the Big Island & Oahu: Where to Eat & What to Do
Those that have been following along on my Instagram account, already know that my little family and I recently went on a two week vaycay to Hawaii. In fact – you might be sick of hearing me talk about it by now (sorry😇)! But if you aren’t, keep reading because I’m going to share my favourite places to eat & the things we did on both the Big Island and Oahu.
You ready? Prepare yourself – it’s kinda a long list and I’m currently wide awake (along with my toddler 🙄) on a 6 hour flight back home soo I have plenty of time to blab on lol.First up, The Big Island (Hawaii). We stayed at the Kings’ Land by HGV which is the smaller resort within in the Hilton Waikoloa Village. We LOVED this resort and would recommend it 110% to other families. The suite rooms have all new amenities, there are several pools (the smaller one right next to our suite was excellent – most of the time no one else was even there, they had a little waterslide Violet loved, a hot tub, and a few waterfalls…NBD) and though it was in close proximity to the other larger Hilton resort, it was SO much quieter and in my opinion way more of a relaxing atmosphere. I think one of the reasons we loved our week on the Big Island so much is because the Kings’ Land really exceeded our expectations!
WHERE WE ATE:
Sansei Sushi – this place is at the top of the list because both Dav & I agreed it was our fav dinner spot on this island. Clearly, it’s a sushi place, so if you don’t like sushi – you won’t like this place! But we LOVED it. They have a really large menu, affordable prices, a decent kids menu, and they offer 50% off your entire meal on Sundays and Mondays if you get there early and 20% off your meal from 5-6 the rest of the week!
Aneune Ice Cream and Shave Ice – again, it you were watching my insta feed during our getaway, it will be no surprise I had a fav shave ice spot that I made Dav stop at every time we were close to it! They have so many different flavours (of both shave ice and ice cream) and we found this spot way more affordable than some of the other places we got our shave ice/ice cream fixes from. The fish & chips spot right next to it isn’t bad either if you are needing an actual lunch before you dive in to dessert.
Lava Java – this one made the list because I was so pleasantly surprised by it at the Waikoloa location that was close to our resort. It’s a small little place, but had live music when we were there and my eggs benny was one of the best breakfasts I had on the trip! Dav (who is big coffee guy) loved their wide selection of coffee options and said it was nice and strong – just how he likes it lol. I opted for fresh squeezed pineapple juice with my breaky, which was ahhh-mazing!
THINGS WE DID:
Hapuna beach – this is one of the most popular beaches I would say on the Big Island, and I can see why. It’s a really large beach with great sand! Unfortunately the day we went the surf was really strong so we couldn’t do a lot of swimming, but V is a sand castle qween so didn’t seem to mind. Get there early if you can – this beach can fill up pretty quickly.
Beach 69 – I want to kiss the front desk lady at our resort for telling us about this hidden gem of a beach!! She called it the “local” beach and explained it’s not marked very well so not a lot of people go there unless they hear about it. Which is why it was our fav spot! Though it’s a sandy beach, there are some rocks out in the water. But the gorgeous trees and again the more quiet vibe made up for the rocks. To get to this beach, you take a left turn right before the road that leads to Hapuna.
Volcano National Park – this was a neat scenic drive, especially if you’ve never witnessed active volcanoes/volcanic rock before! However, it was a long day of driving for a pregnant person & a toddler. Especially because we had a little car instead of a Jeep which means we couldn’t do the “off road” experience that seemed SUPER cool. I think overall Dav enjoyed it more than V and I, so although I did think it was neat – I mainly put it on the list for him lol.
Drive Around the Island – we drove A LOT while on the Big Island. It was crazy to see the climate change so quickly from desert-like, to a tropical rainforest all within a few miles! I don’t think any other place in the world has as many climates as the Big Island does. That in itself is enough of a reason to explore it!
For the last week of our trip we island hopped (which was a fun experience in itself – I highly recomend doing this if you plan to be in Hawaii for longer than a week!) over to Honolulu, Oahu. We stayed at a the Grand Waikikian which is in the Hilton Hawaiian Village. The HGHV is a great (but pricey) place to stay if you’re visiting Oahu because Waikiki beach is literally right out the front doors of the resorts that make up the village. There’s also a decent amount of little shops and restaurants within a 5-10 min walking distance which was convenient for days we didn’t feel like driving around.
I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t enjoy Oahu as much this time around compared to the last time I was there 6 years ago! I think it has to do with having a toddler who seemed to be suffering from the “terrible two’s” during this portion of our trip, as well as just feeling like we were in a bit of a rat race in the big city (compared to the slower, quieter pace of the Big Island anyways). It took me a decent amount of time to get adjusted to the change in pace.
But – it’s Hawaii, so obviously it was still a great time and we found lots of fun things to do while we were in Honolulu!
WHERE WE ATE:
Sweet e’s Cafe – ermerrrrgrrrd. This place has the most delicious breaky at the best price! It’s a small little space with crappy parking, but it’s such a sweet, family-run cafe that we didn’t mind. Everyone who was working the day we went for brunch there was so friendly & kind!
Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck – we hit up this popular trip advisor spot while checking out the North Shore. They serve shrimp with rice or had garlic hot dogs available for the non-shrimp lovers. I was kinda disappointed the menu wasn’t a little more diverse, but our meal was really good and fresh. Though we enjoyed our meals, I’m not sure I’d say it’s worth the super long line (we were there by 11ish and there was already a line/no available picnic tables to sit at), or the price you pay for what you get in the end. Don’t go out of your way to get there, but if you’re in the area give it a try!
Nicos Pier 38 – we loved that this restaurant was right off the pier a little ways from the main Waikiki strip. Their seafood is sooo fresh (makes sense being on a pier and all lol) and Violet happily crushed her kids pasta meal. We also enjoyed the “local fishermen” atmosphere this place had.
Tommy Bahamas – this was one of the pricier restaurants we ate at that we felt was worth it. First off, I LOVED the aesthetic of this place!! Super clean, crisp, modern & relaxing. Excellent service, fresh bread before your meal (I’m always a sucker for that lol), and really well thought out, delicious entree options. Their drink menu (mocktails included) was also pretty great!
Hula grill breakfast – another great breakfast/brunch spot! Decent sized menu with Hawaiian specialty options. I had the crab & spinach eggs benny (are you starting to sense a trend with my breakfast of choice?! Lol I’m obsessed with finding good Benny’s..) I also liked their kids menu here – a few different options besides just your regular pancakes, eggs and toast. Reserve a table ahead of time if you can, as this place can get busy. I’ve heard their dinner menu is also good – so let me know what you think if you try it out!
THINGS WE DID:
Flea Market @ Aloha Stadium – this was a fun and inexpensive way to burn up some time one mid morning! We didn’t even make it all the way to the end of the market – it is massive and totally surrounds the the Aloha Stadium. There’s definitely some junky stuff, but there’s also lots of good souvenir-type things you can find for way cheaper compared to the souvenir shops closer to the resorts.
Ala Moana Shopping Centre – I mean.. would it be a trip with Kit if there wasn’t at least a little shopping involved?! Lol. I tried to be really good this vacation and not spend a lot on shopping (partially because Hawaii is expensive AF and the exchange rate still sucks & partially because a lot of the clothes I would usually buy don’t fit me right now @ 6 months pregnant!) But this mall is great. Lots of different shops and has an “open air” style structure I always enjoy in a mall/outlet while on vacation. My “must-go” spots in this mall were Nordstrom (here is what I bought), Target, and Zara.
Catamaran Boat Cruise – it has been on my list to do a catamaran boat cruise for YEARS, so I was so happy when we decided to take a morning cruise this trip! We didn’t have a super large group, the boat was new and spacious, and the crew was really great – those things is what I think made it a fab experience for us. Next time, Dav and I agreed it would be even more fun to ditch Violet one afternoon and rent it with a bunch of friends to enjoy some Mai Tai’s and take an afternoon dip in the ocean! 🤣👌🏼
The Beach @ Malaekahana State Recreation Park – this was my favourite beach that we visited while in Oahu. I might be a tad biased on just how wonderful it is, because it’s actually the beach Davin proposed to me on!! But it is a really nice, big sandy beach that seems to be quite secluded most of the time. Lots of of the other beaches we went to on this island where too overcrowded for me this trip – there was a big surf competition happening on the North Shore while we were there so maybe that had something to do with the crowds.
Submarine Tour – another activity we last min decided on was a submarine ride! Both Dav and I had never been in one, so it was a really neat experience and we ended up getting our tickets at a discounted price because we called last min and chose a day/time that wasn’t super busy. If you’ve already done a submarine tour I’d say skip this activity because I feel they would all be pretty similar, but if you haven’t – check it out!
Waikiki Beach @ Sunset – be sure to walk the Waikiki beach strip at least once or twice while visiting Hawaii – especially during sunset. It is absolutely stunning!
Ok, hoofta. That was a long list – did you make it all the way to the end? Gold star for you my friend if you did. I hope this guide helps you during your next trip to Hawaii, or at the very least gets you thinking you should prob put it on your bucket list of travel destinations.
Keep in mind we were travelling alone with our two year old and I’m currently pregnant, so some of the activities we would have liked to do we had to save until next time (ie: ziplining, hiking to a waterfall, etc). You better believe there will be a next time though – Hawaii is still my fav vacation destination we’ve been to so far! 🤗💜