Waikiki!

No trip to Oahu is complete without a visit to one of the most famous beaches in the world: Waikiki!

Hotels right on the beach are crazy expensive, but luckily there are plenty of more affordable options a few blocks inland, all within walking distance of the legendary beach. On the walk to the beach there are many shops and restaurants, where you can buy anything from cheap souvenirs to designer duds. We made a pit stop at Island Vintage Coffee, which served the most tasty coffee beverages, as well as lots of delicious and natural food offerings. We grabbed some stuff to go, and headed to the beach!

My coconut mocha latte…yummy!

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One of the entrances to the beach off of Kalakaua Ave (the main drag of Waikiki):

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Yay! Coffee on the beach = perfection!

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We bought this delicious papaya filled with Greek yogurt and fruit at Island Vintage Coffee… it was one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had!

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My pedicure matched my lei hehe

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Enjoying the warm Hawaiian sun…

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Even in December, the water was still warm enough to enjoy swimming in, especially since the sun was so hot. Definitely not “bath water” warm though.

After the beach, we did some shopping!

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I know I can shop at these places back in LA anytime I want, but there is something fun about doing it on vacation. And now the purchases double as souvenirs.

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Our second day spent at Waikiki started off with a journey to find spam musubi for lunch…

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This place was easy to find and had awesome reviews. And the reviews were right…this spam musubi was delicious!!!

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When visiting Hawaii, you kinda just have to try some sort of food with SPAM in it. Personally, I love SPAM, and don’t care what it is made of. That stuff is tasty! Especially when made into spam musubi.

Such a beautiful sight… and at less than $2 per spam musubi, we bought a whole bag full of them!

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And then took it to the beach for a little picnic.

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Another one of the iconic images of Waikiki- a statue of Duke Kahanamoku, the man known as “the father of modern surfing”.

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Waikiki is a beautiful beach. However, it is also a very crowded and commercialized beach, crawling with tourists. For a more serene and relaxing experience, perhaps consider trying a different beach. Waikiki is best visited basically for bragging rights, and being able to say you have been to Waikiki. But still definitely a must-see on Oahu, so don’t head home before setting foot on the famed shores of Waikiki!

Honolulu!

For as long as I can remember, taking our family to Hawaii was my dad’s dream vacation. But let’s face it- Hawaii is a freaking expensive place to visit, especially for a middle class family of five. So years went by with this trip being nothing more than a dream…until this past December (2014). All of us children are grown up now, and were able to help make this trip a reality for our dad. And so bright and early one December morning, we left Los Angeles and flew to Honolulu!!

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We decided to take this trip in December because it was just after the peak season, so prices were lower. Here was our itinerary: spend two nights in Honolulu, and then board a cruise ship that would spend the next week taking us to Maui, Hawaii (the big island), and Kauai, and then have another half day on Oahu before taking a red eye flight home. Several cruise lines offer Hawaiian cruises, but Norwegian Cruise Line is the only one that takes you to more than one island like that. And seriously, for first-time visitors to Hawaii, I absolutely recommend taking this cruise! It gives you a nice sampler of the most popular islands and ports, so you can see very diverse areas of this beautiful state. And then, you can always go back sometime in the future to spend more time on whichever island you liked best! It might surprise you… I was certain I would like Maui best, but it turns out, I liked the Big Island better. Go figure.

On with the trip! Upon landing in Honolulu, we were greeted with leis (this isn’t free anymore…we had to pay extra for that), picked up the rental car, and headed to find food! Of course, I had to drag us to the Hard Rock Cafe Honolulu!!

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And ordered the local burger.

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In fact, my whole family did.

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No joke- BEST BURGER OF MY ENTIRE LIFE!! And my whole family agreed. We spent the rest of the trip talking about these burgers, and months later, we are still talking about them. My sister and I even have framed photos of these burgers hanging up in our homes. We take our food seriously, haha.

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Lest anyone think Honolulu is the tropical paradise classic Elvis movies lead you to believe it is, let me be the first to break it to you: it isn’t. The whole area of Honolulu near Waikiki is as commercialized and developed as Los Angeles. Here is the magical view from our hotel:

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Nevertheless, Honolulu is still definitely worth experiencing. My dad, one of my sisters, and I (my other sister felt sick from the flight still, so our mom kept her company back in the room) set out to see the city on foot!

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Waikiki!! This was a private stretch of the beach… a little closer to the Waikiki of “Blue Hawaii” days.

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Yay! We were lucky enough to be exploring on the night of a local farmer’s market and craft fair.

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And we found this delightful booth selling natural popsicles ❤

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They were soooo good!! They are made in Hawaii, but apparently can be purchased back in LA at stores like Whole Foods. If you can find them anywhere, buy some!!! They were crazy delicious.

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Us southern Californians are babies when it comes to the temperature. I was glad to have a lightweight sweater cause I thought it was chilly from time to time, but most other people seemed fine in shorts and tank tops.

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I loved all the Hawaiian Christmas decor… festive lights in Palm trees!

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With our first day in Honolulu coming to an end, we returned to the hotel to prepare for a very full day ahead of us!