Saturday, October 20, 2018

PB&J Travels: Ben's Aloha Adventure!

Eat, Beach, Repeat.


The official motto for Ben's 1st Aloha Adventure to Hawaii!

Aloooooha!!!
Hawaii, specifically Oahu, has always held a special place for my family. It was a destination we frequently visited throughout my childhood. We practically spent every year in Hawaii, either visiting with relatives that lived out there or adventuring through the other islands like Maui, Kauai and the Big Island. So naturally, for Ben's 1st big vacation via plane ride, our family decided to head back to the destination that was so near and dear to our hearts growing up: Oahu! What made this trip even more special was that my entire immediate family, my parents, along with my sister and brother in law, joined us for the trip! Happy times all around!

Leaving on a jet plane
I loved flying as a kid. There was nothing more exciting than getting to the airport and having the anticipation of a fun destination awaiting ahead! I loved airplanes, airplane food, the entire experience as a kid and it's something that I hope passes down to Ben as he gets older and that he'll love traveling as much as mom did when she was little!

I do have to admit though that there was a ton of anxiety that came with Ben's 1st flight. Ben's such a chill kid, but when he goes off, he can go off. Were we crazy to introduce his first taste of flying with a close to 5hr flight from San Francisco to Honolulu? Should we have started traveling by plane at an earlier age? Should we have flight tested him with a shorter NorCal to SoCal flight to test the waters first?

Well I'm happy to report that our little Ben (more so his parents) survived his first travel by air! He did good, although I won't sugarcoat the experience, there were touch and go moments, but not 110% meltdown mode as I had been thinking as a worst case scenario, lol!

I'll go into more details about our flight with Ben since I know some of my fellow mama's out there might want to know all the details, so hold tight and I'll save that for another post!

Welcome to Paradise, Baby Ben!

Day 1
After a hop, skip and a jump 1/2 way across the pacific we landed in Honolulu! I don't know what it is, but there's always a feeling of happiness when I get off the plane and get a whiff of plumerias and the sweet hawaiian air!

My family loves renting condo's, airBnB's and using timeshares while on vacation. They love the convenience of home all in one place, so our most recent stay in Waikiki was no exception. My dad found this amazing rental condo, literally steps away from Waikiki's beaches and in the heart of the action. Check out Ali'i Beach Rentals, we booked our stay in a 2 bedroom condo in the Waikiki Beach Tower here!

Marukame Udon 
First night eats came in the form of the always yummy Marukame Udon in Waikiki Marukame Udon info here!

This place always has a line out the door, but it's well worth it and moves fast! Home to the handmade udon noodles and the freshest and yummiest tempura around. The plus? It's super cheap eats!

Magnolia Ice Cream
We ended the night with a stop at Magnolia Ice Cream for a scoop of goodness! Magnolia Ice Cream is a staple for any Filipino household, so seeing an entire ice cream store full of childhood favorites, in addition to their classic "Halo Halo" or mixed ice cream and fixings (fruits, jellies, beans, etc) desserts was the cherry on top of our arrival night! Magnolia Ice Cream info here!

Day 2
It's usually a tradition in our family to have a relaxed beach day following the day we travel into Oahu. So we packed up and headed across the street to spend the day at the beach!

McDonald's Local Breakfast
Okay, so you may be wondering why on Earth would we'd be at Mc Donald's when we're surrounded by so much good local eats? Well for one, Hawaiian McD's have some amazing exclusive local eats you can only find on the islands. Case in Point: The local breakfast plate and the coconut pie!
I LOVE the combo of the plate's spam, eggs, rice and Portuguese sausage! It hits the spot for this part Filipina girl, it's just like the breakfasts that my grandma would make me when I was little!

Musubi Cafe Iyasume
The best beach eats? MUSUBI!!! If you've never had one or heard of it, it's basically rice, some sort of filling like fish, egg or SPAM, all wrapped in seaweed goodness. Trust me, its good. But it's even better when it comes from Iyasume!!! Grab a canned juice and you're set for a yummy snack while soaking in the sun! Musubi Cafe Iyasume info here!

Shirokiya Village Walk 
After a long beach day we headed to Ala Moana Center, AKA the mall that literally has everything! No really, any shop you can think of is probably here, lol. But what's even better? The food options! We met with our family friend for dinner at Shirokiya, a large area that brings all the Japan vibes! There's just stalls and stalls of different food vendors selling everything from ramen, udon, tempura, beef bowls, $1 beers, desserts and more! There's a little something for everyone here and it's all incredibly yummy!
Shirokoya Village info here!

Uncle Clay's HOPA (Ala Moana Center)
We ended the night on a sweet note by visiting Uncle Clay's House of Pure Aloha shave ice. PB is a huge fan of shave ice, so when our family friend mentioned this was one of the best spots to get your fix we were excited. What we didn't expect was meeting the founder himself, Uncle Clay and literally one of the kindest souls out there. He chatted it up with my family and told us how it had been his childhood dream to one day open up a shave ice shop, and now here he is, dream fulfilled and happy to be making shave ice dreams come true! Not only was the shave ice spectacular, but they also have malasada puff ice cream sandwiches, so good!
Uncle Clay's HOPA info here!

Day 3
Our day three in Oahu was spent eating more amazing local eats! We started off our morning meeting with our family friend for the most amazing pancakes, ever at Cinnamon's at the Ilikai. If we weren't stuffed enough, we stopped by the home of Malasada puffs, Leonard's!!! We then headed out of the Waikiki area for a trip to Kailua. It's home to some of the most beautiful beaches on Oahu, but it was our bad not checking the weather beforehand. Hawaii is notorious for it's changing weather from one part of the island to the other and we unfortunately forgot this before making the 30min drive out! We were met with rain, wind and unfavorable conditions, but we were able to try out an amazing little poke shop for some good eats! After our tummies were full we trekked back to Waikiki where it was the 180 of weather in Kailua, sunny and warm! It made for the most beautiful backdrop and ending to our adventure for the day!


Cinnamon's 
I will be forever dreaming of their Guava Chiffon Pancakes. They were little bites of heaven! The pancakes were so fluffy and the guava sauce was otherworldly goodness!
Cinnamon's info here!

Leonard's Bakery 
This little bakery is literally a Hawaiian institution! We've been coming here for years, always a must whenever we're in Oahu! They're most known for their malasadas, little fried dough puffs covered in sugar, similar to a donut but 100x better. They also have malasada puffs which are filled with creamy filling flavors like haupia (coconut), chocolate, guava and seasonal flavors like October's pumpkin. I'm a huge pumpkin fan so this was yummy, but nothing will top the guava puff!
Leonard's Malasada info here!

The Hibachi 
Although our Kailua beach day was a wash, the silver lining was stumbling across this yummy Poke spot! A small deli located in town, it serves up unique poke flavors. It's the perfect beach day snack.... or in our case, the perfect "almost beach day" snack.
the Hibachi info here!

Side Street Inn 
Our good family friend, literally our foodie guide for this trip, met us for dinner at this amazing restaurant! It serves up the most amazing local eats like fried pork belly, local veggie salad, chicken, fried rice and more! A highlight was the peanut butter chocolate cake for dessert! So much noms!
Side Street Inn info here!

Day 4
So remember that amazing family friend I mentioned? Well he's more like family, PB's cousin not by blood, but by heart! He's local to Oahu and literally is the greatest Hawaiian foodie we know. He also has his own food page dedicated to all the local eats and treats of Hawaii called "FattyGirlDreams" on IG (@FattyGirlDreams ) So for day 4 of our island time, we went on his "grand circle tour" as I like to call it of all his favorite eats around Oahu. We ate and explored our way up to the North Shore of Oahu!

The Street, a Michael Minna Social House
We kicked off Day 4 with breakfast at The Street. This little food court located in the international marketplace is anything but your typical food court. We visited for breakfast and enjoyed their yummy breakfast selections like lilikoi mochi pancakes, loco moco and fresh açaí bowls. Ben also got in on the foodie action and got his own bowl of bananas to eat!
The Street info here!

Kona Coffee Purveyors 
Kona coffee = GOOD. My sister heard about this buzzed about coffee joint across the way from our breakfast stop and it did not disappoint. The pastries were phenomenal and the coffee? Delicious! I got the kona coffee affogato and it was amazing!
Kona Coffee Purveyors info here!
After fueling up for the morning, we headed out on our North Shore adventure. A trek from the Waikiki area up the North Shore is always an experience and is about an hour drive, depending on traffic from one point to another. What's great about this drive is that we got to stop by different foodie stops along the way!

Sugoi 
We heard this was the spot for garlic chicken, so on our way up North we headed to this amazing joint for some of the tastiest garlic chicken we've ever had! I will have cravings of this place until the next time we can visit. Their chicken was juicy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. The flavors of garlic and their signature sauce was literally BOMB.COM. So amazingly delicious!!!
Sugoi info here!

Ubae
Literally across the street from the amazing Sugoi was Ubae, a little shop specializing in Ube cheesecake tarts and crinkle cookies. I'm a huge ube fan, so this hit the spot!
Ubae info here!

The Dole Plantation
On the way to the North Shore you'll pass by another one of our Oahu faves, the Dole Plantation! Some may see this place as touristy, but it's totally a fun stop for our family! My parents used to take us here when we were younger and I'll alway have the fondest memories of getting lost in the world's largest maze here with my sister. Plus, this is the home of the Dole Whip! It may be because it's coming direct from the source, but the Dole Whips, especially the float and the fresh juices taste so much better here!

We had the best time taking Ben here. Being "that mom" I brought a whole pineapple outfit for Ben to wear during his visit. The result, so worth it though!!!
https://www.doleplantation.com

Ted's Bakery
We continued our travels north and stopped by the recommended favorite: Ted's Bakery. We were told to skip the shrimp trucks we usually hit up and go straight to this place for some of the yummiest garlic shrimp and chocolate haupia pie around! It did not dissapoint. And the pie? Heavenly!!! Everyone raves about the chocolate haupia classic, but PB and I loved the strawberry haupia (coconut) version even more!
Ted's Bakery info here!


We needed to get out and stop eating for a while since that was all we were doing all day long, so we stopped by one of the North Shore's famous beaches to watch the surfers and waves.


Matsumoto's Shave Ice
Another "always" stop for us when we're in Oahu is Matsumoto's Shave Ice. If you're ever visited Hawaii, you already know about this famous shave ice stop. I was actually surprised though to see that it was renovated from it's original store front to a much more spacious and modern look. Different, but at least the shave ice was still the same and just as good.
Matsumoto Shave Ice info here!

Momosan Waikiki
Our final stop on our foodie adventure for the day was for dinner right across the way from our condo at Momosan. A restaurant by chef Morimoto, this place was the right amount of comfort for the rainy night that was happening for dinner.


Day 5
Day five was a day where we were up and about early because it was our transition day from Waikiki to Disney's Aulani Resort. We kicked off the day by heading to the Waikiki Aquarium. We've noticed that Ben loves animals, so by bringing him to an aquarium he'd get two things he loves: animals with the fishes and air conditioning... another thing we found he loved in Hawaii, lol. After a quick visit we packed into the car and headed out west to our next destination: Disney Aulani!

Tanioka's 
Before reaching Aulani, we had to stop of one more foodie stop in Waipahu: Tanioka's Seafood. They're known for some of the best poke on the entire island and yes, it lived up to the hype! So yummy!
Tanioka Seafood info here!

Aulani bound...
I've been asked why we didn't just stay the whole time at Aulani and the truth is that as much as I love Disney and the resort, it's hard to spend all your time at Aulani since it's located on the western part of the island. It's a bit isolated from the rest of the island, so if you're looking for more things to do and explore outside of the resort it's a bit out of the way to do so while staying at Aualni. This is why my family decided it was best to split our time between the Ko 'Olina coast where Aulani is located and the central area of Waikiki. Getting the best of both worlds!
If you're planning a trip out to Oahu, I highly recommend to explore different parts of the island, heck, even the other islands themselves! Maui, Kauai and the Big Island are all gorgeous in their own way! Oahu itself is great because there's so much to do on one island, beaches, good eats, hiking, nature, museums, family fun and Disney?! What more could you want?

Thank you for reading part 1 of our aloha adventure recap! Stay tuned for part 2: All about Aulani coming up soon!

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