Sunday, June 21, 2009

Mainland Girl Island Tour - Part 1 {Waikiki to the South Shore}

I can't believe it's been only a few weeks since I was on the island. Seems like ages ago, especially since I have many "I miss Hawaii" days. Looking forward to my coming back. There's a family reunion on Oahu in a few days and some folks wanted some suggestions for an island tour. Here's my take...and please add your own recommendations too.

First off, do roll down your windows for some fresh air, open the sunroof for some golden rays, and turn on the radio for some local island style music:
KINE 105.1 FM
KQMQ 93.1 FM
KDNN 98.5 FM
You can do a morning hike at Diamond Head ($3 per person). You'll need to do a 100-200 stair climb at the end, but it's a rewarding view at the top. Afterwards, stop at Monsarat Street for some food. It's a quaint and overlooked area for tourists. I like the fish tacos at South Shore Grill/Mi Casa Tacaria, Diamond Head Cove Bar for acai bowls, or stop by my favorite place in Monsarat: Diamond Head Grill for the best portobello mushroom sandwich on the island. Yup, it's that good. An alternative is to drive up H1 highway and start off the day with Breakfast in Kaimuki. Drive up Waialae Ave for an assortment of little cafes. Cafe Laufer (3565 Waialae) offers some of the best french styled pastries, omelets, fresh fruit in a cherry blossom themed botique. Opens at 10am.Town (Waialae/9th) is one of my favorite places for lunch and dinner, but their breakfast lacks creativity. toast. eggs. coffee. juice. Great place to read the morning newspaper outdoors. Coffee Talk (free WiFi), only has muffins and bagels at a local grungy coffee shop. Big City Diner {below} is the most practical as it opens at 7am and has some hearty local breakfast specials. senior specials too.

If you backtrack a little you can also go to the Kahala Mall for Whole Foods Market, the first and only on the island. Has some senior rates and early morning breakfast specials. Pick up some water and healthy snacks for the road. Starbucks and Jamba Juice near the market for a quick morning pick-me-up. You can get that last minute iPod at the Apple store, grab a pair of shorts at Banana Republic or pick up that swim suit at Macy's at the mall (swimwear available 12 months/year at Hawaii Macy's!). Across from the mall on the otherside of the freeway is a shopping plaza strip that has my favorite healthy market, Umeke Market & Deli (for healthy bento lunches or a hot meat with seats inside), as well as my favorite bread bakery Great Harvest Bread Company (4400 Kalanianaole Hwy).The Kahala Mandarin Hotel has a spacious high ceiling casual area for Afternoon Tea and serves special Thai/Vietnamese/Indian curries on Wednesday afternoons. (You get 3-tiers of each curry, rice, and condiments). A great way to relax. And the curry is actually quite good-- maybe overpriced, but the sunlit airy ambiance makes up for it.
As you continue on the Kalanianaole Hwy, you pass through an easily missed neighborhood called Aina Hina. Stop by the shopping plaza that houses Foodland market and check out my favorite gourmet cupcake place, Cake Couture (820 West Hind Drive #112, 808.373.9750). A couple doors down is an eatery called Jack's that serves local breakfasts (spam, eggs, Portuguese sausage) and is said to have the best biscuits on the island. Personally I thought the biscuits were too dense, tasteless and hard to swallow. For better biscuits I head KFC in the shoppping plaza down the road (with Bank of America and 7-11). Next door to Jack's is where you'll find the popular Uncle Clay's shave ice, or slurpies to be sure, which is topped with what he calls "magic sauce" (lihimui and such).Next stop: Hawaii Kai. Stop by Costco to pick up goodies, drinks, a hot dog or pizza. Opens 10am. Ross store in the same plaza for that extra towel or pair of slippers that you forgot to bring. Check out the view of the marina in the back (one of my favorites) where there is free Tai Chi on Wednesday mornings and a farmer's market. In the Long's shopping plaza, stop by one of my favorite eastside restaurants, Blue Water Grill, which serves good california-italianish cuisine with a delightful marina view. The Shack a few doors down has surprising good greasy burgers (perfect after a hike) while Baile has good Vietnamese sandwhiches and Pho to go. Heading back to Kalaniana'ole Hwy, check out Roy's restaurant (the original) which does not open until dinner, but if you look out your window (non-ocean side) you can see where it all began. You can stop off for some parasailing at the Hawaii Kai docking area. And Koko Marina Plaza further down the road is the last best place to pick up stuff before you head around the island. Get your snorkel gear to rent, Bubbies Mochi Ice Cream, stop by Kokonuts now famous because Obama got his kids shave ice here, Kona Brewing Co for some tap, catch a movie, check out the wine store, get hawaii themed dog clothes, and go crazy at Price Busters (the Hawaii version of Dollar Tree or $0.99 store...but with better stuff.)

The South Shore Stop for a snorkel at Hanauma Bay. Wave hello to Koko Head Crater on your left (hike it if you like) and drive around the island and enjoy the ocean view. Drive to view the Halona Blow Hole (the construction is complete and there are areas now palces to sit and enjoy the view). This is the famous place of the 1953 film "Here to Eternity". And at your next driving stop, park at the next outlet--it's one of my favorite's. Jump over the wall and walk down (carefully) to see the earth erosion and fierce crashing waves. Catch a view of Sandy Beach and hold onto your hats at this windy point. Do an easy grade 2 mile walk to the Makapu Lighhouse and pleasant view of Rabbit Island, and a beautiful white and red lighthouse photo. Stop by Sea Life Park for the kids (also wherea part of the Drew Barrymore/Adam Sandler movie "50 First Dates" was filmed.)

Get in your car and drive around the corner to Sandy Beach and watch some surfers catch the waves (never surf here--or break your neck). You can drive through the parking lot for a glimpse if you don't want to catch some sun and get your feet sandy. There's small patch of grass under a tree that I like--shade plus a non-sandy Sandy Beach. ha ha ha.
Next stop, Waimanalo. Get some Dave's icecream (love their coconut mac-nut, and green tea flavors) next to the Akebono sumo wrestler statue (in front of a long red building strip mall). This is really your last major stop, so do a bathroom break or tourn one of the little tourist shops as you lick your cone.

Enjoy the 'country' road trip through Waimanalo...don't stop at the Waimanalo beach--they have many extra large sand crabs the size of my palm, but more importantly said to be not a safe beach. Nice drive though.
Take the 61 East to Kailua or 61 West to the beautiful view from the 985 ft Pail Lookout. The Nuuanu Pali State Park is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and do remove hats and put on that windbreaker. I personally like the small town of Kailua. Find Obama's vacation spot...go by some beautiful mansion-like homes, and visit my most favorite beach in the world: Lani Kai. It's the most calm, pristine oceaned, turquoise watered, fine sand, non-touristy beach on the island. Where to eat? First, try the famous Boots and Kimos (119 Hekili St, 808.263.7929) for some darn big pancakes and local style breakfast. The wait is usually long, and I guess the reputation outweighs the food (in my humble opinion). It's a local treat though. The town has different strip malls where you'll find various restaurants: Lani's Cafe has spam, loco mocos and such...Formaggio for wine and good pizza and appetizers, while Assagio Italian resturants always a safe choice. For more Kailua resturants click here.Then head down the Pail Highway back to downtown and Waikiki...or continue on my post on my island tour and stayed tuned for: "Island Tour - Part 2" which connects the South Shore to the Windward side through the North Shore!

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Wow, you got tons of stuff already! How did you get all the photos? Anyways if it's a Saturday, a must do is the KCC Farmers Market. Plenty of good eats and things to try.