We got back yesterday from a week on Oahu and I wanted to share our trip with you :)
Day 1 (Wednesday): Flight to HNL Our flight was a bit of a mess. We had plane problems and flew around for 3 hrs before returning to Newark. They got us another plane (thankfully) but we didn't arrive until 1:30 am. All rental cars were closed so we had to take a shuttle to our hotel.
Day 2 (Thursday): Get Rental Car/Waikiki: We had to change our plans (which were to explore the east side of the island) because of our rental car issue. We had breakfast at Lulus (stuffed french toast is very good!) and then took the bus to the airport. Let's just say this was a mistake. It took us forever because the bus stopped every 10 feet. In retrospect we should have paid the money for the cab. We got our car and stopped at Walmart to get some basics for our condo. We spent the afternoon on the Waikiki beach. The beach in Waikiki is OK. It's not what I would consider a normal scenic Hawaii beach, but it's a lot better than what we'd have at home :) Then we went to Moose Mc's for happy hour (Lava Flows!!). We had no thoughts for dinner so we consulted Yelp and wound up at Doraku sushi which we greatly enjoyed!
Day 3 (Friday): Eastern Oahu: We had cereal in our room for breakfast and then drove up the eastern side of the island. As soon as we left Waikiki I had a huge smile on my face and thought finally we found Hawaii :) We stopped at several of the beaches (Sandy Beach is beautiful) and wound up in Kailua which was such a nice beach town. We sat on the beach for awhile and then drove into town and had lunch at Uahi Island Grill. We absolutely loved our lunch. We had crepes next door for dessert. After lunch we drove up the coast (stopped before Laie) and turned back to Waikiki. There was a parade for Pearl Harbor day which was very nice. We tried to get Udon but the line was insane so instead we ate dinner in Waikiki (Siam Square) and it was fantastic!
Day 4 (Saturday): We went to Duke's for the breakfast buffet. Honestly for a buffet it was good, but I still thought it was just OK. It was typical breakfast food we could get anywhere (i.e. no mac nut pancakes or loco moco or anything Hawaiian). After breakfast we decided to drive to Hanuaka Bay for snorkling. We didn't arrive until noon but had no problem parking. What a beautiful beach! I'd recommend it even for a non-snorkler. On the way back we stopped for a very late lunch at the Kona Brewing Company. Great beer, mediocre food :) When we got back to Waikiki we decided to do a little bar hopping (Top of Waikiki was wonderful as was Yard House (great selection!)). By about 10 pm we were hungry and went for Udon again and it was absolutely fantastic!!
Day 5 (Sunday): Between the marathon and football we decided to stay in Waikiki. We went back to Lulus which is a very nice place to watch the games. After the early games we went to the beach but after an hour it started raining so we went back to our condo. We walked Waikiki and did some shopping. We tried to go to Jimmy Buffets for Happy Hour but the service was terrible so we left. Then we realized it was Day 5 and I still hadn't had shave ice so we went to Ailana which was fantastic shave ice! We realized it was our favorite one on the island after sampling many :) After the shave ice we wound up at Cheeseburger Cheeseburger for happy hour (nice place!). Then the evening went down hill. We went to Sensei for 1/2 off sushi. I can honestly say it was one of the worst sushi meals I've ever had. The only good thing I can say is that it was 1/2 off. I would have much rather paid full price for a good meal. We ate at their other restaurant on Maui so we were especially disappointed by the poor quality.
Day 6 (Monday): We drove to the North Shore. We hoped to see the Surf competition, but it wasn't running that day. We left Waikiki very early (6:30 ish) and missed the bad traffic. We grabbed a light breakfast at Ted's Bakery and it was totally fabulous! We absolutely loved the North Shore and if we go back we'd want to stay there. It reminded me of the laid back parts of Maui/Kauai that we love. We stopped at Turtle Bay Resort and this is where I wish we stayed. It is so beautiful and a perfect location. We stopped at Giovanni's Shrimp Truck for lunch. It was good, not great, but good. On the way home we stopped for Shave Ice. I was so disappointed in the ice from Matsumoto! It was crunchy and just not at all what I expected. We got back to Waikiki and wanted fish tacos badly. We made a very bad decision to walk to South Shore Grill. 1) We really didn't feel safe on the walk as it was off the main strip and 2) the food was very bland. Oh well our mistake :)
Day 7 (Tuesday): We got up reasonably early, ate in our condo and got to Diamond Head by 9:30 ish. The hike was great! And the views from the top were spectacular. I'd definitely say this is a must do for a trip to Oahu. We grabbed shave ice at the bottom. We had no expectations and it was just so-so :) Then we weren't sure what we wanted to do and decided to re-do the drive up the east coast. We went back to Kailua and had breakfast at Boots and Kimo's. We waited maybe 15 minutes and had the best breakfast of our trip! My husband loved his omelet and my mac nut pancakes were fantastic! Then we went to the beach until it started drizzling. We got more shave ice from Island Snow which was very very good (2nd favorite on the trip). We decided to drive up to the north shore again. We stopped and saw a turtle at Turtle Bay Beach :) Then we went to Opal Thai for dinner. The experience there was very unique. The owner talked to each table and made food for you. I have to say the food was very good, but my husband was disappointed because he really wanted to order green curry but the owner insisted on cooking for us. I have to say I appreciated the unique experience :) We drove back to Waikiki and had to pack up for our trip home :(
Day 8 (Wednesday): We got up early and had breakfast at Lulus again. Then we went to Pearl Harbor. I would say this is the other must-do on Oahu. We did just the Arizona Memorial. We then decided to drive to the West side of the island. We stopped at the Disney resort which is absolutely beautiful. Then we drove up the coast. The beaches are beautiful but the area seems a little unsafe so I don't know if I'd go to the beach there for a full day. We drove back towards the airport and stopped at Nicos. We had a Poke bowl and fish tacos. The poke was absolutely outstanding. We wished we had come earlier in the trip so we could have had it more than once :) Then we went to Waiola for shave ice. It was good, but not great. We then went to the airport for our flight home which was thankfully much less eventful than the flight out :)
We really enjoyed our trip. I do think Maui is more the island for us, but we loved the beauty and culture of Oahu. If/when we return we will probably spend at least 1/2 the trip on the North Shore because Waikiki was just a little too busy for us. Sorry this turned into a VERY LONG trip report :)