March 6, 2019
The Story of When, Where, How, and Why I planned a trip to Hawaii in a moments notice.
I’m not going to lie. That trip was the most spur of the moment trip I have done! I bought the plane tickets literally two weeks before I was going to leave, and if you know me, that isn’t like me at all! But when everything lines up and my gut screams, “DO IT!”, you do it.
So, let’s start from the beginning… One of MJ’s best friends from high school moved to Hawaii a little over 2 years ago with his now fiance! From the very beginning, they told us that we were more than welcome to come and visit! Timing never lined up though, so we always would say, someday we will, but when we found out they were moving back to Virginia, I knew someday had to be moved to… well now.
I looked up airline tickets, I did my research, and with a free place to stay and access to one of their vehicles, everything added up and before I knew it, I was going to Hawaii!
To sum everything up, this trip would NOT have been possible without my friends and CJ Couple, April and Tim! Seriously, they were the very best hosts and so incredibly kind to allow us to stay for as long as we did, use their car, and be tour guides to us on their days off!
The story of how my friend, Petie, joined me will be in a blog post coming soon, but I am so thankful and happy she was able to come with me on this amazing trip! It wouldn’t have been the same without her!
So, there ya have it! Down below is my 8 day Hawaii itinerary, and below that is a more condensed version of where to go, what to eat, and my best tips and tricks! If you have any questions or anything, please feel free to ask!
Day 1: North Shore
- We stopped by China Man’s Hat! Across the street from Kuoala Ranch where Jurassic Park, 50 First Dates, and many more movies were filmed!
- And then while on our way to the North Shore, we stopped by where a part of Forgetting Sarah Marshall was filmed!
- Next Up, we stopped at a local fruit stand and tasted our first fried banana! It is a MUST try!
- After, it was time for our first smoothie bowl from Haleiwa Bowls! This acai bowl was the best one we had the entire trip!
- We explored a few beaches, and then went shopping around in Haleiwa! Definitely stop in the coffee shop, local art shop, and galleries!
- And then ate some more at Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck! A MUST!
- After spending the afternoon in the North Shore, we went back to the apartment to freshen up and then spent the evening in Waikiki!
- Cinnamon’s is the next restaurant I’ll talk about! Whether you go for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, get the red velvet or guava pancakes!! You will not regret it!
Day 2: East Side
- Sunrise Hike at Makapuu Lighthouse Trail – I 100% recommend start this hike an hour before the sun comes up, and after you watch the sun rise and are starting to walk down, look for different trails to walk up the hill to see different views!
- We got smoothie bowls from Kokonuts! I definitely recommend this spot!
- After we went over to Sandy Beach to lay out, but once we realized we weren’t able to swim (crazy waves), we went to a beach right where Makapuu Lighthouse Trail is located.
- Duckalua was so empty and was clearly a beach only locals really knew about! Not the softest beach, but to have a place all to yourself? We made it work!
- After soaking in some sun, we headed back and stopped at a Dole Pineapple truck and got ourselves a pineapple smoothie!
- Right from there, we headed to Waikiki again to go on the Sunset Sail through
- 100% recommend this sunset sail (booze cruise)! You can make reservations online or (on a weekday) pay right on the boat!
- We began our day with the best pastries I have ever had…
- YOU MUST STOP HERE! Not only is it the best pastry you will ever eat, but it’s also a $1 each!! How crazy!? (The ladies are also the sweetest!)
- After there, we went on a waterfall hike called Manoa Falls! This hike is relatively easy (muddy because of the rain), but easy!
- Then we stopped by the house to eat lunch and pack for Electric Beach.
- Electric Beach is another beach not a lot of tourists know about AND is great for snorkeling! I saw a sea turtle!
- For dinner, we got some BBQ and then called it a night! (AKA I slept for like 12 hours haha!)
Day 4: Honolulu and Waikiki
- We started at Arvo Coffee! (Highly recommend!)
- Did a little shopping and stopped for the smoothie bowl of the day at a place called Nalu!
- We then hiked Diamond Head! It was an easy hike (muddy and slippery in places because of the rain), and I recommend going in the morning to avoid crowds!
- While we were up there, I witnessed (and took photos) of a proposal!!
- After this we stopped by a 7-11, and this is where I ate my first (and only) misaboo
- And then for Valentine’s Day evening, we stalked the beaches of Waikiki to see if we could catch anymore proposals! Sadly, we didn’t get to see any, but it was a beautiful sunset!
- We headed to Duke’s for dinner! We got lucky and snagged two seats at the bar, but if you want to eat dinner here, I highly recommend making reservations! It was crowded every night!
- What to get a Duke’s… The Sunset Beach is the best drink ever!! And I got the fish tacos… SO good!
Day 5: Headshot Day
- We made a day where we were going to wake up, get ready (makeup and all), and head to beautiful places to get some photos of each other!
- First up, PASTRIES (duh)
- Next, we headed to Makapuu Beach!
- Then we spent the afternoon at Duckalua Beach to soak in some sun and then take more photos!
- And if there is one thing to note about Hawaii, Mother Nature is MOODY. It will randomly pour on you at any given time and you cannot trust the weather apps!
- So, once we got dumped on by rain while doing headshots, we went to dinner at Kono Brewery! It was really good, and I enjoyed the beer!
Day 6: East Side
- We started with a sunrise hike at Lanikai Pillbox! AND take this advice, this hike is NOT as easy as other blogs say it is. And everyone who did this hike that morning can a-test to that!
- Many blogs say that the first 5 minutes are hard (because it is- you are scaling a muddy hill by rope), and then it’s easy from there… LIES. It’s very comparable to moderate rock climbing.
- And then it’s all fun and games until you have to go down the hike…
- It’s 100% worth it, but just don’t go into this hike with expectations that it’s an easy hike!
- After we finished the hike, we walked back to where we parked (Kailua Beach Park) and realized what a great parking spot we happened to stumble upon!
- So we walked downtown to get some much needed coffee and food!
- We got coffee at Morning Brew, and I highly recommend this place for both the food and the coffee! It was perfect.
- After coffee, it began to pour, so we shopped around in all the little boutiques and I’m so glad we did!
- The people in this area are LOVELY and so kind. We got many food recommendations, and then headed to Over Easy for breakfast!
- After breakfast, we walked around town some more to find cute places to shop and find a smoothie bowl place (duh).
- We were searching for Makai Bowls, and it’s so small that we passed it twice! So make sure to look out for this small blue shack! The smoothie bowl was SO good and I highly recommend finding it for yourself!
- After some more exploring, we headed back to the beach! With a pit stop at Island Snow for some Shave Ice! (This place is a MUST!) We loved it!
- Once we got to the beach, we soaked in the sun while it was out (it rained on us twice haha)!
Day 7: North Shore
- We explored all our favorite places on the North Shore!
- Kualoa Ranch (We didn’t go into the ranch, but we did stop by the private beach and the docks where I saw this view!)
- This tree has been in countless movies and shows! It’s across the street from the fruit stand from the first day!
- Then we had our first photo session for Tim and April! (Photos coming later)
Day 8: Last Day (Beach Day)
- We knew we wanted a relaxing day before going on the plane later that night, so we went to our favorite beach, Lanikai!
- But we stopped at Morning Brew before for some food and coffee! The perfect way to start our day!
- Lanikai Beach did NOT disappoint! It was beautiful all day long, and after some beautiful day at the beach we stopped by Island Snow for one last shave ice!
- After, we did one more session with April and Tim at Lanikai!
Hawaii was amazing in every single way and I think we made the most of each moment we had there! Listed below are my favorite things we did, ate, and saw while in Oahu! I hope this helps!
Fav Places to Eat:
- Haleiwa Bowls (smoothie bowl)
- Kokonuts (smoothie bowl)
- Nalu (smoothie bowl)
- Maiki Bowls (smoothie bowl)
- Arvo (coffee and avocado taost)
- Over Easy (EVERYTHING)
- Cinnamons (red velvet or guava pancakes)
- Duke’s (get a fancy drink and try anything, also make a reservation)
- Kona Brewery (great beer and fish tacos)
Hikes We Did:
- Makapuu Lighthouse Trail (Easy, 45 minutes, Beautiful at sunrise)
- Moana Waterfall Hike
- Diamond Head Hike
- Lanikai Pillbox Hike (Medium to Hard, do NOT listen to other blog posts that say it’s easy, muddy, Beautiful at sunrise)
- Lanikai Beach (the prettiest beach, in my opinion)
- Electric Beach (snorkeling)
- Duckalua Beach (very secluded and beautiful)
- Sandy Beach (lots of parking, food trucks, and pretty beach)
- Hikes at sunrise are 100% worth it and very recommended! Parking is easier, temperature is great, way LESS people, and the view, colors, and experience is indescribable!
- Do research before you leave. We had a great tour guide while there, so that really helped us, but I am SO glad I did research before we left! Pinterest is amazing!
- Do not trust any weather apps. Just go with what you see and what you feel. We always had layers packed in the car if we needed them!
- Bring a backpack! I used mine every single day! So helpful! (I actually brought two and used both many times!)
- Also bring a reusable water bottle!
- Make sure you bring cash! Some of the best food trucks only except cash!
- We were lucky enough to have a car, but if you don’t, definitely rent one! 100% get one! It’s worth every penny to be able to drive around the island!
Things we didn’t do, but read about:
- Hanauma Bay Beach (It’s amazing for snorkeling, but there is a fee because it’s a National Park! I heard it’s beautiful though)
- Waimea Bay Beach (The North Shore has CRAZY waves in the winter, so we weren’t able to spend too much time on the beaches there!)
- Koko Head Hike (This hike is HARD, and I had injured my tail bone literally hours before we left for Hawaii, so this wasn’t going to be able to happen!)
- Crouching Lion Hike (Also HARD, and same as above!)
- Food – Seven Brothers (Heard they have amazing burgers!)