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10 things you really need to do in Hawaii {Oahu}

Fat Mum Slim /

A few weeks ago we arrived home from a jam-packed few days in Hawaii. I am really blessed that I have been able to see so much of the world through blogging. To be honest, before blogging I had very little desire to travel. I was really content with traveling up and down the east coast of Australia { and still am, because it’s so beautiful} but now I have the bug. I want to see more of the world.

Hawaii was a place that I really wanted to travel to for a while now. My cousin and his family had spent a few weeks there last Christmas, and they came back RAVING about everything. They bought gifts {hurrah} and the seed was planted. Hubby on the other hand, had dreamed of going since he was a kid. He grew up on the beach, surfed all his life and it was the one place that he just wanted to visit {bucketlist stuff}.

Hawaii delighted me more than I expected. Before I left I thought I’d write one or two posts about our trip, but it was so beautiful, exciting, fulfilling, and so on that I need to break this down into a few posts to do it justice.

Today I wanted to start with 10 things that I highly recommend doing when visiting Hawaii {particularly Oahu, the island we visited}. Also, we stayed away from the main part of Oahu, only driving through Wakiki, but we’ll be back to experience that part of the island another time.

hawaii-7Visit Haleiwa {pronounced hah-leh-‘ee-vah}: This little surfside town is so colourful and worth spending a little bit of time in. If you’re staying in Wakiki you’ll need to hire a car, or get on a tour to experience the North Shore {and honestly if there’s only one thing you do in Hawaii, besides lying by the pool then please do this}. The North Shore seems to be the untouched Hawaii, with one road weaving past the beautiful beaches. There’s beautiful food to be eaten, little stalls to buy souvenirs and beaches to swim in {if the surf isn’t crazy, which it wasn’t for us}.

hawaii-2Eat at Giovannis: When you’re exploring the North Shore you’ll see loads of little food trucks selling food. We traveled up the west side of the island {I think you can travel up the east side as well} and stopped at Macky’s shrimp truck on the way into Haleiwa. It was our first taste of garlic shrimp and it was amazing. We saved room and headed further north to Giovanni’s too. All I can say is that if you don’t eat shrimp, oh boy you’re missing out. Maybe just order the rice with some garlic-y, butter-y, amazing sauce. On the day we visited the weather was tropical {a little rain, a little sunshine, a little more rain} and very humid. There are tables undercover, or ones out in the open. You can also explore the other stalls once you’re done with your shrimp. We bought gifts for Lacey’s friends and finished with some funnel cake. Garlic shrimp is around the $13 mark, and the funnel cake was $7.50.

hawaii-1shave-ice

Eat shave ice: While in Hawaii you’ll most likely see lots of places selling shaved ice, and if you’re like me you’ll think that shave ice is just shaved= ice and they’re all the same. Wrong. I don’t know what makes them different but Matsumoto in Haleiwa just gets it so right. There was a huge line up when we arrived, which almost made me want to turn around and leave, but it moves super quick {so don’t walk away!}. Lacey had a rainbow and I had the Matsumoto with condensed milk. SO GOOD. Hot tip: Stay put and eat them. They melt quickly and can make a bit of a mess. So sit, eat, enjoy.

hawaii-8Eat Dole Whip: On the way up to the North Shore there’s also the Dole Plantation, which is a pineapple plantation. On our trip up we ran out of time, and I was devastated that I was going to miss out on Dole Whip. Turns out that it’s in supermarkets and even at our resort. Hubby declared it as the best thing he’s ever tasted. It cool, pineapple-y and perfect for the Hawaii climate.

hawaii-9Swim: Yes, after all the eating you’ll want to swim. This is what we did most of all. We just swam and swam and swam and swam some more. We stayed at Disney Aulani, which is a resort right on a lagoon with loads of different pools. There’s a little splash pool for babies, an infinity pool with views of the ocean {our favourite}, a stream that weaves throughout the resort {grab a tube and float around}, plus slides and water activities out on the lagoon. The ocean temperature was beautiful too. Hubby took a trip out and swam with dolphins, plus swam in the private reef at Aulani too.

hawaii-11Visit Aulani: I love Disney and the magic it never fails to deliver, but one friend said to me, “Was the resort too Disney?” and it wasn’t. As we grabbed a taxi to our accommodation upon arriving to Hawaii our driver told us that we were staying at the best resort on the island. Cue huge jet-lagged smiles. The resort is a Disney resort, but the Disney element is really subtle. The characters you’ll see around the resort are technically not working, they’re just holidaying themselves. Aulani is really respectful to the Hawaiian culture, immersing so much history and story-telling into the buildings and the way everything is created. The things I really loved about Aulani is that it feels really safe {heck, I lost my brand new iPhone 6 Plus and someone handed it in instead of keeping it}, it’s super clean {each morning I saw a guy cleaning our the pool tiles with a tool the size of a toothbrush!}, everyone is really happy {the staff are called cast members and are just so happy!} and it’s really great for kids. Even if you can only afford one night, I highly recommend staying there. I’ll write more about the resort, but we got a room with a kitchen and a laundry, so you could make your own meals, plus there are BBQs for families to use too.

hawaii-10Get Pampered: I had a Lomi Lomi massage at the Disney Aulani Spa, Laniwai, and I can’t recommend it enough. My therapist was Duke, and I kinda wanted to be best friends with him forever. I’ll write a whole post about this experience too, but best spa experience of MY LIFE PEOPLE.

hawaii-3Watch the sun set: So, I live on the East Coast of Australia so I can see the sun rise on the water but never the sun set. At the top of my bucket list was watching the sun set over the water, and I got to do this during our Hawaii trip. It looks magic, doesn’t it?

hawaii-4Learn to hula: I know this is probably a tad predictable, but so fun right? Lacey had a blast. I was hula-ing away in the crowd, until I turned around and realised I was the only parent dancing. Dang. I kept on swaying.

hawaii-5Shop!: We shopped on our first day in Hawaii, trying to get rid of our jetlag. Bad decision. We only lasted an hour before we realised we should have stayed and swam. Our first shopping trip was to the Ala Moana shopping centre, which is stunning and filled with beautiful shops. On our last day we ventured to the Waikele Outlets, which was much more our style. It was much smaller, but so were the prices. We got GAP t-shirts for $6, shoes for Luella and my niece, and a Kate Spade purse for me. We’re wam-bam shoppers {we like to get in, get what we want and get out} and we don’t like to pay full price, so the Waikele shops were perfect for us.

I know as I visit Hawaii more and more {yep, we’re going back, it’s been decided! I don’t know when, but one day!} that we’ll find more things to add to this list, but from this trip these are my suggestions. It’s such a beautiful place to visit, that just feels so positive and soul-satisfying.

We traveled as guests of Crocs Australia who sent us over to Hawaii to find our fun {which we did, plus some}. One person will win a trip to Hawaii {similar to the one we experienced}, sign up here if you want to be one of the first to hear about it. I’ll share more details about the competition in the coming weeks.

  • OMG. I’ve always dreamed of going to Hawaii. I’ve had a couple of near misses. In fact, my best friend is getting married there in February and I sadly could not find the funds after a big trip earlier this year and a change in jobs for my husband (it’s OK – she couldn’t make it to mine either so it’s fitting haha).
    🙁 I hope I win the lotto, but I might have to actually buy tickets for that to happen haha. ONE DAY! x

  • You’ve made me want to go there now! I thought it’d be such a cliche destination but it looks amazing. The trip to Hawaii competition has reminded me to ask you about that campervan one, if you’ve heard any word? xx

  • Signed up to get notified as I’d love to go to Hawaii. It looks fabulous and it’s on my to-do list!

  • Seana Smith

    I’ve been hearingabout Hawaii from friends for a few years now but haven’t done any research, would love to go with the kids… but it’s quite daunting, definitely need word of mouth recommendations, so this post is great. Look forward to hearing more about the resort.

  • i know it’s not grammatically correct but it’s not “shaved ice.” hawaiians call it “shave ice” (part of that pidgin dialect). also, did you try leonard’s malasadas when you were at the outlets? it’s the red and white striped truck in the parking lot and malasadas are ridiculously delicious treats. those and the mochiko chicken are my downfall for eating there…

    • Oh just changed it. Thank you!

      I didn’t see Leonard’s truck. I wish I did! I’d heard so much about them. We ate lunch at Chilis.

  • I’ve never even considered going to Hawaii before, but after readig this it has shot to the top of my list! It sounds amazing, and family friendly too. I can’t wait to read more 🙂

  • iamlindsay86

    Aloha! I live on Oahu;) So delighted you love our little island! Next time you come back, head to Kailua town, I think you’d love it. That’s where we live, and the Kailua beach is absolutely all local and gorgeous. There are also some awesome family hikes like the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail, and Pill Box Hike. Cheers to your next vacation!

  • Tarina

    Sounds RAD! I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii!

@Fatmumslim