Updated: Jan 2, 2019
Every winter since we moved to Seattle, we had agreed as a family that we will have a Sun Vacation to escape the winter weather. This year we had chosen to go to Oahu, Hawaii. We had heard so many amazing things about Hawaii and had many recommendations of places try and visit. But, when traveling with a child, we may have expectations that might not be fulfilled, to top it off being a woman and being me, certain time of the month can be quite challenging even for myself. Going with the flow and not having a packed itinerary was the way to travel for us and I learned from this trip that even though it is very warm and sunny out, I still need to take my Vitamin D supplement daily to feel normal. Good thing I always travel with my supplies and if not, there is plenty of health stores and Wholefoods in Oahu.
I never knew how deep the Japanese influence is in the Hawaiian Food Culture until we were in Oahu, from Poke bowls to Mochi Pancakes, Hawaiian and Japanese fusion food everywhere. We love Japanese food so, it worked out great for us as a family. The local Hawaiians are very nice, helpful and kind.
We had ten nights in Oahu, first five nights we stayed at Hyatt Centric Waikiki, it's a small hotel, the room was pretty big, beautifully decorated with modern and warm furnishings, big bathroom. Their lobby was beautiful and airy with a large round swing bed which both our son and I loved. It was a small hotel so it wasn't crazy like the big resorts around Waikiki, I loved the fact that it felt warm and cozy. We didn't really dine at the hotel except one morning for their breakfast buffet, the spread was good but the food were pretty bland, they could use some seasoning. The hotel staff were all amazing, super helpful and always with a beautiful smile, I truly appreciate that, it goes a long way. Their swimming pool is very small and shallow but, our boy had a great time there, wished we let him play there more than we did.
First night - Street food hall by Michael Mina at International Market Place.
We got in around dinner time, so after checking in, we went out to a nearby eatery called The Street Food Hall by Michael Mina, just as it sounds, it has quite a few choices of different types of foods to pick from. We had ramen from the Ramen Bar and some crispy chicken fingers. The ramen was decent but nothing special, the chicken fingers were not that great, some seasoning would be good. I think overall it's a decent place for families to go to for food, there are many choices for everyone.
After dinner we walked around the International Market Place, it's a really nice mall with plenty of places for kids to run around and the trees in the middle of the mall is pretty amazing.
If you love shopping, Waikiki has all the big brand names from Gucci to Forever 21, they have it all. I tend to skip doing too much shopping, my husband and I love coffee, food and sightseeing so that's what we pretty much did.
Second Day - Breakfast - Hula Grill, Waikiki - Walked & played on the beach, walked around Waikiki downtown - Dinner at Waikiki Yokocho (Japanese food hall with different types Japanese eateries) We had tempura at Tempura Tendon Hannosuke Tokyo - Walked around the town after dinner and over to Kona Coffee.
Hula Grill - Breakfast was OK, nothing to shout about, although their Mochi Waffles were delicious, skip their vegetable & brie omelette, just full of onion not much else vegetable wise, OK some peppers but mainly onion.
Waikiki beach is gorgeous, very busy but definitely a fun beach to visit.
Tempura Tendon Hannosuke Tokyo - I must say this was our favorite little restaurant, their tempura were amazing, good service, and they give a big bowl of baby bak choy as a side, I think we were the only people who finished the whole bowl, got to have greens! Their Kid's tempura was great too. Must go when if Waikiki.
Kona Coffee at International Market Place- Love this coffee place, great coffee and delicious pastries and desserts, service was on point as well.
Third Day - Early breakfast at The Lanai @ Hyatt Centric Waikiki - Diamond Head hike - Lunch at Waikiki Yokocho - Walked around town - dinner at Roy's Hawaii.
The Lanai - as mentioned earlier, food wasn't great, could use some seasoning, everything was pretty bland for some reason, Hawaii have some amazing tasting salts, so I don't get this. I'd say try going to one of the food halls for breakfast, cheaper and probably better.
Diamond Head - Great easy hike for the whole family, but I think the child has to be around 5++ to be able to really enjoy the hike. Our son is around 5.5 and he enjoyed the hike, the views are amazing, but go early so it's not too hot! I think any later than 10am would be too hot to climb.
Roy's Hawaii - Love this restaurant, it's fine dining but great for families, just head over early around 5ish, they have kids menu if you need, we just shared everything with our little boy. We enjoyed every bit of it. We had their pre fix menu, it was for $53 per person and $73 with wine pairing. Highly recommended.
Fourth Day - Picked up rented car - went to Dole Pineapple Farm - Lunch at Aloha Farm to Barn Cafe - Waimea Beach Park - Haleiwa Town, North Shore - Dinner at The Pig & The Lady.
Turo Car Sharing App- It's like Air BnB for cars. It is cheaper but the owners had a strict rule of not bringing the car back with any sand inside. I was pretty stressed about it worrying how the hell were we going to have no sand in the car on an island! We brought it to the car wash and got it vacuumed before returning, but still thee was some sand on the mat. The owners were fine in the end and gave us a ride to the airport F.O.C since their house is pretty close to the airport.
Dole Pineapple Farm - I'm sure this farm is just for tourists, it was fun for our son, we did their train ride around the farm and walked around their maze hunting for hidden clues. They have a store and a pretty large cafe in the back incase if you get hungry or in need for some refreshments. Fun for kids.
Aloha Farm to Barn Cafe - It is a really cool laid back cafe with pressed vegetable juices and juices, organic when possible food, we shared their shrimp tacos, our son had a cheese quesadilla with some kale on the side. Their shrimp tacos were delicious, and same with their quesadilla. They have a small front yard with badminton net, some lawn games. perfect with kids.
The Pig & The Lady - A modern twist on Vietnamese fare. It took a while to get our food, close to an hour so do not go there starving! I had their whole snapper and my husband had their Chicken Noodle soup, I enjoyed my whole fried snapper with watermelon & lemongrass mojo sauce, shishito peppers, mint & fennel salad. My husband did not enjoy his dinner too much. Overall it was good but pretty pricey.
Fifth Day - Halona Blowhole - Drove around the coast - Lunch at Waimanalo Beach Food Trucks - Dinner at our favorite Tempura place.
Halona Blowhole - We originally wanted to go snorkeling at Hanouma Bay unfortunately, the car park was already full by around 10 a.m. So we drove on to Halona Blowhole, walked down the hill to a small bay. It's gorgeous there, I'm not a great swimmer so I stayed with our son and explored their rock pools, they have one that's like a salt water jacuzzi, we had a ton of fun there. There was some sea life to look at and play with. Stayed there for a few hours and drove around the coast.
Waimanalo Beach Food Trucks - There were a few food trucks there worth visiting. We had garlic shrimp by Chow Down Shrimp Truck, mediterranean plate by Island Pita. Both were delicious. Cheap and cheerful!
Sixth - Tenth Day- Explored the coastline on the way to Kailua where we stayed the remaining of our holiday - pretty much cooked at the studio for breakfasts and dinners. Spent a lot of time on the beach in Kailua - Spent last two days at Disney Ko'Olina's lagoon beach - Got food from ABC Store Ko'Olina. We did have breakfast out in Kailua and dinner on our last night there.
Kailua - It's called the Winward town for a reason, the beaches are pretty calm compared to most parts of the island, but they do get windy, perfect on a hot day. The town of Kailua is quaint and definitely more laid back compared to Waikiki, nice change for us.
Perfect for cycling, wind surfing, paddle boarding and fishing.
Ko'Olina - Where Disney Aulani, Four Seasons and a few other pricey resorts are along with large vacation homes surrounded by a golf course, a small village with cafes, shops and restaurants, the best are the man made beach lagoons that run a long the coast. Perfect for me and our boy, calm waters with grassy area and some shady parts.
We stopped by the ABC store which you'll see all over the island. It has pretty much everything, from sushi, musubi rolls, rice dishes, sandwiches, salads and all kinds of snacks and gifts. It's a much cheaper option to dining at restaurants every single day. It can get pretty costly. Their sushi for the price was really good. No complaints.
Moke's, Kailua - A great place for breakfast, I'd say this would be our top restaurant for breakfast, everywhere else had been quite a let down.
Cinnamon's, Kailua - They came highly rated unfortunately we were not impressed by their breakfast, sorry, really wanted to like it but it was just OK.
Uahi Island Grill, Kailua - It's a popular spot but we managed to get seats when we got there around 6 p.m, took a while for our food to come but it was good. My husband had the Kailua Plate with Kale and I had their fish with red curry sauce, came with brown rice and papaya salad. Both were very good.