I’m just getting around to part two of my Hawaii post! The second half of my trip involved lots of beach time, food and a visit to the Dole Plantation (i.e. pineapple mania!).
On the third day, we drove to Waikiki. I hung out at the beach while Val taught yoga. (PS — check out her blog Eye Chow — she documents all of her personal food and travel adventures around the world!)
Once she got off work, we drove to the north side of Oahu. It had an entirely different feel from the rest of the island. More of a “surf town.” Definitely less touristy!
We stopped for lunch at Opal Thai Food. Words cannot describe how AMAZING this place was! Upon arrival, we were promptly seated and given menus. Then the chef/waitor came out, snatching the menus away. He asked, “do you eat Thai food? When was the last time you had Thai food?!” He continued, “Do you eat shrimp? Beef? Cillantro? Garlic?” We nodded in agreement (and disagreement on some). He took note of our requests, and walked back to the kitchen.
I felt a little nervous at that point. But once the food came out, it did not disappoint! The meal started with these delicious and oh-so-colorful lettuce wraps.
Then came an amazing shrimp, veggie and noodle dish. Everything was bursting with flavor, and a lot lighter than I expected (not a ton of heavy oils or creamy sauces).
Last but not least: coconut curry! A glorious flavor combination. Anything coconut and spicy are A+ in my book, so this dish was a definite winner.
After our power lunch, we drove to Waimea Beach. According to Val, this is always a great spot to watch surfers. We hung out there for most of the afternoon. It was so nice to beat the weekend crowds!
On our way back from the beach, we paid a visit to the Dole Plantation. Very cool experience! The gift shop sold pineapple everything — gummy bears, lollipops and even soft serve. I had a hard time resisting any of those things, but the soft serve sounded best. I ordered a twist with pineapple and vanilla. What a combo! Such a treat, especially after a warm day on the beach.
I also got to see what a pineapple plant looks like up-close. I don’t know about you, but this was definitely NOT what I imagined! It’s almost like a bush. Plus, they’re red. What?
Next, we stopped at a coffee farm — Green World Coffee Farms. This was a must for me! I knew if I was going to bring home anything from Hawaii, it needed to involve coffee (and macadamia nuts!).
I settled on: one full-size bag of organic coffee and some chocolate covered coffee beans for my boss, as well as three mini flavored bags for myself: macadamia nut, coconut cream and Hawaiian rocky road.
As you can see, my favorite souvenirs are edible. I carried on this trend with a visit to Honolulu Cookie Company. They specialize in shortbread cookies, most of which are macadamia nut. Some are dipped in dark chocolate, white chocolate or coconut. They were a nice treat and also made a nice gift to bring back for my boss! I bought a variety pack, along with a few individually packaged ones. This cookie with dark chocolate was one of my favorites:
On my last day, we ate lunch at a Guy Fieri-approved favorite: Sweet Home Waimanalo. This is one of the few restaurants serving up healthy versions of traditional Hawaiian fare.
I ordered the “superfood salad,” a combo of local greens, local grape tomatoes, avocado, hemp seeds, nutritional yeast and a raw coconut vinegar and macadamia nut oil dressing.
I also ordered a side of these colorful mashed sweet potatoes! Has anyone else ever seen purple sweet potatoes? This was a first for me, and I can report that I am DEFINITELY a fan! Yum.
Also couldn’t pass up a photo opp in front of this amazing mural on the side of the restaurant!
After lunch, Val took me to Waimanalo Bay Beach. This was by far the most peaceful beach of all, with some of the most vibrant turquoise waters I’ve ever seen. Very beautiful! I stopped for a quick tree pose (fitting, eh?) on our walk over.
On my last night, I took Val’s sunset yoga class. What a cool experience! I couldn’t think of a better setting to unwind while taking in the beauty of Hawaii. If you’re ever in Oahu, I highly recommend taking the class. And if you’re on the fence, just LOOK at these photos. Now realize that these views are EVEN better in person! You can find out more on Beach Sunset Yoga Hawaii‘s website.
After class, we went to Buho Cantina — one of the few decent Mexican restaurants in Hawaii (according to Val). The portions were on the smaller side, but did not disappoint. Of course, first priority was guac.
I also ordered the vegetarian tacos, which came on soft corn tortillas with avocado, peppers and mushrooms. Yum!
We were craving something sweet after dinner so I made Val take me to get chocolate-covered macadamia nuts. Mauna Loa is her favorite brand. I bought the dark chocolate and milk chocolate toffee versions. Wow! They were both delicious, but toffee was the CLEAR winner. I could eat those things for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
On my last morning, we stopped for breakfast before my flight home. Val took me to Leonard’s, a Hawaiian institution. They serve various Portuguese baked goods, but their real specialty is malasadas.
A malasada is essentially a cross between a doughnut and a sweet roll. Best of all, they’re fried to-order right in front of you, making them FRESH, warm and gooey! I opted for the cinnamon version. It was out of this world!
We also made an obligatory acai bowl run to Lanikai Juice. Man, do I love those things! This one was topped with banana, coconut, granola, strawberries and blueberries.
Then it was off to the airport! I was so sad to leave, but amazed by much we packed in! I couldn’t have had a better tour guide to show me around. Thanks, Val! I’m already daydreaming about my next trip…