Very few things tell you about a place as much as the local cuisine, and Hawai‘i is no exception. Get a taste for the islands by spending the day digging into island kine grinds, seeing where local fish are sold, enjoying one of the best shrimp plates on the island and rinsing everything down with a scoop - or two - of shave ice. By the end of the day you'll have a full opu and a bigger picture of Hawai‘i's dining scene.
Head out before the sun rises and catch all the (1) Honolulu Fish Auction action. Think Storage Wars but with big-eyed tuna instead of lockers. Much like the well-known Tokyo fish auction, in Honolulu the fish are sold individually - a system that has been taking place for more than 50 years.
After you've got your fish fill, set sail for breakfast at (2) Heia Kea Pier, a scenic spot that has guests hooked on their gourmet twist on plate lunch favorites. Get there early to anchor yourself a spot at the counter before the place is swimming with shorts-and-slipper-clad kama‘aina. It's the perfect way to enjoy your $5 early bird breakfast special while watching the sun come up.
By the time you've rolled on over to the North Shore (after a pit stop for a photo opp or too) it's time for an early lunch at (3) Romy's Shrimp Truck. While more like a stand than a real food "truck," Romy's is among the more popular shrimp eateries, beloved for their prawns, which look more like mini lobsters than shrimp. We like the fact that they leave the heads on their seafood, which makes for an extra tasty treat.
After lunch take a dip at Sunset Beach to wash off all that buttery, shrimpy goodness and work up an appetite for an afternoon snack. Then, en route back to the Waikiki Parc grab a sweet treat at (4) Waiola's Shave Ice, a family owned and operated shave ice stand off Kapahulu Avenue just outside of Waikiki. An island favorite since 1940, many an O‘ahu keiki (child) has grown up with their cold, colorful cups. We like ours with the works - ice cream on the bottom and condensed milk and mochi balls to top it off.
With a quick shower and outfit change you're ready to dig back in. Head right across the street from the Waikiki Parc to (5) House Without a Key, a popular restaurant at the Halekulani, the Waikiki Parc's sister hotel. Arrive early to partake in mai tais and Hawaiian music under the Kiawe tree. Between sipping and savoring (House Without a Key also has an exceptional menu of mouthwatering appetizers) you can drink in the sunset, paired with Hawaiian music and graceful hula dancing. And make sure to save room for House Without a Key's signature coconut cake - it's the icing on a perfect day.
If it happens to the last Friday of the month, put the brakes on looking around for a place to grab dinner and hit the pavement to attend (6) Eat the Street - O‘ahu's uber popular monthly food truck rally. Since Eat the Street launched in 2011 the event has put the pedal to the medal, transforming the kama‘aina preconception of food trucks (or lunch wagon as the locals call them) into mini gourmet kitchens dishing up innovative treats and tidbits.
If there's no Eat the Street event, never fret. Wade back over to Pier 38 for (7) Nico's happy hour, which runs from 4 p.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, where you'll enjoy live music and lap up dozens of beers on tap, wine, drink and pupu (appetizer) specials. Take your taste buds on a wet and wild ride and dip into the local fare with the poke (raw fish) sampler, poisson cru, spicy edamame and ahi ribs. Now splashing out over more than 5,600 square feet of seating and with a full bar and retail market, this Honolulu eatery has got residents and visitors hook, line and sinker with their fresh-from-the-fish-auction menu.