What you can squeeze into a weekend in Hawaii: O’ahu

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I’ve been traveling for my job for many years now and get sent all over the United States. I’ve never gotten asked to go to Hawaii until just a couple weeks ago. Knowing the odds of getting sent a second time would be slim to none, I attempted to fit as much in as I could in what little time I had. Booking the earliest flight in Friday morning and the latest flight out Sunday night made this possible. Here’s what I was able to squeeze in to this short trip: 

{Pearl Harbor}

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Friday: I landed at noon, picked up my rental car and headed straight for Pearl Harbor. The USS Arizona tour was free and incredible. I consider myself a history buff (almost double majored in it!) but I still learned quite a bit from the movie they show at the beginning of the tour. Afterwards, we took a boat across the harbor to visit the memorial site, which sits directly above the sunken ship. You can read the names of all the people lost on that day, as well as peer down into the water to see the ship, just underneath. Being at the site is incredibly heavy, but this is a cemetery and a story that shouldn’t be missed.

{Waikiki}

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Friday evening: My work was located in Waikiki, so that’s where I stayed. This is the really tourist-y area, so of course it’s crowded, but there are also a lot of great restaurants and shops, if that’s what you’re into. I was able to snag a few of my meals at Lulu’s, right on the beach. The 2nd floor has excellent open air and a counter that runs along the entire front. I was able to connect to their wifi while getting a little work done. Not a bad office…

Saturday Morning: After eating breakfast on the beach, I walked around the farmer’s market and beach. Right across the street is the Honolulu Zoo, and several small parks to hang out in. If I hadn’t had to work all day, that’s where I would have gone!

{Diamond Head Crater}

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Sunday: I had 12 hours from the time I got up until I had to head back to the airport. I woke up early (the only time I’ve been thankful for jet lag)  and got started with my list of must-do activities. Hiking up Diamond Head was suggested by every person who I’d spoken with about the trip. The trip up to view the crater was much shorter and faster than I expected. It’s only a .8 mile and with my long legs and big ass stride, it took me less than a half hour to get to the top. The view is amazing and the wind will cool you off!

{Drive the Coast}

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While there’s a highway that cuts straight through the middle of the island, I wanted to take the coastal route as much as possible. Since I was told you can get around the entire island in under 4 hours, I decided it would be worth the time to drive around the long way. The views were spectacular and you really got a feel for the island culture.

{Surfing on the North Shore}

Sophie, one of the participants from my workshop the day before was a surf instructor and invited me out to the North Shore for a lesson. Since the North Shore was on my wish list anyway, it worked out perfectly. Sophie is from California but has been coming to Oahu with her family her entire life. It was great to have a guide with local knowledge. We surfed (well, she surfed, I attempted to surf) Chun’s Reef, a perfect beginner break for my haole ass. ; ) I’ve surfed probably 10 times in my life, and that was the last time I lived in San Diego, over 5 years ago. I was definitely starting from scratch again but she taught me well and we took our time. The water and the waves were definitely different from what I’d experienced in San Diego (read: warmer and clearer) and I must say I liked surfing here way better!

{Riding bikes along the shoreline}

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My buddy had a couple of bikes of her own but you can rent them from places around the area. There’s a great bike path that runs all along the beach.  I loved the path particularly because it was separate from the main road and I didn’t feel as though I was risking life and limb. We rode from her place towards Waimea Bay and back, passing briefly by the famous Banzai Pipeline surf break. We also got rained on about 10 times…

{Shark’s Cove}

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We stopped at this rocky little bay to grab lunch across the street at what’s apparently the Food Truck hub of the island (get the Ahi tuna sandwich!!). Afterward, we headed out to the tide pools to check things out and take some photos. Snorkeling is pretty popular here and it’s easy to see why. The clear, shallow water seems to have abundant reef and sea life to check out. The bay was packed with families and we arrived just in time for a rainbow. : )

{Hawaiian Shaved Ice… The Real Deal}

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My buddy, Brian, used to work in a shave-ice stand and so he’s ridiculously particular about this ish, and raves about the “real deal” here. There is the famous Matsumoto’s, but also a bunch of other vendors around. We were able to snag some on the way home and it fit perfectly in my bike’s cup holder. And while the photo I snapped, with the trash cans, wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing, I meeeeeean… Biking on an island whilst eating strawberry flavored sugar ice; I call that vacay perfection.

After, I had to hop in the car to be able to get across the island, return my rental car, and catch my flight. But before this post ends…

If you’re going to O’ahu, here are a couple tips:

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1. If you’re staying in Waikiki, don’t get a car. It’s crazy expensive to park it and free parking is almost impossible to snag.

2. Don’t stay in Honolulu the whole time. You can get to the other parts of the island in no time at all. Rent a car for the day. You can obviously get a lot accomplished in a short amount of time!

3. Be prepared for the rain, or just stop caring about getting wet. It rained appx. every 15 minutes while I was there. I brought a rain jacket with me, but hardly used it as the rain goes away just as quickly as it comes along. Don’t bother doing your hair anyway. It’s windy, so you’re better off just cruising island-style and natural-like while you’re there.

4. And as always, buy local and respect the land. The locals here are amazing and have lots to offer. From hand-made souvenirs, to amazing food, to suggestions on what to do and how to enjoy yourself, they’ve got you covered. Ignore the chain stores and search out the small shops and cafes on the coast. You’ll be supporting them and they appreciate it!

The trip was entirely too short, but I’m glad I was able to get a lot in. I’m hoping it’s not my last time there!

Aloha, O’ahu. Mahalo!

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