Have I ever told you guys that I’m like, the worst secret keeper in the world? Sure, when it comes to someone confiding in me about their secrets, I’m a lock-it-up-and-throw-away-the-key kind of girl. But the second I have a confidential tidbit of my own, you will find me either (a) giggling wide-eyed in the corner smiling like a crazy person until someone makes eye contact with me and I blurt it out immediately (b) physically covering my mouth with my hands in a futile attempt not to blab (c) taking out a billboard and plastering it with painfully obvious clues in an attempt to get people guessing or (d), all of the above.
Which makes it so mind-blogging that I actually managed to keep a secret trip from y’all! That’s right. Alex in Wanderland’s fifth anniversary is fast approaching and I’ve shared pretty much every single step along the way with all of you – with one exception. In 2014, I took a clandestine trip that I never blogged. Until now.
Today, I’ve partnered with Hawaiian Tropic® to share my secret sojourn – and announce the next one! You guys know Hawaii is my happy place, and I’ve gushed about my love for the fiftieth state over and over again here on this blog. What you don’t know is after I left Maui in 2014, I dipped over to Oahu for five days of 100% authentic Aloha Therapy.
Even better? This October, I’m going back again!
Blast From the Oahu Past
I’ve been waiting a long time for the perfect moment to share these happy memories with you. For me, visiting Hawaii is an experience of complete sensory overload, and I wish the same for every visitor to these amazing islands! Here’s what I got up to while visiting my dear friend and amazing ambassador of aloha, Wim, for the second time in she and her husband’s Oahu home – and some tips on how you can do the same.
Go hiking • Feel the island beneath your feet!
Yes, most travelers are drawn to Hawaii’s blue waters, but hikers know the green mountains are equally alluring. This hike to the summit of The Summit of Kea’au on Oahu’s West Coast was as stunning as it was exhilarating. I’m lucky that my local ohana knows secret spots like this, but there are plenty of well-marked trails for first time visitors to check out, too!
Thanks for these last three photos, Wim!
Go snorkeling • See the beauty of the underwater world!
Did you know its illegal to visit Hawaii and not submerge yourself in its crystal shores? Okay, that’s not technically true, but you’d still be nuts not to add snorkeling – or scuba diving! — to your itinerary there. On this trip, Wim and I got our underwater fix by signing on for a snorkeling trip on the boat her husband works aboard out of Wai’anae. These trips are a little more-off-the-beaten-path than similar trips leaving from Waikiki or the South Coast, so you’re more likely to be the only boat in the bay. And there’s no better way to take in the scenery of the island’s West Coast!
Kayaking • Smell the salty sea as you paddle across it!
My favorite adventure of the trip found me fighting the current with a paddle in hand. Our destination? The twin islands of Moko Nui and Moko Iki, off the coast of Lanikai Beach. Several watersports shops in Kailua offer kayak rentals and can give advice on the day’s conditions. We called around for a good price and then strapped a double kayak right to the top of Wim’s car, but some shops are willing to drop your vessel right off on the sand if you don’t have your own wheels.
Plan to spend about an hour round-trip paddling, wind and weather dependent, and of course allow plenty of time for island exploring once you reach your destination! Not sure you’re ready to tackle the challenge solo? Various tour operators offer guided paddles out to the Mokulua Islands, as well.
Keep in mind that there’s no shade on the way out or on the sand once you arrive – make sure your Hawaiian Tropic® Silk Hydration™ Weightless Sunscreen Lotion SPF 15 makes it into your beach bag!
Beaching • Hear the sound of the waves crashing!
Waikiki might get all the attention (and it certainly does deserve it!) but Oahu allegedly has more than 125 beaches – don’t forget to explore a few more. My most memorable Oahu beach day was a simple trip to Ewa Beach with Wim’s two adorable dogs in tow. Can we talk about the size of these gentle giants? They were bigger than me!
Want to have a spontaneous adventure of your own? Toss out the map and stop anytime you see a patch of sand!
Island Exploring • Tasting the incredible flavors of Oahu!
When we weren’t frolicking in Oahu’s great outdoors, we were browsing its cute shops and enjoying its amazing eateries. My favorite discovery of this trip was Cinnamon’s Café, an alleged favorite of the secret service and white house staff whenever Obama is on-island. Try the red velvet pancakes – you’ll thank me later.
Hawaii Packing Tips
• Tan lines are for amateurs – slather on the SPF with Hawaiian Tropic® Silk Hydration™ Weightless Sunscreen Lotion in SPF 15 or 30 and keep your golden glow even and enviable. This bottle of goodness not only protects your precious skin but also goes on so lightweight you’ll forget you’re wearing it – until you’re home toasting your sunburn-free tan, that is!
• If you end up going overboard on the outdoors and find yourself feeling a little pink, fear not – there’s plenty to do in Oahu that doesn’t require direct sun. Don’t hide in your hotel — slap on some Hawaiian Tropic® Silk Hydration™ After Sun Lotion, let its shea butter and aloe work their magic, and go explore!
• Looking for a more complete packing list? Check out this post to see what I brought for ten days on the islands!
And Now I’m Heading Back!
Wim loves to joke that I’m her annual island visitor, but I’ve brought shame upon that title by not stepping foot on the islands in two full years. Which is to say that I’m wildly overdue for a return.
This September, I’m righting that wrong. Aloha State, here I come! While the details are still up in the air, the plan is first head to Oahu for some urban exploring in Honolulu followed by some suburban bliss with Wim and her adorable new twin babies. Next, a stint in Maui to hunker down in Pa’ia for a few days followed by a road trip around Haleakala. There’s even a chance Big Island might get thrown into the mix too!
Regular readers know how dear I hold this corner of the earth, and I’m simply beside myself at the thought of returning. I’m so excited to jump headfirst into planning. One thing’s for sure, I’ll be sure to keep you guys posted once plans firm up – mostly so I can ask for your brilliant advice, as usual.
Be Transported To The Islands
Want to get into those island vibes no matter where you’re headed this year? A dose of Aloha Therapy could be as close your nearest Walgreens. Get the sun protection you need while being transported to Oahu, Maui, or whichever island captures your tropical imagination!
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Good luck and happy sun soaking! Do you guys love Hawaii and the aloha lifestyle as much as I do? Do you have any tips for my upcoming trip? Let me know in the comments!
I have been compensated for my participation in the #AlohaYourSenses campaign, sponsored by Hawaiian Tropic® at Walgreens. As always, all opinions are my own.
I’ve always thought Hawaii was over rated, but now I know differently! And of course you always need that sunscreen! Glad to hear from you Alex!
Hawaii is my jam! One of my favorite places in the world — and I love showing people it is so much more than just fancy five star resorts!
Any good ideas for where to stay besides waikiki? I am a single mom with a 14 yr old kid who needs wifi at least at least in the evening. Is summer high sesson in Hawaii?
Hey Laurie! To be honest, I’m not sure about high and low season — I’ve just gone whenever it’s convenient for my schedule and not worried too much about seasons since I’m usually there visiting friends. I really love the north shore and the east coast in Oahu — Kailua is one of my favorite spots. Good luck!
Ah, gorgeous Hawaii! I’ve never been, but I’m an island fiend so I’m sure I’ll make my way there one day! I saw pictures of a travel blogger who had done a helicopter tour on Kauai and I’m absolutely sold! It resembles Jurassic Park perfectly!
I really need to spend more time on Kauai — four days there was nowhere near enough!
Where is that store in picture #2 under the heading “Island Exploring” and how do I get there??? I must go there!
Hey Melanie — I’ve asked Wim if she can remember the store and hopefully she’ll let me know 😛 It was in Kailua, that much I recall!
Great shots of the pill box and the Mokes. Epic kayak out there, right?
Heck yeah! Here’s hoping I get to do it again someday… because I’m greedy like that.
Loved this post, and it couldn’t have come at a better time! I’m off to Hawaii for the first time this year and I’m so excited!! 🙂
So excited for you! My first trip to Hawaii pretty much changed my life. Wishing the same magic for you!
If you have time, I’d definitely recommend Big Island! Spending a few weeks there hiking, sleeping on the black sand beaches and visiting the National Parks is still up there as one of my best ever trips. Also, you might be there a little too early in the year, but if you can try to see the humpback whales. There are lots of reputable business that do day trips. Yay!
Side note: Even though I’ve never met Wim after reading about her over the years on this blog I was super excited to read she had twins. Fingers crossed you get to share a photo or two. 🙂
Aw, that is so sweet of you to say about Wim and yes! I’m excited she had twins too and they literally could not be cuter. So excited to meet them in person! And oh, I loved the Big Island so much on my first Hawaii trip! I absolutely hope I get the chance to return at some point. Maybe it will be this trip!
what’s not to love about Hawaii? Honestly here is one of the great places where green meets blue and you can enjoy both gorgeous ocean views and amazing forest hikes.
I couldn’t agree more — Hawaii is addictive!
So excited for your return to Hawaii!!! I will be following closely, I am sort of hoping my mom decides to go back again later this year (and takes me with her, obviously).
How fun would it be if we ended up there in the same place at the same time?! Reunion!
I’m glad I read this post now when I can actually appreciate how hard it is to keep travelling a secret. I surprised my grandma in the UK on Saturday afternoon. She is visiting my auntie and cousins who live in Chester and although she known we would be travelling together in Greece, she didn’t know I was coming to visit her in the UK. But before she arrived I had three days in London and Oxford where I had to hide the secret I was in the UK. And my Nan is a tech grandma so she has me on everything; facebook, instagram, she reads my blog and even follows me on snapchat! I almost gave the secret away so much.
So I can only imagine how tricky it was to keep a whole trip to Hawaii secret! Especially given how incredible and amazing it looks. Hawaii hasn’t really been on my bucketlist until now- maybe I need to check out the cheap Jetstar flights for when I get back to Melbourne!
Haha awwww that is so much fun! I definitely struggled with social media while in Oahu (I was unable to post about being there as I was under contract with a competing destination for a certain number of months) and am so glad I finally got to share the trip.
Awesome! You are going to have such a blast and I’m excited to follow along on your Hawaiian adventures 🙂
I’m already excited just thinking about it. Can’t wait until I have some time to sit down and plan!
Yay you’re returning back to my homeland! Haha I absolutely love the hiking here, you always get a good view no matter where you go! Hope you get to check out some good ones while you’re down here 🙂
I always do! Well, this time they might be more stroller friendly hikes, or maybe I’ll check out a few on my own 😉
Ahhhhh, these photos are dreamy. How does Wim feel about another traveling blonde descending upon her house (a sort of buy-one-blogger-get-one-free)? Surely she wouldn’t notice if I tagged along for your next adventure, right? 😉
I’m sure with the adorable kidlet photos you always seem to provide, she’d be thrilled to have you along 🙂
I love this post! I have been dreaming of Hawaii for a very long time. My husband and I were supposed to go to Hawaii for our honeymoon, but things did not work out as planned. We are planning on going to Kauai for my 30th birthday in 2 years (yes I crazily plan that far out LOL)! I’m so very excited to go hiking!
Hey, that sounds like an occasion worth planning for! I adored Kauai — and did not spent nearly enough time there. Enjoy!
You MUST go to Molokai at Kalaupapa. Fly in from Oahu or Maui, visit the former leper colony, and hike up the 2,000 foot Kalaupapa trail to topside. Stunning.
Enjoy your Blog!
Molokai is so high on my list! Have been wanting to go there for absolute ages…
As we say in the Land Down Under – DON’T FORGET TO SLIP, SLOP AND SLAP!
HA! This comment made me laugh out loud. I can’t wait to finally get to Australia.
I was wondering what camera is the one in your first picture. Thank you!
Hey there! It’s a vintage camera that was gifted to me from a market in Bangkok. I have a whole collection of antique ones!
Wow the weather Looks amazing, which month were you there? Planning a trip myself and your blog Posts are the best Inspiration.
Thanks Stephanie! This trip was in June, but I’ve also been to Hawaii in September/October and it was also a great time to visit.
Hey Alex, love your blog. The Navy is sending me to O’ahu for a about 10 days, only 3 of which will be for me to enjoy the rest will be regular work days (so I will have evenings to enjoy). I will be scuba diving one day- I plan on walking in at Hanauma Bay. The rest of the time I don’t know what to do so I was hoping you could help anything I shouldn’t miss, are there turtles on this island like there are on the big island? That hike you did where you were at the old battlements looks great where is that? Thanks
Hey Ryan! I saw many turtles while diving in Honolulu, so you might luck out and see some there, though not in quite the same numbers I saw them on Big Island. Unfortunately I don’t have much to recommend about the hike pictured here as I was blindly following friends who live there, but I do have several hikes on Oahu outlined here: https://www.alexinwanderland.com/2012/11/20/hikes-in-oahu/. I definitely recommend a day driving around the North Shore, one of my favorite areas of the island. Enjoy your trip!
I was wondering out of all the Hawaii islands you’ve traveled to, which one is your favorite? I am planning a honeymoon there and want to stick with one island but I can’t decide which one.
Hey Amanda! That’s such a tough question to answer and totally depends on your tastes and time constraints! How long is your honeymoon and what are you mostly looking to get out of your trip? As in do you love nightlife, hiking, diving, etc — what’s your vision for Hawaii 🙂
Nice! Great looking hiking pictures. Next time you are on Maui, you should check out one of my favorite hikes…The Halemauu Trail in the Haleakala National Park. For some reason it is not that popular, but the views can be absolutely mind bending.
Thanks for the tip Matt! I always love exploring new hiking routes 🙂