Kahuku Grill

Kahuku Grill is a bit hidden but you can see it from the highway. I will admit that I wasn’t sure about it when we first saw it but I am so glad that we decided to stop there for food. There is only outside seating which the waitresses are willing to dry off if it rains. Very nice and helpful, but we opted to sit at a table a group had just left from so she wouldn’t have had to do any extra work.

This restaurant might have the best veggie burger that I have ever had. It’s called Keep The Country Country and was made with pineapples as the patty, or at least I think that’s what they were supposed to be. Just….so delicious. I wish I could eat it again right now.

They also had a dessert that my friend and I were crazy to eat our entire time in Hawaii. Banana bread with ice cream and coconut shavings. So good. We shared one as it’s a pretty big portion after just eating a meal. That was also so very delicious.

It closes at 9 PM at night every night Monday – Saturday and it’s not even open on Sunday. (We learned the hard way that nothing is open in Kahuku on Sunday).

The address is 56-565 Kamehameha Hwy, Kahuku, HI 96731.

The number is +1-(808) 852-0040.

Opal Thai

What is there to say about Opal Thai aside from that it is AMAZING!! And, hopefully obvious, that it’s Thai food.

As with most of the other posts from Oahu, it is located on the North Shore in Haleiwa. It’s on the side of a little business area instead of the front. From what I remember, there wasn’t a sign saying Opal Thai above the door either. There is a huge, free parking lot for all the businesses there.

It’s a BYOB (bring your own beverage) establishment if you were planning on drinking anything in the alcoholic direction.

What I really loved about the place is that the owner took all of our menus away and figured out what to send out for each individual after having a short conversation with them. I’m not sure if that is something that he did because we were with some locals that knew the owner but I loved it. The food there is amazing.

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Our friends were telling us that sometimes people will wait an hour or more outside the restaurant (as it is small) just to eat there.

Also, the restroom is not in the restaurant. You’ll have to ask for the key, go outside, down the steps and around the corner for that.

I HIGHLY recommend going to this restaurant, especially if you are in Haleiwa or close to it.

The address is 66-197 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712.

Maunawili Falls

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Maunawili Falls is in Kailua and was recommended by someone who lived there. It’s about a 4-5 mile (6-8 km) hike round trip. It requires you to cross a small piece of the river near the bottom and then you have to walk in the river to the waterfall once you get to the top….unless you have superb balance and rock jumping skills.

This hike can be done in tennis shoes (which most of my group did), flip flops and/or barefoot (which a friend and I did). We started out in flip flops but it was too muddy so we decided to just take them off. I had them off for most of the hike up until we got to the top and the dirt dried out and I could put them back on. I managed to make it back down with my flip flops on and clean feet by taking the side trails.

Aside from it being a very muddy hike (which our friend said he wasn’t expecting as it hadn’t rained there for a couple of days), it was a good hike. There are quite a few steep stairs so here is a warning if you have bad knees. I have bad knees though and managed to do the hike.

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Also, you can swim once you get to the waterfall. The water is quite cold but you get used to it pretty quickly. It’s probably best to just jump in at once. There is that bacteria warning in the beginning of the hike though so only go swimming if you feel comfortable. I didn’t go in past my hips but that was a personal thing as I wasn’t sure how strong the current was closer to the waterfall.

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If you’d like to check it out, the address to get to the beginning of the hike is 1201 Kelewina St, Kailua, HI 96734.

There is no parking lot so you just have to park somewhere in the neighborhood.

Sharks Cove

Yes, I realize that I’ve already talked about the food trucks at Sharks Cove so I will not be going into any depth about that here. This post is most likely going to be nice, short and about snorkeling.

A friend told us that Sharks Cove is called so because it looks like a shark took a bite out of it. It is a cool little area that is perfect for snorkeling. It is a bit rocky so be careful where you step and how much you kick. I used my arms more than anything while swimming around the cove. I made the  mistake of giving a decent kick once and managed to send my foot straight into rock/coral which did not feel good but luckily no cut. My friend was not so fortunate and she broke the nail on her toe when she got “beached” on some rocks.

Basically, just be careful as you walk or swim around this area. I would still really recommend coming here to go snorkeling though. There are lots of little sand patches you can step on and stand in. The sand patches get bigger the further out you go. As I can’t swim very well, I just stayed away from the area the ocean was coming in as the current was stronger there.

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Kualoa Ranch

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Kualoa Ranch is a place where you can do many big activities such as horseback riding, ride an ATV and zip lining; along with smaller activities like going to Secret Island, taking a boat ride around Chinaman’s Hat, a jungle tour where they stop and explain to you what movie was shot where and more. You can bundle a big activity with one or more smaller ones or you can just book them individually.

We chose to do only one day at Kualoa Ranch which was considered a full-day there. We arrived at 8 AM for check-in and were there until about 3 PM. When you book a full-day there, they do provide a buffet style lunch.

Our first activity that day was the one-hour ATV adventure tour at 8:45 AM. It was all of our first times on an ATV and we had a blast. We wished we could have booked the two-hour one instead but, to my understanding, that isn’t possible when you also have an experience tour following. You can have up to six (6) people in your group and then your tour guide will join you as well. They also take you through the movie sets and you have time to get down and take pictures (but not too much time since you only have an hour!) Our guide was super awesome and took us through a bunch of curves and crazy terrain. There were definitely moments that I thought I was about to go off the trail when the terrain got super bumpy or I didn’t turn the handle bars enough (as it is not power steering), but still super fun and exhilarating. If you go and can somehow request a guide, I highly recommend Matthew. He was possibly one of the best tour guides I’ve ever had. Go Matthew!

After the ATV adventure, we had to wait about 45 minutes for lunch which was served at 11:30 AM. If you are a vegetarian like me, then you need to go to the ticket booth with your activity sheet and let them know you are vegetarian/vegan where they will give you a ticket and direct you to the food area in the gift shop to use your meal ticket. I ate at the salad bar at the buffet area with the rest of my group, but you can also use the salad bar where you order your food.

Our second and last activity at Kualoa Ranch was called Secret Island at 11:30 AM. Most of the other experience tours are 1.5 hours but this one is 3 hours. Before you head out to the activity, they have your group take a photo (which you can see and purchase at the end of the day) then send you onto a bus which drives a couple of minutes down the road where they drop you off at a little dock. Then you get on a boat that takes you across a pond for a couple of minutes and the driver tells you about more movie sets you passed in front of the dock and how/why the pond and island were formed. Once you dock on the other side of the pond, they take you to the other side of the small island where they have some option for activities laid out such as kayaks, paddle boards, hammocks, mats for tanning/sitting in the sand, beach chairs, rope swings, etc. They say this place can be pretty busy with 200-400 people in a day, but we were lucky and went on a slower day with maybe 20 people. The boat returns to the other side of the pond at 2:30 so make sure that you are back at the dock a little bit before that. The lifeguard there will let you know when you have about 20 minutes left.

If you would like to look more into Kualoa Ranch and all the activities you can do and what bundles are possible, check out http://www.kualoa.com

If you are in Oahu and want to just go and check it out, the address is 49-560 Kamehameha Hwy, Kaneohe, HI 96744.

Or you can call them at +1-(808) 237-7321

Food Trucks

There are food trucks all over the island, but we stuck with the food trucks around the North Shore. They are quite good and quite popular. There are almost always people at the food trucks.

The first ones we went to were at the Polynesian Cultural Center as we opted out of not eating at the restaurant there. They have about four food trucks to choose from. I can’t remember what they were called though. I went to one that made baguette sandwiches while my friends ate at a seafood one.

The next one we went to was in Kahuku where the island famous Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck is located. My friends went to that one and they said it was quite delicious and worth the wait as the line is usually long. A friend (one who doesn’t eat seafood) and I went to a Thai food truck instead. There is also a little coffee truck which one friend said was really good, a frozen yogurt truck which is freakin’ delicious (there’s always plain yogurt and then whatever flavor the owner makes the night before), another Thai truck, a Korean BBQ truck, a vegetarian/vegan truck that seems to be closed about half of the week, a man BBQing behind that, a taco truck, some shopping tents, a funnel cake truck, a sweet corn stand, and a fruit stand.  It’s a nice little area to walk around and check out.

Following that we went to Sharks Cove which has even more food trucks than Kahuku. My non-fish eating friend and I, once again, had Thai. We call that food truck the elephant truck as we aren’t actually sure of the name. There are also a bunch of seafood trucks in the area. A lot, if not all, of the food trucks have cool sitting areas that are decorated and are cool little environments. I highly recommend going to eat here if you are in the area.

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The last food truck we ate at was Crispy Grindz, a Brazilian food truck, because we were craving some açaí. I also had a cheese pastel but you can get it filled with different things like meat, spinach and feta, and banana and cinnamon. My cousin had a coxinha which I typically see filled with chicken, but I believe you could choose different types of meat there. They had açaí, of course, along with Guarana and brigadeiro. I also recommend this food truck. It’s somewhere between Kahuku and Sharks Cove on the left side of the road if you are driving towards Waimea Bay.

Diamond Head Luau

On Monday night, the girls and I went to a luau at the Waikiki Aquarium. It’s stated to be the only oceanfront luau in Waikiki. You can see the sunset setting over the ocean almost as soon as you enter the luau.

It only occurs three days a week on Monday, Thursday and Sunday. They start admitting guests in at 5:15 PM so I recommend getting there between 4:45-5 PM (I suppose it just depends how long you feel like standing in a line). You will stand in one line to check-in, where I also believe you can buy the tickets if you haven’t bought it ahead of time. (Side note: As we went in January, we bought our tickets the day before. I’m not sure if they sell out faster during the summer months and you should book earlier.) After you have checked-in and received your wristbands and drink tickets, you will move to a different line where they will lei you and take a souvenir photograph as you walk in.

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You have the option of picking between two packages. There is a Deluxe Package (which we bought) that is most likely their general option. Then they have a slightly more expensive option which is the VIP Package that comes with a few more perks. Either package would be a good one to buy. Both options allow you to walk through (a small portion of, I believe) the Waikiki Aquarium.

After you enter, there are a bunch of activities you can do from making lei bracelets to getting (fake) tattoos. We did three of the four activities and they were great.

After that they serve a buffet-style dinner. Around the time that most people are starting dessert is when they start the dance performances.

I would highly recommend the Diamond Head Luau if you’re in Hawaii. This was my first luau and I enjoyed it greatly. I somehow ended up being the only person in my group to get pulled up on stage to dance…not once, but twice. The first time was to learn the hula, which my lovely cousin was nice enough to come up with me, where they were getting as many people on stage as they could. The second time was with a luau dancer to do a Tahitian dance they teach you. Each dancer chooses one person to go up with them and teaches them a small part before heading to the front of the stage with to show it off.

For more information, check out http://www.diamondheadbeachluau.com

They also have a Facebook, Google+, Instagram and TripAdvisor page.

Or if you are more of a phone person, call +1-808-926-3800