Friday, August 10, 2018

Alohilani Resort | Waikiki Beach

With an infinity pool overlooking the beautiful Hawaiian shores, a refined nautical theme embodied in the expansive lobby and bar, spacious crisp clean rooms, this plush hotel in the heart of lively Waikiki is 
H O N E Y M O O N bliss.

Our corner room on the 36th floor had incredible balcony views. Ocean to the South, mountains to the North, city high rises in front of us and the expansive 5th floor pool deck and Swell Bar below us. 

The city views and the beautiful pool deck were quite honestly a nice change of pace after our time in Kauai being immersed in nature. Of course everyone travels to Hawaii for the outdoors and likely would not want to spend all their time in Waikiki. For us, I was so glad we decided to experience this part of Oahu. Three days here felt like the perfect amount. 

The Alohilani houses it's own private aquarium! It was amazing to watch the hundreds of fish, all different species, especially at feeding time. The hotel is located right on the main strip in a bustling area; even if you don't stay here, it's totally worth checking out the lobby aquarium. 

The front desk is backed by a stunning coral wall sculpture and the lobby home to a lovely black and white photograph collage. It was just a really cool, calm, inviting space. 

There are a mass of hotels to choose from in Waikiki, all in really good locations on Kalakau Avenue. We inevitably ended up walking through and/or having drinks at many of them. Some are nice, some are dated, a few are beachfront. You are SO close to the beach anyways and all of it public, so that shouldn't necessarily be a deciding factor or something you need to pay up for. 

I can tell you that none of the pools/pool bars I saw were as nice as Alohilani! I felt so spoiled here. 

Early on our last morning we took advantage of the lounge area to ourselves (see Bob in the far right corner.) It was usually busy but never too crowded. At any point in the day it was easy to grab two lounge chairs and a couple Mai Tais! At night they light the fire pits so it was super romantic and relaxing.

I promise, we didn't spend all our time in Waikiki at our hotels pool! 

Highlights include Honolulu food and drink, surf lessons from Moku Hawaii (2446 Koa Ave) with a retired O'Neil sponsored pro surfer and a heavy, moving day spent at Pearl Harbor. All of those details to come!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Kailua | Oahu

We flew into Honolulu from Lihue (Farewell, Kauai) and headed to the Leeward side of the Island (east!) to a town called Kailua. Our Airbnb just a few minutes walk to Kalama Beach was incredibly underwhelming. It was teeny tiny, musty, and not what we expected based on the photos and reviews. Our hosts were the kindest most welcoming folks who greeted us with champagne and presents and thought nothing of it (like it was the best honeymoon spot and they catered to honeymooners all the time..) There were issues I won't get into with the space, but after one night sleep we knew we had to bail. 

We still enjoyed our one night and one morning in Kailua. If you wanted to check out this part of the Island, and it certainly is worth it, I'd recommend a day trip or perhaps just staying one night in passing. 
Kalama Beach is gorgeous. We took a sunset beach walk upon arrival and an early morning run the next day. I definitley felt immersed with the locals here, everyone was walking their dogs on the beach. There were good neighborhood vibes for sure! 

We had dinner at Tokaname a crowded sushi bar + restaurant where we were the only non-Asians/non-Hawaiians. In Kailua we truly did find a neighborhood off the beaten path, and the crowd certainly reflective of a good Japanese restaurant....
The Ramen was terrific. The sake sampler hit the spot. The sushi was super fresh. The green tea tempura ice cream sealed the deal. 

The next morning we awkwardly bid adiue to our hosts. In search of brunch we discovered a cool couple blocks in Kailua housing trendy cafes and surf boutiques. We ate at Kono's known for their 12 hour slow roasted pig. My shredded pork buns and Bob's pork and egg biscuits were excellent. 

Our original thoughts in planning the Kailua leg of the honeymoon were to get off the beaten path - to go somewhere less touristy, perhaps somewhere up and coming? Plus, many frequent travelers warned against Waikiki and its crowds. In retrospect this seems odd to us - why did we take their advice, we love city beaches and being where the action is! (At least for a few days time.) Our dowdy Kailua accommodations inspired a change of pace and we were off to Waikiki, booking the Alohilani Resort on Hotel Tonight as we drove back into the city. 

Travel suprises you. That's what's to love!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Kapa'a | Kauai

Kapa'a is a funky little beach town on Kauai's east side. We stopped here on the drive North for a walk on Kealia Beach and the drive back for brunch at Nom Kauai and a treat at Wailua Shave Ice. 

Nom Kauai dishes local ingredients with southern roots and prides themselves on a motto to keep brunch weird. I really went for it and ordered the Cheeky Moco ($20) featuring Shoyu braised beef cheek served atop a fried coconut grit cake, smothered in house savory brown gravy + finished with a sunny egg. Bob sent it with - The Ultimate ($16) - a Belgian Waffle bun sandwiching buttermilk fried chicken, bacon + a sunny egg with pineapple bourbon butter, topped with maple syrup. These radical brunch creations are just two of many. I recommend a stop in Kapa'a just to check this place out. All menu items are available all day and they've got a well rounded coffee and cocktail list.

After brunch we explored the main street with local gift shops and cute boutiques. Kiko + Hee Fat General Store both top my list! Around noon the food trucks opened up in the center of town - Wailua Shave Ice was a must try, we had the Lava Flow (strawberry + pineapple).

We had some time to kill before our flight to Oahu and Kapa'a was the perfect place for casual exploring, checking out local boutiques and for good eats!