 2019 vacay.

Happy Hour at Tommy Bahama – Wailea

Tommy Bahama is one of our favorites stores- in case it wasn’t obvious from our outfits- and we love visiting the restaurant in The Woodlands, so we were super excited to go in Wailea! The Happy Hour runs in the bar daily from 2-5 pm $10 small plates $10 martinis & $8 cocktails.

Sunset Cocktails

We all know how expensive hotel drinks can be- since we were fresh out of school and new to the work place, our budget was very set. Instead of buying $15 mojitos every day from the pool bar, (we only split a mojito twice!) we opted to swing by a few ABC convenience stores and get local liquors to mix with the fantastic fruits that we were buying from fruit stands every day! Our favorite was to make up a cocktail and enjoy the stunning sunset views from our balcony.

*Note: we were able to go pretty crazy for being on a budget, but only because we really thought through each each and every purchase, and were fortunate enough to have friends who lived in Honolulu and we could spend half of our vacation with them.

Happy Hour/ Dinner. Gannon’s Restaurant at the Wailea Golf Club.

Kyle went to Gannon’s with his family as a kid and his dad even played golf there. Someday, maybe we will too. Instead, we went f

Gannon’s has a happy hour running from 3-8pm daily (*note, happy hour is not offered from December 21 – January 1) $14 “small” plates, $8 side dishes, $10 desserts + $9 signature cocktails, $8 classic cocktails, $7 wine, $5 beer.

We had such a fantastic time sitting at the bar, the bartender got a kick out of how much I loved discovering lilikoi that he gave me a fresh passionfruit from below the counter that one of his coworkers grew in her back yard! Everyone on the entire island of Maui was just so incredibly nice, I couldn’t get over it.

Volcano Fries from Gannon’s were AMAZING!!! They were the perfect food to end our happy hour tour on. The furikake added a lot of flavor 🤗

Insanely early bed time….

Continue reading “Marvelous Maui: Speeding Down Haleakala Mountain and Wailea Happy Hours”

Marvelous Maui: Date Night with the Best Sunset

For our Complete Hawaii 2017 Itinerary- visiting O’ahu & Maui-Click Here.

Snorkeling

We started our morning off snorkeling- while we have some of our own decent gear, we didn’t have the room in our main suitcase for it, so our friends were kind enough to lend us their goggles, snorkel, and mask!

We just went to the beach off of a condo complex in Wailea, right by our hotel. We got there nice and early, hoping to see more fishes. We think that maybe because of the time of year, the reefs weren’t as vibrant. We’re going back this year (2019) and plan on doing a SCUBA excursion!

Makena Beach

After getting up so early for the snorkeling adventure, we were pretty exhausted and just wanted to relax for a bit, so we went back to Makena for a beach nap and some tacos.

There was this fish taco truck — Jawz Fish Tacos just parked in the lot at Makena Beach. At first, it was weird because they put cheese on a fish taco, which I’d never had before, but it tasted really good because the red snapper that they used was fresh caught!

DIY Cocktails

We all know how expensive hotel drinks can be- since we were fresh out of school and new to the work place, our budget was very set. Instead of buying $15 mojitos every day from the pool bar, (we only split a mojito twice!) we opted to swing by a few ABC convenience stores and get local liquors to mix with the fantastic fruits that we were buying from fruit stands every day!

*Note: we were able to go pretty crazy for being on a budget, but only because we really thought through each each and every purchase, and were fortunate enough to have friends who lived in Honolulu and we could spend half of our vacation with them.

Lunch. South Maui Fish Co.

Back before I learned how to take good food pictures or how to edit the photos, we went to this incredibly delicious food truck. I could have eaten this fish every damn day! Be sure to check out the website before you go, they’re only open a few days a week because the proprietor goes out and catches the fish one day and serves it the next!

Driving Up the Coast

It was about a 1.5 hour drive from the hotel in Wailea to our restaurant in Kapalua, along the way, we decided to stop and wander a few of the towns!

Lahaina

We started out in Lahaina, snacked on a Dole Whip, and wandered the town, looking at all of the art and jewelry shop, and when it started pouring rain, we visited Down the Hatch– a super kitschy Tiki / Sports bar. We finally got tiki man glasses!!

Next, we buzzed through Whaler’s Village- the shopping center at Ka’anapali in Lahaina. But we left there super quickly so that we could watch the sun set over the lookout at Merriman’s Kapalua.

*Note: if you go to Lahaina with your family, they have a cute movie theater with free movies on Tuesdays- perfect for a stormy afternoon.

Dinner. Merriman’s Kapalua.

The food at Merrian’s was out of this world! We looked up when the sun would set, and scheduled our reservation for about 30 minutes afterwards. We sat on the patio by a fire pit, got a few pupus and a round of Mai Tais and watched as the sun went down.

Apart from stellar views, the food was out of this world. I wish that I could remember exactly what we ate, but don’t worry, we’re going back in early October and I will write a proper review then!

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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!

Relaxing with the Reclining Buddha {Thailand- Day 4: Morning}

Sunrise at The Banyan Tree

I was having a seriously hard time sleeping. So I went down to the pool deck and caught a lovely sunrise.

Finding a ride to the reclining Buddha was no easy task, two Grab drivers cancelled because they don’t like driving in that area, then it took three taxis until one would finally take us! They all said there was terrible traffic, but we had a fine time actually getting there, it was surprisingly little traffic.

The reclining buddha statue was HUGE! 

After visiting Wat Pho, we opted to go to the backpackers’ village/street, Khao San, which was VERY reminiscent of Bourbon Street in New Orleans, LA.

It was neat, in a “I can see why backpackers like it” kind of way. While there, I got a henna tattoo of a cute little elephant (almost a week later, it’s still here- yay!).

We also stopped for lunch at a place that clearly turns in to a night club when the sun goes down. Our plan was just to get drinks, but the menu looked good, and the food was surprisingly tasty!

Yes, these look like a normal size beer and cocktail, don’t they?! Check out this picture of me holding my “bucket cocktail” (yes, that’s actually what it’s called) for reference on the size. This cocktail was only $10.

And of course, my new favorite mode of transportation: Tuk tuk.

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