It’s 6:30 a.m and my alarm clock is blaring,
The alarm clock happens to be a rooster, and even though it tends to wake me up before I’d like to, I’ve learned to embrace it.
I moved to the island of O’ahu in the fall of 2012 seeking new scenery and adventures. Five years later, it’s difficult to imagine living anywhere else but here.
Think about every cliche of paradise you’ve ever heard of and chances are that those stereotypical images in your head are a part of our everyday reality here in Hawaii. It’s a place where the palm trees never stop dancing, the waves play a constant game of tag with the shore, and if the sun decides to take a break from shining a rainbow is quick to take over.
It’s a place so special that when you realize you’re on a rock in the middle of the ocean all you feel is grateful to be surrounded by love and aloha.
Here are a few of my favorites things to do on the island that you might not find in your typical tourist guide :
Local Fruit Stand
Stop at a fruit stand on the Northshore for some fresh mango, coconut, dragon fruit, and lychee
Skip the tourist traps that are Ala Moana Shopping Center and the International Marketplace.
Eat a Poke Bowl
Poke is the new trendy food these days and you can get it in other states but for an authentic Hawaiian poke bowl just go to a grocery store like Foodland or Tamura’s.
Fresh fish, rice, and furikake are all it takes for the perfect lunch.
Drive around the perimeter of the island.
The drive is gorgeous and chances are you’ll find a perfect little beach to stop at, away from the crowds of Waikiki.
Local Sourced Smoothies
Instead of waiting in line for a generic acai bowl, get a smoothie from one of the three Leahi Health locations. Each smoothie is healthy and made with locally sourced produce.
Gifts & Souvenirs
In the market for a new aloha shirt? Check out Bailey’s Antiques and Aloha Shirts on Kapahulu Ave. Barrio Vintage in downtown Honolulu, or Green Gypsy Thrift Shop in Waialua. You never know what kinds of vintage treasures you might find!
Grab a coffee from ARVO coffee shop in the Kaka’ako neighborhood of Honolulu, Take it to go and walk around the surrounding blocks to check out the street art and murals.
Hike to the Lanikai Pillboxes or the Ehukai Pillboxes.
Both are safe and offer superb views.Shave ice is the new ice cream! Be sure to get a shave ice from one of the many great spots. My favorite is called Waiola and there are two locations in Honolulu. Matsumoto’s in Haleiwa is also good, but be prepared to wait in line!
The one thing that I tell anyone who intends to visit Hawaii for a vacation is to take your time and do a bit of research first. Hawaii has a rich history that many vacationers remain unaware of so go ahead and do your homework! but also always remember to respect the land and the unique and beautiful culture of the islands.