Click below to read about where I found afternoon snacks, bought an excessive amount of macadamia nuts, and my favourite stops on Oahu.
|Liliha Bakery's famous Coco Puffs|
Thankfully, the Island of Oahu is not very large, so a second trip to Liliha is only a short car ride away from Waikiki. Liliha Bakery sells very homestyle-looking baked goods, and they have a lot of it too. Their products are relatively cheap here, so you can afford to try a few things. My family purchased coco puffs (or cream puffs), coconut danish, and a lemon coconut bar. But out of those three goods, I would only recommend the puffs. Specifically the original coco puff (coco custard centre with a different type of cream on top. Chantilly?) or the green tea one. The others would not be worth mentioning. Make a trip to Liliha purely for their coco puffs, because their puff exploding with custard is delicious.
Leonard Jr's Hot Malasadas
|Leonard Jr's Hot Haupia Malasada|
Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream
|Bubbies Ice Cream Mochi|
They also sell some cakes and drinks that appealed to me, some with some rather inappropriate names, haha! I would recommend this place for a little snack that'll satisfy a sweet tooth or cool you down on a hot day (air conditioning is intense inside too).
Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery
|Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery's Macadamia Candy|
Matsomoto Shave Ice
|Hawaiian Flavour Shave Ice at Matsumoto Shave Ice|
Matsumoto is like the 'original' shave ice store. There are many, many other well-known places that serve shave ice. Really, any one will do. This one in particular has countless tourists here slurping out of cones and even a gift shop selling items with their logo all over it. My family of four shared 2 large shave ice, one was 'Hawaiian' and the other 'Tropical'. I have forgotten exactly which flavours where in which cone but they included papaya, pineapple, banana, coconut, lilikoi, and guava.
Shave ice is an age old Hawaiian treat, and truly a perfect way to cool down on a blazing hot day. Nothing to scream about, but definitely a touristy thing to do.
|Pina Colada at Japengo|
Kahuku Shrimp Trucks
|Garlic Shrimp and Coconut Fried Shrimp|
Kahuku is a specific town where, I suppose, shrimp trucks are the most dense. However, there are many well-known trucks all along the highway in towns like Haleiwa.
My family originally pin-pointed Hi Shrimp Truck to visit, but we never found it. After a bit of bickering, we found ourselves at Camaron's. Even when we passed Fumi's and Giovanni's, somehow foodie me led us to Camaron's, I still don't quite understand.
Anywho, the pros are that there is covered picnic tables and a fruit stand nearby selling fresh coconuts to drink and pineapples to eat. The shrimp are large, plump, juicy, and flavourful. Some of the best quality shrimp you'll ever eat. The coconut fried shrimp blew me away; it was so delicious even my shrimp-phobic friend ate an entire order herself! Doesn't matter which shrimp truck you visit, you have to eat coconut fried shrimp. Garlic scampi is like the 'original', so that can be your second choice. The garlic shrimp seen here was the special of the day, but I found it a bit too messy to eat when there isn't a restroom nearby to clean up at after lunch. Cons are the slow service, even in the late afternoon on a weekday, the higher prices (you can get plates at famous trucks for the same price), and the amount fly swatting you have to do during your meal.
In conclusion, when you visit Oahu, you must travel that 1 hour up to the North Shore. To eat the shrimp, see sea turtles, and watch surfers ride the large waves.
ShirokiyaLocated inside the Ala Moana Center is a Japanese department store with a Asian food court and cafe. I can't speak for the food court, but reviews tell me it's good food. My best friend bought the green tea tiramisu from the cafe on the lower level and said she really enjoyed it.
I tried the mochi and chichidango from the random stand by the cafe. It's reasonably priced and the quality is good. Both products were super soft, especially the chichidango. The peanut butter mochi was a new experience for me, and I was surprised by the slice of banana in the middle! The pineapple mochi is one of their best sellers, and it actually has real chunks of pineapple throughout the bean filling. The other popular flavour is pear. Chichidango is pretty much rectangular pieces of extremely soft mochi. They sell small boxes of mixed flavours for about $4.
If you're like me and can't seem to find Nisshodo Candy Store no matter how hard you try, Shirokiya carries their mochi! When I went, it was a pack of 6 peanut butter mochi. I would've gotten that if I wasn't the only one that ate peanut butter.
So if you're shopping at Ala Moana mall and need a snack or want to try some authentic Japanese food, pay a visit to Shirokiya and see what you discover.
|Nico's Poke Bowl, DIY Poke Bowl, Diagram of a Poke Bowl|
Hawaii is known for their fresh fish, and what better way to enjoy fresh fish than in sashimi form? My favourite poke would be the spicy ones with masago (fish roe). That would be the orange-y pieces of fish in the first and second photo.
Poke is commonly found on restaurant menus (my example being Nico's at Pier 38), but you can easily find it at the supermarket such as Foodland or one of the many seafood specialty stores. The middle photo is from a dinner our families made one night. If you would like to save some money in Hawaii, and have a kitchen to use, cook your own meals! We purchased poke from Yama's Fish Market, cooked up some rice and veggies, and ta-da! Do-it-yourself poke bowls. And for fun, the last photo is a reusable shopping bag sold at Foodland that breaks down the construction of The Poke Bowl with instructions detailed enough for you to re-create it at home. Just as a side note, I bought the musubi version of this bag, it's adorable.
|Musubi at Marukame Udon|
The most well known shop would be Mana Bu's as they are known to sell out very quickly. I bought 2 musubi from Iyasume Musubi to eat on the flight home.
CostcoIt may seem weird that I'm writing some type of review on Costco, as you can find them almost everywhere in North America. But Hawaiian Costcos have an entire section dedicated to the beloved macadamia nut. So when you're in Hawaii and need to buy souvenirs or stock up on your nuts, Costco is the only stop you'll need to make.
Prices are cheaper and you can purchase boxes and boxes of macadamia nuts of all types in bulk. Plain mac nuts for baking, chocolate covered mac nuts, macadamia Roca, macadamia cookies, macadmia in cans, in boxes, individually packaged, macadmia chocolate Kisses, Kona coffee mac nuts, coconut covered mac nuts... Yes, my family went nuts. To the point where my father legitimately wanted to buy the 25kg of mac nuts for $175 and hull it back home. Cheap, indeed, but we didn't even have a single check-in luggage.
My point being, that if you're a nut fanatic like me, Costco in Hawaii will be the ultimate place to purchase enough mac nuts to last until your next trip to Hawaii.
Just as a tip, they also sell lots of other Hawaiian goods that are not available at other Costcos. Pineapples that are actually yellow, haupia cakes, miso butterfish ready to cook, poke bowls etc. I could spend all day exploring every inch of that Costco.
Farmer's MarketsUnlike my Vancouver, the weather is warm enough to have farmer's markets every day of the week year-round. If you visit the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation website, you can see the location, time, and day of all the major farmer's markets on Oahu. There are tip sheets that are posted for each market every week so you can get a sense of whats available before you venture in.
The first farmer's market I attended was on Wednesday evening at the Neal Blaisdell Concert Hall. It's a small market but close to Waikiki. There is a parking lot free of charge if you turn right heading north on Ward Ave right before reaching the concert hall. There are quite a few meal stands where you can buy a plate lunch or something hot to eat, bakers, popsicles and ice cream, coffee, homemade goods, groceries, and flowers. It's a nice place to be on an evening as the temperature is cooler. I give this market a thumbs up!
The second (and last..) farmer's market I went to was the infamous Kapiolani Community Collage Farmer's Market on Saturday morning. It is known to be the biggest and best farmer's market on the island of Oahu. It is located by Diamond Head and literally takes less than 10 minutes to get there from Waikiki. The market opens at 7:30am; I arrived 10 minutes after that and parking was already hard to find, and tourists swarmed Parking Lot C. I think I saw tour buses too! One way to avoid the parking hassle is to take the public transit! Also, there are copies of the tip sheet at the entrance to pick up at the entrance, it also has a map printed on the back.
I noticed there were a few stalls that were also at the Wednesday farmer's market. There are plenty of grocers, bakeries, desserts, coffee, hot food, drinks... Perfect place for Coconut Crumpet. If this was in Vancouver, I'd probably arrive home with bags and bags of food. But since we were on vacation, that wasn't possible.
Most people I saw were eating roasted corn, pesto pizza, abalone, and fried green tomatoes. Line ups can be long, so ensure ample time to explore the market. I had to run around and buy food in the 1 hour I had there. Best to give yourself unlimited time.
|Acai Bowl ($9)|
|Pineapple Coconut Smoothie ($5)|
|Pancakes with Hot berry and Haupia Sauce ($6)|
|Seafood Chowder ($5)|
What I did end up trying was a acai bowl ($9), pineapple coconut smoothie($5), pancakes with hot berry and haupia sauce ($6) (this would be the first pancake meal that day, the second being at Forty Niner..mwahahaha!), and seafood chowder ($5). I have to admit, some things are pricey and I would've never paid that much if I weren't at a farmer's market. Overall, food is very good there, come early and stuff yourself until the market closes.
|Fresh Fruits from KCC Farmer's Market|
My mom bought back 8 papayas and 4 apple bananas. Those papayas were the best we had on our trip, tree ripened! How often do you see completely yellow papayas? Apple bananas are small and cute, I would describe the flavour as being a banana but slightly sour. There are many species of bananas in Hawaii and I just tried one. We also got rambutans because I have never tried them before and they aren't always available in Canada since they spoil easily. They look and taste similar to longans, but with a long, narrow seed. Tasty and pretty, but not a must try.
The KCC Farmer's Market is a must, must, must, must go for a foodie travelling to Honolulu, it's so much fun and I enjoyed myself very much. I just wish I could've spent more time there. If you aren't an early riser like myself, there is a new Tuesday night market at KCC.
Polynesian Cultural CenterAn extremely tourist-y place on the North Shore is the PCC, known as the Disneyland of Oahu. On a visit there, you have the opportunity to learn about the culture of the Polynesian countries. Play a ukelele (and learn to pronounce it correctly), pick up hula dancing, throw spears, play with traditional toys, row a bow, feed some ducks, watch buff men crack open coconuts with ease, make fire, and climb trees. My dad bought a package on their website for a dinner and show. I will review three parts of our afternoon visit: the park itself, dinner, and show.
Do not expect much when you arrive at the center, it's a very small park in which half a day is an adequate amount of time to explore. The park is sectioned into the different Polynesian countries such as Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti, and of course Hawaii. There are activities, shows, and demonstrations throughout the day. I highly recommend seeing some shows as they are absolutely hilarious. The highlight of my visit would be the show at Samoa, I was nearly rolling on the floor laughing.
To my dismay, our package did not include the luau. We ate at the Island Feast which is served buffet style. Seating inside is very dim, so I'm glad we got to eat outdoors. The food itself is acceptable, there's fish and clams, crunchy fried chicken, purple sweet potato, Korean potato noodles... The food repeats along the very long buffet area. Flavour is fine and food is hot, just a few nit-picky things like watered down curry and only one type of white fish just served with two different sauces. Salad and hot food is ok, but dessert is absolutely terrible. Drinks are limited to sodas and tea.
The show is a story about the circle of life, with dancing from the various cultures present in the park. There is no speaking (aside from the videos) so you actually have to pay attention to understand the storyline. However, when your belly is full, you've had a long day, and it's dark, staying awake is extremely difficult, even when people are eating fire on stage. It's not a bad show, but it isn't amazing either. No photography is strictly enforced as well.
For the price we paid (over $70 per person), I did not feel it was worth it at all. Put the Polynesian Cultural Center on your schedule only if you have an excessive free time to fill.
|Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve & Beach Park|
This is the beach with the most abundant fish; tropical fish can be spotted swimming around the coral just metres from the shore. It is a perfect place to go snorkeling as there are fish all along the beach and the ocean floor is very shallow. I rented my snorkeling gear before arriving, grab a boogie board too! Maybe I'm just bad at snorkeling, but I prefer swimming without the special goggles and snorkel. Use the boogie board as a kick board and stick my head in the water while wearing normal swimming goggles to see the fish. That works just fine for my family and I. If you really want to stick your head in longer, buy your own snorkel to use. I always end up breathing with my nose therefore getting my goggles all foggy. There isn't much shade on the beach, so bring a sun umbrella and sunscreen or prepared to get burnt on a blazing hot day.
My mission was to see the humuhumunukunukuapua'a in real life, and I can say I have accomplished doing so. However, during my entire visit to the bay, I saw one, and only one. They don't seem to like human interaction very much and swim away the moment you can recognize the fact that it is Hawaii's state fish. My family brought an underwater camera to play with while we snorkel, too bad I couldn't film the humuhumu...
Hanauma Bay is a destination for every tourist, but be warned: the parking lot fills up ridiculously fast. You will have to arrive well before 9am to park in their lot. Otherwise, bus to the beach or park at the bottom of the mountain and hike your way up like we did. I really enjoyed my time there and wish we had gone once more before leaving. It's a beautiful place with plenty of fish to see; I don't know why some reviews say it's super boring. Many of the other beaches on Oahu have no fish, coral or anything to see. Hanauma Bay should be one of the very first stops on a trip to Honolulu! After all, you are in Hawaii to swim in the ocean right?
Love from Coconut Crumpet's Corner ♡