A trip to Hawaii – at least for a first-timer – isn’t quite complete without a visit to the Aloha State’s capital, Honolulu. After a week of relaxing in Kauai I was really looking forward to visiting this legendary city and seeing a few more faces. I got all that and more upon arriving in Waikiki Beach.
Waikiki Beach is constantly buzzing with tourists from all over the world exploring the many shops, restaurants, and hotels that line the shore. The vibe is at once laid-back and upscale, with buildings housing both five-star restaurants and flip-flop shops. I had some of the best Japanese and Korean food of my life (so far) over my three days in town. My beefy lite bowl from the Kamitoku Ramen truck was better than some of the fancier meals I had over the trip.
Speaking of food trucks, if you’re on your way to the North Shore and love shrimp, make a pit stop at Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck in Haleiwa. There’s only a few items on the menu (three styles of shrimp and a garlic hot dog) but it’s all fantastic. After waiting in line for about 20 minutes and fighting off fruit flies, I started to wonder if it was worth it, but that plate of shrimp scampi was a revelation. Go there.
After stuffing our faces with shrimp, we stopped by Waimea Valley, an amazingly lush botanical garden and cultural site that brings visitors closer to nature and Native Hawaiian history. Walking down to the waterfall, you can see why its considered such a sacred place. It’s absolutely stunning even in winter, when most of the flowers aren’t in bloom. I can’t even imagine how it will look a few weeks from now.
A trip to the North Shore isn’t complete without a stop at Sunset Beach, one of the top spots in the world for big wave surfing. You can’t really tell from the photos, but the surf was out of control that particular afternoon. I’m used to baby waves on the Atlantic. These swells were at least three times the size of the waves I’ve seen before major storms back home. Despite that, plenty of people were paddling out. I salute you, crazies.
Oh, there was also a double rainbow. So intense.
Hawaii, you were good to me. I can’t wait to see you again soon.
In case you missed it, check out the video I made of my Hawaiian adventures. While you’re in the neighborhood, I made 2 other somewhat travel-related videos during my blogging hiatus – one on moving to New York and the other on the people of Amtrak. Join me, won’t you?