Oahu, HI

No words will do this trip any justice. This was my third trip to the island, but by far the most memorable experience. I can truly say I've felt the spirit of Aloha. Contrary to popular belief, Oahu is severely underrated. Anyone who says otherwise never left Honolulu. 

Follow along as I recount our 2 week vacation in paradise.

Day 1: We kicked off our trip hiking Lanikai Pillbox, then relaxed on Lanikai Beach. The hike is one of the easiest on the island and offers spectacular views on clear, sunny days. 

Day 2: Kandace's only request for this trip was to go to a luau, so I put her in charge of picking one. Per a recommendation from a friend, she chose Cheif’s Luau. I would've likely chosen something less touristy, but we enjoyed ourselves nonetheless. 

Day 3-5: No trip to Oahu is complete without visiting the North Shore. Surfers from all over the world visit this particular region to catch waves. After a day of cliff jumping, we grabbed dinner at North Shore Shrimp Truck, then walked over to Sunset Beach to witness God's beautiful work. Over the next few days, we came back to do it all over again. 

Day 6: A friend of mine suggested that we hike the Pink Pillboxes, so we made our way to the westside of the island for the very first time. I had no idea what to expect, but this day trip ended up opening my eyes to the best side of Oahu. After a treacherous hike (it was NO joke), we relaxed at Makaha Beach

Day 7: We enjoyed the westside so much, we decided to go back again the next day to explore it further.  Our first stop was Upper Makua Cave. The views were incredible, but the hike was brutal (straight incline). After torturing ourselves, we discovered our new favorite spot on earth - Makua Beach

Day 8: Honolulu isn't my forte, but I'm a sucker for colorful murals, so we made our way to the city. I hate to admit this, but I ate the best burrito of my life in Hawaii. King Street Tacos gets a Texan stamp of approval and I don't throw that around casually. We met my cousin Chastity for drinks at Barefoot Beach Cafe, then spent the rest of the evening at the coolest craft bar on the island, Bevy.

Day 9-10: After a week and a half in paradise, we officially adapted to island life. I stopped planning our days and just went with the flow. I grew deeply fond of Makaha Beach Park, so we just relaxed there for a couple of days, napping on the beach and eating Hawaiian shave ice. 

Day 11: With the end of our trip approaching, we had to get back to our itinerary. Chastity, Kandace and I spent the day driving around the island, stopping at Ho'omaluhia Botanical Gardens, Makapu’u Lookout, Halona Blowhole and Cockroach Cove. That night, we had dinner at Kickin Kajun, then laughed our stomachs sore watching Girls Trip. My idea of the perfect day. 

Day 12: Chastity's roommate Abby invited us to go swim with dolphins. The pods arrive early in the morning, so we woke up at 4am to watch the meteor shower at Ka'ena Point, then slept on the beach until sunrise.  Around 9am, a pod of dolphins were spotted heading towards us. We swam 100 yards out, then waited until they circled around to pass us. When swimming with dolphins in the wild, it's important not to chase them. They are more likely to interact with you if you don't interfere with them. I cannot put in to words how fleeting this experience was. After that exciting morning, we stopped by Tacos and More for lunch. The bartender Patrick makes the best paloma on the island, which is rare for the area. After lunch, we surfed at White Plains Beach. Needless to say, we all slept good this night. 

Side note: Research "mask squeeze" before free diving. I descended too quickly without equalizing and had a terrible experience when swimming to the ocean floor. 

Day 13: I was determined to do at least one thrilling hike while in Hawaii. Despite my ambitions to conquer the infamous Stairway to Heaven, I opted for Crouching Lion instead. We weren't entirely sure how to access the trail, so we ended up scaling the mountain. We later discovered, that there was a shorter (safer) way up, but where's the fun is that? I expected this hike to be scarier than it actually was, but it should be hiked with caution. 

Day 14: Our last day was bittersweet. We went back to Makua Beach in hopes of seeing the dolphins, but they did not swim close enough for us to interact with them. We both agreed this was the best trip we'd taken and would love to do it all over again next summer.