Vacationing to Hawai'i? Coming home to the islands? Day dreaming on your computer at work? No worries brah - This blog post has gotcha covered. Here are some of my favorite hikes, outdoor adventures, health food cafes with the best grindz and beaches on the island of O’ahu here in Hawai’i. Let me know if you check any of them out or are lucky enough to get to do them again - Hana Hou ("One more time!")
Please remember when you are visiting the islands that this land is sacred to many of the native Hawaiians who's families have grown up here for generations. Be mindful of what land you tread on, where you park your car, how much noise you make and (most importantly) where your trash ends up - Every last bit of it! This land is so gorgeous and sp precious, to me and so many others - Please take time to be respectful of that and do your best to leave every beach/hike/lookout more gorgeous than you when you arrived.
Mahalo and Enjoy
DEAD MAN'S CAT WALK HIKE // EAST SIDE
One of my favorite "Short and sweet" afternoon hikes to enjoy with friends after a day at the beach. Technically this hike is located on private property, so it is illegal, but I haven't yet had any problems with police or security ever. So heres to hoping you don't either. Almost 80% of this hike is on a paved road, so shoes are recommended but definitely not required. Bring a camera and enjoy the view. Take a moment to breathe, calm your thoughts and appreciate the breeze up there. Its one of the coolest places on the island.
BEET BOX CAFE, HALIEWA // NORTH SHORE
My first (and favorite) health food cafe that I ever had the pleasure of visiting upon my arrival to O'ahu is the Beet Box Cafe located on the fabled North Shore in Hali'ewa. The cafe is absolutely adorable and neighbors a really funky, earthy health food cafe that sells great local produce and some fun whole food treats. The newly renovated restaurant also includes outdoor/indoor seating with the perfect view to people watch on the streets of the historic north shore. When you eat here, you must, must order the "Three Little Birds" Tempeh Bacon sandwich, the Avocado Toast with Vegan Aoili and the Cacao Acai Bowl (I always ask for "no honey please!")
Seriously, consider ordering all three. I mean that.
The Beetbox cafe serves a wide array of vegan and vegetarian food including smoothies, salads, burritos, healthy plates of food and even fresh baked goods. The prices are affordable (Usually $8-12 per entree) and is always a greta stop to stop and grind before you head back to town after a weekend spent on the North Shore.
FREE DIVING + SNORKELING AT ELECTRIC BEACH // WEST SIDE
A must do while you're here on island. Make sure you come prepared with plenty of snorkel/dive gear (snorkel, mask, fin and bathing suit etc.) and check the waves before you make the trip over to the west side. You'll want to check Surfline.com before you go. Once the waves get bigger than 2-3 feet, the visibility is affected and diving just isn't as gorgeous (or relaxing) as it could be. If you are not a strong swimmer, consider renting a life vest at a dive shop in town and ALWAYS make sure to dive with friends or a qualified supervisor.
Bring a GoPro or underwater camera and be prepared to see hundreds of tropical fish and possibly a few honus (turtles) or even a pod of wild dolphins! Always, always remember to lock up all of your personal belongings and hide any valuables in your secured car. Most car keys can be removed from the keychain and tied to the inside pocket of a board short or diving bag (unless they are automatic, the salt won't do any damage or cause corrosion.) Do not hide your car key on the sand or leave them by the car, unfortunately because so many tourists are attracted to this incredible dive site, theft and auto break-ins aren't uncommon.
AI LOVE NALO CAFE // EAST SIDE
AiLoveNalo is a serious diamond in the rough. This small (somewhat hidden) health food cafe carries all of the best plant based vegan food on the island. Every single dish being 100% Instagram worthy. Many of their dishes are based on traditional Hawaiian foods with a healthier, more delicious spin on local and fresh ingredients. My favorite dishes include The Buddha Bowl, The Avocado Sandwich and the "It's Mint to Be" smoothie ("no honey please!") It tastes like the most refreshing chocolate thick shake I've ever sipped on.
Bring a picnic blanket (and any reusable chopsticks or cutlery you may have) and enjoy a delicious lunch or early dinner indoor their quant cafe or outside in the tranquil and shaded butterfly "Garden of Eatin'." The meals are all affordable, with smoothies starting at $6 and most entrees ranging from $10-11.
Some of my favorite afternoons on O'ahu have been enjoyed lounging in their garden with a massive food baby post meal and admiring the gorgeous monarch butterflies flutter above head.
DOWN TO EARTH HEALTH FOOD CAFE // WEST SIDE + SOUTH SHORE
I had never experienced a "Down to Earth" store before moving to O'ahu This past summer, while traveling in Indonesia I was so excited to discover that there are numerous locations (including one only 5 minutes from the bungalow I was staying in) located around the world. Down to Earth, or "DTE" is similar to a smaller, localized version of a Whole Foods Market or a Trader Joe's with an awesome selection of fresh grown produce and a really killer hot foods bar. My friends and I usually head to DTE when we are craving some "vegan junk food" (see photo above) or a really incredible vegan burrito and fresh made chocolate donut (PSA: They do offer a 10% discount if you purchase a dozen donuts.) The groceries at DTE are not the cheapest, but they have a wide selection of incredible health foods and are open until 10pm which is such a treat on sleepy O'ahu.
There are two locations on O'ahu, one on the West Side of O'ahu and another here in Honolulu on South King Street. I highly recommend the Vegan Taro burger, Vegan 3-Bean Burrito and their Thai Curry when it is being served at the hot bar. They also serve local Kombucha on tap and serve a really mean vegan milkshake.
LULUMAHU FALLS // INNER ISLAND
The perfect, rainy day, mystical and usually somewhat private waterfall hike on O'ahu. The more rain that has fallen in the past few weeks, the larger and more spectacular this waterfall is to visit. Plan accordingly, as the hike can take anywhere from 60-90 minutes one way and requires hiking sneakers and a rain jacket (usually.) Bring your waterproof camera and positive energy as this land is seriously magical.
Once you've arrived at the falls, take a moment to breathe, meditate or simply sit down and admire the surrounding beauty. Lulumahu Falls is located nearby King Kamehameha III's summer home, so the land is considered sacred by many. Here are directions and photos that will help you on your journey to the falls, located right off the Pali Highway.
MAKAPU'U LIGHT HOUSE TRAIL // EAST SIDE
The perfect adventure if you've only got a few minutes to spare. This scenic lookout, located on the East side of O'ahu (my personal favorite) is absolutely breathtaking and always has me pulling out my camera phone like a tourist. I have probably stopped and pulled over at this lookout two hundred times, usually alone when I need a moment to de-clutter my mind. It is always on my way home from the beach (and AiLoveNalo,) and is usually a better option than sitting in the mid afternoon traffic jam. Located nearby is the Makapu'u Lighthouse hike (literally in the next parking lot over) which is another great hike and suitable for all levels and ages. The road to the Lighthouse is paved entirely and provides bathrooms and information placards along the way.
I love this lookout so much. It looks over one of my favorite beaches on the east side, Makapu'u beach and allows you to enjoy a somewhat ariel view of Rabbit Island (which supposedly looks like a rabbits head facing up towards the sky. You'll have to be the judge of that.) I've never been to Tahiti (yet) but I always imagine when I do go, it will look something like this. Hopefully you're able to sit and enjoy the breeze while watching for whales off shore.
KULIO'OU'OU RIDGE TRAIL HIKE // SOUTH SIDE
This hike is a bit more challenging, and is suitable for those who are seeking a hardcore workout while they spend time outdoors. This baby kills me every-time (actually, I've only ever done this hike twice and reconsider about 40 minutes in each time I go.) The Kulio'ou'ou ridge hike takes about 90 minutes to the top, and if you're like me (who just wants to "get it over with" and jog down as fast as possible) a 30-45 minute or so descent. Make sure to check the weather in the area before you go, as rainfall is common, and hikers who embark on this journey on cloudy days tend to miss out on the entirety of the gorgeous view awaiting for you at the top. The land and forests that you'll trek through on this trail are so unique to others on O'ahu and have me reminiscing about my walks through the woods on the east coast of the mainland back in the day. Bring a snack, fresh water, your camera and sturdy sneakers that will be comfortable as you whip your butt into shape on this ridge hike (a few dozen uphill stairs are involved!)
MAKAPU'U TIDE POOLS HIKE // EAST SIDE
One of my favorites on the island. The Makapu'u tide pools are unlike anything I have ever experienced before moving to Hawai'i. Although they are absolutely breathtaking, the hike there can be challenging for some and dangerous depending on the waves. Take time to read all hiking directions and warnings carefully. Wear shoes that will prevent you from slipping on wet rocks and please leave all rubbish in the car. The hike usually is most crowded on weekends, so I recommend heading out on a week day before the sun sets behind the rock (The tide-pools can be quite chilly on a cloudy day.)
YOKOHAMA BEACH // WEST SIDE
Yokohama Beach or "Yokes" is a mission for me by car, so usually I prefer to wake up early, check the surf report, head west and do a little multi-tasking to make the trip "worth it." I usually head to Electric Beach to dive in the early morning, cruise over to Yokes after to spend the afternoon at the beach and make a pit stop at Down to Earth on the west side for a late lunch on my way home. Yokes is one of the largest, quietest and most gorgeous beaches I've been lucky enough to enjoy here on island. The crowds are always minimal, or so it seems as this beach is so long, and the back-drop of the mountains is absolutely marvelous. Don't be surprised if you're the only one on the beach in the early mornings, or if you're greeted by a breathtaking double rainbow as you pull up to the beach park. Camping at Yokohama is also always a blast! Remember to camp in a group and always keep personal belongings hidden and locked securely in your car.
Sunset on the west side is always the most incredible. Make sure to stay late at the beach and enjoy this spectacular sight at least once during your stay.
I hope you enjoy your time on O'ahu as much as I do mine. Island life is so different than the set-schedules and time frames on the mainland, so if you're unable to embark on one of these adventures due to weather or other factors, do not stress. Everyday on this island is an adventure in itself. Wether you're hiking, diving, surfing or spending a rainy day indoors, appreciate every moment you spend in Hawai'i, knowing that so many others have dreamt of coming to a place like this their entire life.
If you're lucky enough to be in Hawai'i, You're lucky enough.
Mahalo for reading