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O'ahu 2022

Darin Franzen

“Who” ~ who I am.. “What” ~ what you get....

“Who” ~ who I am.. “What” ~ what you get....

Apr 22 19 minutes read

Hawaii. Go. Go Hawaii

Go Hawaii Especially if you’ve never been, and if you have - Go again & again & again. Hawaii is a place I’d visit yearly. I’d buy a 2nd home there. I’d retire there. I love Hawaii.  

My partner & I just got home from a 5 day trip on the island of Oahu.

 - I’m sure some, maybe most, would say that is a quick trip for Hawaii. We packed in tons of activities which I’ll cover later in the post. Even with activities planned every day, we still had plenty of downtime, chill, and relaxation mode as you’d want in Hawaii. I’m sure being from California, CA Explore California& having been to Hawaii many many times had a lot to do with being ready to go home after 5 days. Jaslin, my partner & I walk everywhere hand in hand. We explore. We look at stuff & We appreciate what we see - even though everything Hawaii has to offer is not our style; I.E. Waikiki nightlife Waikiki Beach Walk or laying on the beach all day. 

We are seasoned travelers & seasoned human beings (that means we’re a little bit old) & we know what we like. Jaslin was counting & trying to remember how many times she has been to Oahu and the count was getting close to double digits. That's Hawaii experience. Personally, I’ve been to Maui Check out Maui a few times for pleasure and have spent time on the Big Island for work. We’ve done a family trip to Maui which was filled with golf, Luau’s, snorkeling tour, whale watching tour, and helicopter tour - We skipped the dormant volcano tour, ATV tour, Horseback riding & the drive to HANA

 which is supposed to be epic. 

This was my 2nd trip to Oahu, both with Jaslin. Our first trip we stayed at the Four Seasons Resort Ko OLina Ko Olina Hotel |


Oahu Luxury Resort | Four Seasons Resort Oahu which is about a 40-minute drive from the Waikiki area where we stayed this time in an AirBnB. 3 years ago during our stay at The Four Seasons, a 12-hour hurricane pummeled the island. Waikiki Beach shut down. It was a nutty experience and we laughed a lot while counting blessings. The Four Season staff responded insanely well. Not sure if I’ve ever seen staff act and do and smile and accomplish what they accomplished with teamwork, speed, organization, and improvising. I talked to a bunch of the crew when things settled down and none of them had been through something so extreme. For context: Imagine the lavish buffet at a 5 Star luxurious resort. Now imagine the buffet having to be moved because of a hurricane. Movement was the word I was using watching from a front-row seat. 

I’m not detailing our Oahu 2019 trip in this post - maybe I’ll put together a separate post for the 2019 trip? The 2019 trip had its own agenda, outings & experiences - I do remember thinking to myself, wow, that trip was legendary while we were flying home to California from Oahu in 2019. The 2019 trip warrants its own post I’ve decided. I remember going to the “North Shore” Prince Waikiki -


the world-renowned North Shore. Home to some of the biggest surf competitions in the world. The North Shore is literally on the opposite side of the island and only takes about 45 minutes to drive there from the Waikiki area. On our 2019 Trip, The North Shore was pumping. The waves were huge & the weather was angry. Brave souls catching pipeline after pipeline and getting spit out & up and all around. It was treacherous just to stand on the shore where I was - backwash was 3-4 feet high and was flooding the only road in & out. Jaslin stayed in the car. This year we went back to the North Shore - it was a little windy although no waves really and zero surfers. That basically means the “sets” - waves are somewhere else on the island. If you plan to watch surfers or surf yourself - don’t totally get your hopes up.. It’s all about the waves - no waves - no surf. If you want to track it while you’re there - there’s an app for that - & just keep in mind,  a surf comp can be on the calendar & not happen due to lack of waves. Be flexible & go learn how to paddleboard if you’ve never done it.. Rentals and lessons are everywhere and you don’t need any waves.. In fact, you really don’t want any waves unless you are super expert at something “board” & water-related. Most of the beachfront resorts have lagoons that are very calm. Tons of things go on in these lagoons including paddle boarding. Mums the word on what Jaslin told me about her first Paddle Boarding episode 😂. I was not there. 

On this trip, we jogged every morning. We’re sort of serious about it. Meaning, we’re not running a mile or 2 - more like 6-8 and we both wear H2o contraptions to stay hydrated. Our route is always thoughtful, usually based on where people run already, and then it’s just how many loops we challenge ourselves with. Hawaii is tropical & you’ll sweat a ton if you exercise outside. You’ll love the ocean & canal scenery outside. We jogged from our AirBnB to the Ala Moana Beach Park


 looping around enjoying the setting - Lots of trees, bathroom & BBQ facilities, Mind Body & Soul activities abound - Yoga & Meditation groups throughout. Great energy here. Our timing at the Ala Moana Park was impeccable 1 day - as we got close to the entrance of the park I noticed the park to be unusually busy. Hundreds of people line the shoreline with their own lawn chairs and a media center under a few 10’x10’ pop-up tents and large groups of people wearing color-coordinated matching T-shirts. I got it - Rowing Teams everywhere getting ready to race & their family & friends ready to watch and cheer loudly - passionately. More like chanting than cheering - chanting with a deep growl. The teams start way out where the lagoon meets the ocean & they finish inside the lagoon, completely at the end near the road - The canoes are the Outrigger type and are raced with teams of 4-8 and they haul ass.

We also jogged away from the lagoon and away from the loop in the park and jogged down the shoreline for a couple of miles at the same time checking out tons of swimmers and paddleboarders. Across the street are busy tennis courts and at the end of the paved coastline path is nice sand volleyball courts and they were active too.                

On this trip, we did have a couple of spectacular dining & hiking experiences I’ll detail in a bit.    

I recommend & enjoy a balance of activities. Doing things you know you like & picking a few things that might get you out of your comfort zone. You ARE on an island and have activities that are rare and unique to the islands. I do get that chilling on the beach, doing nothing & getting your tan on might be your idea of the perfect vacation and if it is - Hawaii is perfect for you too. Some of the best beaches and beach bodies you see anywhere in the world. I just like pointing out there are a plethora of things to do in Hawaii besides the beach and sometimes when you explore and “get out” magical memories are created. I do understand many of the things I mentioned cost money.. On the other hand: my partner & I did a bunch of free & frugal stuff this 2022 Oahu trip - Okay, along with free & frugal we threw in some flamboyance. I’m pumped to talk about it. My partner is a food & lifestyle writer so we really do have bombastic and glamorous experiences regularly. Very Blessed and the unknown always awaits. On this trip to Oahu, we splurged for a15 course plating fine dining experience at AV/XO Restaurant Group AV Restaurant on 11th Ave. in Honolulu. Non assuming from the outside and sleek and intimate on the inside - prepare to be dazzled and oh ya, spend a pretty penny - worth it & then some IMO. I’m not shy - $380 for our 2 Top. (includes one 10oz. Pour of good sake & includes Tip) - if you want to add the Sake pairing you’ll spend more.    

Ok, Here is a list of what we did and the 3 restaurants we dined out at over our 5 days and in no particular order. Research was done and lots of reviews read for everything we do:

  1. Ala Moana Beach Park

  2. Kalo restaurant 

  3. Kakaako Farmers Market - Ward Village -

  4. Manoa Falls Trails 

  5. Uncle Clay’s Shave Ice - Uncle Clay's House of Pure Aloha - 


  6. NorthShore

  7. China Town

  8. The Cosmic Kitchen -



  9. Tane Restaurant - Tane Vegan Izakaya -



  10. AV Restaurant

  11. Hilton Hawaiian Village - Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort - 


  12. LightHouse Trail -



  13. Walked streets of Waikiki 

*Things we didn’t do although you might want to: 

  1. Tour Pearl Harbor 

  2. Tour The Dole Plantation

  3. University Flea Market

  4. Luau 

  5. Turtle Canyon Snorkel Tour 

  6. Zip Lining 

  7. Parasailing 

  8. Whale & Dolphin Watching Tour 

What can I tell you about Waikiki: IT’S OVER THE TOP! Imagine a beachfront Vegas minus casinos. It’s loud, busy, vibrant, flashy, glitz & glam. More luxury stores in a concentrated area than anywhere I’ve seen. I kept asking: Is that really another Gucci store? I think that was the 5th ROLEX store I’ve seen.. Posh, very high-end hotels aplenty. Massive 5 Star Compound Resort Hotels as well as the nearly impossible to book, boutique hotels. Bar / Club Scene everywhere. Annoying mufflers, blaring stereo systems, bicycle groups doing simultaneous wheelies, ½ naked people everywhere, the periodic IRIE fragrance, earth-shaking Harley’s, Street performers, outbursts from party go-ers.. Are they laughing, crying or fighting - you know, Las Vegas 


Tons of quality Trendy establishments - and definitely places you’ve never heard of if you’ve never been to Waikiki.

Here is a brief description & breakdown of our Oahu 2022 Trip - without giving up too many intricate details.. We arrived in the afternoon, checked into our AirBnB which doubles as a hotel so we figured out the system & got acclimated in about an hour - Parking, Key cards, laundry, elevator, swimming pool, coffee etc.. anything your AirBnB doesn’t have, you can pick up very conveniently at 1 of the local ABC Stores  There might be more ABC stores than Gucci stores? I’m joking - there are ABC Stores conveniently located EVERYWHERE.. You’ll see. 

The first night we had reservations at Tane - we cleaned up, put some tropical gear on & made the 20-minute walk to Tane - Vegan Sushi. Tane was incredible, so good, so filling. Healthy Stuff. Great atmosphere.. Employees are having fun & working together well - Great energy at Tane. Nice walk back to the BnB. 

Day 2 started with a run. We did a couple of loops around the canal which was about 6 miles. After some chill time we organized a backpack for our hike at Manoa Falls Trail - lot’s of water - we have learned to bring more water than we think we’ll need.. We always drink it all regardless of what we’re doing. Climate change alone will dehydrate you. This hike was great & rewarding at the end with breathtaking scenery & the waterfall. The gal at the entrance gate where we paid $7 for access/parking, told us that the trail was somewhat easy. Saying the Manoa Falls Trail is easy is definitely downplaying this trail's difficulty in my opinion. I’m just going to take it as a compliment - personally, I would call it “Blue Square” - Moderate. There are some rocky wet areas that are very unstable. Absolutely young & older & all different body types were navigating this trail so go for it!  - Slow, a little slower, and very slow is the solution to these wet rocky areas. Let me people pass you on the trail if you feel any pressure. 

After a couple of hours of waterfall action, we headed to Uncle Clay’s Shave Ice. The Best on the Island. We then enjoyed our treats at a small coastal park not far from Uncle Clay’s. Jaslin got red bean on her shave ice. 

A pleasant walk to recommended Hawaiian food at KALO was on the agenda for dinner. Get the Sea Bass & thank me later. In my Top 3 of Sea Bass, I’ve ever had. You cannot go wrong with any of KALO’s specialty drinks - just pick 1 & then pick the next that sounds good and it will be. Loved the food. Great variation - higher-end everything. Walk back to our temporary home.  

We kicked off Day 3 with a run to and through Ala Moana Beach Park. We were entertained by the canoe races.. I really enjoyed soaking up the local culture during our jog. Paddleboarding is so active - Paddleboarding is akin to Yoga in California. The number of paddleboarders in this concentrated area was impressive. Most people now have the modern pump-up kind of Paddleboard. We have a family place on the water “King’s Island” - Byron, Ca. - I’m researching Paddleboards now & I’ll be adding a couple to the toy options at our family place. I see paddleboard core work-outs in my future. After cool down and chill and freshen up we headed to the Kakaako Farmers Market. Jaslin had 10 stops min. To make - Our first stop was a fresh-cut coconut to drink.. We shared 1 and this was not on our list. Bread, scones, Green Juice, and papaya is at the top of the list - we hit everything - we slayed the Farmers Market - if you can slay a Farmers Market. Later in the day we had a ton of fun at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. As I said, we are seasoned so we both remember vividly when BEVERLY HILLS 90210 was filmed in the village. I’m weird - I was totally looking for Brenda - Lots of shows and movies have used Hilton Hawaiian Village as a set. Solid Vibe throughout the village. Tonight is our much-anticipated 15-course plating experience at AV in Honolulu. AV = All Vegan. Expensive & worth every C note. 4 or 5 C notes for a couple (2 Top) depending on Sake pairing. Splurge and do it and thank me later. 

Day 4: Worship Live Online with Saddleback Church.


We started with a run of course although we found a different area of the canal that runs against the backside of the Convention Center. So peaceful. So scenic. The water is like glass and when the water is disturbed by a rare canoe, it is a different kind of peaceful. The canoe cuts through the water like fire to foam. So tranquil - I was forgetting I was running. Great run, next Some AirBnB time and we were off to hike the Lighthouse Trail. Indescribable views and there is an actual LightHouse that has been there since the late 1920s. This trail is 100% paved to the lighthouse. We loved this hike. There are other options to continue the hike further - higher - and it looked rugged. Maybe next time for us.. There is an observation deck at the top of the LightHouse Trail. Pictures, Pictures.. Take Pictures. That night we supported a local organic boutique grocery store-bought Vegan lasagna, Salad, Veggie mixes, and some Vegan dessert.. I suck - I cannot remember the name of the grocery store.. I’ll find it & put it in the comments.

My excuse was that it was Super Bowl Sunday on our 4th day. Perfect timing back to our BnB for the HalfTime Show & watch a very entertaining 2nd Half. The Super Bowl is in L.A. & the L.A. team is in the Super Bowl? The city of Angels is not losing this one - L.A. comes out with the victory by 3 points over the Bengals. For the record, I’m born & raised and still live in Northern Ca. and I am definitely a “homer” - I support & cheer for every single Bay Area Sports Team and after that, I root for California sports teams. 

Day 5: no running. Rest day. Packed & ready for a day on The North Shore. Beautiful 45-minute drive. Lot’s to take in. We found (not easy to find) The Cosmic Kitchen and sat outside. Probably the most quaint place I’ve been to in my life. Maybe when I was in Greece or Paris - seriously, this place is special.     

All in all - we had a fabulous trip. We’ve decided our next time in Hawaii will be to Kona. We’re booked for July 2022. Love Big Island 




O'ahu 2022

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