A Journey Through Oahu with Max Pask of Throne of Blood
Oahu is one of the eight islands that make up the State of Hawaii, and where it’s capital city Honolulu is located. Although it’s probably the most “city-like” island, it’s still has plenty of natural beauty to offer. I strongly recommend you rent a car as it’s the best way to get around. For lodging, I would avoid the very touristy Waikiki Beach area, with its high rise hotels and big brand stores. Instead, the town of Kailua, a 20 minute drive away, has a chill small town feel and you can find plenty of places to rent that are just a few minutes walk from beautiful beaches, grocery stores and restaurants.
There are beaches all over the island: Kailua, Lanikai and Waimanalo are all on the south-eastern tip of the island and are all beautiful and the water is quite calm to swim or canoe in. At the very southern tip of Oahu is Hanauma Bay, which is a great snorkeling spot where you can swim among hundreds of fish just a few feet away from the beach. It’s not open every day, and there’s an entrance fee and you have to watch a 10 minute instructional video before getting to the beach, but it’s all worth it. If it’s closed you can head just up the road to a spot known as Cockroach Cove, where I swam with a big turtle for a while until it disappeared back into the sea. Further up the road closer to Honolulu is Kaimana Beach, a perfect spot to watch the sunset. The North Shore is worth visiting as well, head to Waimea Bay and pipeline to watch surfers ride giant waves. There is no swimming on those beaches however, unless you want to get crushed by 25 feet monsters.
There are also plenty of great hikes to go on all across the island. Diamond Head is the most famous one, but you can also head up to the lighthouse at Makapu’u. The views are beautiful and if you own binoculars, bring them to watch the many whales who jump out of the water less than a mile offshore. You can also hike down at some point to a spot where waves crash into the rock in spectacular fashion. The Pillbox Hike (named for the old bunker lookout you find at the top) is on the other side, but unlike Makapu’u, there is no paved road so don’t do it in flip flops, and if it has rained recently it might be a bit muddy getting up there. Up top you’ll be rewarded with more stunning views and humpback whales playing in the surf. More breathtaking landscapes are on display at Pali lookout.
There is so much good food in Hawaii, and the best thing about Hawaiian food is poke, which is fresh ahi tuna marinated in different types of sauces. It’s delicious, quite cheap and available in every grocery store. One of the best ones I had came from the back of a liquor store called Tamura’s Fine Wine and Liquors. Another Hawaiian classic is garlic shrimp served from roadside food trucks. I tried Fumi’s Kahuku Shrimp and it was great. Pineapple is a staple of the island and the best pineapple ice cream is at the Dole Plantation on the way up to the North Shore (warning: the place is swarming with tourists). More sweet treats can be found on the North Shore at Ted’s Bakery. Diamond Head Grill is a great spot to get lunch to go and they also make amazing blueberry scones. Some excellent brunch can be had at Scratch in the Chinatown section of Honolulu. Also in Chinatown, is The Pig and the Lady, an outstanding Vietnamese restaurant. It’s a popular spot so expect a bit of a wait to get a table. Another popular restaurant where the wait is worth it is Helena’s, where all the classic traditional Hawaiian dishes are made to perfection. Highly recommended! I also had an amazing Japanese dinner at Tokkuri-Tei. Try the monkfish liver, beef tongue and finish yourself off with a shot of Habushu, a Japanese snake wine with the viper still in the bottle (if you can handle it).
There aren’t many options for nightlife in Honolulu, but Bevy is one of the best choices you can make. They have great food and cocktails, plus some excellent DJ’s on the weekends. Talking about DJ’s, if you’re up for a late night party, Asylum is where you’ll find weekly bookings of international talent. Get there late and stay even later. If you’re more into live music, check out who’s playing at Republik.
I did not do any shopping while in town except for Barrio Vintage and there was a lot of cool stuff in there and even some records!
There is so much more to Oahu and Hawaii that I could not see or do in my eight days there, so I encourage you to explore, and talk to the locals who are always willing to share their knowledge of the island. I can’t wait to get back to see more of this little paradise!
Max Pask is a DJ and the label manager of Throne of Blood records. He lives in Brooklyn and loves the nightlife. Follow him on Instagram at @maxpask.