Circle Island Tour

Take a loop around the island and spend the day exploring the very best O‘ahu has to offer. Start the day heading out to O‘ahu's North Shore for some sun and surf before circling back through Windward O‘ahu and ending up back where you started - hopefully with a Mai Tai in hand - in time to catch the sun set over Waikiki Beach.

Head out early and en route to the North Shore grab breakfast or a slice of pie from (1) Ted's  "headquarters" across from Sunset Beach. The perfect pie pit stop en route to a day checking out the surfers and surf, Ted's features pies whole and by the slice. If you only have room for one, we'd recommend splitting a slice of their chocolate haupia cream pie. It's seriously pie-mazing.

Before hitting the surf, spend an hour or two in Haleiwa Town taking in the area's old-town feel, window shopping at Noelani Designs and (2) Guava Shop - an island-inspired shopping haven featuring carefully cultivated racks of flowing dresses, swimwear, bags and beach essentials as well as Guava's own line of leather clutches and local apparel.

After you've exhausted your credit cards you can exercise your stomach with some lunch at (3) Opal Thai, where chef and owner Opel Sirichandhra (yes, the restaurant is a twist on his name) has taken the tasty Thai dishes out of his old food truck without losing the flavor and personal touch, which made it so popular. Here you can dig into hot plates of tom yum, minced pork salad, stir-fried noodle, duck curry, drunken noodles and a few other dishes Opel will come out from behind the kitchen to personally recommend.

If you can, make sure to head out early so you can take in the many world-famous beaches peppering the seven mile miracle of Hawai‘i surfing. Shore hop from surf spot to surf spot starting at Shark's Cove, to Waimea Bay and ending at (4) Sunset Beach, one of the more popular surf spots for experienced boarders during Hawai‘i's big wave winter season and a popular sunning spot during the calmer summer months.

If you've still got room after lunch, split a shrimp plate at (5) Romy's one of the more popular shrimp eateries peppering Kamehameha Highway as you head back into town. Beloved for their prawns, which are pulled still dripping from the shrimp farm adjacent to the kitchen, a plate here is a sure-fire snack. Make sure to get yours "North Shore style" sautéed in butter and oodles of garlic with a few extra containers of their special sauces and an ear (or two) of Kahuku sweet corn.

If you need to get back into town earlier in the afternoon, make your way towards the Pali Highway but stop to tip your hat and take a photo of China Man's Hat, an island off of O‘ahu's Windward coast resembling (you guessed it) a China man's hat. For those with a few more hours to spare, spend some time in Kailua checking out their numerous small boutiques or juicing up for the drive back at (6) Lanikai Juice, a locally owned juice shop which is mixing things up with their use of local organic ingredients and high quality products.

 

A quick jaunt by Rabbit Island and the waves at Sandy Beach as you turn the corner through Hawai‘i Kai and you're in the home stretch! If it's the weekend, you can end your Circle Island Tour back in Waikiki with live entertainment and a drink (or two) at Duke's. It's the perfect end to your wholesome, whole-island day.

1) Ted's Bakery

Making a splash on O‘ahu's celebrated North Shore, Ted's Bakery has established a name for itself as the place to eat mouth-watering slices of pies, pastries, and plate lunches.

While Ted's fabulously famous pies are available at several grocery stores in Honolulu, making the trek to Ted's "headquarters" across from Sunset Beach on O‘ahu's North Shore is always well worth the gas splurge. The perfect pie pit stop en route to a day checking out the surfers and surf, Ted's Bakery's pies come in a variety of flavors including chocolate cream, blueberry cream, haupia cream, strawberry guava, peach Bavarian cream and more. If you only have room for one, we'd recommend splitting a slice of their chocolate haupia cream pie. It's seriously pie-mazing.

While you stand in line (and trust us, during peak hours there is almost always a wait) to order your teri beef bento you can peruse Ted's selection of t-shirts, coffee cups and other souvenirs, which make the perfect omiyage (oh-mee-yah-geh or gifts) to tuck away in your suitcase for family and friends back home.

 

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2) Guava Shop

Give your closet some local flavor with a few quick picks from the Guava Shop's bouquet of island options. Opening in 2008 on O‘ahu's North Shore, this beach-chic boutique by Sunset Beach sisters, Liz House and Kai Cost, is a shopping haven after a day in the sun and surf.

While their prices tend to branch on the higher end, Guava Shop's carefully cultivated racks of flowing dresses, island-inspired swimwear, bags and beach essentials include options from well-known brands like Acacia Swimwear, Free People, Gillia, Havaiianas, Kai Fragrance, Posh Pua Swimwear, Hanky Panky as well as Guava's own line of leather clutches and local apparel.

The shop in Hale‘iwa Town Center across from Kua Aina Burger is the perfect detour on your way back to your hotel to pick up a few "essentials" like a new clutch for dinner out in Waikiki or a new bikini to flaunt your tan for the remainder of your stay. If you have a girlfriend or friends back home who are as silly for shopping as you are - you might consider picking up a nice piece of local shell jewelry or one of Guava's signature reusable totes for them. They won't forget to return the favor on their next trip!

 

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3) Opal Thai

We know, we know. When you think of O‘ahu's North Shore you think of babes in bikinis, shave ice and maybe the odd honu (green sea turtle) sighting. But Thai food?! Opal Thai is breaking those preconceptions with their spicy new eatery in Hale‘iwa Town Center, now a hot dining spot for some of the best Thai food in Hawai‘i.

Chef and owner Opel Sirichandhra (yes, the restaurant is a twist on his name) has taken the tasty Thai dishes out of his old food truck without losing the flavor and personal touch, which made it so popular. And because Opal's is BYOB you can grab a bottle of your favorite wine (or whatever you're craving) and dig into tom yum, minced pork salad, stir-fried noodle, duck curry, sautéed eggplant, drunken noodles and a few other dishes Opel will come out from behind the kitchen to personally recommend. One of our favorite Opel-isms is "I got something for you, no worry!"

If you've got room after Opel has loaded up your table, we'd recommend the crab noodle ($10.95). We get tipsy just thinking about the long, thin noodles topped with real crab, egg and a sprinkling of green onion. And if you like to turn up the heat, be sure to ask for Opel's chili flakes - a homemade family-secret blend, which provides the perfect accent to the meal.

Before you head out, make sure to check your wallet for cash. Opal Thai doesn't accept credit cards.

 

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4) Sunset Beach

A shining star among O‘ahu's North Shore lineup, Sunset Beach is one of the more popular surf spots for experienced boarders during Hawai‘i's big wave winter season and a popular sunning spot during the calmer summer months.

Just off of Kamehameha Highway, Sunset Beach breaks up the monotonous view of residential homes, swaying palms, and glimpses of Hawai‘i's warm turquoise waters. Waikiki Parc's Todd T. likes to come here to watch the pros shred it up during the winter swells and sunbathe and swim during the summer. Sunset also receives ray-ve reviews from beachgoers for the convenient parking lot across the street with restrooms and showers. And for those with children, Sunset Beach sets a lifeguard on duty daily, which offers some peace of mind and a good sounding board to check in on the day's water conditions.

Sunset's world-famous waves are also home to surfing competitions including the O'Neill World Cup of Surfing - one of the Van's Triple Crown's prestigious events, which regularly attracts hundreds of elite surfers from around the world to compete for the contest's $135,000 prize purse and barrel bragging rights.

 

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5) Romy’s Shrimp Truck

Peppering Kamehameha Highway from Hale‘iwa Town to Kualoa Ranch are what many O‘ahu natives consider "shrimp truck row," plating up hundreds of fresh-from-the-water shrimp dishes. Though more like a stand than a real food "truck," Romy's is among the more popular shrimp eateries, beloved for their prawns, which are pulled, still dripping, from the shrimp farm adjacent to the kitchen.

Open daily from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Romy's Shrimp Truck stands apart with their uber fresh shrimp and prawns (they look more like mini lobsters than shrimp), which usually run out by early afternoon. If you miss your chance to snag a spot at Haleiwa Shrimp Court, roll on over to Romy's and sprawl out with your meal on one of the picnic benches in the lawn.

We like the fact that they leave the heads on their seafood, which makes for an extra tasty treat. Make sure to get yours "North Shore style" sautéed in butter and oodles of garlic with a few extra containers of their special sauces and an ear (or two) of Kahuku sweet corn.

Our tip? Bring lots of hand wipes and sanitizer. After you lick all the buttery, shrimpy goodness off your fingers, of course.

 

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6) Lanikai Juice

Squeeze some time into your Hawai‘i trip for a visit to Lanikai Juice, a locally owned juice shop which is mixing things up with their use of local organic ingredients and high quality products. While Lanikai Juice now offers locations across O‘ahu you can still pay a visit to their original shop on Kailua Road.

Since opening in Windward Oahu in 1997, Pablo Gonzalez (considered by some as the "Alan Wong" of smoothies) has been stirring up the local juice business focusing on using local products to create unique smoothie blends such as Aloha Date, Pele's Papaya Cream and Ginger Ono.

The award-winning shop has been helping residents get juiced up with their selection of smoothies, bowls, juices and supplements. After a day splashing around Kailua's aquamarine waters cool off with your pick of one of Lanikai Juice's more popular items -- their acai bowl. If you're crazy for coconuts you must try their Acai Colada Bowl, which includes a blend of bananas, strawberries, pineapple, honey, natural coconut milk and topped with dried pineapple and coconut.

 

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