I have wanted to go to Hawaii for as long as I can remember. I wanted to go so badly, in fact, that I actually applied to a University in Oahu, Hawaii, was accepted and almost went there for (at least) 4 years of my life – sight unseen. Instead, I ended up right where I was supposed to be. And still made it to Hawaii.
Luckily for me, staying in Arkansas for college led me to my husband and wonderful in-laws, who are responsible for my finally making it to Hawaii. As retired military, my in-laws take a yearly trip to Bellows Air Force Base in Waimanalo and we were finally able to join them.
The photo above was taken one morning on the beach. We were completely alone with not a soul in sight. On a pristine, white sand beach with gentle waves rolling in, after a breakfast of fresh fruit. I think I could have stayed there forever.
The military side of Bellow’s Beach is beyond amazing and if you’re able to go to that side then I highly recommend it. But, if you aren’t military (or don’t know someone who is) there is also a public side of the Bellow’s Beach. While I didn’t spend any time there it looked just as beautiful as the military side.
No trip to Oahu is complete with a visit to Pearl Harbor. The exhibits are very informative as is the movie prior to the boat trip to the wreckage. The history and sadness there are incredible.
Waikiki Beach isn’t too far from Pearl Harbor so that was our next stop. I saw the most surfers here and there were lots of people out enjoying the beach. You can’t miss the statue of Duke Kahanamoku. He is a Hawaiian Olympic champion swimmer and the father of international surfing. Many people honor him by placing lei’s on the statue.
It was pretty tough to leave the beauty of Bellows beach, but all of Oahu is so beautiful that I had to see more.
On one outing we went snorkeling at Hanauma Bay. This was my very first snorkeling adventure ever – and what better place than Hawaii?! The bay was beautiful and it wasn’t too crowded. I think I could have stayed there all day.
After a few hours snorkeling we headed to our next activity – hiking the Koko Head Stairs. We wanted to be able to make it to the top before it reached peak temperatures. The trail/stairs consist of old railway ties that were used to transport supplies to bunkers built at the top as a lookout during WWII. The trail is over 1000 stairs long and is quite challenging.
The difficulty is definitely worth it though. The panoramic view from the top is absolutely stunning. There are plenty of places to rest once you get up there but I would not recommend going in the middle of a hot day.
Don’t miss this hike – it is well worth your time and the effort to make it to the top. Take plenty of water and wear hiking shoes/sandals – no flip-flops!
We also visited the Dole Plantation for some pineapple ice cream – which was fantastic. Learning about how the pineapples grow was interesting too and there are lots of activities for kids. On the way there we stopped at the Manulele Distillery for a tasting of their Hawaiian rum. We just missed the last tour but it was still very informative. My favorite part was seeing the sugar cane pressed into liquid, but I enjoyed the rum too!
The Waikiki Brewing Company was a great stop as well. They have a great selection of Hawaiian beers so we just had to try a flight. As strange as it sounds, even their Jalapeno Mouth Amber Ale was delicious. I also can’t recommend the Shrimp Shack highly enough! In the age of food trucks, this little yellow truck is one of the best I’ve ever been to. Just don’t forget the napkins.
The Aloha Stadium consistently makes all of the ‘things to do in Oahu’ lists. The Swap Meet is open on Sundays and Wednesdays with all things handmade, Hawaiian souvenirs, local art pieces, and local food. The Hawaiian bread there is insanely delicious – don’t miss it!
One evening we drove over to Hale Koa on Waikiki Beach to see the sunset. We enjoyed live music and Mai-Thai’s while we waited on the sun to fade. It definitely did not disappoint.
On our very last morning in Hawaii I wanted to wake up early enough to watch the sun rise. Luckily, Kyle decided to get up with me. After we snapped a few pictures, Kyle checked his email and discovered that the airline had moved our flight up. We had to rush back in, finish packing, wake up Kyle’s parents and run out the door!
We took a few days to visit The Big Island too and that was a truly great experience as well.
This was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable vacations I have ever been on. I cannot wait to return to Oahu some day!