By: Joy Andres
You’re on a 48-hour layover in Hawai’i, (poor you), what do you do? One might say that that’s just not enough time to explore everything that Hawai’i has to offer; to an extent that’s true. But here’s the local girls’ guide to having the best 48 hours on O’ahu.
Our airport is on the south side of the island, so your best bet is to start there. Before you hit the beach, you HAVE to stop by at Kaka’ako Kasuals to grab your pair of slippers so you don’t stick out like a sore thumb. After you grab a room in Waikiki or Diamond Head, spend a little time in the south shore waters. From Ala Moana to Kahala, the south side flourishes with soft, long-riding waves, making the perfect afternoon “in town” of your first of the 48 hours. Have a conversation with the Waikiki beach boys, (they tell amazing stories) because they’ve been surfing those beaches since Duke Kahanamoku, one of Hawai’'i’s most famous long-board surfers.
If you follow the coastline from Waikiki up to Hawai’i Kai, you’ll find yourself jaw dropped looking at some of Hawai’i’s most expensive properties. When they say Hawai’i is one of the most expensive places in the nation to live, they’re not kidding. Houses in the Kahala/Portlock area sell for over 20 million dollars…Yup, you read that correctly, 20 million dollars. When I was younger, my friends and I used to drive up and down the roads just staring at houses we dreamt of owning someday; “maybe that one with the pillars, or that one with the cool driveway,” we’d shout at each other. Pretty houses aren’t the only thing that Hawai’i Kai has to offer though; if you’re a strong swimmer, and have enough upper body strength to pull yourself up rocks, China Walls has become the newest “easy cliff jump” spot on the east side. If you’re not confident however, I definitely recommend NOT jumping in, and grabbing a towel and tanning on the beautiful sparkling rocks. After your east side adventure, don’t forget to stop in Koko Marina for some “ono grinds” as we like to call it in Hawai’i (aka delicious food). There’s tons of local shops that everybody loves to check out while you walk around the marina and watch the boats go in and out.
Continuing up and around Hawai’i Kai towards the Waimanalo area, you begin to enter what locals refer to, as the windward side of the island. Kane’ohe and Kailua, two of the most popular “cities” on the windward side have a lot of beautiful, as well as “cali vibe” areas to explore. In Kailua, rent a beach bike and take a trip down to Lanikai beach, with the softest sand you’d ever step foot in, and if you’re daring, rent a kayak and paddle to the little island in the water! Be prepared for an hour-long kayak trip…it looks close but once you get in the water it’s a pretty far adventure.
Keep driving towards the North Shore, and I promise, you won’t be disappointed. The North Shore of O'ahu has some of the most surreal, and secluded beaches; with miles of soft slopes of sand. The North Shore is home to global surf competitions, tons of food trucks, country ranch feels, and a windows down sunroof opened type of drive. There’s a point of the North Shore where the road stops because there’s a protected bird sanctuary, so make sure you have enough time to go through the island so you can pop out on the west side.
A quick stop on the west side of the island is much needed before leaving O'ahu. The westside of the island typically has calm beaches, so if you’re not a strong swimmer, take your Kaka’ako Kasuals, towels, and DEFINITELY some sunscreen to a beach on the west side. The weather on this side tends to be sunny more than anything so the sun is almost always out…don’t forget to reapply!
As you’re coming down to the last of your 48 hours, it’s important to shake ALL the sand out of your bags because enough of it will add a pound to your suitcase; don’t want that (you need room for all the macadamia nuts you bought).
I hope you had fun during your short but exhausting two days on O'ahu, until we meet again, or as we say it in Hawai’i, A Hui Hou Kākou.
*Lanikai Beach at sunrise