View of Honolulu from Diamond Head State Monument as taken from my iPhone
The Hawaiian Islands truly are paradise in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Even though it is a state in the United States, it is well west of the West Coast. For some perspective, it takes 6+ hours for a cross country flight from one coast to the other. It takes almost the same time to fly from the West Coast to Hawaii. It is comprised of hundreds of islands. There are 8 main islands. In order of the most visited, the top four islands to visit are Oahu, Maui, the Island of Hawaii or the “Big Island”, and Kauai. Molokai and Lanai are also visited but by much fewer tourists than the main four. Ni’ihau is privately owned. Kaho’olawe is abandoned. It was used as target practice by the United States military to prepare for the Pacific War during World War II. Unexploded ordinances make the island dangerous and it is the reason there are no visitors.
I spent two weeks in Hawaii and visited three of the islands in 2015: Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island. I knew I had to return for Kauai and did so 14 months later in 2016. I did Oahu and Maui again too. The interisland flights are quick and cheap at less than $100. I explain these islands as the city (Oahu), the suburbs (Maui), and the farmland (the Big Island). Kauai is great for travelers who love the outdoors. It is like a National Park with small towns. Oahu is my favorite island with Maui and Kauai as close seconds. I also enjoyed the Big Island but Oahu, Maui, and Kauai are definitely more fun to visit. Oahu is also known as the “Gathering Place” since it has the most residents and visitors. It is also home to Honolulu, which is the state capitol. It has the feel of a major city and its rush hour traffic rivals any other city in the United States. In addition, the naval base at Pearl Harbor is on the island. As we know, it holds historical significance as the surprise attack by the Japanese on December 7, 1941 launched the United States into the second World War. Of course, there are lots of natural beauty to behold from the perfectly blue water of the Pacific Ocean and great beaches to the summits with stunning views of the island. Oahu should definitely be at the top of your list if it is your first time visiting the islands.
- Diamond Head State Monument (Open 6 AM-6PM)
Diamond Head is one of the most well-known landmarks in Oahu and definitely a must when you visit the island. It is a 0.8 mile hike to the top. It is a very easy hike. It is paved and you can make it up, enjoy the view, and back down within an hour. You get a stunning view of Honolulu at the summit.
- Hanauma Bay (Open 6 AM to 6 PM, Closed Tuesdays)
I had never gone snorkeling until my trip to Hawaii. I am glad Hanauma Bay was my first time. The bay is gorgeous and filled with a lot of beautiful fish of all shapes, sizes, and colors. I took my time swimming from one end of the bay to the other side admiring the fish. Get there early because the parking lot fills up quickly. We got there at 8:30 the first time we tried to go and we could not get in. We got there before 7 AM the next day. We got in without a problem and they even let us in free at that time. You could spend an entire day there and love it. However, we spent 2 hours and the crowds really filed in when we were walking back up to the parking lot.
The bay is a nature preserve so they close it every Tuesday to allow the fish to feed undisturbed for a day. Renting snorkel gear is $15 but you might as well just buy your own. You can get the gear for less than $30 at Wal-Mart. The coral is sharp so there is a chance you can get cut up by it especially if the current is strong and pushes you into it. I got cut up pretty bad when I returned in 2016 and had to get band aids from the lifeguard on duty.
- Pearl Harbor (Open 7 AM to 5 PM)
Due to the historical significance of the site, Pearl Harbor is definitely a must see. The USS Arizona Memorial is free but you need to get there when it opens at 7 AM to get a ticket for one of the earliest showings in the day. If you do not, you will have to wait a couple of hours to go on the Arizona tour. For example, we got there at 9 AM and they gave us a ticket for the 11:30 AM tour. We decided to go back a few days later so we could get a ticket for the first tour at 7 AM. You can also try to book a reservation in advance at http://www.recreation.gov/showPage.do;jsessionid=B578F9CCCD1A7B229839FD6B192166AF.web08-ny?name=landing&landing=/htm/pearlharbor/home.jsp&contractCode=NRSO&parkId=72369.
On the tour, they show a quick film about the attack then they ferry you out to the famous white memorial built on top of the sunken battle ship. It is a somber moment when you see all the names listed in the memorial. As you look into the water from the memorial, you see the rusting ship. In addition, there is still oil dripping from the ship so you will see it coming up to the surface. You get about 15 minutes to walk around the memorial before you return to the ferry and the next group comes.
All the other tours at Pearl Harbor cost money. I would definitely buy a ticket to walk around the USS Missouri. It is the ship on which the Japanese surrendered to the Allies at the end of World War II. It also fought for a long time up to through the first Persian Gulf War. We also went to the aircraft museum that displayed a lot of the United States military aircraft over the years. Moreover, you get to see the hangar where there are still bullet holes from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Both tours cost $25 per person. I highly recommend the USS Missouri. The aircraft museum is good too but not a must see.
- Manoa Falls
It can be muddy but the payoff of the falls is well worth the short hike (0.9 miles). You walk through a beautiful valley and a bamboo forest. Parts of Jurassic Park were filmed here. You can also swim in the pool beneath the falls.
- Chief’s Luau (41-202 Kalanianaole Hwy)
You cannot go to Hawaii and not experience a luau. Chief’s Luau is amazing. The food is good. The entertainment is phenomenal. The chief is hilarious and great. I could not stop laughing at his jokes. They put on an amazing fire show at the end. The chief starts fire from scratch to start the show. The location is also great. It is next to Makapu’u Beach. You will see Rabbit Island and the Makapu’u lighthouse in the background as the sun sets during the luau. After the sun sets, you have a beautiful view of the moon. It is only a 30 minute drive [when it is not rush hour] from Wakiki Beach in Honolulu.
If you want to stay near Wakiki Beach and go to a luau, the hotels will also have them. I also went to the Hilton luau. It will give you the experience of one but Chief’s Luau is light years better. You will need to reserve and buy tickets in advance.
- Wakiki Beach
It is not amazing. However, it is where a lot of the tourists go so you should stop by if you are in Oahu. I stayed there. Of course, there is a lot of places to eat (which I will point out below in the food section) and malls/shops there. At night, they light torches instead of using lamps which is a cool sight.
Nice to See [if you have time]
- Koko Head Crater Trail
Koko Head Crater is east of Diamond Head. This hike is legitimately strenuous despite being only 0.7 miles. It is over old railroad tracks and very steep. There is a part where you can see through the bottom with small holes you can technically fall through. In addition, there is a bees’ nest on it. Other hikers ran past that section like nothing. However, I took one step and took the detour to the right that leads you around that section. I did the hike after going up Diamond Head and at noon. As a result, it was very difficult. I felt very hot and started running out of water. Once I got to the top, I spent a good 20 minutes sucking wind and catching my breath. At the top, you get a spectacular view of Hanauma Bay, the crater, and the ocean. I stayed up there for a half an hour to make the pain worth it. On the way down, some hikers were flying down the railroad tracks. However, I do not have that kind of balance so I took my time one step at a time. In total, it took me 3 hours to go up, enjoy the view, and come down.
In my opinion, the view at Diamond Head is better and it is a lot easier to get to the top. The hike for sunrise is much easier. I did not experience any heat and made it up to the top in less than an hour. Nevertheless, definitely use a flashlight so you can see your step. When I made it up to the top for sunrise, it was cloudy so the sun was blocked. Nevertheless, it is an amazing experience. If you do not go for sunrise, at least go in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the maximum heat.
This trail is not dangerous unless you are reckless. Park at the Koko Head District Park. You have to go around the baseball field to get to the path, either on the grass or the road.
- Sunrise at Makapu’u Beach Park
I really enjoyed watching the sunrise from this beach. If you are heading northbound on the road, there is also an entrance to the Makapu’u lighthouse trail on the right. It is an easy hike on a paved road (2 miles round trip). The entrance does not open till 7 AM but you can park on the side of the road next to the entrance and walk in. We did the hike after sunrise but we probably should have just did the hike earlier to get a slightly better view of the sunrise.
- Wa’ahila Ridge Trail (Wa’ahila Ridge State Recreation Area)
This trail is on top of a ridge. You drive up to the start of the trail. You get excellent views looking down at the Manoa Valley, Palolo Valley, Honolulu and the Ko‘olau Range from the top of the ridge. The ridge eventually brings you Mount Olympus. From pictures, it looks like an incredible view but you will need ropes to climb to the top and it will probably take most of your day to complete that hike. I hiked 30 minutes one way for the views on the ridge and hiked back. There are a few spots where you will climb up and down rocks but I did not find it very difficult. Of course, be careful but I did not feel overly concerned.
- Ka’ena Point State Park
This park is in the northwest corner of the island. It takes about an hour to drive up there. It is a flat trail (5 miles round trip) so it is more of a walk along the coast than a hike. The views of the water hitting the coastline, specifically coves, are good. There is a hole in the road near the end where you will need to climb on some rocks and walk on a path that runs parallel. It is an easy group of rocks to climb over. You eventually get to a fence but there are a pair of doors that you walk through. You have to close one door before going through the other door. It looked like something out of Jurassic Park. At the northwest corner, there is a nice patch to spend a few minutes. You can see the endless ocean to the north from there as well as the north end of the island to the east where there are wind farms. In addition, there are low lying rock formations you can walk on. There is no shade so you will feel the heat. I brought a towel to cover my head.
If you enjoy surfing, the waves of the North Shore are where to be. It is also a better spot to be on the island if you want a quieter stay and be far from the city atmosphere of Honolulu. Otherwise, the southern part of the island has more going on. For me, I enjoyed taking a day trip to North Shore.
1. Dole Plantation (64-1550 Kamehameha Hwy, Wahiawa, HI 96786)
The Dole Plantation is a must stop on any day trip to the North Shore. There are train rides that provide tours of the plantation. I did not go on them. The Dole Pineapple Whip is a must try. There are other spots for Dole whip on the island. Nevertheless, nothing matches the whip at the plantation. In addition, they have other concoctions (e.g. pineapple split, floats, etc.). I tried the pineapple whip in a cone then made a stop to try the pineapple float before going to the airport. The pineapple juice is very good in the float. Nevertheless, I think I prefer the whip by itself in the cone where its greatness is not diluted or distracted by other elements.
2. Kealia Trail (Behind Dillingham Air Field via the access road after the base on Farrington Highway)
This trail provides great views of the north shore as you hike up 19 switchbacks [some long] to get to a picnic table at the top of the mountain. It is approximately 2.1 miles to get to the picnic table from the beginning of the trail. There are a lot of trees on the trail and it was very windy when I did the hike so I had natural air conditioning. For these reasons, I did not really sweat going up. There are not many difficult spots to get past on the trail. Some of the trail is a little narrow with steep drops but it is not really dangerous unless you are reckless.
Once you get to the picnic table, you can continue up the Kealia Access Road for a little over 1.5 miles for breathtaking views of the Makua Valley. On the access road, you will need to follow the signs to the Kuaokala Trail. The first sign is a picture of a tractor pointing to the right. The next sign will be a left with the word “Kauakala” and a tractor. You go straight on it until you reach a part of the trail that veers up to the right. You will see a gate that you need to open and go immediately left to the see the valley. You are supposed to have a permit hike the Kauakala trail so I would not go too far down the trail other than enjoy the view of Makua Valley. At one point at the end of the trail, I took a right and saw a sign that pointed to the AF Tracking Station. If you see the sign, you went the wrong way so turn around and continue on the other trail. While the hike up to the picnic table is scenic with plenty of viewpoints and great views on the trail, the access road is kind of boring with no views. Of course, the Makua Valley is a worthy payoff.
In total, the round trip hike to the Makua Valley and back is 7.5 miles and will take a little under 3 ½ hours. In my opinion, the whole hike is absolutely worth it. The hike to the picnic table to see all the views of North Shore is a must do during a trip to the North Shore.
3. Killer Tacos (66-560 Kamehameha Hwy # 1, Haleiwa, HI 96712)
It is a good stop on the North Shore for a quick meal. I had the kalua pork and fish tacos. The kalua pork is very good. I did not like the salsa. If I ordered them again, I would ask for the tacos without the salsa. The fish tacos are solid
4. Hale’iwa Ali’I Beach Park
This park is a good spot to see sea turtles. I walked around the beach for a half hour and saw one sea turtle sun bathing in the sand. It is a beautiful beach with the mountains in the background. Unfortunately, I also saw an encampment of homeless tents at a corner of the park. For this reason, I would only stay for a short time to see a sea turtle before leaving.
5. Turtle Bay Resort (57-091 Kamehameha Hwy, Kahuku, HI 96731)
Turtle Bay is a beautiful resort on the North Shore, where Forgetting Sarah Marshall was filmed. It is also a great spot to watch surfers and the sunset. There is no charge for parking for public beach access.
6. Il Gelato Café Haleiwa (66-250 Kamehameha Hwy C104, Haleiwa, HI 96712)
It is among my top three for gelato anywhere. The presentation on their specialty concoctions is beautiful. I ordered the Nero, chocolate gelato with macadamia nuts. It was phenomenal. I also tried an Il Gelato kiosk in the Kahala Mall on the south side of the island. It was good but not nearly the same and had less selections. If you have room for dessert, I highly recommend stopping by Il Gelato in Haleiwa.
7. Maui Mike’s Fire – Roasted Chicken (96 S Kamehameha Hwy, Wahiawa, HI 96786)
Maui Mike’s is an awesome stop on the way back from the North Shore for a quick, delicious dinner. The rotisserie chicken is amazing. The dark meat falls off the bone. There are parts of the white meat that are a little dry but it is the norm with white meat. Maui Mike’s has plenty of good sauces to put on it. I also recommend a side order of fries. They are very crisp.
Great Things to Eat
- Alan Wong’s (1857 S. King Street St #208, Honolulu, HI 96826) (Open 5PM-10PM)
This place is an amazing Asian fusion restaurant. The best dish is the ginger crusted onaga, long tail red snapper. Unfortunately, I did not order it on my first trip because the waiter told me that the sauce has coconut in it and I am allergic. In my second experience, the waiter clarified that it does not have coconut sauce and apologized for the misinformation. The dish was worth the wait. It was glorious. The other dishes are great too. In my three trips, I tried four appetizers: “Da Bag”, “Poki-Pines”, ahi tuna tack, and fish tacos. I loved Da Bag. It has clams, kalua pig, and shitake mushrooms. It actually comes in an aluminum foil bag that the servers open. Everything in there is awesome. The Poki-Pines are very good too. The poke is cooked instead of raw. The pines are fried won-tons that are really crispy and make the dish. Honestly, I would get poke in one of the smaller places because it is just as good and a lot cheaper. The ahi tuna stack and fish tacos are very similar. Both are phenomenal. The stack has a prettier presentation but I like the fish tacos more because of the crunch of the shell. I have also tried the the short ribs entree and they were very tender and tasty. The restaurant also offers a sampler dish that gives you a taste of all their signature dishes.
You need to make a reservation in advance for Alan Wong’s.
- Roy’s Hawaii (226 Lewers St, Honolulu, HI 96815)
Roy’s is another great Asian Fusion spot. I tried their location at Wakiki beach. They have another one on the east side of the island by Hanauma Bay that has a great view of the ocean. Their fish dishes are awesome. I really liked the poke. Again, I would get it at one of the smaller places since it is just more expensive at the nicer restaurants. For my entrée, I had the Beach Walk Trio (habachi salmon, macadamia nut crusted opah, and misoyabi butterfish). The salmon and the opah are great. The sauce for the butterfish is a little too strong for me. In my opinion, the macadamia nut crusted opah is clearly the best of the three dishes. If you are in the mood for fish, I would recommend just getting a full order of the opah.
Authentic Hawaiian Food
- Ono Hawaiian Food #32 (726 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu HI 96816)
This spot is my top recommendation for authentic Hawaiian food. I had the kalua pig plate. They have the best kalua pig I tried in Hawaii. The plate also includes pipikaula, Hawaian beef jerky, which is really good. It also comes with the lomi salmon which is a mix of tomatoes and salmon.
- Helena’s Hawaiian Food (1240 N School St, HonoluluHI 96817)
Helena’s is another great spot for authentic Hawaiian food. The Kalua pig is excellent. The short ribs actually do not look that great but tastes a lot better than they look. The butterfish is another great dish that I recommend here.
Poke is one of the must tries in Hawaii. It is basically sashimi cut up into cubes.
1. Da Poke Shack (421 Alakawa St, Honolulu, HI 96817)
It is a food truck stationed outside of a Home Depot. It has the best poke on all the Hawaiian Islands thus is the best I have ever had. Naturally, the fish is fresh. Their flavors are second to none. Their spicy [Pele’s Kiss] and shoyu flavors are top notch. My friend also raves about the avocado aioli. It looked phenomenal and I would definitely like to try it.
Sadly, I have seen that this location has been closed. As such, a trip to the Big Island to its original location is currently the only way to try it.
2. Maguro Brothers (1039 Kekaulike St #113, Honolulu, HI 96817)
It has some of the best poke on the island. The fish is extremely fresh. The flavor is excellent. The spam musubi is good too. Maguro Brothers is a small kiosk inside a Chinese supermarket in Chinatown. The location is not for everyone as the supermarket sells raw meats and fish. For this reason, the smell may be too much for customers with more sensitive senses.
3. Ono Seafood (747 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816)
It is a great hole in the wall. It may have had the best poke I tried in Hawaii. The tuna is incredible. I would only recommend Fresh catch over it if you want to try one place for Poke since Fresh catch has a much wider selection.
4. Fresh catch #62 (3109 Waialae Ave. Honolulu HI 96816)
Fresh catch is the best place to sample poke because it has over 30 different types of Poke. I ordered a tuna and a salmon poke. Both were awesome.
You cannot leave Hawaii without trying shave ice. It is like nothing I have tasted in the mainland and amazing.
- Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha (Aina Haina Shopping Center/ 820 W Hind Dr #116, Honolulu, HI 96821)
It is a five rated shave ice spot on Yelp. It is also close to Hanauma Bay. It is the first shave ice I tried and I got the works, includes ice cream and adzuki beans (red bean). I did not care for the adzuki beans. The vanilla ice cream is great. In addition, their ice is excellent. It has great texture and the syrup is consistent throughout. I got the green tea my first time and it got a little too strong for me as I ate it. On my second trip, I tried the strawberry and liked it much better.
2. Island Vintage Coffee Shave Ice (2201 Kalakaua Ave Honolulu, HI 96815)
It is a kiosk on Kalakaua Avenue. It features some of the best shave ice on Oahu. I ordered the Super Island: strawberries, blueberries, mocha. The syrups are excellent. The fruit is fresh. The mochi is the correct texture but kind of bland in taste.
3. Haunani Shave Ice (234 Beach Walk, Honolulu, HI 96815)
This spot is a food truck among a group of food trucks tucked in a corner of Wakiki Beach. I loved it and got it three times. It has my favorite texture of ice because it feels like you are eating coconut. In addition, they add fresh fruit to it which I really enjoyed. When I returned in 2015, it was not the same. The individual running it changed. The ice is now put in a plastic container with no attention to presentation. It is still good but no longer great.
Not surprisingly, it has closed. The quality significantly decreased from 2015 to 2016.
Other Food Trucks
Haunani Shave Ice is next to a very good group of food trucks. I tried two other ones but they all looked good.
- Kamitoku Ramen
If you are in the mood for Ramen on Oahu, I recommend this food truck. I tried the Beefy Wild. I have had better noodles in a Ramen dish but they are good. The broth differentiates this Ramen bowl. It has a kick and tastes really good. If you do not want to go into Wakiki Beach for Ramen, Yotteko-Ya (1960 Kapiolani Blvd Honolulu, HI 96826) is also solid and the plaza has its own parking lot.
- Lani’s Loco Moco & Plate Lunch
I had the loco moco dish. The kalua pig is excellent. The sides are solid too: fried egg, fried rice, macaroni salad. I also went to their brother restaurant, Uncle Bo’s. The portions are bigger but I liked the food truck a lot more.
3. Samurai Grill
It is a nice addition to the food truck pod. The rotisserie chicken is very good. It is not the best I had on the island but it is solid. I loved the ninja roll. The beef is tender and its taste has a kick to it.
Other Cold Treats
Peet’s Kiosk, Sheraton Waikiki (2255 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815) This kiosk is right in front of the Sheraton hotel. It is a coffee kiosk but I never tried the coffee. The Dole Pineapple Whip is a must try. It is a pineapple soft serve. It is so rich and smooth. Tourists stop by the Dole planation on Oahu just to try it but you can get it at this kiosk without making the drive to the plantation.
Unfortunately, this kiosk is now closed. I did find an alternative.
Lawson Station Moana Surfrider (Westin Resort) (2365 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815)
I found a Dole Whip alternative on Waikiki at Lawson Station now that the Peet’s Coffee kiosk has been shut down. It is an excellent spot to get some good Dole Whip if you do you not want to make a trip to the Dole Planation. Of course, it is better at the source with more options.
- Lappert’s Hawaii (Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort/ 2005 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815)
The ice cream here is excellent. It is full of flavor and smooth. I tried the macadamia nut and kona coffee flavors. Both are awesome.
1. Tropical Tribe (1778 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96815)
I became an instant fan of acai bowls after trying them in Miami. If you are looking for a clean, healthy breakfast that will give you energy to deal with the humidity of Hawaii, Tropical Tribe is the place to be. The acai is excellent. They cut the fruit fresh. They also top it off with incredibly delicious honey that differentiates their acai bowl from other ones I have had.
It is not easy to find from the street as it is tucked away inside a group of shops. It is next to a MacDonald’s so you can use it as a marker. It is next to it but tucked away under it.
2. Bogart’s Café (3045 Monsarrat Ave Ste 3 Honolulu, HI 96815)
It features an amazing acai bowl. Everything (granola, fruit, etc.) is fresh. One of the differentiating elements of this bowl is the blueberries. They might be the best and definitely the biggest I have eaten. The other differentiator is the acai. The temperature is perfect. It is so chill that you can see cold steam come off them. My friend ordered the pancake. I had a taste and it is very good. It also has a great presentation with fresh strawberries and whip cream on top.
3. Juicd Life Hawaii (685 Auahi St #218, Honolulu, HI 96813)
It is a very solid acai bowl. The unlimited toppings in the bowl for $8.50 differentiates this shop. Of course, it also features a good selection of healthy juices. It is pricey but I can vouch that the juices I sampled were very excellent. It is in a bit of a remote location in the downtown area that is developing. As such, it is a better spot for someone who works by it rather than tourists making the trip to try it. One of the best coffee shops, 9Bar HNL, is in the same complex. As such, I would make a trip to try both if you want great coffee and an acai bowl.
1. Leonard’s Bakery (933 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816)
The signature item in this bakery is its malsadas, Portugese donuts. It is not the best donuts I have ever had but they are really good regardless. They are especially good out of the oven and the bakery also has a variety that includes different flavors/fillings. I underestimated how big they would be. I ordered six but should have just ordered two.
2. Wailana Coffee House (1860 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96815)
I saw this coffee house on Hawaii Five-O. The characters noted that it has the best pancakes on the island so I needed to try it. Wailana Coffee House is across the street from the Hilton Village. It is a retro restaurant with a diner feel. It is a very good spot for breakfast. I went with the all you can eat pancakes and paid a couple extra dollars to make them unlimited macadamia pancakes. The order also comes with bacon and a couple of eggs. The pancakes are very good. In the end, pancakes are pancakes so they will not blow you away. Nevertheless, it is definitely a good spot to eat breakfast on Waikiki.
- Original Pancake House (1414 Dillingham Blvd Honolulu, Hawaii 96817)
It is nothing special but it is good if you want pancakes and/ or eggs. Their signature dish is the Dutch baby, which is a lemon German pancake. It is good but not spectacular.
The coffee in Oahu is excellent. I rarely drank a bad cup. Below are my rankings and some notes about the coffee shop.
1. Kai Coffee (2424 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815)
It is my favorite coffee shop in Waikiki and on Oahu. The richness and texture is perfect. The latte art is fantastic. The macadamia nut flavored latte propels it to the top.
2. 9Bar HNL (685 Auahi St #118, Honolulu, HI 96813)
9Bar is the best coffee shop in downtown Honolulu. The latte art and taste are top notch. I also like that it provides a glass of seltzer water to cleanse the pallet.
3. The Curb (3538 Waialae Ave #101, Honolulu, HI 96816)
When I visited this shop in 2015, the steamer was broken so I could not get the hot latte I wanted. It was worth the 14 month wait to try it. The latte art is gorgeous. The richness and taste matched the art. My only gripe is that the drink was a bit lukewarm. On the other hand, I was in a rush and it made it easier to chug quick and head to my next destination.
4. Glazer’s Coffee (2700 S King St Honolulu, HI 96826)
This coffee shop is as good as any on Oahu. I did not find a flaw in the taste, richness, texture, or art. It is on par with my top three. I like Kai Coffee more because of the macadamia nut flavor. 9Bar HNL and the Curb have slightly better art.
5. Island Vintage Coffee (2301 Kalakaua Ave Honolulu, HI 96815)
The honey at Island Vintage is amazing. It is really differentiates its honey latte. The acai bowls are also top notch. I did not try the acai bowl on Waikiki but they looked amazing. I did try it at the location on Maui and had it three times. The acai and fruit are very fresh. The presentation is impeccable. Great honey puts an acai bowl over the top. Again, Island Vintage features stellar honey.
6. Brue Bar (119 Merchant St, Honolulu, HI 96813)
This coffee shop is very solid. Their baristas were also friendly and gave me great recommendations for other top coffee shops on Oahu. It is not in the upper echelon of coffee shops I have tried in the country but it is a solid specialty coffee shop I would recommend. Brue Bar also has two other locations but I did not get a chance to try either one.
7. Honolulu Coffee Company Kiosk (Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Hotel/ 120 Kaiulani Ave Honolulu, HI 96815)
I tried this Kiosk once. The macadamia nut flavored latte was on par with any latte I tried on Oahu. However, it is a chain with many locations. It is often difficult to maintain consistency and quality among the multiple locations, specifically the baristas. As such, I am hesitant to move it up on my list of recommendations.
8. Gorilla In The Café (2155 Kalakaua Ave Honolulu, HI 96815)
It is slightly below the other coffee shops I tried. It was very good when I tried it the first time. The second time was more questionable. It was still acceptable but bordered on mediocre. Of course, it could have been a one off barista or drink.
For my guides for other Hawaiian Islands, please see: