When visiting Hawaii, you’ve likely come to experience wonder and inspiration with your honey-bun. But perhaps while planning your vacation with the tour guide, you didn’t anticipate spending your vacation driving across the island…
The beauty is, there are plenty of romantic dates to be had on the South Shore. That’s why we’ve put together a small list of our favorite spots, all under $20 and within 20 miles of Waikiki.
Tantalus Lookout: Manoa
Magical Sunset + City View
One of the best vantage points of the city can be found at atop the Tantalus lookout. Atop the beautiful Manoa Valley, Tantalus gives you a gorgeous view of the entire city.
Manoa Falls: Manoa
Waterfalls + Rainforest Adventure
For a gorgeous hike tucked inside Manoa Valley, Manoa Falls is perfect rainforest adventure. For the safest and most enjoyable experience, head up before sunrise on a weekday morning, go heavy on the bug spray, and strap on your hiking boots. This trail can be incredibly slippery after rainfall so make sure to bring a buddy and wear the right gear. To learn more, visit trails of freedom.
Local Tip: For a more private experience and less jungle-like experience, venture to Harold L Lyon Arboretum. This tropical adventure feels more like a walk through the garden than the jungle. There are specified visiting hours so be sure to check out the website to plan your day.
Makapu’u: East Oahu
Whale Watch + Hike + Tide Pool Dip
One of my favorite hikes just 15 miles from town is the Makapu’u lighthouse trail. This place woos you with a perfect variety of sights; the beautiful view (with the opportunity to see humpback whales), a moderate 2.5-mile paved trail (perfect for strollers and puppy paws), and a place to take a dip after hiking.
Local tip: Be sure to bring sunscreen, your camera, and a little snack for the trip. You’ll want to stay much longer than you plan to.
Magic Island: Ala Moana
Star Gazing + Beach Trail
Right across the street from the Ala Moana Mall, and walking distance from Waikiki, Magic Island is appropriately named for it’s perfect vantage point of Diamond Head in the day, and view of shooting stars at night. If you’re planning a beach date with the family, the paved trail, open green spaces, and picnic tables make this a great spot.
Local Tip: If you happen to be walking from Waikiki, grab lunch to-go from Ala Moana Mall’s Foodland Farms for a real taste of Hawaii. Foodland farms has the perfect selection of local flavors supplied by local farmers.
Hunakai Beach: Kahala
Dolphins + Beach
Known for it’s mainland-size mansions, celebrity-attracting resort, and white sand beach, Kahala is home to some fantastic visual inspiration. Hunaki Beach is a little treasure tucked inside this gorgeous town.
If you go in the day, I recommend planning a date with the sunrise in mind. Grab your coffee and blanket, find your free parking spot, and go sink your toes into the silky, white sand while watching the breathtaking sunrise.
Local Tip: Along with your beach items, bring slippers (the sand gets pretty hot) and a swimsuit to cool off after the sun rises and you’ve spent time soaking in the rays.
For an extra treat, head over to the Kahala Hotel to say hello to the dolphins!
Modern Hotel: Waikiki
Live Music + Beach View + Fireworks Friday
For a visit to The Modern during the day, head up to the rooftop view overlooking Waikiki beach. On Friday night, the Modern rooftop also has a wonderful view of the weekly firework display over the beach. After the show, relax with your love downstairs at The Study (bar & lounge) for live music and incredible cocktails.
Local Tip: The firework display currently runs from 7:45-8pm every Friday evening, and you can enjoy live music in The Study nightly from 8-10:30pm. Visit the study’s site to checkout the weekly lineup and delicious menu.
Coffee in Manoa:
Lattes + Scones
The Manoa Vally is one of the most lovely treasures on the South Shore. The weather is always a bit cooler and you can often find yourself in the middle of a warm rain shower.
In Manoa, you’ll find your standard Coffee Bean & Starbucks (with an extra splash of Aloha, of course), but for a unique treat, stop by Morning Glass Coffee. You will likely have to wait in line no matter the time or day you visit, but generally, weekdays are usually a little less crowded.
Morning Glass is special for so many reasons, but to sum it up- they keep it real. Everything they make is fresh out of their kitchen, located right behind the bar you order from. Try their Cinnamon Soy Latte, any of their uniquely flavored scones, and share with your date over coffee…you are sure to leave smiling.
Local tip: If tables at Morning Glass are all taken, grab your coffee to-go and head up into the valley to see the old Wailoi Tea Room. The tea room is closed these days, but it’s still a lovely walk up and beautiful to see. Second option? Visit the chocolate shop right around the corner; the hand-crafted chocolates and delightful service will make you wish you lived here!
We hope this list gives you a good sense of how to enjoy the South Shore with a savvy budget! If you have any feedback or questions, we would love to hear from you: email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! You can also find us on Instagram at @gotravelhawaii.
Wishing you a fantastic vacation with a healthy dose of serendipity…
In Joy & Aloha,
GO Travel Hawaii