Before I go on any trip I do research. No, surprisingly that is not where the cutest boys are likely to be found! Although I was under strict instructions from a surfing co-worker to schedule a visit to Ted’s Bakery during my time on the Nth Shore ;-p
My pre-holiday research is primarily centred around what I am going to eat and where I am going to get it.
So before I jetted off to Hawaii I googled the must do food experiences of Oahu and decided the 3 things I was determined to have when I was there, besides an impressively large variety of cocktails, was a really delicious cheeseburger (a general American thing, rather than Hawaii specifc. But I love a good cheeseburger and America is home to the burger), some hot malasadas (a type of filled hot yeast dough Portugese doughnut) and some lemon butter shrimp from the famous North Shore shrimp trucks.
I failed on the cheeseburger front. My first night in Waikiki I found a restaurant right on the beach called Cheeseburgers. Perfect I thought! Not so. It was a “never judge a book by it’s cover” moment. It was okay, but no different to any burger you’d get from a basic takeaway here. In fact I had a burger from the spectacularly dodgy 3 Steps Café on Bondi Rd the other day and I would go so far as to say it was better.
I am happy to say I succeeded on the impressively large variety of cocktails though. Or perhaps just an impressively large variety of margaritas. From my first margarita poolside in Waikiki, to the lime and straweberry concoction as large as my head from the delightful Chilli’s, to the coconut margarita free poured by the lovely Eddie at the poolside bar at Turtle Bay Resort, I certainly achieved my goal. I did try a few others, but you can’t go past the margarita. There is a reason the classics are classics.
The Hilton Waikiki Beach MAC 24-7
I found myself on my first night taking full advantage of the many different happy hours found at the bars in my hotel. They staggered them so it was pretty much happy hour somewhere, and their Lychee Martini (my 2nd favourite cocktail) was on the specials board #winning. I parked myself at the bar and enjoyed some interesting conversation with a Puerto Rican bartender who loved Australia and had just resigned to take a job on the Gold Coast! It was a refreshing change from the usual “Australia is just too far away”attitude you often encounter travelling. None of the best things in life come easy people!
I find the service is one of the best things about travelling in the states. Because of their reliance on tips, it’s in server’s interests not to just stand in a corner and yell “your right darl?”. I am not silly and I know that the bartenders only called me things like “fancy face”and “pretty lady” because it meant I’d tip them more, but it worked! Haha. They played me like a violin. Just because I know it’s all a game, doesn’t make playing it any less enjoyable. The next day when I had lunch in the same bar, and my flirty Peurto Rican was replaced by a slightly frazzled middle aged woman, I didn’t get quite the same level of attention or service. Gone were the extra lychees and the decorative orchid, gone the offers of being my tour guide.
The Vietnamese style spring roll perhaps wasn’t as authentic as it might be in Sydney, but it was tasty, and the appetiser size was enough for lunch for me!
A friend from a previous work life happened to be in Waikiki for a few of the same days I was. It was great to catch up with her, and to join her on an adventure to the fabulous Chilli’s for her birthday. Apparently we had to have the famous frozen Lime and Strawberry Margarita which was, literally, as big as my head. It was worth the trip (so were the bar staff ladies ;-p). The cocktails were lovely and the tacos spicy. It’s cheesy, but it’s fun and worth a visit.
We also got to embarrass Leonie by having the Chilli’s team sing her Happy Birthday. Fun for all the family!
Happy happy birthday,
From the Chili’s crew,
We wish it was our birthday
So we could party too.
Bill’s Sydney – Waikiki
As any travelling Aussie knows, the search for good coffee is endless, and often fruitless. So knowing that Sydney institute Bill’s had opened in Waikiki gave us hope. It didn’t disappoint. The staff had all been trained by the Australian team so were down with the lingo: “A skinny cap for you? Would you like your avo on the side?”. It did amuse me to hear these sayings come out in an American restaurant, even if they had been trained by Australians. I had the famous ricotta hotcakes. They were exactly as they would have been had I been sitting in Bills Bondi, but were slightly thicker to cater to US tastes. I rarely order things like pancakes and french toast unless on holiday so even though I could have them anytime, they still felt like a treat.
The North Shore: Food Trucks
My must do foodie experience had to be the food trucks. I decided to hire a car to drive from Waikiki to the Nth Shore and after a few tense moments trying to remember my right from my left, I managed to get on the road and head north. I stopped in at the outlets (it was research for my day job, not shopping!) and came across a malasada truck! It was the perfect reward for what I considered extreme bravery. Yes I know it wasn’t really that brave, but to me it felt like I’d conquered a rather large mountain.
A malasada is made of egg-sized balls of yeast dough that are deep-fried in oil and coated with sugar. I chose to have them filled with custard but there were plain and chocolate options too. They were divine and I had to force myself to stick to just 2.
The North Shore: Turtle Bay Resort
My other must do foodie experience was the shrimp truck. Giovanni’s has the reputation as being the most popular and while I did look for it, I didn’t find it. Apparently it was only a 5 minute drive from the resort, not the 25 minutes I went. I still found a large selection to choose from and wasn’t disappointed. I wish I had a companion I could have made order the garlic so I could try both it and the lemon butter option. My distaste for unecessary waste meant I couldn’t bring myself to order more than I could eat. I loved the Nth Shore though and will definitely be back. So Giovanni’s…expect a visit next time.
Non Food Highlights
- Catching up with old friends. I got to hang out with a woman I have always admired and whose company I always enjoy. As much as I love to travel by myself, it is nice to find friends along the way too.
- Making new friends. I met some really awesome people during my 5 days. From the friends of friends, to the locals, to the other tourists, so many people along the way made it a lot of fun.
- I love turtles. They are my favourite animal and whenever I see them diving I always get excited. I did 4 dives during my stay and the first 2 were good, but they weren’t the dives I needed to rediscover my love of the underwater. I learnt to dive to overcome a fear of drowning aquired through a near death experience as a teen. I’m really stubborn though and refuse to let anything defeat me, so learning to dive was my way of giving the middle finger to fear, and now it is one of my favourite things to do. All of my recent dives have been dissapointing due to low vis, no fish, water temp etc so one of my reasons in choosing Hawaii for my break was to get some good diving in. The second 2 dives were amazing!! I very nearly cancelled them the night before because I was having too much of a good time drinking poolside margaritas. So whilst I was not happy when Devin from Hawaii Eco Divers arrived to collect me at 6am the following morning, by the time I got back to the hotel I was glad I’d gone. I saw 3 awesome turtles, including one which was bigger than me!