As I said in my last post, Oahu was like a whole different world. Things didn't feel as relaxed. Instead, it felt more like a slower version of the hustle and bustle of a city. Maybe it's because we stayed in Waikiki. There were a ton of shopping options everywhere and it felt like there were a lot more tourists as well. We spent most of our time eating since we had such a long list of places we wanted to try.
We arrived in Oahu in the afternoon and went to pick up our rental car from the airport rentals area(which seemed extremely outdated and way too small for the number of visitors). We immediately headed to our hotel, Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach. It was a very nice hotel, but it was no Andaz. Perhaps we did ourselves a disservice by staying at such a fancy place first.
We decided on an early dinner at Roy's which was within walking distance of our hotel, so we set out to explore. We arrived a bit early and easily secured a 5pm reservation. To pass the time, we walked over to the beach. It was much more crowded than the beaches in Maui, but just as beautiful. Once back at the restaurant, we ordered the appetizer canoe for two, bacon crusted prawn fettucine, beachwalk trio, and peanut butter gelato shake with apple bread pudding. The food was delicious, service friendly, and we left happy. We did some more exploring by foot, then turned in for the evening.
This was an excessively lazy day for us. We woke up and walked over to the Rainbow Drive In (as seen on Triple D). Jeff tried the moco loco and I got some really awesome french toast(so awesome it didn't really need syrup... just the butter that came with it). After breakfast, we decided to check out the giant shopping mall, Ala Moana, and discovered it had a huge food court complete with plastic food displays. We ended up with potstickers, dumplings, pork belly, noodles, and a giant purple pork bun for lunch. I also saw lots of koi.
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring(with a bit of time in there for a nap). For dinner, we checked out Lucky Belly. They had some really great gnocchi, pork buns, and ramen. I especially want to note that the portion size on the ramen was fantastic. The bowl was huge... the top was as big as my forearm!
We started our day at MAC 24/7 (as seen on Man v Food). We sat at the counter and had an excellent server(I think his name was Axel). Jeff ordered the chicken and waffles, but I couldn't pass up the red velvet pancakes with bourbon cream cheese frosting. It was all delicious.
We wanted to visit the Pearl Harbor memorial, but didn't plan appropriately to see everything so we ended up seeing only the USS Missouri memorial. The ship was huge and it was interesting to go below deck to see how the crew lived.
We followed up our trip with shave ice at Shimazu Store. Our running flavors were POG and creamsicle.
For dinner, we scored a reservation at Alan Wong's Restaurant at the chef's counter. The chefs prepared all the food as we watched and we even got to ask questions. We had the classic tasting menu which was fantastic. They also provided a special dessert since we were on our honeymoon.
We were up bright and early for a drive over to Waianae for the best adventure of our whole trip. First, we stopped off at Leonard's Bakery for some malasadas. They came out hot and delicious, just the way we like it.
Next up was our first ever snorkeling adventure: the Deluxe Wildlife Charter aboard the Island Spirit from Wild Side Hawaii. We went out on a 40' catamaran with 8 other guests. I was nervous about snorkeling for the first time, especially with wild spinner dolphins and sea turtles. Our main guide, Elizabeth, did a great job educating us not only on the wildlife we were about to see, but also everything we needed to know to stay safe and respect the dolphins and turtles in their natural home. The crew carefully watched the dolphins' behavior to decide whether we would have a better encounter from the boat or in the water swimming alongside. Fortunately, we had two opportunities to get off the boat and see the dolphins up close as well as an on-the-boat encounter.
Snorkeling with the dolphins was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. There's nothing like seeing a pod swimming your way and taking off to swim alongside them. You could sense their curiosity and hear them communicating with one another as they swam along. One dolphin even circled Jeff playfully twice! It was also fun to watch the pod "race" our boat. We eventually moved on from the dolphins to a place with an underwater rock resembling a donut to observe sea turtles(with a delicious kalua pork lunch on the boat ride over). The turtles were truly something to behold. They could spend hours sleeping on this underwater rock without coming up for air. We also got to see many smaller fish in this area including Hawaii's state fish, the humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa. In all, this was the most fantastic adventure of our trip and we would highly recommend it to everyone since the guides will do whatever necessary to make sure you are comfortable and have a great experience. Unfortunately, we have no pictures since we didn't want to risk water damage to any of our electronics on the boat(try their TripAdvisor for pics). You bet if we make a return trip, we'll be bringing a GoPro.
For dinner, we stopped in at a local evening market and had everything from sweet potato mochi to banana malasadas to locally made ice cream.
Up early again for another adventure. We started with breakfast at the Highway Inn. The highlight of our meal was grilled banana bread with banana butter. You might think that's too much banana, but it was so perfect that we didn't bother to photograph or really remember the rest of our meal.
Our adventure of the day was visiting the Dole Plantation. We took the Plantation Garden audio tour and spent some time in the maze, but didn't bother purchasing a Pineapple Express train ticket because the wait was already at an hour when we got to the ticket booth. The audio tour of the garden was fairly interesting and the plants were gorgeous. My favorite discovery was the rainbow eucalyptus tree that looked like it belonged in candy land. The maze was fun, but we didn't get to stay long since I was starting to overheat and burn.
We finished up our day with a visit to the Side Street Inn (as seen on No Reservations and Man v Food Nation).
We woke, packed, got one last round of deliciousness from Rainbow Drive Inn and headed to the airport(where the bag scanner ate Jeff's ticket and we had to get it reprinted after it didn't come out the other side and nobody would help us get it out). It was time to head back to Seattle and "real life."