So apparently I’ve done my Hawaii traveling all backwards. My inaugural trip a few years back was spent entirely in Hawaii (a.k.a. the Big Island), completely bypassing the typical “starter” island of Oahu. Last month, for my second trip, I went to Oahu for the very first time!
Sometimes it seems Oahu gets a bad rap as a travel destination. Mention you’re going to Hawaii to any “in-the-know” traveler and their first question is inevitably, “which island?” Prior to my first trip, when I’d answer “Big Island,” people would nod approvingly and tell me how much they ADORE the Big Island and how I absolutely MUST check out this beach, restaurant, etc. With my trip this year, when I answered “Oahu,” I could detect a slight wince from many people. The subtext being, oh Oahu, what a tourist trap, it’s been done to death, it’s the rookie island, etc. etc. Well, now that I’ve been to Oahu and experienced it for myself, I have to say the Oahu disdain is NOT FAIR! Sure, it’s the most urban and populous of the Hawaiian islands, but it’s still incredibly beautiful and charming. And it’s easy to avoid the touristy stuff if you want to!
Which brings me to this new 2 Weeks Paid feature, “Hole-in-the-Wall!” I’m a big fan of nondescript hidden gems, so this is my effort to sing the praises of these places as I discover them.
In Waikiki, the epicenter of touristy Oahu, there’s Henry’s Place (234 Beach Walk), a tiny little storefront amidst the big resorts and shopping complexes where you can grab some homemade ice cream, sandwiches or fresh fruits. I opted for some Taro ice cream, which was purple and delicious. Ice cream at Henry’s Place comes in Styrofoam cups with the flavor handwritten on each one. There are plastic chairs out front so you can enjoy your treat while people watching. It sort of reminded me of a place you might find in Asia, and incidentally seems to attract a lot of Asian tourists. If you’re heading to Waikiki beach, I’d highly recommend stopping here first for some portable, beach-friendly snacks.
Keep in mind: Henry’s is cash only!
Bonus tip(s): I know shave ice is super popular in Hawaii, but I thought it was just OK. Wayyy more satisfying was the “authentic Taiwanese SNOW ice” that I tried at Frostcity in Honolulu (2570 Beretania St). Seriously, give it a try! The texture is unlike any other icy treat I’ve ever had, and they offer a bunch of Hawaii-appropriate flavors like black sesame and haupia. So refreshing!
Photo via Yelp user Kasey J.