There are many sides to Waikiki, Hawaii’s biggest city and many ways to spend a day. Of course, you can relax pool side drinking blended drinks, play in the surf or shop the many ultra high-end stores in town. Or you can seek out another side to this cosmopolitan Hawaiian locale; one that includes hiking in a bamboo rainforest, finding some of the best city views by bike and ending the day with a catamaran sail.
A starting point for any Hawaii vacation is securing accommodations. The perfect place to stay these days is the recently renovated Outrigger Reef on the Beach. The multimillion-dollar renovation expanded the size of guest rooms and updated decor making it one of the poshest places to stay in Waikiki. Besides the updated rooms, the hotel offers a quintessential tropical open-air entry and all the perks of staying at a large hotel.
Start your day like a local with breakfast at Eggs and Things. Just off the beaten path of the well-traveled Kalakaua Street, on Saratoga Road you’ll find the breakfast spot of choice for locals and tourists alike. The popularity of Eggs and Things will quickly become apparent as you see the groups of people waiting in front for their name to be called for one of the coveted tables.
The two-story open-air restaurant has a great old Hawaii feel. Once seated, menus mounted on a wood board-English on one side and Japanese on the other-are provided. The menu offers a wide range of traditional items like pancakes with whip cream, crepes, waffles, omelets as well as eggs anyway. Make sure to check out the daily specials like Island Ahi and eggs, sweetbread French toast, and fresh papaya and sour crème crepes.
After a hearty breakfast get ready for a morning of adventurous exploring in a nearby rainforest. Bike Hawaii offers a multitude of bike, hike, and sail/snorkel trips. You can join in for one, two or all three parts of their tour. Bike Hawaii offer pick-up from many hotels-and once aboard the van-if you start with the hike, you are headed up to a 75-acre piece of land owned by the company for a private hike in the Manoa Valley rainforest.
A good dousing of bug spray, while knee-high boots are passed that, are provided by the company and you are good to go. The group, which usually averages about seven people, is off into a maze of bamboo. The guide leads the group as he zigzags through the bamboo to a stream. Now you know why they provide the boots. It is a rainforest, after all, so water and mud are part of the deal. But, you’ll barely notice because the hike is so beautiful.
Once across the small stream the scenery completely changes- becoming a lush and tropical forest. In view are beautiful flowers such as yellow ginger, a beautiful red (and rather phallic) heliconia, gardenias as well as towering trees like the albizia. Also found is the banyan tree with its amazing root systems sending down shoots from above to create a really mystical ancient-looking tree.
The hike in is mostly uphill ending at a 200-foot waterfall where the group has a chance to catch their breath, take a few photos and chat with the other hikers. On the return trip, the guide led us on a new route through a different bamboo forest. The entire jungle hike runs a few hours and left us all feeling like we had an authentic experience.
For the bike ride, all participants are driven further into the winding roads of the residential hills where you will see some of the most lavish and expensive homes on the island. The starting point of the downhill ride is in the Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve in the Puu Ohia rainforest at about 1800 feet above sea level. The five-mile paved road ride is a fun slow-paced downhill jaunt.
Midway down the group stops at a grassy lookout for a picnic lunch which is provided by the tour guides. The views are quite spectacular offering a panorama of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head. The remainder of the ride down is more curves as the group slowly descends to just 200 feet in elevation.
Shorebird Beach Bar
After the bike ride head back to Waikiki Beach for happy hour at the Shorebird beach bar at the Outrigger Reef. With Mai Tai’s specials for just $3 and lots of yummy food choices like mahi tacos and the kalua pig sandwich it’s a great spot to unwind and refuel from your hike and bike.
Just in front of the Outrigger Reef is the Outrigger Catamaran. They offer a variety of catamaran excursions throughout the day and one particularly fun one for adults is the sunset cruise. Departing at 4:30, the all-you-can-drink cruise offers a great way to meet new friends and an opportunity to take great photos of the shoreline and sunset. Simply sit back as vessel manager and Senior Captain, David Flood takes the boat out into the clear blue waters of the Pacific Ocean.
Arnold’s Tiki Bar
To keep your evening going after the catamaran ride, head back to where you day began on Saratoga Road. Right next to Eggs and Things is Arnold’s Tiki Bar. The small place is one of the oldest buildings in town and has gone through many incarnations from carriage house to cat house and now is a great little dive bar serving up Hawaiian beers and house infused vodka drinks to locals and tourists in the know.
Finish your evening with a walk along the beach. Dig your feet into the sand and take in the sounds of the crashing waves, the lights of the hotels scattered along the curved Waikiki coastline and the shadows of Diamond Head in the distance. Oahu may be the cosmopolitan hub in the Hawaiian Islands, but in my opinion when you dig beyond the city façade there is immeasurable beauty that shouldn’t be missed.
What & Where:
Eggs and Things (343 Saratoga Rd, Waikiki; 949 0820; www.eggsnthings.com)
Bike Hawaii (808-734-4214; www.bikehawaii.com/)
Outrigger Reef Hotel (2169 Kalia Rd, Waikiki; 922-2887; www.outriggerreef-onthebeach.com/)
Outrigger Catamaran (2169 Kalia Rd, Waikiki; 922-2210; www.outriggercatamaranhawaii.com )
Arnolds Waikiki (339 Saratoga Rd, Honolulu; 808-924-6887)
Alexa Meisler is the editorial director of 52 Perfect Days. Born in Paris, France she has since lived in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. She currently resides in San Diego with her husband and son where they enjoy exploring California and Mexico.
Travel has always been a part of her life; traveling to such places as Morocco, Tangiers and Spain as a young child as well as taking many road trips to Mexico with her grandparents as a young girl. Since then, she has traveled abroad to locations such as Russia, Taiwan and throughout Europe.
Prior to working at 52 Perfect Days she was a freelance travel writer; focusing on family and women’s adventure experiences.