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Trip Report: Visiting Oahu (where to eat, stay, and play)

Hawai’i is a destination sought after by many. The islands of Hawai’i offer something for everyone; hiking, camping, swimming, lounging, biking, and surfing to name just a few. In this post, I am going to discuss the island of Oahu as that is the main island of Hawai’i and often the most populated with tourists (and for a reason!).

To preface this post, I want to disclose that when The Traveling Dudes go to any destination, we most always try to stay at least 4 nights. Does anybody know the reason?!? It’s to get the 4th night free benefit from our Citi Prestige card (currently, Citi has put the Prestige card on hold and is developing something better - but you can continue using the 4th night benefit if you already hold this card), of course! Also, 4 nights at a single destination allows enough time to get to relax while exploring the many attractions of that area – and not feeling rushed.

Where to Stay

There is a plethora of places to stay on Oahu with most of them concentrated in Honolulu (the Capital of Hawai’i). Now many people don’t like going to the “touristy” places of destinations and, for the most part, I agree. However, I absolutely LOVE Honolulu. Yes, it’s touristy, but yet has an extremely great vibe to the city. Therefore, with tourists come many hotels.

Our go to hotel has always been The Modern. It sits along the Ala Wai Boat Harbor and not directly on Waikiki Beach. So, if you are looking for a hotel directly on Waikiki, then this is not the place for you. We love this hotel for many reasons and one of them being the pool! They also have a great bar that opens up in the evening called The Study and it’s literally a hidden book case in the lobby that slides open in the evening revealing the bar – so cool!

Other notable hotels we’ve explored: The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club, Shoreline Hotel, and ‘Alohilani Resort.

The Traveling Dudes Tip: Directly next door to The Modern is Cinnamon’s – a Honolulu staple with a great, no frills breakfast. A cheaper option than eating at the hotel and it’s connected to The Modern via a small pathway (the same pathway that takes you to Waikiki beach).

Where to Eat

One of the best meals I’ve ever had in Honolulu has been the lobster spaghetti at Arancino – Boardwalk. It’s an Italian restaurant with a super cute vibe. However, I was disappointed my last visit as 1. They did not have the lobster spaghetti and 2. The food and service just wasn’t as good as the previous visit – but still worth checking out, in my opinion.

Duke’s Waikiki is a Honolulu staple and offers a really great dinner buffet. The restaurant sits directly in the heart of Waikiki and has great people watching while sipping on a Mai Tai (or wine for us J).

Besides Cinnamon’s, an absolute Honolulu must is Island Vintage Coffee at The Royal Hawaiian Center. This place is jam packed starting in the early morning due to the fact they have great coffee and make a killer Acai bowl. A super healthy way to start the day or for a mid-day snack.

This past trip to Honolulu we also explored the vast Asian market on the ground floor of the Ala Moana Center. Highly recommend jumping on one of the many Biki bikes around (see below) and ride on over for a ramen lunch and a Sapporo.

Outside Honolulu, on your way to the North Shore, is a small town called Haleiwa. Definitely worth checking out the burger joint there called Kua Aina Sandwich Shop – really good stuff!

Where to Play

The Traveling Dudes live in Los Angeles, California so we get to hike a ton. Naturally, hiking on Oahu is pretty epic – with the waterfalls and the views! However, and this is not a joke, every time we have tried to hike the Manoa Falls trail, it ends up pouring raining out. But the pictures look superb and we will eventually get there.

Hiking aside, my all time favorite thing to do in cities is to rent bikes. Honolulu has a great bike rental program called Biki. There are stations scattered throughout the city and it’s really easy to find one on the phone app, walk up next to a bike, punch in the code, and you’re off! We would ride all over town and re-dock our bikes before heading to the beach or to dinner. There are multiple options for how you are charged but we just did the 500 minute for a flat rate – time starts once you unlock the bike and stops when you dock it – very easy.

For a fun day exploring outside Honolulu, grab a car rental for the day and head to the North Shore. Spend the day exploring Kualoa Ranch (do the ATV tour where they take you on a scenic route where the Jurassic Park movies were filmed), watching the surfers on the North Shore beach, or visiting the quaint town of Haleiwa.

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