One Perfect Day in Oahu

Destinations, Hawaii — By on June 14, 2010 at 6:00 am

By Molly Fergus
LG Deputy Editor, Travel News

From my standpoint, it seems virtually impossible to have an imperfect day in Oahu. The state’s most-populated isle is only the third-largest in the chain, but it’s packed with such dramatic vistas, diverse activities and welcoming locals that wiling away days beneath the sun sounds pretty darn enticing.

Still, you can only spend so many hours baking on the beach before it’s time to get up and actually do something. That’s why I tracked down some of the isle’s most locally beloved activities (don’t worry, plenty of them involve eating) and whipped up a perfect day in Oahu, all the way from breakfast to cocktails.

Kapiolani Community College Famers’ Market
Almost a cross between a “Taste of Hawaii” and a traditional farmers market, more than 60 vendors set up camp in this parking lot every Saturday morning to sell both hot, prepared foods and fresh, local produce.  Stop here for a decadent breakfast feast – just-brewed Kona coffee (hot or iced) from Koko Crater Coffe Roasters, rich strawberry mochi from Made in Hawaii, and juicy Portuguese sausage from the North Shore Cattle Company are all up for grabs – before picking up locally made cheeses, sea salts, and chocolate to take home as souvenirs.  Saturdays, 7:30 – 11:30 a.m.; www.hfbf.org/FarmersMarketKCC.html

Stand-up Paddle Boarding on the North Shore
Don’t worry if you munched on too many tacos before escaping the KCC food-fest. Stand-up paddle boarding – a Waikiki-born sport that’s enjoying a nationwide renaissance – burns as many as 700 calories per hour, is one heck of a core workout, and has become an instant favorite among waify A-listers like Jennifer Aniston.

In theory, the sport is simple. Stand up on a light, floating board (they’re larger than traditional surfboards), and paddle around calm waters as if you’re steering a canoe. The reality is a tad more challenging. The boards waver so much that earning your sea legs requires loads of balance, core stabilization, and, of course, belly flops into the ocean.

Even though paddle-boarding is gaining street cred everywhere from Waikiki to Michigan, the North Shore’s placid, azure waters are easily one of the best (and prettiest) spots to pick up the sport. Visit C4 Waterman’s Honolulu store – it supplies some of Hawaii’s top boarders with gear – to pick up equipment (rentals start at $30 per day) before renting a car and driving north to Haleiwa. www.c4waterman.com

Shave Ice from Matsumoto
You’ve earned it by now, so brave the long, winding line at Matsumoto’s in historic Hailewa for some of the area’s most popular shave ice – just don’t call these desserts snow cones. The fluffy, smooth treats at this roadside store are made from ice shaved so finely, then doused with rich syrup, that they taste more like sorbet than their cruder, chunkier carnival cousins. For the full-fledged Hawaiian experience, add sweet red beans and vanilla soft serve to your order. Just don’t forget a plastic holder – ice melts fast! www.matsumotoshaveice.com

Dinner at Side Street Inn
Anthony Bourdain ate at this hole-in the-wall resto, but that shouldn’t be your only reason to venture to this local favorite, known as a late-night watering hole for Honolulu’s best chefs. The bare-bones sign swinging outside makes it look like the diner would fall more on the burger-and-fries side of the culinary spectrum, but the menu bursts with phenomenal Asian-inspired comfort food – think pan-fried pork chops; a fresh farmers’ salad with shrimp, capers, and a light vinaigrette; signature poke ahi tuna; and downright revelatory fried chicken. Dessert is equally sinful, with fried pound cake capping off the calorie bomb of a meal. www.sidestreetinn.com

Cocktails in Chinatown
It’s easy to forget that Honolulu, with about 900,000 residents, ranks as the country’s 11th largest city. But in Chinatown, just 15 minutes from touristy Waikiki, the scene is decidedly more urbane than its laid-back island stereotype. Hop around the industrial-turned-artsy neighborhood for top-notch people watching, and choose between everything from night clubs to wine bars to balmy rooftop hideaways.

    6 Comments

  • Nice article Molly. We’ve been saying for years that Oahu offers the most diverse vacation experience of all the Hawaiian Islands. The cocktails in Chinatown is greatly enhanced during the First Friday of every month – check it out here http://www.firstfridayhawaii.com/

    The Kapiolani Community College Famers’ Market is great too — also during the school year Kapiolani Community College has great lunches by the student in the culinary arts program http://kapiolani.hawaii.edu/object/kaikenalunch.html

    The shave Ice at Matsumotos is great too, but many times you are not up at the North Shore and there are ‘so many no can count’ community shave ice stores all around Honolulu like the Waiole Shave Ice Store in Mcully/Moiliili http://www.yelp.com/biz/waiola-shave-ice-honolulu

    For some of the best great places to eat healthy food tips in Honolulu follow Larry Heim president of Hon Blue on his friendfeed http://friendfeed.com/larryheim this guy has amazing finds

    And finally there is a very relaxing hotel at the far end of Kapiolani Park run by Ohana Beach Rentals Hawaii. It is the Diamond Head Beach Hotel http://www.obrhi.com/diamond-head-beach-hotel/ There are almost always great deals but it is close to the Outrigger Canoe Club and trip advisor gives it great ratings.

    Mahalo
    Warren Daniel

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