By Michelle De’Lisle (The Written Word; @thewrittenword.au)
Before COVID-19, Hawaii was a popular travel destination for Australians. In February (prior to the closing of our borders), I travelled across the Pacific to see what the fuss was about.
Spending 10 days near Waikiki on the main island, Oahu, ensuring plenty of time to take in Hawaii’s most famous sights. Using the Waikiki Trolley to travel around is recommended, although plan your day trips around Oahu wisely to avoid overspending on tickets. It is USD$25 for one day; however, it is USD$45 for two days. You can travel on a couple of hop-on, hop-off trolley tours in two days and they take you to some great landmarks, including the picturesque, Instagram-worthy Diamond Head Crater Walk, Honolulu Zoo, Waikiki Aquarium and Pearl Harbor. Note that local buses are also handy, but the correct change is required for each trip.
Pearl Harbor is an absolute must-see for any visitor to Oahu. It is one big historical site and as you look over the harbour, it is hard to believe the events that took place there on December 7, 1941. Paid tours are offered at the site, but visitors can walk in and just look around. There are rooms with video footage from that fateful day and interviews with survivors – very sombre, yet powerful. After visiting Pearl Harbor, jump on the purple trolley and head to the Bishop Museum to learn about local Hawaiian history and culture.
Airbnb is highly recommended as an accommodation option when staying in Hawaii. When the Australian Dollar to US Dollar Exchange Rate isn’t great, hotels can get a bit pricey when booking for more than a couple of nights. I stayed in a one-bedroom studio in Honolulu, about a 15-20-minute walk from Waikiki Beach and the main shopping strip along Kalakaua Avenue. It was nice and quiet, and situated close to the Hilton Hawaiian Village, which is great for shopping and relaxing by the public pools or the beach.
You will never run out of food options in Hawaii. There is something for everyone, with Japanese-style food courts, high-end restaurants, and family-friendly eateries all along Kalakaua Avenue and its surrounds. A highlight is The Cheesecake Factory – with over 250 menu items and the best cheesecake you will ever have, be prepared to wait for a table (especially on Friday nights or weekends). I also recommend PF Chang’s, a budget-friendly Asian-themed restaurant in the heart of Waikiki with a range of tasty dishes. If you’re after a drink and nibbles, SKY Waikiki rooftop bar is worth a visit. Happy Hour is from 5pm to 9pm each night and comes with an amazing view.
If you’re a doughnut lover, you may have heard of Leonard’s Bakery. Jump on the yellow trolley or walk from Waikiki Beach to get there. Leonard’s makes the freshest malasadas (Portuguese doughnuts), and you will want to keep going back for more. Luckily, it is a about an hour-long round-trip by foot from Waikiki; helps to burn off the sugar!
Overall, I highly recommend Hawaii and 10 days is certainly enough time to see the sights of Waikiki and Oahu. Mahalo!