Destination weddings. I didn’t realize how great the concept was until we went to one this fall. Weddings are already fun and joyous affairs, blah blah blah, but destination weddings are seriously genius. Besides the obvious chance to weed out your mom’s second cousin’s daughter’s neighbor who somehow got on the A-level guest list, you have a guaranteed beautiful backdrop for the ceremony, an intimate and probably more meaningful group of guests, the chance to get away with the homies and if planned correctly, a built-in vacation for your guests. Added bonus: the food is usually extra tasty. As one fellow wedding attendee summed it up nicely - ”Yay for love.”
I’m not sure if it was because this was my first trip of the year, or the fact that I hadn’t been to Hawaii in more than a decade, but the air seemed sweeter, the colors brighter and life’s possibilities vastly more infinite as we touched down in Hawaii.
Oahu was an island where I had never been before and where most of my knowledge of its terrain was gained by religiously watching Lost. I also knew it was Obama’s place of birth and that he really liked shaved ice. So I packed my bags ready for chance encounters with polar bears, the Others and shaved ice explorations.
Wanting a true beach vacation, a group of us wedding attendees decided to rent a large house in Kailua on the Windward (eastern) side of the island away from Honolulu or Waikiki. A scenic 25-45 minute drive from the airport (depending on traffic), Kailua was more of a neighborhood beach town with which we immediately fell in love. Our house, though a bit dated, was large and a stone’s throw from the beach. We were in heaven.
Upon arrival Iphones were reluctantly put away (yet another crevice for sand to get into) but by the end of the week, the hours were measured by the changing colors in the sky or whether our stomachs were hungry or full. Kailua was a great base from which to explore the island, or alternatively, a welcoming place to make you feel at home and whip up some great meals. Here are some Oahu notables from the week, or should I say some of our favorite places to whittle away the time:
1. Kahuku Land Farms Fruit Stand. We stumbled upon this gem of a fruit stand during our drive from Kailua to the North Shore via the Kamehameha Hwy. This North Shore stand had everything: coconut, passionfruit, dragon fruit, avocado, star fruit, mango, papaya as well as yummy snacks such as chunks of fresh coconut in a bag, sugar cane and sticky rice and banana. Selection was vast, service was friendly and the prices low.
3. Kailua Farmers’ Market (Thursdays 5-7:30 p.m.; 609 Kailua Road, Kailua in the Long’s Drugs parking lot). A good place to pick up some local produce or a casual place to grab dinner in a family friendly and always lively environment. There were many wonderful stalls to explore with mouth-watering offerings of organic produce, seafood, baked goods, orchids, pickles and multiple food vendors. I hear there will be a Whole Foods opening up next door so this will be a one stop shop Thursday evenings.
4. Lanikai Beach, Kailua, HI. Hands down the nicest beach we came across while on the island. A bit hidden and out-of-the-way, this beach was rarely crowded and blissfully quiet. The sand looked and felt like sifted flour on our toes. Cerulean blue waves gently lapped, creating an idyllic paradise to kayak, toss a football or just lounge soaking up the scenery of the neighboring Mokulua Islands (a full day’s kayak ride away we heard). The surrounding neighborhood is upscale and quiet (think Palos Verdes) with quaint residential streets where you could park your car. The beach is a short walk through marked public access walkways. It’s no wonder the name means “heavenly sea.”
5. Island Snow Hawaii, (130 Kailua Road, Kailua HI 96734). What’s Hawaii without shaved ice? This place is a must try. No doubt popular since it’s Obama’s favorite place (I think this is near his vacation home), it’s also a favorite with discerning shaved ice connoisseurs. The perfect treat after renting a kayak from Kailua Sailboards and Kayaks or chowing down on the excellent Boston-style pizza from Bob’s Pizzeria in the same complex. I’m docking half a star for not clearly marking that their azuki beans must be ordered first (they go on the bottom of the shaved ice so you can’t tell them afterwards). In any case, lots of flavors = lots of fun.
6. Cinnamon’s Restaurant, (315 Uluniu Street, Kailua HI 96734; closes daily at 2 p.m.). A good family friendly breakfast spot or a fine place to nurse a hangover. It was our last brunch of the week and good way to end the trip with a bang. We really enjoyed the eggs benedict with Kailua pulled pork and the blueberry corn pancakes (yes, try it).
So in case you couldn’t tell, we had a wonderful time in Oahu. A very special congratulations to the newlyweds Amy and Bode! Oh yeah, and that wedding food?…REALLY tasty.