All Fifty States Club

Hawaii Five 0 – Oahu

February 27, 2024


Although every state has its unique food, culture, and history - Hawaii is definitely one of a kind. As All Fifty Club President, I am excited to share my family's experiences as we traveled to 3 islands in Hawaii in December 2023. This is Part 4 - Oahu.

Family of 6  trip to Hawaii in December 2023

Part 1 - Hawaii Planning and Preparation

Part 2 - Maui (2 nights)

Part 3 - Hawaii (4 nights)

Part 4 - Oahu (3 nights) 

Part 5 - Completion of All 50 in Hawaii!

Part 6 - Hawaii Packing List



Day 1 - Honolulu

We arrived at the Honolulu airport at 1:00 p.m. and went straight to Pearl Harbor for a 3:15 p.m. USS Arizona Memorial tour. We got there in plenty of time as it was only a 6-minute drive from the airport. We even had enough time to look around in the museums before our tour started. USS Arizona Memorial tickets are only $1 a person, but you must book your reservation in advance. If you are unable to, the rangers may open it up to walk-up guests.  But even if you are unable to get on a tour, there is plenty to see on the Pearl Harbor National Memorial grounds. Check out the  NPS website before you go for a list of items not allowed through security. Once we lined up for our tour time, we had to take a moment to get in the correct frame of mind for our visit. As much as we were excited to be in Hawaii, we were at the USS Arizona Memorial to remember and honor those who died in the Pearl Harbor attack. The rangers did an excellent job of politely reminding everyone of this and asking that people refrain from talking loudly. The quiet mood on the short ride to the Memorial allowed it to hit home that Pearl Harbor is not just something we read about in history books or watch in a movie. The events really did take place; soldiers died horrific deaths, and we would stand where it happened. After the return boat ride, we spent more time exploring the museums and other outside display plaques. Tours are also available for the USS Missouri, USS Bowfin Submarine, and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum.  The Arizona Memorial was enough for our group to take in for one day, although we would love to visit the other sites when we return to Hawaii.

After Pearl Harbor, we stopped at the NEX Navy Store, to pick up groceries. However, it only had alcohol and snacks; otherwise, it was more like a department store. We made another stop at a Safeway to pick up some food. In the future, we will try our luck at Foodland instead, as I later heard they have great Poke Bowls at their deli. We wanted to try Helena's Hawaiian Food Restaurant, which has been around since 1946 and serves many traditional Hawaiian foods such as poi, kalua pig, Hawaiian stew, and poke.  It was closed on the day of our visit due to the holidays. Rainbow Drive-In is also recommended.

Then, it was on to our Airbnb, located within walking distance of Waikiki Beach. Ocean View Condo w/Free Parking at Waikiki Banyan was nice and clean, but the building wasn't anything to rave about.  It is an older building, and the elevators made me nervous! We appreciated the ocean view (although it was quite distant and at an angle), and the price was right for the location during peak season; however, we will try another place when we visit again.

We had a quick dinner in the condo, then walked a couple of blocks to the beach. On the way, we stopped at the Poke Bar Waikiki for a 2nd dinner. Delicious! We hurried on to the beach so we wouldn't miss the fireworks that go off every Friday evening from the Hilton Hawaiian Village.  Our vantage point wasn't the best, but we didn't feel like walking any further.  After the fireworks we headed back to the hotel to try some of the Hawaiian drinks we got at the grocery store, Honolulu Brewery beer and Aloha Maid Guava Nectar.




Day 2 - North Shore

We woke up and headed to Quality Surfboards to rent surfboards for the day.  The person working it was super helpful by showing us the surf conditions on the computer and telling us exactly where to go.  We strapped a couple of surfboards to the top of the minivan and headed to the North Shore.  A little more than halfway there, we stopped at the Dole Pineapple Plantation.  A security guard was nice enough to keep an eye on our boards when we went in. The plantation has a Pineapple Express Train, Maze, and Gardens Tour, which all get good reviews, but we were just there to take in all the pineapple vibe in the gigantic store and get some Dole Soft Serve, which was incredible. The fresh fruit toppings tasted so fresh and juicy. 100% worth the stop.

Next, we went to Hale'iwa Beach, which is perfect for beginner to intermediate surfers on most days. Surf instructors were taking beginners out, so we knew we were in the right area. My kids had experience surfing but later conceded that it would have been helpful to have an instructor to help them read the waves to get the timing right. The beach was lovely for swimming, and we could see some cool fish while snorkeling. What I love most about many Hawaiian beaches is that you can sit in the shade of the trees and have a short walk to the water.

Once we had our beach fill, we used the rinse-off station and clean bathrooms before heading into the town of Hale'iwa to find a place to eat. We came across several food truck areas but landed on what we think is the BEST Mexican food anywhere! The food was delicious at the Surf and Salsa permanent food truck, and the vibe was fantastic; sitting outside as the sun went down and the string lights came on. We also picked up food at another food truck in the same parking area, Big Wave Shrimp Truck, which The Food Network named one of  America's Top 25 Best Food Trucks. With bellies full and bodies worn out from the day at the beach, we headed back to the condo in Waikiki.


Day 3 - Waikiki

Up early! We had Diamond Head reservations for the first arrival time slot, 6:00 - 6:30 a.m. Reservations are required and can be made up to 30 days in advance for $5 a person and $10 for parking. It was dark when we arrived and not too crowded. There was a feeling of excitement as we joined the other hikers to the start of the trail. With the sun not up yet, we used our phone flashlights to light the way.  We could see dots of light going up to the top of the Crater ahead of us.  At the top there was quite a crowd for the sunrise, but there was room for everyone to enjoy the spectacular view. After taking lots of pictures and exploring the WWII pillbox at the top, the hike down went rather quickly. Before we left the parking lot, we called Leonard's Bakery and ordered a dozen malasadas (Portuguese/Hawaiian donuts). By the time we drove to the bakery near Waikiki, our donuts were ready. It was very crowded, so we were glad we called ahead.  They were SO, SO delicious. 100% recommend.

After stopping at the condo to change and grab beach gear, we walked down to Waikiki Beach.  The whole area was busy with a mix of people; some dressed for shopping, others dressed for the beach. We found a spot in the sand and soaked up the Waikiki Beach experience. Conveniently, surfboards, kayaks, and paddleboards were available for rent nearby on the beach. We rented a paddleboard for a couple of hours and loved it. Just being up and out of the water allowed us to appreciate the clear aquamarine water and see underwater creatures that we couldn't see when we were swimming. Outriggers were launched from this area, too. It was cool to see them rowing in, blaring the Hawaii 5 - 0 theme song, further establishing the Waikiki beach vibe.

As we begrudgingly were facing the fact that it was our last day in Hawaii, we cheered ourselves up with the ultimate Hawaiian food masterpiece. Hawaiian Shave snow ice.  To...die...for.

We returned to the condo for dinner before walking to the Waikiki Beach Gathering aka Church at da Beach for the Christmas Eve service. It will definitely be a Christmas Eve to remember as we and fellow tourists sang 'Silent Night' together with Hawaiian locals with palm trees and the ocean as a backdrop. The sermon message that Jesus came down from Heaven for everyone struck a chord as on that night, we worshipped together from all walks of life and from all over the world.



Day 4 - Honolulu

We woke up as the sun was rising and dressed quickly. Trevor went ahead to go for a run along the beach. The rest of us walked along the beach and were able to take in a Hawaiian rainbow one last time. We headed back to the condo to clean up and pack up, then headed to the airport. Along the way, we drove around downtown Honolulu, by the Iolani Palace and the Hawaii State Capitol, and saw the elaborate Christmas decorations on display for the season. We arrived early enough at the airport for some of our group to enjoy Hawaiian beer and sandwiches at the Priority Pass lounge (via my Capital One Venture X card). Our return flight was on Hawaiian Airlines. I strongly encourage flying Hawaiian Airlines on the way TO Hawaii. The on-board entertainment included Hawaiian-based movies and educational videos. One of my favorites is Haole We Do It, a documentary that dives into Hawaiian culture. The flight crew greeted us with friendly 'Alohas' and served us a pineapple drink and a Hawaiian meal. (Southwest does not serve a meal on their Hawaiian flights). It may be small, but they set the stage for going to Hawaii, especially for the first time.

The five-and-a-half-hour flight home on Christmas wasn't bad coming off an incredible 10-day Hawaiian vacation. Traveling on Christmas Day has its perks. The security line was nonexistent, the airport was relatively quiet, and some fellow passengers provided some entertainment by dressing up. We had a Hawaiian Santa flying with us and a family dressed in matching gingerbread people pajamas. Note to self: convince my family to dress up next year, I'm thinking Santa and his elves?

Overall, we had a wonderful trip to Hawaii full of many incredible sights and experiences. We saw and did a lot, yet there is so much more to see. We developed a love for the Hawaiian islands and hope it will not be too long before we return.

Check out how we celebrated the Rovey kids completing all 50!  and other ideas for arriving in Hawaii for your final state on a journey to All 50.



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