Earlier in September, I went to Hawaii for 10 days with the boyfriend to attend his sister’s wedding!
Hawaii is beautiful. There’s no arguing that. Blue waters, sandy beaches, and lots of green everywhere. I was originally very skeptical about how I’d fare with the high temperatures there, but I eventually learned how to avoid the peak sun hours. At night, there’s a nice island breeze that makes everything feel pretty cool! It’s such a lovely place.
We arrived on September 13th after a 20-hour journey from Montreal. Arriving at the Montreal airport at 4AM in the morning, we were told the second leg of our flight does not exist. Thanks United Airlines for giving us no heads up or prior notifications for this. LOVE dealing with that so early in the morning. 🙃Our original layover in Los Angeles was supposed to be around 2 hours. But since they had to move us to the next possible flight to Honolulu, our layover was closer to 4.5 hours. We eventually landed in Honolulu at around 5PM. We were supposed to get there at 2PM originally.
Aside from the rough start, after we landed and checked in to our hotel, we headed to Aloha Table Waikiki that served Japanese/Hawaiian food. We had to rush though because we wanted to catch the free Friday fireworks from Hilton Hawaiian village at 7:45PM! We managed to get all this done AND meet up with the bride and groom to-be (K and E) at Foodland to do some grocery shopping.
Food and basically everything else is pretty expensive in Hawaii. To be fair, we were staying at Oahu, which was the most expensive island I’m told. That and the fact that Hawaii has to have a lot of their things basically air dropped to them. To save on some of the costs, we ended up buying breakfast in advanced every day to heat up/prepare at our hotel instead. But that didn’t mean we weren’t eating well. I had poke from Foodland (so good!) almost every breakfast alongside spam musubi and fresh fruits! My goal that trip was to get sick of poke so I wouldn’t want it anymore. Despite the volume of raw fish I ate, I still miss it.
Day 2, the boyfriend and I picked up our car rental at 7:30AM. We made it to Diamond Head Crater at around 8AM since we had wanted to do the hike. The parking lot was completely full, and by the time we could actually get to the trails after finding parking elsewhere, it was 8:30AM. It was burning hot already, despite us trying to go early. We could also see the people were starting to come back from their hikes rather than start it during this time. We ended up doing a small portion of the hike, then decided to turn back so we weren’t exhausted for the rest of the day—which I’m really glad we did.
Nearby Diamond Head, there was a farmers’ market since it was Saturday! There are quite a few farmers’ markets on the island, but from what I heard from our family members who tried to go to the others, many of them are very small. Some had only 2-3 stalls selling fruits and veggies. However, the one we went to was the KCC Farmers’ Market and it was bustling! We ended up grabbing quite a few snacks there including deep fried mochi, garlic butter abalone, and thai iced tea.
Afterwards, we drove over to Leonard’s Bakery to try their famed malasadas. It was a 10 minute wait to place our orders, and then another 10 minute wait to pick it up. That’s a lot of waiting under a very hot sun. To be honest, the malasadas were good. I suspect it was mostly because it had just come out of the fryer and any donut would taste good like that. We had the haupia one and the original, and I preferred the original.
Since we still had energy, we went to check out Honolulu’s Chinatown too! We managed to find a $5 all-day parking, which we were stoked about. Parking can be super expensive we learned! Chinatown was alright. It wasn’t small, but there weren’t super interesting shops or restaurants. We grabbed a quick lunch at a diner called Lam’s Kitchen and then headed off to Iolani Palace.
K and E told us that they really enjoyed the audio tour at Iolani Palace. It was also a great place to spend some of the searing hot hours of the afternoon in an indoors, air-conditioned building. The tour costs about $20 per person. It was totally worth it.
Although it’s a self-guided audio tour, they have set start times for the tours. They time it so that people go in 10 minutes apart so rooms weren’t overcrowded. I’d highly suggest checking out the Palace to learn about the old Hawaiian monarchs! It was super interesting and also gave us a lot more context on the many statues and displays we’d find at different hotels of their old kings and queens.
At night, we headed back to downtown Waikiki for a family dinner with the boyfriend’s uncle and aunt, as well as K and E! Trying to find parking was a nightmare, and initially we were really hoping to find free or cheap parking. It took us an hour to find parking. I’m not exaggerating. Eventually, we parked at International Market Place. Their parking rates was $3 every 30 minutes. I died a little inside.
Dinner was at the Cheesecake Factory and I ordered a Hawaiian flatbread because I thought that was funny. Hawaiian pizza wasn’t even founded in Hawaii. We also collectively ordered two of their tuna pokes to share. Compared to Foodland’s (which was like half the cost), Foodland definitely won by a mile. However, when dessert came and we shared a strawberry cheesecake, that was pretty delicious.
After dinner we quickly checked out the International Market Place. It’s basically an open-air mall (it seems like every mall on Oahu is an open-air mall…) with some pretty fancy stores. There are giant trees growing inside the mall though, and it made me feel like I was in Tarzan’s Treehouse at Disneyland! My favourite store in the mall was Mitsuwa Marketplace. We always ended up going there later at night and that’s when all their prepared foods were at a discount. Their spam musubi was probably my favourite! Plus, they had lots of other cool Hawaiian and Japanese snacks and goodies!
If we had finished the entire Diamond Head Crater hike, there was no way we would’ve been able to do all these other activities we ended up doing. And that’s a sacrifice I’m glad we made!