If you asked me to describe my perfect family getaway it would probably consist of the following…. my family, a healthy amount of Poke, plenty of beach time, a daily dose of acai bowls and not a care in the world!! Sounds pretty incredible right? That's exactly what's in store for this edition of Gaby's Guide to Oahu!
Table of Contents
A few weeks ago we packed our bags headed to O‘ahu for a week of relaxation and ALL THE FOOD. It was this years Dalkin Surprise Vacation and it was one for the record books! Before we get into the food - let's quickly talk lodging. We rented a house via Airbnb!! It was a pro-move in my opinion, especially with a toddler. It's so nice to be able to have access to a kitchen, make her breakfast, and then bring food back to the house and eat dinner outside watching the waves. There are TONS of hotels on the other side of the island that we've stayed at before - do whatever floats your boat. But if you're North Shore, rent a house or apartment for sure!
COFFEE + BREAKFAST + BRUNCH:
Ted's Bakery - There is always a line and they are famous for their chocolate haupia pie. Go early, it's a fun treat!
Sunrise Shack - Cute. Great Açaí bowls! Excellent smoothies. We went literally every day.
Haleiwa Bowls - More Açaí bowls!! And bonus, it's right in Haleiwa and there's a ton of cute shops / cafes close by!
Mikes Huli Huli Chicken - Pick it up and eat back at your house or hotel vs sit there and eat. The chicken is excellent as is the sauce.
Waialua Bakery - They bake their own bread and roast the turkeys, grow the veggies, the whole thing. The sandwiches are worth a trip 100%
Kahuku Farms - Super cute farm and a great stop for lunch. There's space to run around and play if you have kids too!
Fresh Catch – Okay at first glance you might be all like, whaaaaat? Why is Gaby sending us to what looks like a Taco Bell-ish restaurant. Well, let me tell you. Looks can be deceiving!! It’s the most epic “fast food” joint on the island and it’s made up of all sorts of Poke. What? Incredible. Various marinated ahi tuna with different spices, dressings etc, and then piled high on top of a mound of rice. You could have left me here for hours and I would have been content.
Lei Leis Bar and Grill - This one is at Turtle Bay. HIGHLY recommend whole rib eye, double grilled pork chop and IF they have a whole fish special - GET IT.
Papa Oles Kitchen - It's a must! Get the Puleu rib/shrimp plate. Kalbi plate is also amazing and their Teri chicken is delectable. Plates are HUUUUUUGE and the food is DIVINE!!!
Tamuras - BEST POKE!!! The aunties make it all fresh ahi and big chunks of fish. If they have garlic crab poke any time you go, BUY IT!
The Pig and the Lady – Here’s the deal, China Town in Honolulu is a must. There are a few gems that you can’t miss and this is one of them. With an eclectic Vietnamese menu you really can’t go wrong any way you turn. But if it we’re up to me… I’d opt for the weekly Bánh mì special. YES!!
The Manifest – While we didn’t get to spend a ton of time in China Town, we did hit up The Manifest for a few cocktails. It’s a fun little bar with plenty of locals and great people watching if that’s your thing!!
DESSERTS & DRINKS:
Liliha Bakery – I mean, what’s a trip without the occasional indulgence right? Liliha Bakery, home to the best cocoa puffs on the island was basically a one-stop shop of the most epic sugar fix. Their cocoa puffs are chocolate-filled puffed pastries that seriously rival anything I made in pastry school.
Leonard’s Bakery – while we’re on the topic of sweets, we’ve got to talk about malasadas. Malasadas are a Portuguese doughnut without a hole and they are majorly famous from Leonard’s Bakery kitchen. Basically fried dough dusted with sugar. I mean, what more can I say. It’s basically what dreams are made of.
Lappert’s – I mean, have you known me to ever pass up an opportunity to eat ice cream? I think not. Lappert’s is famous on the island and it lives up to its reputation 100%. Trust me when I tell you… Coconut Pineapple ice cream. Done and done.
Duke’s Restaurant and Barefoot Bar – I mean, it’s the home of the Mai Tai!! And it’s 100% mandatory for a cocktail sometime during your trip!
THINGS TO DO:
Wild Side Specialty Tours – It’s a must if you want a boat excursion. Our caption for the day was epic and we frolicked with dolphins for a solid 90 minutes before moving on to dive with sea turtles. For someone who is convinced they are going to encounter a great white shark upon entering the ocean, I certainly was over that by the end of the day!
Outrigger Canoe - Faith Surf School has hands down one of the best teams on the island that's going to rock your world when it comes time to learn how to man an Outrigger Canoe! It's kinda mind boggling to think that people used to travel from island to island on these things - it's some serious hard work!! But it's all worth it when you catch a wave and ride into shore looking like a pro!
Pipeline - Go watch the surfers catch some giant waves at Pipe!! It's a great beach, so long as the waves aren't too massive, and a great place to watch the pros.
KCC Farmers Market – Okay here’s the deal. It’s the most famous farmers market on the island and it’s an absolute must visit, but be warned… it’s a mob scene. Go early to try and avoid the crowds and be sure to sample plenty of local flavors!! There are a ton of stalls from local restaurants serving a sample of their menu and having a Bánh mì sandwich at 8:45 in the morning seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to do!
Makapu'u Lighthouse Hike – One of the most gorgeous vistas that I got to experience on this trip was at the top of the Makapu'u hike. It’s not crazy hard by any means so it’s 100% family friendly!
Kualoa Tours – I mean, who wouldn’t want to cruise around Kualoa Ranch and pretend they are in Jurassic Park or Lost. It’s one of the most gorgeous parks on the island and you can opt for a horseback ride tour or an ATV expedition. I vote horseback riding because then you feel like you could legit be in a movie ☺
Waimanalo Beach – Some of the beaches on O‘ahu are packed… but not Waimanalo Beach! It’s pretty much the most perfect beach with white sand, aqua water and enough space to set up shop for the day under some palm trees and relax with friends.
I'm confused about this post. You say were just there last week, but the comments are from 2014! Is this just something you dug up from the archives? Restaurant info will probably not be accurate from that long ago. Looks beautiful though.
just updated an old post with new info - I've been many times and update it every time I have new finds
We're going to Oahu in January - and I'm adding all of these to my list of must do's, must eat's and must stay's!!
What an amazing trip! Beautiful photographs 🙂
A must stop / must eat place is Ted's Bakery in Sunset (north shore of O'ahu). Best pies (chocolate haupia), coffee, plate lunches - everything so ono!
WOW! Everything looks amazing! I want to hop on a plane right now!! Hawaii is on our list of places to go. Pinning this guide to reference when we start planning.
I'm dying over these photos! I want to transport myself there right now! Great review of your favorites, Gaby!
Wow! Nice round up! I have never been to Oahu, but you make it sound like one of the islands that cannot be missed. Next time we plan a Hawaiian trip, I will be sure to go and reference all these places!!!!
Gorgeous pictures! My husband and I went a few years ago and loved it! I'm sad that you missed the North Shore because it was awesome! When you go back be sure to get some shave ice. It's better here than anywhere else! Oh, and I'd add Pearl Harbor as a must. Sobering, but worth it. Now I want to go back!
We went to Honolulu back ion February to celebrate out 7th wedding anniversary! We just loved it! I loved re-living our trip through your post!