Hawaiian Travel Highlights: Oahu

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When my daughter and son-in-law moved to Hawaii, we thought for sure we'd go visit because... Hawaii! But no. Something, or a lot of somethings, came up and we never managed to plan a trip. I had pretty much decided we wouldn't be able to go before they got orders to another duty station -- and then Jenn told me she was pregnant. Well that changed everything because no matter what might come up -- I was going to be there when my grandchild was born. No. Doubt. About. It.


Oahu

Image: smiely via Flickr

 

TW had been to Hawaii before and tossed out long lists of things she thought I should see and a short list of things she would like to see. I checked out a ton of Oahu travel guides and made a list of possibilities in my head but to tell you the truth, there wasn't anything really compelling that I had to see. I just wanted to cuddle my grandson and spend time with my daughter.

Which was all well and good until my plane landed and we started to drive toward Kailua -- then everything changed. I think one of the first things I said to TW was, "It feels like home." Because it did. Not home as in Chicagoland (obviously) or home as in anywhere in the southern US. It felt like the Philippines and Panama and the southern US all rolled into the perfect place for me to live.

At first, I assumed it was the jet lag, the huge change in weather from Chicagoland and seeing my daughter that made me so happy to be there. But after a few days I realized, I just plain loved it there. Julie Godar teased me before I went on vacation, saying I might decide to never come back. She was closer to the truth than she realized. If it wasn't for the five kids living on the mainland and the fact that JMP would be moving back to the mainland relatively soon, I'd still be there right now.

For the first two weeks of my visit, I stayed with my daughter and son-in-law in their little house in Kailua, on the windward side of the island. Waking up in the morning, I'd take a cup of coffee to the back patio and at 7am the neighbors would begin playing ukulele music and singing. What a perfect way to start the day. (Here in Chicagoland -- my neighbors do not play the ukulele, to put it mildly.)

While I was planning our trip and looking for places to stay, I came very close to just grabbing a room in some big fancy hotel in Waikiki. Boy am I glad I didn't do that. Not just because I'd have been a half hour drive from JMP but because being on the windward side of the island is so much more restful than being in the bustle of Waikiki or Honolulu. I never really understood why they chose to live in Kailua when they both worked on the other side of the island -- after visiting, I understand completely.

We stayed in this Aloha Studio, in Kailua and I highly recommend it, or the cottage, to anyone visiting Oahu -- particularly if you want to stay someplace outside of the bustling noise and traffic of Honolulu and Waikiki. Our studio had everything we needed for our stay and it was super-clean. While it's not beachfront, it's a five minute walk (and a nice five minute walk at that since you can stop at the Kalapawai Market and grab a great cup of coffee to take with you) to Kailua Beach Park and less than a mile to Kailua town.

In Kailua, Cinnamon's, Boots & Kimo's and Moke's Bread & Breakfast all serve really amazing breakfasts. At Cinnamon's, the corn and blueberry pancakes were terrific and their cinnamon rolls are to die for. At Moke's, you must order the Lilikoi Pancakes. Boots & Kimo's serves an awesome Macadamia Nut Pancake -- and I don't even LIKE macadamia nuts.

Agnes's Portuguese Bake Shop makes awesome Macao Manapua. I'm disappointed that I never had a chance to try the Malassadas from this shop or from Leonard's. I kept thinking I'd see a Leonard's truck when it was convenient to stop and that just never happened. The Morning Brew serves a nice breakfast and their coffee is good. The breakfast pizza was too much for me to eat and my daughter gave it two thumbs up when I took half to her. We went early and it was almost empty, which made for a nice change from all of the other restaurants we visited for breakfast.

Boston's North end Pizza is excellent and so is Los Garcia's, if you want Mexican food. Maui Taco and Teddy's Bigger Burgers are pretty darn good, too. (At Teddy's, consider peanut butter on your burger. TW says it's fabulous!)

Enough about Kailua, we visited lots of other places that you shouldn't miss if you have a chance to visit Oahu.

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