Happiness in Honolulu, Hawaii

Happiness in Honolulu

Wonderful Waikiki

What a wonderful place to spend a week, Waikiki.  We loved every minute of our sun, surf and week of adventure.  The week was spent eating amazing food, seeking adventure and soaking up the sun with a bit of culture on the side.


The Food

Thinking of an escape to Hawaii for the beaches and cocktails? Think again and this time put food on your agenda. So many hidden gems when it comes to the fabulous food on the island of Oahu. Just in Waikiki the food scene is huge.

With a heavy Japanese influence on the island there are lots of Japanese style food places. We joined a long queue that moved fast at Marukame Udon Waikiki. It was exactly like restaurants we visited in Tokyo. Grab a tray and select your noodles and pick a few tempura pieces. Delicious, fresh and so cheap.

Fresh Japanese eats in Waikiki

Fresh Japanese eats in Waikiki

After hiking up Diamond Head you will need to refuel! A MUST is Leonard’s Bakery for the yummiest hot MALASADAS which are Porteguese donuts. The bakery has been in Honolulu since 1952 and creating these masterpieces every day since.  They are cooked to order and come in a variety of flavours.

Deliciousness in a box

Deliciousness in a box

To experience a real Tiki Bar that only the locals visit head to La Mariana Sailing Club. We sat by the water, overlooking all the boats in the marina, sipping cocktails from Tiki glasses while eating our pupu platter (Hawaiian tapas).

Head two or three streets back from the main tourist strip of Waikiki to experience the bargains of this Japanese BBQ treasure. Gyu-Kaku is a fun place to take the family for dinner and let the kids do the cooking! Individual hot plates at each table make dinner lots of fun with the most tender, delicious meat to BBQ.

Whole Foods is an all time favourite for our family and the Waikiki outlet did not disappoint.  There is a bar that serves delicious fresh food.  OR grab some freshly cooked pizzas or a cheese platter to eat while watching the sunset.

The Sunsets

The highlight of our day was choosing where we would be positioning ourselves to watch the sunset for the day.  Waikiki beach is crowded with everyone having their camera ready to capture the sun sinking.  We loved being in the water during the sunset, floating in the warm water while the day finishes is magical.

Our other favourite way was watching the sun disappear with a cocktail in hand and delicious snacks close by.  Making the choice by 5pm was important as the sun was setting around 6.30pm in September.  We did grab a cheese platter for one sunset and watched from the park near Waikiki Beach.

watching the sunset with our picinic

watching the sunset with our picinic

The options are plentiful, one of our favourites was the Tiki’s Grill and Bar in the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel where the drinks were well priced, the food so yummy and live music playing in the background.  The bar has a large eating area on the balcony that has a magnificent balcony to watch the end of the day.

sunset from Tiki Grill and Bar

sunset from Tiki Grill and Bar

Duke’s Bar is a famous place to watch the sunset and the bar is very busy.  The iconic bar is a must on the tourist list but was not our all time favourite place.

Inside the Westin Moana is the Beach Bar Under the Banyan Tree was one of our favourites.  We stumbled across this bar after being enticed into the hotel by the large wooden rocking chairs on the front balcony.  There was a concert on the night we arrived, we were lucky enough to find a spot and enjoy the spectacular atmosphere.

Another absolute beach front bar is House Without A Key is in the Halekulani Hotel and the whole atmosphere is classy.  There is live music and a hula dancer to complete the Hawaiian experience.


Chinatown and Downtown Honolulu

Away from the tourist sections of Waikiki, is the lovely Chinatown.  full of markets selling fruit and bakery items and lots of quirky and unusual shops.  We loved a coffee from The Manifest and billy managed to fit in getting a tattoo from Old Ironside in Chinatown.

Best Coffee at Manifest

Best Coffee at Manifest

Downtown also was a lovely place to wander and it did have the feel of a small city.  We stumbled across many food trucks which were outside the Royal Palace.

Diamond Head

My number one tip for hiking up Diamond Head is to go early to miss the heat of the day.  The Bus took us to near the entrance of the Diamond Head crater.  The entry cost is $1 a person or $5 a car.  We watched the wait for the car park which seemed to be never ending. The climb to the summit is an easy enough walk it is just long, so take plenty of water and be ready to listen to your children whinge.  It is all absolutely worth every drop of sweat once you get to the top to see the spectacular view.

Diamond Head View

Diamond Head View



There is no getting away from the fact that the accommodation in Waikiki is expensive.  I spent a lot of time searching for the ideal place.  I wanted to be able to walk to the beach in less than 5 minutes, have a balcony and if possible have a view of the water.  I managed it all within our budget.  Hotels were far too expensive so Airbnb came to our rescue.  Our place was perfect and a place I would highly recommend.

Handy Tips for Honolulu

A few tips that will make your trip easier once you get to Honolulu.
  • Wifi isn’t strong around Waikiki.  We had wifi in our accommodation and could find hot spots around a few cafes and coffee shops.  We didn’t invest in a SIM card for Hawaii as we were only there a week.  It wasn’t an issue as being a relaxing holiday limited wifi was a relief.
  • Airport transfers – we used SpeediShuttle from the airport to the door of our accommodation.  This was approx. US$15 a person, they will try to book you a return trip which saves $1 total.  We chose not to which worked well as we were given a brochure for a local company that only charged $7 a person to the airport.
  • Car Hire – we hired a car from a local company from a vendor we found near Waikiki beach.  We didn’t want to lock in a car before we left so we were more flexible and could shop around.
  • When hiring your SUP or surfboard try hiring a street or two back from the beachfront.  The boards are half the rental price.

    Which board will you take to the waves?

    Which board will you take to the waves?


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10 Replies to “Happiness in Honolulu, Hawaii”

  1. Hey Debbie. Great website you have created. We are heading to Hawaii in June so I’m looking for tips so this is great. With the place you stayed with via air bnb though it states only hosts 3 people? Or was he flexible? You’re right, the hotels seem very expensive. The only thing is we would like a pool. Decisions, decisions…

  2. Oh my goodness those Malasadas really are soooo good! You also reminded me that we haven’t hiked Diamond Head with the kids yet. I know the older ones would love to check that out. Thank you!

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