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activity   60
The road to get here is great. The hike itself is muddy and crowded. The falls pool is relatively small and may include sweaty people, minor trash and leptospirosis. The Ko'olau views on the way are quite good.
If you are into lifestyles of the rich and famous, and into plants but don't require much information aside from asking questions, this is a good way to spend a few hours.
If you can manage to sit on the side of a high horsepower inflatable boat for a few hours, this is an absolutely amazing way to experience The Cliffs. Na: "The" (plural), Pali: "Cliff". First 2 tries the tour got canceled due to surf. Schedule everything else around this.
Frequently obscured by clouds starting in the early afternoon so go in the morning. Hit the top first and work your way down. Twisty road is awesome on a motorcycle, but be prepared for rain.
If the Napali coast surf is too high, or you just want an overview, the helicopter tour is pricey but worth it. The music and video sales can get a bit hokey, but the flight and views are incredible.
activity   70
Nice view from the top. Very much a stairmaster hike. Wear shoes that fit your feet well or the way down will leave you with bad friction blisters. Bring water and wear sunscreen. A bit dusty. Worth doing at least once, some people really like it and make it a regular thing.
Best traditional Hawaiian food in the area AFAIK.
yum   100
Consistently the best udon around. I've yet to find better in mainland U.S. or Japan. Nothing too fancy, very good value. If there's a line, write your name on the list on the door and have a seat on the bench outside.
Not all manta rays are 16 feet across, and you may not see many when you go, but when else are you going to see these amazing creatures in the wild? If that appeals to you, then this is worth doing. Recommend diving it if you are certified, it's less hectic, and you can check out the reef. Bring a rain jacket for the ride back, it gets chilly at night. With luck it will be clear and you will have an amazing view of the stars on the way back. The link here is to a site pointing out problems with safety and sustainability in their blog, which I appreciate. Also this is the dude that rescued the dolphin that was wrapped up with some fishing line. That might be a good resource. If I find a good crew doing this that is worth recommending I'll mention them here.
This would be completely amazing, except that there are so many bozos with cameras, cell phones, car headlights etc that your eyes won't have a chance to adjust to see the stars. The presentation talk does not save it. The drive up to the VIS made it worth the time for me, but if you want a great view of the stars you are better off anywhere on island where there is not a log of light. The conditions and road closure stuff on the site is for the summit road. The VIS pretty much never closes AFAICT.
Really good food in an amazing atmosphere with the glow from the caldera outside the dining room. Worth the experience.
One of the best salads I've ever ordered. Innovative appetizers with locally sourced ingredients. Not cheap, but very good value. Recommend reservations, but they serve food in the bar area if that doesn't work out.
Fantastic view over Waikiki and over towards Koko Head. A solid walk but not challenging. First third is paved sidewalk, followed by well maintained hewn rock trail with handrails and fencing, followed by stairs. Expect to be walking at someone else's pace as it is relatively crowded. Coolest in the afternoon as the shadows work in your favor for most of the trail. Late morning, noon, and early afternoon can get fairly hot although it can also be less crowded. Bring water. You can fill/refill your bottle at the start of the trail. The walk from the bus stop adds a little bit, but no biggie.
activity   60
This is a non-strenuous hike through some beautiful rainforest and bamboo forest up to a pretty nice waterfall cascading down against a rock cliff. Expect lots of people on the trail, which can also be muddy and slippery. If you park in the lot at the beginning of the trail, you are paying the restaurant. Not sure if any of that actually goes through to help the park. Oahu is not known for waterfalls, so this is probably only worth it if you are not visiting other islands. Insect repellant is not absolutely required, but it is recommendable.
yum   80
No frills plate lunch market with some benches and recycled tables outside. Best poke bowl I've had on island.
yum   80
Best char siu manapua I've had so far. Not at all light, so be forewarned. You can easily pick up plenty of stuff here and not go wrong. And right across from Cindy's Lei and Flower Shop so if you are picking up leis you can bring back food also.
Tried this for restaurant week and the quality of the food is top notch, with service to match in enjoyable surroundings. Can completely recommend the smoked ahi bruchetta, caesar salad, grilled pork chop, and Jidori chicken breast. All top quality ingredients, great flavor combinations and perfect preparation. The flourless chocolate cake is very good. Hard to believe it is flourless. In addition to the food, the cocktails are seriously worth trying. Absolutely not too sweet, they range from refreshing to bordering intense. This is quite an accomplishment, but really: the pineapple express is not sweet and the oaxaca cherry is not to be trifled with. Hope to experience more in the future.
Views from inside and outside of greenhouses, mixed into a collage with pieces of landscape paintings. Serene surreal. Definitely worth a couple of minutes to sit through the loop if you enjoy peaceful scenery with plants.
yum   90
Moderately innovative and extremely well executed food served on the lanai under a 200 year old tree right on the beach. Can't really beat that. The chef is doing an excellent job not freaking anyone out, while not tasting like anything else around. Totally enjoyable. Good place. If you want to be on the edge right by the beach, you are going to have to be pretty explicit and insistent, but it turns out that being more under the tree is actually pretty great also, and it is slightly removed from the beach traffic. Good sunset place, but surprisingly not the greatest view due to the same trees that make it really neat. The function room is relatively small but looks like it could be a great option if it's a fit. Soft shell crab salad completely rocks if they have it. The duck appetizer is sweet but some of the best duck I've had. The mushroom appetizer absolutely kicks, as does the seafood trio. The gazpacho is more pepper oriented than tomato oriented, and definitely worth checking out. Not cheap, but a decent value. The suggested Angeline pinot noir paired quite well.
This is an amazing collection of things from Hawai'i and Oceania in general. The only drawback is that back story and contextualization is not particularly consistent, and frequently not there at all. Some incredible things, beautifully presented. The man made lava exhibit is ok. Basically they melt some rock in a metal smelter, then pour some out onto a metal spill ramp, making a type of lava glass. The feather adornments border on incomprehensible. Left me really feeling for the birds. One upside is a couple of sailing canoe models that look like they might actually work pretty well.
movie Men In Black 3   70
Yes MIB2 kinda sucked, and I had very low expectations for this movie, but it is actually completely worth watching both as a movie and as a better series ending.
yum   100
Best bread I've found on Oahu. The pastry is also very good, but the bread is worth the trip.
yum ALA MOANA   70
The food was cooked to perfection and the service was good. The menu selections are primarily reliable favorites. The quality of ingredients seems somewhat lower than the price, and there is not as much in the way of fresh herbs which leaves garlic and oil as the primary flavors. Could benefit from more evoo. No lack of skill or presentation, so I can only assume that either the mall rent or clientele is the main limit.
activity Iolani Palace > Home   90
Nowhere is the overthrow of the monarchy and takeover by the United States more clearly illustrated. Restoration and recovery of items continues, but the major restoration is finished and it is now open to the public. Absolutely worth going.
yum   70
Best to reserve one of the balcony tables or street side booths a day or so in advance, but there was room at the bar and other spots when we just dropped in. They have delicious non-farmed salmon. They have local fish that is extremely good. The shaved hamachi is truly exceptional. Definitely would go back pretty much whenever.
If you want a burger, this is your destination. Pretty much every configuration you could possibly want or imagine, and then some. Not a light meal.
yum   100
The best shave ice on the planet. If you've never been here before, get lilikoi cream on top. It's not cream, more syrup with seeds in it. Flavor and texture will let you die happy.
Fresh malasadas are just something you have to have every once in a while...
If you want real local food. This the place. Not every day, but every once in a while you just gotta have it.
Masterful use of local ingredients. Simply must be experienced. This is my top favorite special occasion place.
I still kind of prefer the original location just because it was a tradition for a while, but the branch is keeping up with the quality that made this the restaurant where the chefs go after work. And the good news is there is less chance of having to wait for someone famous to finish their dinner before you can start yours. My favorites are the lilikoi ribs and the farmer's salad, both of which are just perfect.
First Cathedral is a lava bubble where the far wall has become kind of perforated over time. The result is a natural formation that reminds you a bit of one of those giant stained glass windows you might find in a church, especially when the sediment gets stirred up a bit and you get streaming rays of sunshine coming in. The effect is further enhanced by the fact that part of the ceiling fell in, becoming kind of an alter in the middle of the room. It is every bit as great as you see in the pictures, but be aware it is not all that large, and you will want to exercise good buoyancy control to keep the sediment down. On exiting First Cathedral on our second dive day, a massive pod of spinner dolphins went by like a high speed freight train. A single tight line coming in from out of sight on the left and disappearing out of sight on the right for what seemed like several minutes. I stopped counting and just stared, before long I was laughing and waving hello, then they were gone. Wow they are fast. My life is that much more complete now. This was several years ago, but at the time I have to say that the Extended Horizons crew is the best dive outfit I've ever been with, and by a wide margin. They are not the cheapest, but they are completely worth it. Think of it as packing more diving experience into the same time.
If you are on Maui, you really have to experience this. The visibility is what everything else gets compared to. Yes, it is popular and therefore crowded, but you still have to go. You want a boat that's leaving at dawn or before. Scuba is less crowded than snorkeling. When you are in the water, listen to see if you can hear humpbacks, the live concert beats any recorded experience. If you do scuba, mind your depth, the perspective is so massive you may find yourself going deep. Strongly recommend doing some research ahead of time on which outfit to go with. Lahaina and Kihei can be huckster hubs full of salespeople offering discount packages. Avoid those. Prefer eco-conscious if possible.
This is one of the twistiest, most beautiful drives I've ever experienced. There are tons of waterfalls and amazing scenery. That said, keep in mind that there is traffic, and it is slow and time consuming. Driving will require attention and patience. Passengers are going to see more. Recommend a motorcycle or open car if possible.
Obviously if you were scuba diving in the morning, going up 10,500 feet is an extremely bad plan. Do not do that on the same day. Recommend bringing closed shoes, socks, jeans, a sweatshirt, and possibly a jacket. You might have the top down on the car when you start out, but you will be closed up with the heat on by the time you get to the top. I skipped the sunrise run and opted instead to go up during the day, stopping for some small side hikes on the way. Slow hikes that is, the altitude is noticeable. Totally worth checking out. Note that even if it is clear when you start, it might be socked in by the time you reach the summit. Earlier is usually better. When I went it was socked in, but after a few minutes there was a break so we could see the crater. Keep an eye out for Silverswords when hiking around.
You have to go. Even if the lava is not flowing that day because it is busy building the next island. My recommendation is to try find a place to stay in Volcano. That way you can make the trek from Hilo to the park, check it out a bit, stay overnight without having to drive a long way, then have a full day the next day. Obviously you are going to drive the crater rim. Perhaps less obviously, you will need to plan at least one reasonably serious hike (if you are able). The hike is necessary because like most national parks, the scale is simply too large to be absorbed. So pick a spot and spend a few hours getting into it. Bring water. Apropos getting into it, the lava tube is totally worth it. When I last went several years ago, you could walk the part that did not have lights. That's pretty neat, but watch your step. After your eyes adjust you'll find that your cell phone makes a pretty good flashlight. It's amazing close to sunset.
  1. A link with a reason why it is memorable.