Oahu: One Day Adventure


What’s a vacation without a little adventure? If you’re short on time and want to get the most bang for your buck read on for a three in one sightseeing activity. The only requirement is that you wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes. Get out your mosquito repellent, you’re going to need it.


Pali Lookout

Pali Lookout was the scene where hundreds of soldiers plunged to their death in the battle of Nuuanu where King Kamehameha succeeded in unifying the Hawaiian Islands.With its sweeping panoramic views of the Windward Coast, the Pali Lookout is a quick and accessible place to begin. Only a five mile drive from downtown, in a matter of minutes lush landscape begins to appear and suddenly you feel like you’re really in Hawaii.



Likeke Falls

From the Pali Lookout, head down the road on the right side and go past the “Road Closed” sign. Proceed down the Old Pali Road until you reach the highway overpass. There will be a ladder leading down under the overpass. Climb down and cross under the highway. Keep following the road until you reach the bottom, go left at the fork. There will be a concrete road barrier on the left for which you need to climb over to access the concrete stairs. At this point, you will be heading uphill and it gets a bit steep, you’ll have to grab onto tree roots and branches to keep balance, and your shoes will get muddy. It’s all in a day’s adventure. Keep your eye out for “WF” spray painted on tree trunks with arrows pointing the way. From here on, you will be relying only on these signs. The waterfall is small but no matter. You’re going to be so hot and sweaty, the cold water will be a welcome sight. Sit and relax a bit and get ready for the return trip. It’s a long walk back.




Kaniakapupu Ruins

Commonly known as the summer house of Kamehameha III, these ruins are located in Nuuanu and date from 1847. Easy to access and a relatively quick walk,  it’s also shaded with bamboo and has mostly flat terrain. From Pali Lookout, get back on the H-1 highway toward downtown. Watch carefully for the Old Pali Road exit (the very next exit after you get on the highway). Park in the small lot right off the road. Walk down the road parallel to the highway for approximately 5 minutes (if you reach the Board of Water Supply building on the right, you’ve gone too far). Keep an eye out for an opening in the bamboo on the left hand side of the road and enter. The trail will open up quite wide where you will follow it sticking to the trail on the left. It should only take about 15 minutes to reach the ruins from the entrance off the road.






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Oahu: Casual Eating Guide


It’s finally vacation time and you have some days to yourself. Whoo-hoo! Perhaps you’re making pit stop for a few days in Hawaii en route to a farther off destination. Or, maybe you have only a few days on this quick get away and want to make the most of it. Whatever the reason that brings you to Oahu, you’re bound to have a great time. Sitting by the pool or baking on the beach are options, but this short series will give you reason to leave the hotel and do some easy exploring all while getting a taste of local flavors beyond a fast food plate lunch. This first installment is all about casual and quick eating options that won’t break the bank because we all need to eat, right? Let’s get going.




Leonard’s Bakery

933 Kapahulu Ave/Honolulu, HI

Like doughnuts? Of course you do so you’re going to love malasadas. Similar to a doughnut but much lighter in texture, malasadas are like puffy fried pillows of dough rolled in a cinnamon sugar (or plain sugar), a Portuguese treat. They can also be enjoyed with a custard filling but I prefer mine unfilled with cinnamon sugar. As far as I’m concerned, the ONLY place to get a malasada is Leonard’s where they are fried to order and piping hot since 1952. This place doesn’t mess with success. Get in there!



Marukame Udon and Tempura

2310 Kuhio Ave, Suite 124/Honolulu, HI

This place was recommended to us by a local. Therefore, we wasted no time getting there especially since it was walking distance from our hotel. The noodles are made fresh on site and if you’re lucky, you just might get a glimpse of the action. My favorite was the kamaage udon which is served with a savory and flavorful hot dipping sauce (below). The tempura is also good, but it was the udon that kept me coming back. Be prepared to wait in line but fear not, it moves rather quick. Cafeteria style service keeps diners flowing in and out and the line manageable. Expect to wait between 20-30 minutes during peak meal times.



Waiola Shave Ice

3113 Mokihana St/Honolulu HI

No trip to Hawaii is complete without shave ice. Everyone has their favorite spot. My shave ice shack of choice is Waiola (above) for their super fine ice texture and tasty syrups. I always get the lilikoi, plain with no azuki beans. There are other options of azuki bean bowls with sweetened condensed milk topped with shave ice but I like to keep mine simple. After a hike up Diamond Head reward yourself with a refreshingly cool treat here.


Matsumoto Shave Ice

66-087 Kamehameha Hwy/Haleiwa HI

If you happen to be on the North Shore side and want to experience the most popular shave ice spot, head to Matsumoto’s on the main drag. You can’t miss it. It’s the only place with a line of tourists. Back in the day, if you asked me about Matsumoto’s, I would have been far more enthusiastic as I felt the quality was better. This last trip left a lot to be desired. I had ice chunks in my cone and they were stingy with the syrup. One scoop in and I could see white ice and taste the familiar flavor of… water.


Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream

1010 University Avenue/Honolulu, HI

By now, most everyone knows what mochi ice cream is and local favorite Bubbies is the place to get your fix. With 20 flavors to choose from as well as regular ice cream and desserts, there’s something for everyone. If you’re a first timer, hopefully you have traveling companions because a platter of 12 makes for a great way to experience a variety of flavors. If you’re going on a weekend during peak dessert time, you will be waiting in line. This is a small shop but the line moves at a decent rate provided there is not somebody hemming and hawing over what to get once it’s their turn.





Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck

66-472 Kamehameha Hwy/Haleiwa, HI

Break out the wet naps ’cause you’re going to need ‘em. Find your way to this popular shrimp truck across the golden arches, the white one with a ton of black marker writing on it. The menu is limited (in a good way) and the servings are large. I had the garlic butter laden shrimp scampi half order (below) and that was plenty for me. If you’re feeling brave, try the “no refunds” hot and spicy shrimp… only if you dare. Seriously, if you’re accustomed to eating spicy foods, it’s not too bad, you’ll live.


Next up will be a roundup of easy outdoor adventure concentrated in a manageable area, including a not so secret spot to see ruins. Stay tuned!

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52 Weeks: 37/52

And so the heat wave continues… Where can I transport myself to where the temps are around 60- 70 degrees? I am so ready for fall weather to take hold. This week trudged on as slow as molasses and I blame the excessive heat. On the flip side, warm weather prevents me from over eating and zaps the appetite so maybe there is a plus in here somewhere?


Coffee + waffles + paper= relaxing breakfast.


Making a bunch of waffles and stashing them away for the week. Having a break from toast is a welcome change.


This full moon was large and low but you can’t tell from this photo.


Trying out a new restaurant for tsukemen (dipping noodles). I’ll definitely be back.


I dread turning on the stove but these noodles are not going to boil themselves.


A day at the theatre to escape the heat. Ahhhhh, air condition. I could stay all day and night.

Stay cool and enjoy the last bit of weekend. See you here tomorrow!

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Blueberry Scones


There’s a local spot that makes really good scones except when the flavor of the day is banana and it’s almost always banana. This would be fine if I liked banana, but I can’t stand it. In fact, every time I ring the place asking what scones they have for the day and it’s inevitably banana, my inner voice wants to shout out “I HATE banana!”. So I found a solution. I make them myself from this recipe found here. This recipe from America’s Test Kitchen is even better than our local spot (when flavors are other than banana). These scones bake up buttery, rich, fluffy, and most importantly, tender. The dough is versatile and will work with a variety of fresh fruit. Once assembled, the dough even freezes well and is a treat during midweek to break up the monotony of my normal breakfast.






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Spot Prawns with Cilantro Lime Butter


Sweet and rich like lobster but miniature in size. Now is the season for enjoying San Diego’s locally caught spot prawns off the La Jolla coast. We picked up a handful of these guys still alive and kicking with their waving antennae from Catalina Offshore Products. Destined for the grill with a simple preparation, we headed straight home.

As it turns out, most of our haul was large in size with a few smaller ones. We took one look at them and knew it would be too much for us to eat in one sitting. So, we chose three and saved the rest for another day. This made for a delicious appetizer but you could certainly double it for a main course.




Spot Prawns with Cilantro Lime Butter

Yield: serves 2 as an appetizer

Cilantro Lime Butter:

2 oz butter, melted

pinch salt (only if using unsalted butter)

1/2 lime, zested and juiced

10 sprigs cilantro, chopped

Combine the salt, lime zest, juice, and cilantro with the melted butter. Set aside.

Prepare the Prawns:

3 spot prawns



1 radish, shaved or sliced paper thin

1 lime, halved

Cut each prawn in half, lengthwise from head to tail. Place cut prawns on a sheet pan lined with paper towels. Sprinkle each cut side sparingly with salt and pepper to taste.

Place cut side down on a hot grill pan set over coals. Grill just until some parts blacken, approximately 2 minutes. Then, turn over and finish cooking for another minute or so until meat is opaque and . Be careful not to over cook or they will become rubbery.

Transfer prawns to a plate. Drizzle liberally with cilantro lime butter and a sprinkle of sea salt. Garnish with lime wedges and shaved radish.

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52 Weeks: 36/52

My weekly post has taken a fall from the wagon this week. It was hot and humid so there was not much getting out and about. That’s just real life. The last photo of this super short series says it all.


Ahhh, sunset. A cool breeze would be much appreciated but instead, it was still and sticky.


Happy hour in the ‘hood. My wine could use an ice cube or two.


This picture accurately sums up the week: too dang hot to do much else. We are eagerly waiting for cooler temps. In the meanwhile, hope you’re all staying cool this weekend.

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Hilo, Hawaii


If you’re headed to Hawaii and want to escape the crowds and noise, Hilo town, on the Big Island is a nice detour off the beaten path. Hilo is still untainted by mass commercialization and retains its rural, small town  feeling that makes for a decent day trip. Of course, this is just a small snipet of what Hilo has to offer, but there’s always next time, right? We jumped on a crack -of -dawn flight from Oahu to Big Island (Hilo) and spent a day there, returning on a late flight.


Ken’s House of Pancakes

1730 Kamehameha Ave. /Hilo, HI /website

We arrived in Hilo around 8am and were in need of coffee and something to eat.  Ken’s is a popular breakfast spot with the locals, it’s open 24 hours and serves an array of traditional breakfast as well as local favorites. Of course, they are famous for their thick and fluffy pancakes. Folks, it’s nothing special here and not at all fancy but it’s an institution and they do have the breakfast basics.


Hilo Farmer’s Market

400 Kamehameha Avenue/ Hilo, Hawaii/ website

This is the place to go for local fruits and vegetables. They have it all and the selection is good. I always find something new to me each time I visit. This time, I was introduced to dragon eye fruit (longan) which is similar in texture and flavor to lychee (my favorite). Below are the branches from which the fruit grows.



Hilo Flower Market

400 Kamehameha Ave/Hilo, Hawaii

Right across the street from the farmer’s market is a small flower market stocked with anthuriums, lilies, orchids and a few others. This is the best place to pick up a bundle of fresh flowers. Not only are they all beautiful, but the prices are very reasonable as well.


 Rainbow Falls

Wailuku River State Park/website

After the market excursion, head west of downtown Hilo on Waianuene Avenue toward Rainbow Falls. It’s an easy waterfall to see and requires no hiking if you’re not up for it. The mist from the falls usually produces rainbows but not on this day. Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful sight.


We opted to take a short walk up to the Boiling Pots area above the falls. On the way, we saw this massive banyan tree and loads of ginger plants perfuming the air along the walk.



Above the waterfall at the Boiling Pots. On occasion, you’ll see a few people cooling off in the water.




 Big Island Candies

585 Hinano Street/ Hilo, Hawaii/ website

By this time, you’re going to be ready for an afternoon pick-me-up. Program that GPS and find your way to Big Island Candies for sweet treats. They have a coffee bar and huge selection of locally made candies, cookies, and chocolates. I remember back in the day when they just did shortbread cookies. They were famous for their buttery macadamia shortbread cookies dipped in chocolate. Simply delicious. Since then, the selection has exploded and there’s something for everyone and so many options it can be a challenge to decide which ones make it back with you.

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52 Weeks: 35/52

These last days of summer have been speeding by. Some weeks, I just don’t know where the time went. In a way, it’s a good thing in my world that summer is coming to an end. I’m ready for the city to quiet down and for the days to get a bit cooler. This week was over in a flash for me and the camera phone did not get much action, but here’s a glimpse of the week:


San Diego had the Festival of Sail going on so we rode down on bikes and took a walk around. It was mobbed and hot so we didn’t stay long but I did enjoy seeing the tall ships.


Panorama view.


On the way to Coronado at sunset.


On a hike in Hawaii and trying to keep from getting the red mud all over my shoes. So far, I’m doing a good job!


Mochi ice cream, green tea flavor. Stay tuned for a Hawaii post and find out where to get really good mochi ice cream in a rainbow selection of flavors.

Hope your Labor Day is filled with good times and maybe a BBQ or two. Have a good one!

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52 Weeks: 34/52

Hey hey! It’s been a great week in Hawaii exploring new places and revisiting oldies while reconnecting with friends and family. The week was jam packed and lots of fun. Here’s a peek at some offbeat stuff:


There are few things better than fresh picked wild fruit. At the moment, I can’t think of anything sweeter than guavas from the tree in the middle of nowhere.


Sunset from Top of Waikiki.


North Shore tourist must-do: Matsumoto’s Shave Ice. Umm… quality is slipping and not as good as back in the day, but it’s the only game in town.


Trespassing to photo abandoned buildings. Always fascinating.



We braved the shrimp truck and didn’t die. Would you risk it at a truck that looks like this?!? Normally, the answer is a resounding “no” but it was somewhat reassuring that turnover was high.


Huge banyan tree on the way to find some ruins.


Super hot chiles. Small but mighty. These tiny peppers pack a punch to the mouth and a burn to the gut but they’re good.

Hope you all are having a smashing week!

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52 Weeks: 33/52

We had a nice break from the same-ol routine and got out of town for a few days. Here’s what we were up to:


Blue skies


Goodbye dreary SF…


Hello sunny Oahu!


Diamond Head crater


We hit the ground running, no slouching for us. Soon as the plane landed, we grabbed a quick bite to eat and hoofed it up to the top of Diamond Head. It felt good to stretch our legs after the long plane ride.


There must always be an incentive for hard work… Shaved ice rewards afterward. My favorite flavor is lilikoi (passion fruit).


Cooling off after a long and hot/sticky walk.


Banyan trees are plentiful here.


After seeing this, I’m certain I won’t be getting my hair done by Daniel.

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