HAWAII 2017: Part 2 – Travel Diary

Welcome to part two of my Hawaii travel diary!

The first half was all about food because it was a huge part of our research trip. We came to Hawaii to gather as much inspiration so we could translate this into our restaurant experiences in Manila. This series is also written in the same format, telling our adventure through the food, the service, and the ambience.  In this half, I’ll be sharing more about the Aloha vibes and travel experience.

Hawaii-2 copy
Waimea Bay
Shaka Shaka!
“Another day at the office” lol

Falling in love with Hawaii isn’t hard to do. It’s paradise for a reason. The beaches are free and the traffic on the freeways is non-existent compared to Manila’s. Hawaii is genuine—it doesn’t try too hard, it simply is. A sense of calm prevails among everyone. There is peace.


Most people we met were all so friendly and laid back. Maybe it comes with living so close to the wonders of the world that seems to put them more in touch with their humanity. The people we interacted with all exuded positivity and kindness. We met a lot of Filipinos along with a diverse mix nationalities Polynesians, Americans, Japanese, and more.

With Robbie, our receptionist at The Surfjack
We made a new friend before we even set foot onshore! Here’s our photo with Kevin, who days later kindly offered to show us around his sugarcane plantation Hula Girl and Waimanalo town.
We also went whale hunting on Kevin’s boat after!
With our new friends and furry creatures!

We explored the North Shore of Oahu for a full day, but we got caught up hopping beaches and food tasting that we ended up being late for the luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center! But at least, we got to experience an amazing musical, Breath of Life.

The musical covered an entire spectrum of emotions from joy to sadness and fear. Every movement pulsated with the people’s story.
The show was performed almost entirely in Polynesian, yet we felt their heartfelt offering of their culture.

We experienced great service all over Hawaii but there is one kind of “self-service” that I can’t recommend enough: driving around the island in a top down convertible! It was Raymund’s crazy idea to rent not one but two silver Mustangs, and the experience was definitely the best way to see the island. We cruised through freeways, quiet towns, and so many scenic routes. On one side you’ve got the mountain ranges, and on the other you’ve got the Hawaiian coast.

Best day ever

The experience was so surreal that you’ve got to experience it for yourself to fully understand what I mean. I felt like I was living out the “we are infinite” scene from Perks of Being A Wallflower. You catch yourself being right there in the moment, knowing full well that it will soon become a memory, part of a story you’ll tell someday. But the present is just too good that you want to freeze time somehow and keep it in your pocket. It’s one of those amazing experiences I’ll never forget.


We absolutely loved our home during our stay: The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club! Voted as The Most Instagrammable Hotel, this boutique hotel in Waikiki completely embodies modern Hawaii. With playfully vintage & kitschy details, every corner was crafted with care and inspired by the spirit of the island.

Poolside at The Surfjack
Artsy vibes
Cutest coffee shop ever
Surfjack by night. The ground floor with the pool, bar, and lounge area is open to public.

Finally, no Hawaii trip would be complete without frequenting the countless beaches! Those shores are paradise defined. It’s impossible to be grumpy on a Hawaiian beach when you’re surrounded with that much beauty and chill. The best part is that nearly all beaches are FREE FOR ALL, yet they somehow manage to keep the shores clean!

Lanikai is paradise. Obama lives nearby!
Leina-kai hahaha
Waimea Bay is great for people watching and advanced surfing.
Raymund’s Johnny Kahuku moment
Sunset Beach is named so with good reason!
On our last day, we took a detour to this secret beach by the Blowhole



After everything, we revisited the question: What is the Aloha spirit? My answer is authenticity. It is a genuine, living, breathing openness to the adventure that is life itself.

We were offered a glimpse into what the universe can offer. The world is a big place, but we tend to forget that amidst the minutiae of the everyday. To live and breathe Aloha is to understand that abundance comes in waves, to ride out both the high and low tides, and share our truth with as many others as we navigate the ocean of life.

We can’t capture every moment, and we should be thankful for that.
To have faith in the kindness of others and the universe
…and celebrate the little things

The company we keep as we discover the world around us is what keeps us grounded as we dream and make sense of our experiences. It is the friends that journey with us that complete our story and make moments meaningful.

Sometimes we travel to discover new things, only to realize that we’ve known them all along, we’ve only just forgotten. We travel a long way from home to find ourselves, only to be reminded that home isn’t any one place, but is in fact, in the very people we journey with. To quote Matsuo Basho, the journey itself is home.


Thank you Raymund, Leina and Marco for the adventure of a lifetime. 🙂


Read the first part of my Hawaii travel diary in which I describe our food adventures here.

2 replies to “HAWAII 2017: Part 2 – Travel Diary

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