Honolulu, Hawaii with the Locals

Little P and I (Jamie) just took a pretty amazing budget vacation (Tim had to work because he needs to rack up some vacation hours- you know how it goes- we missed him a ton).  Anywho, it helps to know the right people ;-) (aka people who live in tropical places) and P and I are lucky enough to have my Dad and Stepmom who live for part of the year in Honolulu, Hawaii! They were wonderful hosts and I thought it would be interesting to share what people who actually live in Honolulu recommend to do on a vacation there as my Dad and Stepmom took us to do lots of fun things.

The Beach the Locals go to:  Ala Moana Beach Park

Waikiki Beach, where all of the tourists go, is an experience that you may want to have on your trip but it is hectic! We wanted a nice calm beach where we could spread out and relax. My Dad and Stepmom took us to Ala Moana Beach Park and it was perfect! Chill enough for the adults but there were still other families and kids for little P to play with.  I swear she would have stayed there making sand castles for 24 hours if we let her.

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Adjacent to Ala Moana Beach Park is Magic Island, a little peninsula where everyone on the island of Oahu seems to be taking their wedding pictures because the views from Magic Island are amazing. My Dad pointed out that this would be the perfect place to take photos for my Instagram :-) 

Here's the view of Magic Island from the beach:

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And my Insta worthy photos ;-) taken from Magic Island (photo credit of the pic of me goes to mi padre) :

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Shopping

Ala Moana Center

Across the street from Ala Moana Beach Park is Ala Moana Center, the "largest shopping center in Hawaii". There are several worthwhile reasons to visit this mall. 

- They have a Hula show at the central stage every day but Sunday at 1:00

Big Island Candies My Stepmother introduced me to this store as the perfect spot for souvenirs. It's not cheap but their candies, cookies (especially the macadamia nut shortbread) and brownies are SO GOOD.  Like, so so good. Like I may have bought some to give to someone else and then ate them.  They are also all packaged in adorable little boxes and containers. Perfect for gifts or your next KonMari project.

- Shirokiya Japan Village Walk: Ala Moana Center has a Japanese food court! Lots of fun and you can get beer there for $1!

If You're Plus Sized

There are a few Forever 21s (that's right, I said Forever 21) in Honolulu, but the best one by far is the one "on Waikiki". Specifically : 2301 Kalakaua Ave #209, Honolulu, HI 96815. Why am I telling you about Forever 21 when you have one in your home town? Because this is a three story shop with an entire floor dedicated to plus sizes, something that you unfortunately don't see in most cities.  

 

The Perfect Day Trip

One of my favorite things to do in Oahu was drive to the other side of the island. Our first stop was at Waialua Bakery in Haleiwa. It was so charming and so delicious. I had a turkey sandwich with hand carved turkey that they roasted on site. The bread was amazing.  The cookies were amazing. The banana bread...was LIFE CHANGING. Best banana bread I have ever had. 

Next, we headed to Mokuleia Beach Park, a few miles West of Haleiwa along Farrington Highway. We were four of about seven people there and I think this was my favorite beach because of it. P highly recommends playing in the tide pools and looking for sea turtles. Additionally, the beach is right by an air field with sky diving and you can watch groups of people sailing through the sky as you relax in the sand.   Another cool little tidbit, according to my Dad, is "We were a few hundred yards away from a place owned by one of President Obama's high-school friends, where Obama often visits when he's here on Oahu. "

We took the slow, breathtakingly beautiful, coastal route clockwise around the island from Mokuleia back to Waikiki, passing all of the famous big-wave beaches--Waimea Bay, Banzai Pipeline and Sunset Beach. We also drove past Turtle Bay Resort, where "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" was filmed. As we headed south along the east shore, we went by Kualoa Ranch, where "Jurassic Park" and "50 First Dates" were shot.

 

On Your Way to the Airport

La Mariana Sailing Club

This place! I think I had originally seen it on one of Anthony Bourdain's shows. Founded in 1957, La Mariana's tiki bar is the real deal and it's just a few minutes away from the airport. There's often music and impromptu hula dancing. We sang along to "Sweet Caroline" as little P enjoyed some of the best fruit punch I had ever tasted and we had some grown up drinks and a yummy dinner (I had macadamia nut pesto pasta and chicken).

And then we headed home.  Sigh. Truly a vacation to remember. It was especially wonderful because of my Dad and Stepmother and their tips for enjoying Honolulu to it's fullest.  Thank you, guys!