A destination adored by travellers worldwide, the islands of Hawai’i inspires vacation wanderlust; an oasis of incredible shorelines, rainforests, mountains and offering something for all tastes; adventure, amazing food and culture with heart. A frequent traveller herself, content creator and blogger Cathy Yin has provided the X-FILES with a visual journal and guide to the majestic destinations of Oahu including Waikiki and the North Shore, as well as idyllic Kaua’i. Here’s Cathy’s guide to Hawai’i.
What is your favourite Oahu and Kaua’i hotels or resorts and why?
On Oahu, stay on the North Shore at Turtle Bay Resort, it’s such a beautiful location away from the craziness of Waikiki and each room is overlooking the ocean.
In Kaua’i, stay on the North Shore as well, at the Princeville Resort Kaua’i, immaculate facilities and close to Hanalei where there are great restaurants and beautiful beaches.
List your top dining destinations, and any tips on what dishes to order, the type of cuisine and if it’s appropriate for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Bills in Waikiki for breakfast: my friend’s favourites are the ricotta hotcakes, I always go here for the avo toast.
Hale’iwa Bowls for breakfast: an acai bowl in Hawai’i is a must, my favourite is the mana bowl with any nut butter topping.
Roy’s in Waikiki for dinner: Japanese, Hawaiian cuisine with European influences.
The Elephant Shack Hawai’i in Haleiwa for dinner: amazing Thai food, I love the Ganesha Pad Thai, but warning, even if you’re good with spice like me, do not order Thai spicy!
Hanalei Bread Company for breakfast: good coffee and smoothies with fresh bread every morning.
The Dolphin for dinner: has the freshest seafood and the sushi chefs make the best sushi according to your dietary requirements.
Bar Acuda for dinner: The tastiest and freshest tapas is perfect for everyone to share.
With so much room for adventure, what are the absolute ‘musts’ – activities, sights to see, little hidden treasures in Hawai’i?
On Oahu – You have to go longboarding in Waikiki, the wave goes for so long, and if you’re a beginner the conditions are perfect for you. Also, watch sunset at Sunset Beach on the North Shore.
On Kaua’i – Watch sunset at the Na Pali Coast lookout. Queen’s Bath is also beautiful for a swim but be careful getting down there.
Your favourite swimming locations in Hawai’i?
Chun’s Reef on Oahu is really nice and away from a lot of crowds. V-Land is also lovely and quieter on the North shore of Oahu.
Polihale Beach is stunning in Kaua’i, a must-do. Hanalei Beach is also lovely, small waves and lots of sun and shade under the Pine Trees if you need.
Your favourite boutiques and stores?
Fishcake in Honolulu is a really cool concept store that features furniture, clothing, art and so much more.
San Lorenzo Bikinis in Haleiwa for good quality bikinis in beautiful styles.
Olive and Oliver in Waikiki cute fit out and a coffee shop inside.
Harvest Market in Hanalei, Kaua’i for all your organic foods plus they have an amazing selection of natural beauty and healthcare products.
Where are the top spots for?
A sunset cocktail at Mai Tai Bar at The Royal Hawaiian Resort Waikiki
Walk up Diamond Head in Waikiki (Oahu), Na Pali Coast walk/hike in Kaua’i, Snorkelling at Ke’e Beach (Kaua’i), kayak down Hanalei River (Kaua’i).
Experience culture in Kaua’i by talking with the locals and hearing stories from the elders. You can also visit ancient heiau’s (Hawaiian temples) on all islands, such as the one on Kaupo Beach (Oahu). Visiting the local farmer’s markets is also great to support local farmers and taste the what the land has to offer, I love Hanalei’s Farmers Market.
Surf in Waikiki for longboarding, Banzai, V-Land and Pipeline for experienced surfers.
How long should one stay in each destination?
Stay in other places and just visit Waikiki for a day, Hawai’i has so much natural beauty to offer, you could definitely stay on each island for a week. I’d recommend staying in Kaua’i (my favourite) and exploring the island.
What are the differences between islands Oahu to Maui or Kaua’i?
Oahu, mainly Waikiki/ Honolulu is more densely populated and developed (lots of high-rise buildings). Kaua’i and Maui are both incredibly naturally beautiful, small towns with quiet and clean beaches.
Your style travel essentials?
A stylish hat fit for the destination – for Hawai’i, a wide-brimmed straw hat.
A pair of platform white sneakers.
A beautiful new perfume because that scent will always remind you of that place and the memories you made there. My scent for Hawai’i is Rose Atlantic by DS & Durga.
A natural sunscreen is a must – particularly one without oxybenzone and octinoxate because they destroy the coral reefs.
Any insider tips of when to travel or interesting tricks?
I enjoy travelling around mid-November to mid-December when the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing is on because the atmosphere on the North Shore of Oahu is always pumping. However, travelling in their summer ensures calmer oceans, so beaches are much safer to swim at.
The Packing List: