Probably my favourite place on Oahu is the town of Haleiwa. But let me begin with how we started off day 3!
We drove out in the morning to Laniakea Beach. Basically, we were going from one end of the island to the other. It may sound far, but it only took about an hour to get across the whole island of Oahu.
Laniakea Beach is well-known for the daily sea turtles that come out to sunbathe! We tried to time it according to when they’re most frequently spotted—so around 11AM-1PM. When a turtle does emerge, you’ll know because you’ll see a circle of people around the turtle(s). However, everyone stands at a respectable distance. Why? Because there are volunteers (and signs around the beach) that will remind you to protect the turtles. These volunteers will use a stretch of rope to cordon off an area surrounding the turtle. Afterwards, you’re free to take pictures and ask the volunteer questions. They have signs of each turtle, so depending on who visits that day, the volunteers can tell you that turtle’s name, age, and backstory! It warms my heart to know that there are volunteers doing this.
After the beach, we drove up to Pupukea grill. This place was well known for their poke, so we grabbed a bowl. It was very tasty, but we were still saving our stomachs for more food! So off we went to the town of Haleiwa.
There are many little shops in Haleiwa and they were all very charming. Our first stop was to the Camaron shrimp truck, where we ordered garlic shrimp. We also had a pina colada served in a pineapple! Everything was so yummy.
For dessert, we drove down the road to what was probably the most famous shaved ice parlour on the island: Matsumoto Shave Ice. For flavours, we opted for strawberry cream, blue pineapple, and ramune. I liked ramune the best and thought the strawberry cream tasted a little reminiscent of cough syrup. Hawaiian shaved ice is quite fine in texture, and overall, refreshing. As we snacked on the shaved ice, we explored the many boutiques and artisan stores set up all around the quaint town. There were so many more restaurants to discover and I lamented that we wouldn’t be going back during our stay in Oahu.
Since we were driving back to Waikiki from Haleiwa, we passed by the Waikele Premium Outlets. It was a pretty standard outlet with many name brand stores. My boyfriend got me a necklace from Kate Spade and then we got some souvenirs at the Honolulu Cookie Company. They had very yummy shortbreads and I got some to take back to my family!
For dinner, we returned to Ala Moana mall. Across from where we bought poke the day before (at Foodland), there was a big Japanese food court. The Shirokiya Japan Village Walk hosted a wide variety of restaurants. There must have been like 40 different stalls we could have ordered from! They also had a section for gachas, as well as a shrine/temple area. The aesthetics of the Japanese walk was really something else.
Given that there were so many things to choose from, the boyfriend and I settled for gyozas, a small ramen, and takoyaki. All were freshly made and so good. We had also wanted to get some Korean fried chicken from one of the stalls but when we went, they were sold out. We didn’t know it at that time, but we’d come back once more for food later on in our trip! During that visit, we got to satisfy our Korean chicken cravings. 🙂
Of course, it seems like every time we pass by a Foodland, we have to visit their poke aisle. We picked up breakfast again for the next 2 days and wrapped up day 3 on the island! We also returned our car in the middle of a squall (these happen quite frequently, but as long as you wait a good 10-20 minutes, it’ll usually pass before you know it) and were glad to not have to deal with finding parking for another night.
Day 4 was rough on our backs because we were already a little sunburnt from Laniakea beach. However, we had booked a shuttle and snorkelling equipment for Hanuama Bay! For around $25 per person, you can book a shuttle and various gear for snorkelling. The shuttle does pick ups all around Waikiki, so that’s super handy since they were waiting for us right outside our hotel lobby. This price does not include the entrance fee ($7.50) you’ll have to pay when you reach the bay.
When you’ve bought your ticket, you can then head over to a small theatre where you’ll watch a short documentary and safety video for Hanauma Bay. Afterwards, you can head down the slope to the bay itself.
I don’t actually know how to swim, but we rented life jackets from the shuttle so it was fine. The water is actually super shallow so there was never any real danger of drowning for me—they even mark the areas where the currents are stronger so that I would remember to stay away.
While we snorkelled, we saw mostly bleached coral, but hidden amongst them were fish of all types! At one point, a seal also swam through all the people in the bay. I’ve never been so close to a wild seal before!
After ample sunbathing and snorkelling, we then hiked back up the hill to the changing rooms. Should you not want to walk, you can pay $1.50 for a trolley to pull you back up as well! The shuttle service we used gives you 4 hours to spend at the bay and will pick you up promptly afterwards. I was starving, and we had about 10 minutes left before the shuttle would leave, so I ordered chicken fingers at the snack bar. Unfortunately, when there was about 3 minutes left, the order was still not ready. I had to tell the employees to just keep the food because we couldn’t wait any longer. It was my mistake for ordering the food with so little time to spare, so I hope they at least got to enjoy the chicken!
Luckily, after we got back to our hotel and changed, I wouldn’t have to wait too long for food. It was September 16th—one day before my birthday. But since my boyfriend’s whole family was arriving on the 17th and we’d be spending it with them, we decided we’d celebrate my birthday a day earlier!
We went to 100 Sails buffet. I am such a sucker for buffets, and 100 Sails delivered. They served free-flowing crab legs, sashimi, deep-fried oysters, mussels, and more! I ate till I couldn’t anymore and then we called it a day.
On day 5, we hung out with the boyfriend’s family. I was super excited to see the boyfriend’s little nephew again!! We all ate brunch at Barefoot Beach Cafe, which gave us a lovely view of Queen’s Beach. It also was only a 10-15 minute walk from our hotel so that was perfect. The rest of the day was spent visiting Costco and Liliha Bakery to pick up food for the family dinner we’d be having at night. It was nice since the boyfriend and I really did need to get our backs out of the sun so our sunburns could heal.
At night, everyone assembled for the family dinner! K and E brought Jollibee chicken, and there was also plenty of poke, salads, and fruits to go around. We rounded off the night with cream puffs from Liliha Bakery…and they surprised me with a giant birthday cake! It was very kind of them and I’m super thankful to have been able to celebrate my birthday with family ❤️
Read up on day 1 and 2 here!