We have returned from our honeymoon in Hawaii with full hearts and to be honest 5kilos heavier (thanks for that, damn tasty island food) i can’t even begin to tell you how amazing the experience was, it truly is more lush, vibrant, spiritual and awe inspiring than anything i have ever read or seen, honestly photos do not do Hawaii justice..you need to see it for yourself! We chose two islands to visit (Oahu and Maui) rather than trying to pack them all in and i think that was the best decision we could have made, we had plenty of time on our 13 day trip to see/do all that we wanted to.
I thought i would write up a little travel guide (based on our experience) as there were so many small gems and places we found ourselves in that i couldn’t wait to share with you all, if your heading to Oahu and Maui soon then get up, in and all around this post!
We arrived fresh off a 8 1/2 hour flight from Melbourne to a warm and golden Oahu, before we were able to check into our hotel we decided to check out Waikiki Beach in Honolulu and find coffee, the hilarious hour or so of attempting left hand drive and trying to find said coffee burned through some time before we rested our weary bodies on the grassy section of the beach and felt the buzz of excitement. Waikiki is great for tourists wanting to hire boards, drink Mai Tai’s on the sand, check out the pink hotel and just take in the awesomeness!
DIAMOND HEAD CRATER
If you noticed a huge volcanic beauty through the window of your plane upon landing, that my friends is Diamond Head Crater, a huge iconic piece of Honolulu that has been in many of the Elvis movies / posters in our collection and pretty much thats that reason we wanted to stand right in the middle of it (or in my Husbands case, throw a frisbee) hot tip though you do pay upon entry and aside from trekking up to see the amazing view there is not a whole lot else to do other than marvel at its beauty (yes…we went unprepared, ahem).
VINTAGE IN HONOLULU
To be completely honest there is not a huge amount of vintage shops on offer, however the ones that are there are brilliant, we managed to pop into at least three but these two were our favourites to poke around in. Tin Can Mailman is a hub of Hawaiian and Polynesian bliss, not much clothing on offer however the homewares and books were drool worthy, i kept muttering to myself “damn the suitcase size” we wanted a beautiful piece of Hawaii to come home with us so we chose a 1950’s Hula Girl and she is just the sweetest thing, she takes pride of place in our living room now. Barrio is that old haunt that reminds you of your vintage local, chatty and super friendly owners and a range of clothing priced so reasonable that you look over at your Husband and let out a weird groan and do a lazy eye/open mouth face of delight, although nothing i liked fit me (noooo) my hubby walked away with an amazing 1940’s knitted cardigan. Check these two out if you can, seriously great!
BAILEY’S ALOHA SHIRTS IN HONOLULU
Here it is, the holy grail for a vintage aloha shirt loving man. When i tell you we went to Bailey’s three times on different days i am not jerking your chicken, he was obsessed/didn’t even know where to start, they literally have…everything! Any design, style, reproductions and a sweet collection of authentic vintage & antique shirts hanging from the ceiling for you to gawk in awe over. My Husband walked in wearing this amazing vintage shirt he found tucked away in a vintage shop (bought it for $45) and they instantly recognised it as an original..worth around $2000+ he was a pretty chuffed man thats for sure….and i think we are going to frame that sucker / tell everyone that story for the rest of our lives!
LA MARIANA SAILING CLUB
Down a few sneaky roads a couple of concerned “are we in the right place” looks and your there..bam..right in the outskirts of Honolulu sits probably the best hot tip i can ever give you, if you love tiki, cocktails and damn good sticky chicken then i beg you to please visit this amazing place. We loved it so much we returned twice and to be honest was one of the highlights of our trip, whilst you sip on your Mai Tai and look around at all the 50’s tiki goodness a man will be playing show tunes at his keyboard and you drift off in a haze of vintage bliss. You can read all about its amazing history here.
JAI DEE THAI MASSAGE
Quite possibly the best massage i have had…ever..thats right…ever! I knew i wanted a massage as soon as we landed but finding a place that wasn’t absolutely ridiculous pricing was really hard, my husband did some sleuthing and we found Jai Dee which was only $100 for a couple which is brilliant, you need to make your way through a building that looks like someone is about to jump out and take your kidney but as soon as they open their door its clean & bright with an amazing couples room with a city view, they were professional and lovely and we left feeling relaxed and jelly like for our flight to Maui.
After a week in Maui we took a short plane ride back to Oahu and an hour or so drive up to Kaneohe, an insanely beautiful part of the island that kinda made you want to start looking into a green card, the people are lovely and it had the relaxed vibe of Maui with a little bit of the bustle from Honolulu mixed in. We booked an airbnb for a few nights with an amazing couple Jesse and Susie who were everything you would hope your hosts would be, generous, lovely and very informative of the islands hot spots. We set up camp in their amazing Yurt, had outdoor showers and hung out with their puppy all the while waking up to their incredible view. Look them up if your planning to visit Kaneohe.
Always wanted to fake running away from dinosaurs whilst being at the place they filmed (1 scene..it still counts) Jurassic Park? Yup…us too, Kuala Ranch was just straight up awesome, its like the place you dream of as a kid, horse ride tours, old school bus tours, food and other cool stuff n things, but its even better because your an adult (yesss) this was our last stop before jumping on a plane the next day back home and it was the perfect way to end the honeymoon. If you decide to go its only a short drive from Kaneohe and its an all day kinda activity so prep yourself with water and snacks!
This is where it gets good people, real good!! After a super long and enduring flight of 20min we arrived in Maui after the hustle and bustle of Honolulu it felt weird and strange to arrive to a sense of relaxed calm, chickens were hanging around the airport and people moved at a slower pace, it instantly brought us back to a space of wanderlust as if a huge adventure was about to take place..and it really did! We hired a Jeep, and thats a big one to remember i think to definitely get a Jeep (the roads around Hana are super rocky) and took off to Lahania which was to be our home for the next week, a mildly busy strip of shops and cafe’s with the beach a 5min drive down the road. I think we chose well to have our base here as it meant nowhere was too long of a drive away and when it rained around the island Lahania always missed it a little too.
HO’OKIPA BEACH & MAUI OCEAN CENTRE
If you were desperate to see turtles like i was then try Ho’okipa Beach, although they are not always there we were lucky enough to see a few basking in the little sun we had and getting some chill time, it was such a beautiful encounter and one i will always remember. We tried to not get too close, but the urge to give one a cuddle was so strong ( i resisted ) they also follow the rocks in the evenings to feed so hopefully you may get lucky too! The ocean centre is pretty amazing too, we were rained out one afternoon and decided we would see some local animals (since we are not huge snorkelling fans) they have an amazing aquarium so its a good one to fill in a little time!
NAPILI DISC GOLF PARK
As my Husband is an avid Disc Golf player (i try..and kinda suck at it) we took a drive to Napili Park and threw a few discs, the weather was a little rainy but the view from the course was amazing, its a fun little course thats right near a main road but if your looking to play there is around three courses in Maui available.
ROAD TO HANA: SOUTH SIDE (VIA UPCOUNTRY)
This is by far my favourite part of Maui, the road to Hana. We took the south side first (which is the blue line with 2hours & 21min) and the east side the next day (blue line with 1hr & 47min). Its an experience you need to be well prepared for, shop for snacks, suncream, road trip essentials etc…bring a change of clothes & shoes and lots of water. The south side was absolutely breathtaking with rolling hills and then flat pastures, lots of animals and waterfalls along the way. We passed churches with roaming chickens and we stopped to feed the horses apples and paid our respects to the great Charles Lindbergh, his grave is nestled down a winding driveway behind a gorgeous church. The roads are damn rocky, kinda dangerous (aka..that railing eek) and as the roads are usually two way but can only fit one car at a time its lots of fun moving the car around to fit you all in haha, this is by far my favourite side to drive to Hana (take your time getting to Hana its the drive that is the beautiful part, Hana is just a cute little town at the end of the drive).
ROAD TO HANA: EAST SIDE
The next day we left early and took on the north side, let me tell you that there is bamboo for days, bamboo like you have never seen…just everywhere, all over the mountains!! we stopped at the waterfalls, the blowhole and the nature park too, all these stops are located on the same road you just drive in a straight line and look out for the mile markers. Get yourself a good map that has the stops marked clearly for you to follow, there is no phone reception so the map is your main man. We also stopped at black sand beach, if your travelling the north side this is a must to see, its so beautiful and there is a lava tube you can crawl through to a massive cave..so amazing!
Along the road to Hana there are stalls on the side of the road, some are manned others aren’t and rely on an honesty box, its nice to try the local produce and its so fresh too, yes…thats spam sushi, and it wasn’t too bad at all! We stopped off at Julia’s which is in a bright green house along the North side of the island Kapalua..BEST…BANANA…BREAD in the world…i can’t even explain it to you other than i have been ruined for all other banana bread and nothing even comes close, totally sucks they are so far away now (sob) if you can stop by her place DO IT…and buy the bread!
A small town famous for being the home of the original cowboys of Maui a place so rich with history you can feel it seeping out of the buildings, it was our last day in Maui and we spent it roaming around Makawao eating hand rolled sushi from their local deli and stuffing our faces with Komoda Store & Bakery cream puffs…they are famous for a reason, i mean they have been making them since 1916, if you can snag a few hours to spend in this small town do it, it’s such a sweet place.
A short drive from the town of Makawao is an adorable lavender farm, rolling fields and a gorgeous view to boot, it was hard to tear ourselves away from relaxing in their garden and almost nodding off to sleep on their secret garden chairs. Small charge to enter the farm but well worth it!
I hope our trip inspires you to go to Hawaii one day, you return home feeling spiritually awakened, full of stories of your adventures and encounters with people. The one thing i have definitely done is embrace “Aloha” into my life and embody it every day, if you have been you know what i mean…if you haven’t and will be, get ready for that spirit to take hold!