I love lists - and have created many 'must dos' through the years, so I decided to finally write them down. This was written for Marin Magazine in 2013, but still applies today. If you're traveling to Oahu, these five things should be on your 'to do' list. 1. See History
If you want to see pretty photos of Oahu and Ben Affleck watch the Hollywood version and for those who prefer factual renditions the History Channel has a an interesting DVD set. However, for the real story on Pearl Harbor, visit the memorial and see why it’s a top U.S. travel destination. From the USS Arizona, the site of the first U.S. casualties of the war in the Pacific, to the USS Missouri, the location of the eventual Japanese surrender, a visit to Pearl Harbor brings the reality of the conflict home. The actual exhibit is free. You can go on your own via shuttle or rental car, but be there early to avoid the throngs of others waiting to also experience Peal Harbor. There are many tours, for those who would like to let someone else worry about parking, available either by boat or bus, prices vary and start at $69. pearlharboroahu.com
2. Hear a classic.
When I grow up I want to be as awesome as ukulele sensation, Taimane Gardner who performs Fridays from 6–7 p.m. at the SWIM bar at the Waikiki Hyatt. Gardner can play the Hawaiian classics, but is famous for her renditions of Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin and the Beatles — no matter what she plays, you’ll walk away humming a tune. I've added a CD below if you can't make it to the Hyatt. waikiki.hyatt.com, taimane.com
2. Experience a taste of Hawaii.
There are so many great restaurants to mention, but I know you won't be disappointed by the following Make reservations at Alan Wong’s Restaurant and be sure to order the chef’s ginger-crusted onaga, after 16 years, it is still his most popular dish. Stop by Morimoto’s for the Iron Chef’s version of Loco Moco, called Loco Moto, which features wagyu beef, an egg sunny side up all served over rice that is polished in house. And finally Chef Mavro Restaurant offers four- to six-course island-sourced tasting menus nightly. Oh, and even if you don't like Mai Tais (I don't) getting a Mai Tai on the beach at the eponymous bar at the Royal Hawaii (where the drink is rumored to have been invented) at Sunset is magical. alanwongs.com, morimotowaikiki.com, chefmavro.com
3. Get cool.
Ask anyone for their favorite shave ice spot and their responses will take you all over the island. But if you are heading to the North Shore town of Haleiwa (and you should) I highly recommend, Matsumoto’s or Aoki’s, right on the main street. Beating the heat with one of these ice-cold sweet treats is a must — especially for first-timers to Oahu. matsumotoshaveice.com, aokishaveice.com
4. Beach it like Barack.
Beaches! Whether or not you like his politics, you can't deny the guy is a body surfing stud. Have you seen the photos of him at Sandy Beach? This is where I promised God that I would devote my life to him and all things good, if only I he helped me back to shore, alive. My fingers were crossed, but I'm sure he understood. At the time I would have considered myself an advanced swimmer, so don't just pop in and try to recreate - the Barack getting barreled photo op. Besides Sandy Beach, for the past few holiday seasons, the sleepy town of Kailua on the windward side of the island has been host to the President Obama and his family. The President grew up in the state and still chooses Kailua Beach as his favorite place to unwind — find out why. Spend the day on the beach, or head to nearby Lanikai as well.