10 Things to do on Oahu away from Waikiki

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Whenever I visit a place I try and avoid the tourist-saturated places as much as possible. Don’t get me wrong, the tourists are probably there for a reason, and Waikiki is no exception. Waikiki offers beautiful scenery, great nightlife, shopping, and lots of things to do. But if you visit Oahu and don’t leave Waikiki, you haven’t really seen Hawaii. So I thought I’d put together this little guide of my favorite things to do away from Oahu’s tourist district. If you click on the pictures they will take you to other blog posts of mine about those particular places.

maunawili

1. Jump off Maunawili Falls.

Maunawili is probably the trail I’ve spent the most time on. It is suitable for all ages and levels of fitness so it’s where I take most of my guests. This hike might not have dramatic views like a lot of the other ones in Hawaii, but it leads to a perfect little watering hold and waterfall you can jump off. To get there you traverse up a creek through thick jungle. It’s a lovely hike.

How to get There: Park near Kelewina St & Lola Pl. This is a residential area so make sure you are respectful of the residents and obey parking signs.

Where to Eat: The nearest town is Kailua, and a great place to eat there is Maui Tacos. The counter-service restaurant offers Mexican food with a Hawaiian touch. Hiking gives you the perfect excuse to pig out, but the restaurant offers healthy options as well.

urbanartdistrict

2. Stroll through the Urban Art District.

When people think of Hawaii they tend to picture miles and miles of empty beaches and crystal clear water. While that is definitely a part of Hawaii, we also have another side. Honolulu is a large city with traffic, skyscrapers, and yes, urban art (or graffiti as some would like to call it). Recently, a local group known as 808 Urban formed to help the youth of low-income communities through artwork. Businesses donate money to the organization and, in turn, have a mural painted (or spray painted) on their wall by local artists. Many of these businesses are concentrated in Kakaako, which has resulted in a beautiful collection of unique artwork that is starting to be known as the urban art district.

How to get There: You can find parking around Pohukaina and Cooke Street.

Where to Eat: Downbeat Diner. In nearby downtown Honolulu, Downbeat Diner “retro diner serving burgers, shakes & breakfast with veggie-friendly options & an adjacent full bar.” There is often live music as well.

valley of the temples

3. Ring the Bell in the Valley of the Temples.

Valley on the Temples is nestled right at the foot of the Ko’olau mountains. It is quiet, green, and peaceful, and all around the property, there are little temples or mausoleums or whatever for a bunch of different religions. As you drive deeper into the valley, you’ll encounter the best part- the Byodo-In temple. It is the replica of a United Nations World Heritage Site in Uji, Japan. There is a giant statue of Buddha and a bell you can ring for good luck.

How to get There: 47-200 Kahekili Highway, Kaneohe, HI

Where to Eat: Zias Caffee in Kaneohe is delicious. It’s a “cozy, casual Italian bistro with the standard pizza & pasta dishes, plus a weekend breakfast menu.”

sandbar

4. Drink a Beer on the Kaneohe Bay Sandbar.

In the middle of Kaneohe Bay on the Windward side of Oahu you’ll find a sandbar that is completely exposed during low tide. It’s a popular place to boat to for barbecues, float sessions, snorkeling, fishing, and enjoying the beautiful scenery.

How to get There: Know someone with a boat. If you have access to the Marine Corps Base and a boating license, you can rent one from there. I’ve also heard of people kayaking there from Kaneohe if that’s your thing.

Where to Eat: Picnicking on the Sandbar can be really fun, but make sure to leave the place exactly as you found it. No trash!! If not, Genki Sushi in Kaneohe is always an excellent option.

lanikai

5. Watch the Sunrise over Lanikai.

Lanikai has frequently been rated one of the best beaches in the world, and it no doubt is one of the best places to watch the sun rise.

How to Get There: You’ll most likely have to find parking somewhere in the residential area around Mokulua Dr.

Where to Eat: Boot’s & Kimo’s is a popular restaurant in Kailua and a delicious spot for banana pancakes and macadamia nut sauce.

waimea

6. Learn about Nature in Waimea Valley.

Waimea Valley is a historical nature park on North Shore. There are 35 different collections of plants from around the world, including over 5,000 different taxa. It is completely paved, so it is accessible to people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to go on a traditional hike. At the end of the path is Waimea Falls, with a watering hole where you can swim. There is even a lifeguard on duty.

How to get There: 59-864 Kamehameha Highway, Haleiwa

Where to Eat: Kono’s Restaurant is a North Shore favorite. It serves awesome breakfast burritos, pulled pork, and smoothies.

puuomahuka

7. Learn about Native Hawaiian History at Puu O Mahuka Heiau.

Puu O Mahuka Heiau is a state historical site on North Shore. When native Hawaiians discovered a place they felt had a strong spiritual power and connection to the other world, they built a heiau (like a temple) there. This place was considered particular powerful to the native Hawaiians becasue it overlooked Waimea Bay, where some of the biggest waves in Hawaii (and the world) can be found. The rocks formed the base of the heiau; other structures were built with wood and materials that could did not survive time. This particular heiau was the largest on Oahu, and was probably first built in the 1600’s.

How to get There: The site can be reached from Pupukea Homestead Road (Highway 835), which starts at Kamehameha Highway (Highway 83) across from Pupukea fire station. You will see a sign where the turnoff is. The road can be rough so take it slow.

Where to Eat: Shark’s Cove Grill is an amazing food truck right down the hill. It serves healthy fish, skewers, and the most delicious peanut-butter-banana smoothies in the world.

electricbeach

8. Scuba or Free Dive at Electric Beach.

Electric Beach is one of the best spots to dive on the island because of the thermal pollution from the nearby power plant. There is a beautiful reef with lots of sea life. I’ve never been disappointed.

How to get There: 92-301 Farrington Highway, Kapolei, HI 

Where to Eat: You can’t go to Hawaii without eating at Zipppy’s at some point. It’s a local fast Hawaiian-style food favorite.

fullmoonpaddle

9. Paddle under the full moon at Surf n’ Sea Haleiwa.

I don’t know how often they run it these days, but every few full moons or so, Surf n’ Sea in Haleiwa hosts a full moon paddle. People come out (or rent) SUPs and kayaks and paddle up Anahulu River, and Pua’ena Pt. They have appetizers, music, glow sticks, and it’s a pretty incredible experience. Call (808) 637-9887 to find out when the next one is.

How to get There: 62-595 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa

Where to Eat: There!

stairwaytoheaven

10. Climb The Stairway to Heaven.

Okay, maybe I shouldn’t suggest this one because it’s technically off limits at the moment. But if you’re willing to take a little risk, it’s guaranteed to be one of the best experiences of your life. Haiku Stairs, aka Stairway to Heaven, is literally a staircase that goes all the way up a mountain (3,992 stairs to be exact.) The views at the top are unreal if you catch it on a day with little clouds.

How to get There: Everybody has their own little way to access it. I don’t feel comfortable sharing mine here! ;)

Where to Eat: I have a tradition of stuffing my face at KOA Pancake House. It has the most delicious banana pancakes.

 

I can probably add a lot more to this list, but I thought I’d stop at 10. Have you visited any of these places? Is there any place you’d add to your top 10?

Damian: Nine Months

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Dear Damo,

You have now been alive outside my tummy just as long as you were alive inside. It’s crazy how much faster time has flown by since you’ve arrived. You are now STANDING on your own for a few seconds at a time. I haven’t even begun to think about what I’m going to do once you take off walking. I’m going to have to do a little more childproofing, that’s for sure. You already love to be on-the-go, pushing your little lawnmower toy around the whole house. You’ve also said your first word- “Eva” (You say mama and dada all day long but I don’t really consider those words). I’m not surprised you’ve already learned your sister’s name. You probably hear me saying it all day long. Plus, you love your big sister. She can be a little bossy at times, and she likes to steal your toys, but you two play so well together when I pretend I’m not paying attention. Sometimes I hear you two just giggling and giggling non-stop. She likes to tickle you, have tea parties with you, play some “rescue” game she made up… It’s so adorable and it warms my heart. You’re such a big boy. We’ll be heading to the doctor’s in a couple of hours to get your stats, but you’re already wearing 12-month clothing and people always think you’re older than you are. You love to eat and won’t refuse anything but actual baby food. You want the “good stuff” now, and insist on feeding yourself. I can pretty much give you whatever I’m eating and I’m no longer worried about you choking (any more than I should be, I mean).  You have one tooth and another on the way. I can tell they’ve been bothering you. You’ve been waking two or three times a night which has been pretty exhausting for all of us. You love going for walks outside and looking at all the birds. You love our cat, Selena, and spend a lot of time chasing her around the house. You also try to eat her food, which is why I need to look into more baby gates. I still wear you on my back for a couple of hours every day, especially around nap time. You’ve been transitioning from three naps to two naps for a while now, and I think we’re getting closer to two naps a day.

Things you love: Food. Birds. Sand. Assisted Walking. Blowing Raspberries. Chatting.

Things you hate: Having your toys stolen by your sister. Baby Gates. Baby Food.

It has been an amazing, tiring, difficult-at-times, but fun nine months. I can’t believe I’ll be planning your FIRST BIRTHDAY soon. I love you so much my little Damo. Thank you for being mine.

Love,
Mama

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Week in Pictures

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This is my favorite picture of Evita this week. She’s running around with the sea gulls not caring how cold the water is right now.

I don’t let Damo crawl around on the beach very often. He ends up trying to eat all the sand and shells in sight and gets absolutely covered in it. The water is too cold to rinse him off right now or things might be different. When I do put him down, he crawls as far away from me as quickly as possible.

My favorite portrait from last week’s collection was little Eva enjoying the summer heat. I wish it was summer here, too.

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damiansweeklyupdateweek39This week Damian started standing on his own a little bit! If you’re holding his hands or he’s holding onto furniture, he can let go and stay balanced for several seconds. Instead of taking steps forward, though, he slowly squats back down. He’s eating lots of different types of foods now, and I’m a lot more comfortable giving him bigger pieces that he can nibble on. He has slept in past 9 twice this week, which is strange because usually he’s up by 7:30. Maybe he’s going through a growth spurt?
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My Anti-Stretch Mark Routine

My Anti-Stretch Mark Routine

I wanted to start off saying what you’ve probably heard a thousand times before: Many (if not most) women will get stretch marks no matter what they do to prevent them. I, myself, wound up with some on my thighs and breasts. If you end up getting them, try not to stress about it too much. Nobody’s skin is flawless, and stretch marks don’t make you any less beautiful. Each mark on your body tells a story, and what better story is there than the fact that you grew life inside your body?  That being said, I believe it is possible to at least reduce the amount of stretch marks you will potentially get. And it doesn’t take a ridiculous amount of money or fancy creams. This is the routine I used to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy, in order of importance:

1. Limit weight gain. I really believe this is the number one thing you can do to prevent stretch marks. The less your skin has to expand, the less opportunity for stretch marks. Yes, you will gain weight during pregnancy. A woman of average weight should gain 25-35lbs for a healthy pregnancy. But this is not 25-35lbs of fat; only 5-9lbs should come from fat. Pregnancy is the most important time in your life to watch what you eat, for more reasons than stretch marks. You are growing a human. Do you want to grow it with ice cream and french fries or protein and fresh fruits? Don’t use pregnancy as an excuse to eat whatever the hell you want. It’s not good for you or your baby. I don’t mean to sound harsh; I’m just trying to keep it real. You only need to add around 300 calories to your meal plan every day when you’re pregnant. If you need tips for keeping your weight within the recommended guidelines, check out my other posts on fitness during pregnancy.

2. Perform Abdominal Exercises. This should be done before and during pregnancy if possible. The tighter and stronger your abdominal muscles are, the less your stomach will stretch outward. Having strong abs also prevents abdominal separation, improves posture, and conditions you for labor and delivery. Here is a video with a complete Ab routine that you can perform during pregnancy:

3. Hydrate. Staying hydrated by drinking water and eating fruits and veggies will help improve the elasticity of your skin. Drinking extra water won’t give you any extra protection, though. You will only eliminate extra water in your urine. Aim for eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day, and one extra glass for every 30 minutes of physical activity. Try to space your water intake out throughout the day.

4. Don’t Scratch. As your skin grows and stretches, it might start to itch like mad. No matter what you do- DON’T SCRATCH IT. Scratching will irritate your skin, and could make your problem worse. Whenever I started to itch, I would just rub some lotion on my skin and try to think about something else.

5. Moisturize. I don’t think any sort of lotion or cream alone can do much to prevent stretch marks. From what I understand, stretch marks form in the lower layers of the skin where lotions can’t penetrate. Still, I always moisturized my skin because better safe than sorry, right? Plus, moisturizing your skin just makes it look instantly better anyway. The moisturizer I liked to use was Bio Oil, which was the most money I was willing to spend on a skin care product (around $15 for a 4oz bottle on Amazon). I would put it on my breasts, belly, hips, and thighs. Sometimes I would run out and wouldn’t feel like buying a new one right away, or would be waiting for it to arrive in the mail. When this happened, I would make my own concoction my mother told me about. I would break open some capsules of Vitamin E and Vitamin A and mix them with some olive oil or coconut oil.

Do/did you have an anti-stretch mark routine? What tips do you have for others?