Hello, my dears! We are finally back from Hawaii and I would love to share where we stayed and why you should stay there, what we saw, where we ate and my favorite spots for drinks.
We decided to stay this time in Honolulu. It was the first time for me to go there and I absolutely loved it. I didn't want to leave! Since we are an active tourist couple, we visited as many places as we could. If you ever decide to make a trip, I will definitely advise you to visit :
- Iolani Palace. If you want to learn some history about the Hawaiian Kingdom, you should start at the palace. Tickets cost $14.75 per person. You get special shoes to walk inside of the palace and see its beautiful displays. Make sure to not miss the Crown Jewels.
- Pearl Harbor: USS Arizona & USS Missouri . To get to the Arizona, you have to take a boat tour that shuttles you to the memorial. There you can see an entire sunken ship. Seeing how oil is still leaking from the ship made me sad for both the victims and the environment. After that, we drove to the USS Missouri to understand what a real battleship looked like. I have visited many ships tours before, and this one was really huge. You can easily spend an hour wandering from room to room. Tickets for admission are kind of pricey, but definitely worth it.
A little tip: don't rent it at Hanauma Bay (it will cost you about $40, I believe), we rented ours at "Kailua Beach Adventures." We paid only $32 for a full day. Hanauma Bay is definitely the best place for snorkeling, because we also did snorkeling at Lanikai Beach. I will tell you more about my experience at Hanauma Bay in my next blog post.
- Manoa Falls. This was seriously my favorite hike. We got extremely soaked, but the view and hike through the forest was a trip highlight. If you got unlucky with pouring tropical rain like we did, you can buy rain ponchos at little store for $1.75. Also, if you don't want to get your shoes dirty, you can also buy aqua shoes at the store. Parking will cost only $5.
- Paradise Helicopter Tour at Turtle Bay. Omg, guys! You have to do this! You will see things that you can't see on foot or by driving. I was so scared to ride a helicopter because I never did it in my life. Plus, it was raining that day. We booked our flight with open doors. It was so fantastic, I was smiling non stop! I tried to find other helicopter tours, but I didn't feel good about other companies. This place loans you a jacket or camera lanyards in case if you don't have them. It was a bit pricey for a 20 minute ride, but it was definitely worth it!
- Waikiki. We decided to stay in the Waikiki area and we were absolutely happy with it. I was fortunate to find a nice condo on AirBnB that was located in the heart of Waikiki. We were able easily walk to all shopping stores, great restaurants (my favorite was Ramen Nakamura and Top of Waikiki is a great place for drinks and life music). Raenette (host of Ocean Blue Beautiful Studio) was super nice and responsive. She even offered for us park our rented car at her spot for a cheaper price than the hotel was offering. Her condo is located at the Monarch Hawaii Hotel, which has 24-hour security, laundry rooms, a pool and gym. At the lobby, we were able to get yummy breakfast at Cream Pot, and for small needs 7/11 was next door. Our condo had a small kitchen, bathroom, TV, fast wifi and air conditioner, as well as all other needs (extra towels, beach towel, extra of paper, shampoo, conditioner, soap, laundry detergent). I loved that the room had a nice interior, and of course, the price was really affordable. We enjoyed our stay at the studio. I would recommend you to stay there for your budget and convenience >> https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/10838166 .
- Waimea Valley. After our helicopter ride, we decided to visit a waterfall that was located at Waimea Valley. It took a bit of walking, but people told us that you can actually swim at the waterfall. We unfortunately didn't take ours, but it was still a nice walk through the gardens. We earned how Hawaiian people used to live, saw exotic native plants, and met a family of cute birds like the endangered Hawaiian gallinule and wild peacock.
- Dole Plantation. We didn't take the train to go around the plantation, but we found the main reason to visit this place! The yummiest ice cream that made from pineapple is there, and the Dole gift store has everything in pineapple. Not far from the Dole Plantation though, we stopped in the North Shore to get some legendary shaved ice and watched the surfers doing their thing.
- Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden. My husband actually wanted to visit this place really bad because you can catch-and-release fish there. When we got to the garden, we found out that on this particular day, fishing was closed. My sad husband and I instead drove around, took some walks and hiked up to a viewpoint. It was a scenic place and absolutely free to see.
- Moanalua Gardens. This place is famous for the "Hitachi Tree." Entering costs only $3 (we actually got there for free, since the buildings were under renovation). In the gardens, we saw a lot of beautiful monkeypod trees. The grandest and most famous is dubbed the "Hitachi Tree," and serves the symbol of the Japanese company. Hitachi, Ltd pays $400,000 to the park yearly for the rights to use an image of this tree. It's too bad the Prince's cottage was closed. It looked very pretty from the outside.
- Byodo-in Temple. My favorite part of being there was seeing wild cats and feeding the cutest birdies. These little guys weren't shy to sit on your hands. Also, a peaceful black swan resides there with tons of koi fish.
- Halona Beach Cove. We didn't go down to the beach, but if you are looking to capture a beautiful view. you can hike up. Be careful, it is very dangerous and super windy. We were able to spy a green sea turtle bobbing in the cove.