My honest preconception of Hawaii prior to this trip: Disneyland for adults, and don't forget the lose pants. I was really interested in the food more than anything, like most places I travel. With the help of local bloggers and native friends who reside in Hawai'i, I found inspiration. What was the fascination about this place? Yes, Hawai'i is as American as it can get, but not really. It provides the American 'large size' food offerings + you can spot a starbucks here and there. However, once you look around and absorb yourself with the people, the culture, the air, you begin to understand what it's really about. You literally have to just drop your bags, put on your sunny's, look up, and breathe. Breathe until you can feel and taste the air.
Our itinerary: Oahu 5 days, Maui 4 days.
We hit Hanauma Bay in Oahu on our first day to get in on the snorkeling action. This was almost a necessary step to get started on the Hawaiian lifestyle. I doubt any locals go there, and we were just a few of the thousands of tourists that were there. But guess what? I was a tourist, and I milked that status throughout the whole trip~
We couldn't leave Honolulu without checking the local farmers markets. Luckily we hit some pretty cool ones, and discovered some tasty eats!
When we would stop alongside a road to navigate via google maps, random locals will stop and ask if we were ok. Do people do this in New York? Genuine, friendly folks here. Us tight urban folks need to learn to chill out, the Hawaiian way.
Overall, the food was great (but be prepared for the portions and salt levels), and the locals were just sincere and endearing. My curiosity was met. Look forward to going back and checking out the other islands!
Below is a short of some places we checked out, and some of the places we will next time...
Tokkuri-Tei (best Izakaya, try to sit at the sushi bar and ask for Chef Yuji)
Iyasume Cafe (best spam musubi's)
Romy's Shrimp Truck
Malasadas (amazing Portuguese donuts)
Pig & the Lady (Vietnamese, the farmers market was better than the restaurant)
Monkey Pod (local bistro)
Rainbow’s (classic, classic, classic)
Matsumoto’s Shaved Ice (North Shore)
Zippy’s (locally run by an Okinawan family; open 24 hours and lots of variety)
Diamond Head Grill (the BEST SCONES EVER!)
Sam Sotos (best saimin noodles)
Ululani's Shaved Ice (preferred over Matsumoto's)