We will commence our Hawaiian Food Trip with a direct 10-hour flight from Toronto to Honolulu with Air Canada which lands us in Honolulu at 9:15 PM (Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time). With a small flight delay, a missing car seat (the airport gave us a brand new car seat to keep due to the airline’s transporting issues) and by the time we gather our luggage, get our rental car and drive to our condo, it’s past 11:00 PM. I actually packed a tetra box almond milk in our checked luggage and brought my homemade banana muffins in one of our carry-ons so that the next day we don’t have to scramble around looking for breakfast.
With three kids, you just can’t freestyle travel. We planned ahead and pre-bought and pre-booked some activities. I would suggest to plan at least one major activity for the day and if you have time, plan others as backups but manoeuvre them as needed once you get there. If you’re a Canadian planning to visit some of the major attractions in Oahu and if you’re a Costco member (once again, I’m not being paid by Costco but this is really a great deal!), then go get yourself a Go Oahu® 4-day Card. It’s a great deal and if you pick a couple of major places to visit, you get your money’s worth. Plus, we pay Canadian prices for the Go Card online, which is a bonus.
Before planning every trip, I always ask friends to recommend places to visit, where to eat, and any other helpful tips. We were also lucky that we have Canadian friends living in Honolulu and they hosted a nice family dinner for us 🙂 She also recommended places to check out and restaurants to eat – it was helpful to have a local’s perspective. I told her she should be a tour guide expert for Canadian tourists!
People who have been to Pearl Harbor would probably tell you that you cannot spend the whole day there. Very true unless you’re travelling with small children. We got there around 8:45 AM and left there around 4 PM. Start your tour with USS Arizona Memorial and get there early (they open at 7:00 AM) because the National Park Service gives out over 1,300 free walk up tickets each day on a first come, first serve basis. We were lucky that we got to go to the 9:00 AM tour and on we went. By the time it was finished, it was 10:30 ish. Even though it was only almost 11:00 AM, the kids were hungry. Luckily there was an outdoor food area on the premise. I’m usually not crazy about the food at tourist sites. They’re usually not the greatest so I was very surprised to find their hot dogs came with complimentary cheese and chili sauce. They also sold soups there too! Again, I was a bit skeptical especially because the soups were served in paper coffee cups. But the clam chowder and corn chowder were piping hot and surprisingly delicious. (Notice I forgot to take photos of these food items. I think my hand would’ve been bitten off if I took photos of the hot dogs and soups while my famished children looked on 😛 .)
After the animals, I mean, children were fed, we proceeded to visit the Battleship Missouri Memorial and Pacific Aviation Museum. You’ll need to take a complimentary shuttle to get there once you buy your tickets. Everything is clearly labelled and there are lots of people to ask questions if you get confused. When we got back to the main site, we checked out the USS Bowfin Submarine and museum. The kids, including our toddler girl had fun playing battleship control inside the museum. It was almost closing time so hardly anyone was there and they got to spend lots of time running around.
Tips for visiting Pearl Harbor
You cannot bring backpacks, not even diaper bags when visiting any of the Pearl Harbor historic sites. A great tip I read was to bring several clear large zip loc bags. I put all the baby essentials in the clear bags. (It was actually very liberating not having to carry so many things.) I had my pockets to put my wallet and cell phone.
Also, kids under 4 cannot go into the submarine but are allowed in the museum. So my husband and I took turns watching our toddler. After my husband came back with the boys, they allowed me to take the boys onto the submarine again, which was very nice.
Papa’s Tea House
Part of our Hawaii trip planning involved deciding where to eat. I am so happy now that we have Yelp, so we can pick and review the restaurants beforehand. I remember going to Santorini, Greece pre-Yelp days and we had to rely on outdated travel book restaurant reviews. One seaside restaurant had the audacity to tell us that they didn’t serve octopus! I thought to myself, their restaurant was right by the sea! As you could tell, it was one of those tourist trap restaurants. Meanwhile, we happened to discovered a neighbourhood restaurant (not by the sea) and they served the most delicious octopus and other great foods.
When I was searching, I tried to find Hawaiian style food that we normally can’t eat back home. I found this restaurant called Papa’s Tea House in Aiea which is five minutes away from the Pearl Harbor memorials. This restaurant is located in an ubiquitous suburban plaza. We ordered fried calamari (requested by the boys), takoyaki, spicy ahi don, pork katsu curry, seafood combo laksa and a large taro milk tea to share. Once again I forgot to take pics of the pork katsu and laksa because of my famished children.
Taro Milk Tea – Let me tell you it was the BEST taro milk tea ever! They actually use real taro and not powder.
Fried Calamari – Love the garlic and chili sprinkled on top.
Takoyaki – Crunchy on the outside and perfectly moist on the inside.
Spicy Ahi Don – Basically spicy tuna poke on top of rice. Poke was my addiction while I was in Hawaii and of course it was delicious.
Pork Katsu Curry – Pork cutlet was delicious. However, the curry didn’t taste like the Japanese curry I’m used to but almost like a Chinese curry.
Seafood Combo Laksa – Was OK but not very authentic. The taste of the broth wasn’t as complex compared to what I’m used to.
Stay tuned for Hawaiian Food Trip: Oahu: Part 2 in my next post for more Hawaiian Memorable Dishes!