Oahu Travel Tips from Katherine Lou, Blogger of Wander Hour

Conversations with Locals

Cali girl Katherine Lou is the blogger of Wander Hour, and has called Hawaii home since five years ago. Katherine divulges where to go for poke, Oahu’s snorkelling spots, and why you should not miss out on Oahu’s Chinatown. 

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Photo: Wander Hour

What do you feel defines Hawaiian cuisine? 

Native Hawaiian cuisine differs from local cuisine in Hawaii. Therefore, I feel there are many things that define the cuisine of Hawaii. When I think of native Hawaiian food, I think of kalua (pig) and poi (taro) amongst many other things. The type of food that you find in a traditional luau is more in tune with Hawaiian cuisine. Even better, family parties here serve some of the best native Hawaiian food and they put so much love in their dishes!

When I think of local food, which is entirely different from the native cuisine, I think of the melting pot of different cultures that contribute to it. There are strong Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, etc. influences in the local cuisine here. Overall, both native and local food are delicious. Most places are big in using local ingredients, so very often, the food is fresh – especially the fish!

What is the one local dish you feel travellers can’t leave Oahu without trying? 

You cannot leave Hawaii without eating fresh poke, shave ice, and haupia (coconut pudding)! 

What about your favourite restaurants?

My current favourites would be Maguro for their spicy ahi poke, Marukame for their fresh udon, ARVO for their cute coffee and aesthetics, and Helena’s for the Hawaiian food. At Helena’s, I love their pipikaula which is a type of dried beef and their haupia. For shave ice, I love Waiola.

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Waiola Shave Ice. Photo: Wander Hour

Name some tourist traps travellers should avoid in Oahu

There aren’t many to speak of, but don’t spend your entire week in Waikiki. It has its charms but venture out! There’s so much more to see! 

What is the one activity travellers should do in Oahu? 

When you go to Honolulu (in Oahu), put aside some time to hike the many trails! 

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Photo: Wander Hour

What about the best spot to catch the sunset? 

The best place to catch the sunset in Hawaii would be from the North Shore, which is about an hour’s drive from Honolulu. If you’re in Honolulu though, Ala Moana Beach Park might be a good place!

Where are some of your favourite snorkelling spots? 

When the water is calm during the summers, Shark’s Cove in North Shore is a good place to snorkel! Hanauma Bay is also good! Always be aware of your safety even if it’s summer. A lot of visitors and locals underestimate the power of Mother Nature! That said, I wouldn’t recommend snorkelling at North Shore around winter time. During winter, the North Shore gets some of the biggest waves and lots of surfing competitions happen around this time. 

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Photo: Wander Hour

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Photo: Wander Hour

Name one best kept secret of Oahu

The best kept secret would be Chinatown! Tourists normally don’t head to Chinatown in Honolulu but you can find some of the best restaurants there like Maguro which is my favourite place for poke, The Pig & The Lady, Livestock Tavern, and Lucky Belly. There are also cute boutiques, bars, and coffee shops in Chinatown! 

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Lobster roll at Livestock Tavern. Photo: Wander Hour
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Lucky Belly. Photo: Wander Hour

Describe the perfect day trip 

If you’re staying on the island, a perfect day trip would be driving east from Honolulu and around the island, and stopping at one of the many beaches. Continue towards North Shore and stop by the shrimp trucks such as Giovanni’s, then head back down to Honolulu.

If you’re feeling real adventurous, hop on a plane to Maui! Just a short 40 minute flight to Kahului from Honolulu, you can rent a car and drive around the island. My favourite stops would be Ululani’s for their shave ice. Drive up to Haleakala which is out of this world – it literally looks like Mars! If you leave early enough, check out the waterfalls on the Road to Hana. The whole drive can take about 6 hours back and forth depending on how many stops you make! 

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Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck. Photo: Wander Hour

 

 

WHERE TO EAT IN HONOLULU


Maguro Brothers Hawaii
Where: 421 Lewers St, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA
For: Poke bowls

Waiola Shave Ice
Where:2135 Waiola St, Honolulu, HI 96826, USA
For: Shave ice

Helena’s Hawaiian Food
Where: 1240 N School St, Honolulu, HI 96817, USA
For: Hawaiian food

Marukame Udon
Where: 2310 Kuhio Ave #124, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA
For: Udon

ARVO
Where: 675 Auahi St, Honolulu, HI 96825, USA
For: Coffee

The Pig & The Lady
Where: 83 N King St, Honolulu, HI 96817, USA
For: Vietnamese food

Livestock Tavern
Where: 49 N Hotel St, Honolulu, HI 96817, USA
For: Lobster rolls and burgers

Lucky Belly
Where: 50 N Hotel St, Honolulu, HI 96817, USA
For: Ramen and dumplings

Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck
Where: 66-472 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712, USA
For: Shrimps
 

WHERE TO GO IN HONOLULU


North Shore
Where: North Shore, Waialua, Honolulu, HI, USA
For: Sunsets
Ala Moana Beach Park
Where: 1201 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814, USA
For: Sunsets
Shark’s Cove
Where: Pupukea, Oahu, Honolulu, HI 96712, USA
For: Snorkelling
Hanauma Bay
Where: 100 Hanauma Bay Drive, ueber Kalanianaole Highway, Oahu, Honolulu, HI 96825-2005, USA
For: Snorkelling

Oahu Travel Tips from Courtney Chun, Hawaiian Blogger of Fork to Belly

Conversations with Locals

Hawaiian by birth, Courtney Chun blogs about cakes and Japanese recipes on her blog, Fork to Belly. While she calls LA home now, the Hawaiian spirit has never left her. Courtney discusses Hawaiian poke bowls, the snorkelling spot to watch in Oahu, and removing your shoes when going into a friend’s house. 

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Photo: Fork to Belly


What’s Hawaiian culture? 

A mixing pot!

What do you feel defines Hawaiian cuisine?

Local dishes in Hawaii reflect the mixing-pot culture of the island. Hawaii’s most popular dishes are unique combinations of all kinds of food cultures. For example, spam musubi comes from the popularity of canned meats in the islands after World War II and also combines Japanese cuisine to become classic Hawaiian food.

Name one Hawaiian dining etiquette most travellers miss

If you’re going over to someone’s home for a dinner party, you’ll probably notice a bunch of shoes and slippers at the front door. Please remember to remove your shoes, people in Hawaii do not wear shoes in the house!

What is the one local dish you feel travellers can’t leave Oahu without trying?

Poke. Hands down. It’s different on the mainland, where you see trendy shops that let you make your own poke bowl. Poke isn’t like that in Hawaii. It’s much simpler and truthfully, I think it’s way better.

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Shoyu ahi poke bowls. Photo: Fork to Belly

Where are your favourite restaurants or cafés in Oahu?

Imanas Tei, Shirokiya, The Pig and the Lady, Yama’s Fish Market. I could go on and on.

What would you recommend travellers do to experience Oahu as a local?

Just getting out and exploring, leaving the tourist hub of Waikiki and checking out hikes and beaches. Let the adventure happen!

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Photo: Fork to Belly

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Photo: Fork to Belly

Where can we go to see your favourite view in Hawaii?

My favorite view is actually from my home on Tantalus, one of the mountains close to the city. It’s a beautiful and windy drive to get to the top of the mountain, but the views at the look-outs along the way are wonderful. You can see from the mountain, down into the valley, and all the way out to the ocean.

Name your favourite snorkelling spot 

Though a popular place for tourists, if you’re looking to see lots of fish up close, and ones that aren’t afraid of you, check out Hanauma Bay.

When it comes to food, where in the world is your favourite destination?

Japan! I’ve been eating all kinds of Japanese foods growing up in Hawaii, and Japan is such a mecca for amazing meals. Sushi, bentos, yakiniku, adorable baked goods. They have it all!

 

WHERE TO EAT IN OAHU


Imanas Tei
Where: 2626 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96826, United States
For: Sushi

Shirokiya Japan Village Walk
Where: Ala Moana Center, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd #1360, Honolulu, HI 96814, United States
For: Variety

The Pig and the Lady
Where: 83 N King St, Honolulu, HI 96817, United States
For: Vietnamese food

Yama’s Fish Market
Where: 2332 Young St, Honolulu, HI 96826, United States
For: Hawaiian food and poke
 

WHERE TO GO IN OAHU


Hanauma Bay
Where: Hanauma Bay, Honolulu, HI 96825, USA
For: Snorkelling