Since this is my third time visiting Honolulu, I’m going to share three of my favorite spots.

Aloha from Honolulu!

I’m not going to waste your time telling you to to visit Shimazu for shaved ice (definitely try milk candy and lilikoi) or to devour malasadas at Leonard’s Bakery (because, I mean, obviously) or guava chiffon pancakes at Cinnamon’s (drool), or to somehow get yourself to Lanikai (easily one of the most gorgeous beaches of my life.) No, these are all things you could find on Tripadvisor or Yelp.

These are just a few things that you can find there, but I think are a little underrated.

Heavenly Island Lifestyle

Delicious Heavenly!

The last time we were in Waikiki, after discovering Heavenly, we ate there so many times a friend said, “Why don’t you just move there?!” I know she was joking, but I kind of wish we could. The atmosphere is, in typical Hawaiian fashion, beach-y and laid back but with a hint of cozy hipster that almost made me feel like I was back in New York (with fresher fruit.) It’s popular enough, so there might be a small wait during peak times but, it’s worth it. The fare is simple and healthy while still creative and delicious. I loved the smoothies and since we went repeatedly, VNg pretty much tried and loved the entire breakfast selection.

Don’t let me overhype it for you. It isn’t a Michelin-worthy dining experience. It is what it is: a cute, cozy, and comfortable meal that feels relaxed and nourishing. (Exactly what I love.) I can’t wait to have it again!

Heavenly Island Lifestyle
342 Seaside Ave.
Honolulu, HI 96815

M-Su 7a – 12a

Happy Haleiwa

Happy Haleiwa

One of my favorite things about Honolulu is how much it feels like you’re in (tropical) Japan. You’re surrounded by authentic cuisine,  Lawsons, and “kawaii” shops. One of these shops is Happy Haleiwa.

Having spent the majority of my career designing for t-shirts, it’s hard to stop noticing super soft screen printing or interesting layouts. That’s what caught my attention about Happy Haleiwa. Their tees have just the right mix of souvenir and streetwear, tourist and taste. The shop itself is adorable from the cute freckled mascot to the various assorted trinkets surrounding the apparel. There’s a lot of shopping to be done in Waikiki, but if you’re in the market for a super soft t-shirt with just the right amount of quirky, make sure you stop here.

(When I was researching for this post, I also found a crazy cute Happy Haeleiwa shaved ice cafe not too far. I’m going to try to get there – I’ll keep you posted!)

Happy Haleiwa Waikiki
355 Royal Hawaiian Ave.
Honolulu, HI 96815

M-Sat 10a – 11p
Sun 10a – 9p

Lemona Hawaii

Lemona... Must have shaved ice!

Obviously, one of the main things to do in Hawaii is cool off with some shaved ice. Lucky for me, I prefer Hawaiian-style shaved ice (snow-like ice drenched in syrup) over other varieties. During my first visit, I was taken to all the necessary stops and indulged again and again… And again… And again.

During our last trip VNg decides he HAS to get a haircut. (He gets this way with his hair. Are all men like this?) We go all the way to Chinatown (which, by the way, is cool too, if you have time.) He finds a salon where the owner graciously squeezes us in after seeing/hearing how miserable VNg sans haircut. It’s there that we find out (yes, from LOCALS) that Lemona is the place!

My only regret is we discovered it late in our trip.

Owned and operated by the most adorable couple, they told me all their friends and family had young kids and they wanted a spot they could enjoy that wasn’t loaded with additives and artificial sugar, so all the syrups are made solely from fruit! They try to get whatever they can locally, so the offerings are seasonal. They also have special adzuki red beans imported, making the green tea ice extra tasty. Every flavor I tried was mind-blowing-delicious-amazing-yes-so-good. Don’t get me wrong, I love some corn syrup Swedish fish/Coca Cola flavor as much as the next person. But, there is something to love about not feeling weighed down after polishing off a whole bowl (which you will.) The fact that the owners are so friendly and the shop feels so homey just an added bonus.

Lemona Hawaii
421 Lewers St.
Honolulu, HI 96815

T-Su 11a – 6p

If you make it out to Waikiki, I hope you get a chance to stop by these spots and I hope you love them as much as I do!