I spent a lot of time on planes in 2015. My work as a video producer took me all over the US and to Europe. But one of my favorite trips was a vacation with a group of friends to O’ahu, Hawaii.
Vibe: My first piece of advice is, O’ahu is not what you imagine. Yes, there are beautiful beaches, palm trees and warm weather, but it’s also a melting pot of different cultures, food, and lifestyles. The experience is not all glamorous like the photos. For example, the homeless population is fairly significant for the size of the island because the cost of living is so high yet most jobs are low paying. And outside of Honolulu and the North Shore, there aren’t many resorts, shops or bars. It is a place full of contrasts, but that just adds to the character, charm and adventure of the island.
Stay: Airbnb and VRBO have changed my life forever. I rarely stay in hotels anymore if I have the option to rent a house or condo. My friends and I rented a giant house for the 12 of us on the west coast of O’ahu, about 40 minutes from Honolulu. We enjoyed a private beach, grilled out by the pool and avoided crowds. It was Heaven.
Getting Around: Traffic is terrible in Honolulu, and most of the roads on the island are one lane. If you stay outside the city like I did, there aren’t many places to grab a late night drink and Uber most likely won’t pick you up, so some form of transportation is a must. If you’re brave enough, the best way to get around the island is by scooter. Take in more of the beautiful scenery, with the breeze in your face, while getting a tan. Plus, who doesn’t look sexy in a helmet?
Do: To take full advantage of your Hawaiian getaway, you need to go on a couple of adventures, most of which are inexpensive or free. Hike the Maunawili Falls trail to find a waterfall with a swimming hole in what feels like a scene straight out of Jurassic Park. Then go kayaking to a little island at Kailua beach. Bring your snorkeling gear- there are so many colorful fish to see!
During the spring and summer months, you can catch some great live music too. This trip, I got to spend time at an Army base watching my friend Sam Hunt perform for thousands of military families. It was incredibly special to celebrate our country’s independence with those fighting for it.
Lastly, I know you are worried about that bikini body but seriously… eat everything. Especially Poke. It’s a part of the experience you won’t want to miss.
The one thing I almost did, but didn’t do: skydiving over the island. I’ll definitely be doing that next time…
Photos by Steven Alan