Single activities in paradise?
November 14, 2006 11:38 AM   Subscribe

A week in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawai'i. All expenses paid. Solo. What the hell do I do until Saturday? Obviously, there's

I travel for a living, and my job currently has me in Honolulu until Saturday. I'm staying on Waikiki. Sounds great, yeah? It would be, except that my girlfriend isn't here, and I have no friends in HI. Normally, I seek out all the hippest vegetarian restaurants, catch a play or other indie production, and haunt cool local coffeeshops in whatever city I'm in, which is all great to do solo in a city like Chicago or Nashville. The vibe here, it seems, is markedly different.

I'm reticent to do the "typical" touristy things like catch a lounge act or go on a tour, both because I want to "save" that sort of stuff for when I come back with my girl, and also because I don't think I'd enjoy it very much while alone. I could go bar-hopping, but I'm not interested in picking up girls for a deep, meaningful one-night relationship. I could lay out on the beach (and I plan to!), but I would like my memories to be more substantial than the same stuff I can do in Florida.

So, hive mind, I deplore you, what's a young, not-single guy to do with his free week in Hawai'i? I can only take so much of my coworkers/supervisors/clients.
posted by TheNewWazoo to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
We had a great time at surfing school (in Maui, not Oahu, but they exist both places.)

Hawaiian food, like Hawaiian everything else, is a fascinating cultural mishmosh you'll find only there. Eat some ahi poke, spam musubi, loco moco.... (oh, are you vegetarian? first is fish, second two are meat.) We really liked Sansei, which has a location in Waikiki -- but again, maybe not the right choice if you don't eat fish. As always, Chowhound is a great resource for this kind of thing.
posted by escabeche at 11:55 AM on November 14, 2006

The MrsMoonPie and I spent a fabulous week on the Big Island, full of all sorts of amazing experiences. Alas, the food was not one of them. Sure, we tried all the local delicacies, and the fresh fruit was amazing (don't miss the white pineapple!), but Hawaiian cuisine is not exciting. Lots of greasy, sauce-covered meat. Fun once, but not a way to live, I tell you.

If I were you, I'd fly to the Big Island and hike across the Kilauea lava fields. But that might not be much fun alone. Do some snorkeling, for sure. Really, though, there's not mcuh that can beat just hanging out in the Hawaiian vibe.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:11 PM on November 14, 2006

Oh, seei fyou can get a copy of Oahu Revealed. The Big Island version was a fantastic resource for our trip.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:14 PM on November 14, 2006

Response by poster: Unfortunately, going to the big island won't be possible - both for limited funds and time... I am actually working this week. :)

Keep the suggestions coming, though!
posted by TheNewWazoo at 12:25 PM on November 14, 2006

Climb Diamond Head. Yes, it's touristy but like lots of touristy things, theres a reason why it's so popular. Diamond Head has a spectacular view of the island. Get there early (6 or 7 am if you can) since the sun and heat of midday will make your climb extra difficult. Also, bring water and a camera with you.

My other favorite thing on Oahu was the trip to the Lyon Arboretum which even the locals don't seem to know about. Bring mosquito repellent.

The Waikiki Aquarium is also pretty good.

Diamond head
Lyon Arboretum - site
Aquarium - site
posted by chairface at 12:30 PM on November 14, 2006

Best answer: First advice, get the heck out of Waikiki / Honolulu. 1.2 million people live in Hawaii -- 900,000 of them live in Honolulu. So you've got to get yourself somewhere less populated to enjoy the fun and funky parts of the state.

I'd fly (on my own dime if necessary -- about $150 RT) to another island, Maui or the big island (Hawaii), get a car, and start exploring. There is a cool scene in the upcountry (away from the beach) on Maui, esp. Makawow and Kula. There are tiny bakeries, locals only haunts, awesome coffee shops, etc. etc. The road to Hana is also very beautiful and lives up to its hype (mostly).

It's possible though that you have a day job doing real work and can't get off of Oahu during this week. In that case your options are more limited, but I'd still head *in* from the beaches and bustle and find neighborhoods that are funkier. The bus system in Oahu is awesome and fast and efficient to get you where you'd like to be. We went to a book-trader near an awesome vegetarian grocery. This was near the U of H Manoa -- which is obviously full of students and things students like to do (coffee shops, funky stores, etc.). From my rough recollections aided by some yahoo mapping, I'd say it's either near the corner of University and Manoa or near University and Dole.

Hanauama Bay (20 minutes away) is nice, but I saw much better snorkeling elsewhere. But if you're stuck staying near Honolulu, you can head out there. Bus goes right there and if you go early, you'll avoid the crowds.

Lastly, I will second escabeche and I too would highly recommend learning to surf if you don't know how (or ripping if you already do). The beach at Diamond Head (just south of Waikiki beach) is great, but even the break right out from the main Waikiki beach is grand. Warm water. Lowkey vibe (though always yield to a surfer with darker skin than you -- locals are sometimes pissed to have haoles on their waves). Fun fun fun. Planet Surf North Shore rents boards just off the beach and they're much better than the popsicle sticks that you find for $10/hr on the beach.
posted by zpousman at 12:31 PM on November 14, 2006

Since your clarification says you can't fly away to greener pastures, I'll also suggest this.... I just popped over to upcoming to see if there were any interesting shows or other fun stuff. This came up. Can't vouch for it, but it could be a cool way to spend the afternoon. You say "until saturday" in your question, so it might not work for your schedule.

Have fun. I'm jealous, if that means anything to you.
posted by zpousman at 12:39 PM on November 14, 2006

once you get outside of the honolulu area, the beaches are *nothing* like florida - head up to the north shore to watch the surfers & you can hang out in coffee shops and vegetarian restaurants to your heart's content. there are gorgeous hikes and great snorkeling all over the island. you're just trapped in the less appealing part of oahu right now, but there's a lot more to see.
posted by judith at 2:00 PM on November 14, 2006

Best answer: Aloha! Welcome to Oahu. There's no need to travel to the other islands. Oahu has a lot going on. First thing you need to do is check out the Honolulu Weekly calendar for all events happening around town. A new issue comes out tomorrow. Glancing at last weeks issue, you might like Who The Fil-Am I for local theatre. Tonight there's Trailer Trash Tuesday movie night which features local filmmakers at the rRed Elephant downtown (look under venue schedule). There's a Georgia O'Keefe in Hawai'i exhibit at the Honolulu Academy of Art. There's a Westermann Exhibit at the Contemporary Museum - which also has a good cafe and great views of Honolulu since it's located in Makiki Heights. For coffeeshops, my wife loves Coffee Talk in Kaimuki, a funky little neighborhood with lots of restaurants and little stores. You should check out the old school tiki bar La Mariana before it's sold - the food isn't great but the vibe is excellent. For vegetarian food, there's not a whole lot but I like Mocha Java for breakfast and the Buddhist Vegetarian restaurant is popular. If you have a car perhaps check out Byodo-in Temple and then go swim in Lanikai or Kailua. If you go snorkeling at Haunama, do the Koko Head hike first, build up a sweat, go swim and then grab a beer at the Kona Brewing Co. That's about all I have time for but there are always things going on. Many times the hotels get top local acts to play for free. Don't overlook those because you think they may be too touristy. Some are really good. Also the Beach Boys in waikiki give good surf lessons and will make sure you stand up on the first day. I'll pass this on to my wife and maybe she can suggest some areas I forgot. And e-mail me if you have any specific questions. I check e-mail only once a day but I will respond. Have fun!
posted by snez at 2:36 PM on November 14, 2006 [5 favorites]

Why not check out and see if they have any interesting goings-on planned while you are there. Might be a cool way to meet locals and see the non-touristy side of the island.
posted by necessitas at 3:37 PM on November 14, 2006

When I'm in Hawaii, I spend 99% of my time in the water, so I'll suggest surfing - especially if you've never tried it before. Climbing Diamond Head is good too.
posted by blaneyphoto at 4:27 PM on November 14, 2006

Also, heading down to China town on Friday night would be a good option. The husband and I like having a drink at The Dragon Upstairs, a cool little jazz bar that opened a few months ago. It's good later (10 pm) and is a social place with the singer chatting it up with the audience. Downstairs from The Dragon Upstairs is Hank's, and is a fun place too.

Go up to Lanikai beach near Kailua for a beautiful beach, good swimming, but no surf.

You can do some hikes, too. Waahila Ridge is a really nice one, and takes around 3.5-4 hours, but you can turn around whenever...great views.

The vegetarian grocery that zpousman mentioned above is Down to Earth on King and University. For REALLY cheap pitchers nearby Down to Earth, head to Magoo's...kind of frat-ty, but $6.00 pitchers of good beers is hard to beat here.

Feel free to email me, too. I check my email more than the husband does!!
posted by lil' ears at 4:40 PM on November 14, 2006 [1 favorite]

Wow, snez had everything I was thinking and then some. I may check out a few of those myself. A couple thoughts I had, about eating. My mother is a strict vegetarian, while I am not. I am usually safe taking her to a Thai restaurant. Phuket Thai is a good choice. If you like Mexican, La Bamba, is nice. Also, not sure if you are into this, but Tuesday is Latin dance night at Zanzibar nightclub. They offer free Salsa dance lessons from around 8pm to 9, and after that, you just go for it. Went there a couple weeks ago, and had a blast.
posted by MetalDog at 5:56 PM on November 14, 2006

Response by poster: Thank you, guys! There's so much here! It looks like I'll have all of Friday to tour around, and my flight leaves at 8 PM HST on Saturday, so I'll be able to take advantage of that, too. Joy! Alas, I'm working on Central Standard Time, so I won't be able to catch much nightlife (starting at 4 AM local!), but there's plenty here that I can do during the day!

Despite some gastric distress, I do eat seafood when the situation demands, and when better than time on an island, eh? Are there any seafood restaurants I just cannot miss?

Again, thanks, all!
posted by TheNewWazoo at 6:19 PM on November 14, 2006

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