Two weeks ago Anthony and I got back from Hawaii and let me tell you, I was NOT ready to leave.
We had a pretty insane couple months leading up to it and this was the breather we both needed.
Also, isn’t there just something about laying in the sand and sun by the water that is like an iPhone charge for the soul? All I kept thinking all day was ‘thank you Universe!’ (That and… why the eff do I live in Toronto in the winter! ha.)
We chose Hawaii because it’s zika-free and we are trying to start a family. Almost all other beach destinations are infested with the zika virus, so this is why we chose Hawaii – and I am so glad we did!
My DM’s have been blowing up from so many of you asking about the about the details of this trip. Everything from what Island, to what hotel, where to eat and what I’m wearing.
So I’m going to keep this blog a little less traditional than most of I post. Less personal stories and more of a guide of what we did, what we loved and what I wore. Sound good?!
WHERE DID WE GO?
We stayed in Honolulu very close to Waikiki Beach.
Typically I’ve heard most people like to travel around to many islands and areas when they go to Hawaii. From my understanding, you fly into Honolulu and then if you are going to another island, it’s another 30 minute connecting flight.
Because our honeymoon was three countries and a lot of moving I knew I wanted this trip to be one where we stayed put, unpacked our suitcases and got comfortable.
For us it was between Maui and Honolulu. Ultimately we were told Honolulu (the island is actually called Oʻahu) is more like the ‘city with beaches’ and that Maui was more ‘cottage country with beaches’. We are total city people so we decided let’s keep it easy and make it one less flight and explore Honolulu only this time.
We stayed in Waikiki Beach and I highly recommend it for first timers to Honolulu! We loved it.
WHAT HOTEL DID WE STAY AT?
Confession: I am a straight up hotel snob. I completely care about white sheets and cute decor and artisan cocktails in a great lobby bar. Like, a lot.
So to me, a lot of the beach front hotels seemed very ‘resort’ style – which is likely the popular choice, but personally not my vibe.
Ultimately we ended up staying at a hotel which was a less than 5 minute walk from the beach in the absolute best location.
The hotel was called the Laylow Autograph Waikiki. It’s a boutique hotel that I later learned is owned by the Marriot chain (you would never know!). It was absolutely adorable and the most Instagramable hotel on earth. I loved it.
Also, from my research, there are no all-inclusives Hawaii. So it’s best to stay at the cutest, reasonably priced hotel you can find (this one was about $250 Canadian per night. Not bad!) because you’ll be spending money on delicious food and experiences while you are there.
Personally I prefer to avoid all-inclusive’s but Anthony loves them. LOL. So a beach vacation with a boutique hotel, big city flair was a perfect compromise for us!
The Laylow Waikiki Lobby
The Laylow Waikiki pool view from our room.
How adorable are these rooms? They have both blue and pink versions of this wallpaper and I was praying for the pink! LOVE.
WHAT DID YOU DO WHILE YOU WERE THERE?
I kept an itinerary for you!
I’m going to list our schedule and make notes of the places we loved and what to avoid. I’m going to include my pics, too! This is especially helpful for restaurants and day trip details.
Each day is laid out below, with photos. So keep on scrollin’….
We flew Delta Comfort
and got bumped to the front of the plan. Unlimited booze and snacks and great movies. I highly recommend flying with them!
Landed 4pm Hawaii time and picked up a rental car.
We found an SUV on expedia for $150 CDN for the week and since we knew we wanted to explore other beaches and Pearl harbour, we went for it.
Note on parking: All hotels charge you about $35-$55 a night for parking. Which over a week is way too much! So I used my internet ninja skills and searched a bunch of blogs and found a parking lot a 5 minute walk from our hotel that was $80 for the whole week! SCORE.
You need to pay cash so make sure you have it on you when you are landing and headed to park.
Here is the address for GPS:
201 Ohua Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
Checked into the Laylow Waikiki
and had a drink in the lobby bar. (AKA THE CUTEST PATIO ON EARTH!)
This lobby bar patio though. Obsessed!
Dinner at Rumfire on the Beach
Truth: You can do better than this place. Food was very ‘food chain’ style. Ambiance was cute with fire pits all over the patio on the beach. But my margarita tasted like a cup of lime Kool-aid and my salad had iceberg lettuce.
Also, we have been up for 20 hours at this point with the time difference.
Anthony the first night at Rumfire. It was breezy at night. Bring a spring jacket!
Breakfast at Hotel
on the adorable hotel patio at the Laylow, Waikiki.
Hit Waikiki Beach!
First time we really saw everything in daylight, it’s so cool. You walk through like a big city downtown and one street over is the beach! It was a super hot day and we just soaked up the sun and enjoyed. Also when we were swimming a sea turtle came right up and said hello, less than a foot away from us! It was pretty magical.
Lunch/Cocktail at Moana Surfrider
We mostly just needed a little shade and a cocktail! We went to the Moana Surfrider. This is the only beachfront hotel I would have stayed at. Family friendly if you have kids. But gorgeous also and as you’ve now learned, I totally judge a place on how well they can make a cocktail and how cute the decor is. Both were Angela-Approved! ha.
We didn’t want to eat too much so we also split a poke bowl, which is one of the dished Hawaii is famous for. Needless to say it was amazing. This location was the also best one we had all trip!
The BEST poke bowl!
Cocktail in the shade. Bring me back!
We laid out at the beach for another hour or so and then headed back to the hotel because we had an early dinner that evening.
Dinner at House Without a Key
I read a ton of blogs before going to Honolulu and this was one of the top mentioned places to go for dinner/show/sunset. It was really lovely. We watched the sunset and had dinner. There was a luau type show going on where they had a Hawaiian band playing and Miss Hawaii danced. It was great!
Anthony had the burger and I had a salad and seared tuna. Both were delicious.
Waikiki Beach Sunset from the House Without a Key Patio.
The luau entertainment and Miss. Hawaii dancing.
Breakfast at Duke’s Waikiki
If you love a breakfast buffet, this is your place! It was very affordable, had tons of variety and even had $5 mimosa’s. I forgot my ID so they wouldn’t serve me. My 35 year old self didn’t mind 😉 haha.
I’m not a huge ‘big breakfast’ person. Anthony loves a brunch buffet though so I’m glad we did this once. He likely could have done it every day but luckily I convinced him to do lighter breakfasts after this visit.
Duke’s Brunch Menu
Explore the Shops
As I said earlier, Waikiki is pretty cool – it is a chill beach town but then there is a strip right before you hit the beach that has every single shop imaginable! The shopping was really awesome.
Also, their Forever 21 was the BEST one I’d ever been in. I got a bunch of cute swimsuits and a couple outfits for so cheap. I’ll be tagging all my outfits in the next blog later this week so you can see what I got!
Poolside Sunning & Cocktails
We usually aren’t day drinking people on vacation (can’t last! lol) – but I don’t know what got into us this day. We were just ordering up the cocktails everywhere we went! Not complaining!!
We just hung out poolside all day and drank Mai Tai’s. I was sporting one of my new cute swimsuits and made Anthony take 5 million pictures. Obv.
We skipped lunch this day because breakfast was huge and we were going for Italian later that night!
Poolside with my Mai Tai!
Dinner at Il Lupino
When you are married to my husband there is no getting away from eating Italian – no matter where we are in the world!
But I’m glad we did. I think we both agree this was the best meal of the trip! I love good ambiance and great service. This place had both. The whole restaurant was booked for a party so we just sat at the bar. The bartender made a mean negroni and recommended all the food we ate. It was all incredible!
We grabbed a smoothie bowl from a stand near our hotel. Way more my vibe! And after all the Mai Tai’s and Italian we had the night before it was a welcome change. Hawaii is famous for their smoothie bowls. Make sure to try them!
Smoothie bowls, a must have!
If you’ll have a car on your trip and want to go to Pearl harbour read this carefully!
The desk at our building was selling Pearl harbour day tours for $200 a person. First of all that is nuts, and second of all I like exploring for an hour or two, not all day.
Once again my internet ninja skills served me well in finding a solution – and if you are going to Pearl Harbour, you must do this too!
You can go on the recreation section of the government website and get tickets for $1.50 each. (yes, that’s a $397 savings! ha.)
Here is exactly what you do:
At 7am (SHARP! maybe even a few minutes before) the DAY BEFORE you want to go – sign on to this website. You’ll input your info and time your want to go. Tickets are only $1.50 each and they are first come first serve. They go really fast! But you’ll book yours and then drive over the next day for the time you choose. Simple as that!
Parking is free, too.
It includes a 23 minute movie, a little outdoor museum and then you actually take a boat ride to the famous Arizona memorial that is built over the sunken ship. You get off, can take pictures and then it takes you back.
Pretty amazing. We both really enjoyed it!
Famous Ramen Place then Happy Hour at Basalt
Both places were right beside the hotel. We didn’t want to eat a lot because we were going for Mexican that night but had some time to kill and it was a pretty windy day this day! We decided to go for some happy hour cocktails before getting ready for dinner.
The ramen place is directly across from the hotel and there is a line literally 24/7. It’s crazy!! We couldn’t figure out what it was for the first few days and then someone told us ramen and we couldn’t believe it.
Anyway, when we got back from Pearl Harbour there happened to not be a huge line, so we thought – what the heck!
There wasn’t a gluten free noodle option so I didn’t get the full experience, but Anthony liked it. He says he doesn’t really get the line up but he’s glad we tried! It was cheap, like $6 each. Maybe that’s the reason for the line? I’m not sure!
Basalt in Duke’s lane had a good happy hour special on so we just hung out there before getting ready for dinner.
This was the sign of the famous ramen place if you want to go!
Another tequila mule, please!
Dinner at BUHO Cantina
This place was great! If you love Mexican it’s a must. Also why do all Mexican places seem to be so well done? Great ambiance, music – just a cool vibe always!
We met a guy at the hotel who told us to get the goat cheese quesadilla but add the beef brisket. OMG! Thank you random food friend. Was the best gluten free quesadilla I’ve had ever had in my life.
A must get!
I think this was my favourite day of all!
We grabbed a coffee and smoothie for breakfast, hopped in the car and went to find some gorgeous beaches.
This beach was just amazing. It ranks as one of the best beaches in the world. It was definitely the prettiest I’ve ever been on. I loved it. It was a Saturday when we went so what was described online as a quieter beach, wasn’t really. I would go during the week next time for sure!
Anyway, do NOT forget your camera. The aqua blue water and white sand beach looking onto two mini mountain islands is so breathtaking.
It was about a 45 minute drive from the hotel. The drive was gorgeous and well worth it.
Lunch at Kalapawai Cafe
I found this place on a gluten free app I use. It just happened to be near this beach and had lots of gluten free options (which isn’t super common there!).
Dinner at Tanta of Tokyo
We got back from the beach and got a late reso at this place. There is a huge Asian influence and lots of great Japanese culture in Hawaii. We knew we wanted to have Japanese one night and someone recommended this place. It was really good! It ended up being Teppanyaki, but I personally loved it. Very commercialized and a not what we expected at all – but I was actually into it. The food was unreal and we got sat with a great group.
Late night drinks at the Hideout Waikiki
Our hotel bar was PUMPIN’ when we got back. I am typically a night owl on vacation and love going for really late dinners and cocktails. Not on this trip! The time difference absolutely killed me. They are 5 hours behind so a 8pm dinner would be 1am to my body. It was not happy! LOL
Anyway, this night I pulled through. It was great music and great vibes there every night – this night in particular was really busy!
Breakfast at the Hula Grill
This was a cute little beach front restaurant. Again I’m not a huge big breakfast person, but it was a good a la carte menu. I got Lobster and Asparagus eggs benedict on tomato instead of English muffin. It was good!
Another Beach Day!
We just laid out on Waikiki all day. It was the only thing I wanted to do. Soak it up!
We just brought snacks to the beach this day and didn’t really do anything except lay out and relax.
Dinner at the Arancino Beachwalk
Surprise, more Italian! haha.
This place was good. More mom and pop ‘old school’. They didn’t have a lot of gluten free options but I got the risotto and it was so filling!
This was our last day. So sad! I was in such a weird mood. Life had been really crazy and not the best before we left. It felt so good just to turn off reality and only focus on Anthony in a tropical paradise.
I’m such a baby but I literally always cry on the last day of vacations with just Anthony. haha. So I was kinda bummed this day – but we still really enjoyed it!
Breakfast at Kona Bakery
Anthony had really been wanting to check out this little bakery near our hotel. We went and got smoothies and coffee and they even had a gluten free almond cake option for me! It was a cute place.
Kona Bakery goodies. mmmm.
Shop around Waikiki
We just did some exploring and walking around. We picked up our ornament (a tradition we started on our first trip together in 2012).
We choose a sea turtle because of the one we met the first day while taking a swim.
We also checked out the Tesla showroom store front because it’s Anhtony’s dream car.
Basically we just wandered around and soaked up the last few hours.
Once we checked out (sad!) we went to the Ala Moana Center which is a famous mall on the island. We went on our way to the airport for an hour or so. It was cute but I wouldn’t waste your time unless you were on your way there anyway like we were.
That’s it. We hopped on a night flight and headed home. The time difference is crazy and even though we left Monday night, we wouldn’t arrive home until Tuesday at 4pm Toronto time.
Again, Delta Comfort was the way to go!
Once we actually landed I was done being a baby and ready to get back in the swing of life!
Happy and blessed to have had such a great trip with my best friend and also excited to be back in routine and home!
WHAT DID I WEAR?
I know I have so many questions about my outfits! Especially my cute bathing suits! This blog is officially too long so stay tuned and I will put up a blog with all the outfit links later this week.
If you are reading this because you are headed to Honolulu, I’d love to hear if this was helpful to you or answer any questions in the comments below.