Eat & Play Locally | Oahu, Hawaii
When my husband Dane and I first got orders to Hawaii, I had visions of Mai Tais, luaus, lush vegetation and days spent at the beach. However, shortly after arriving on Oahu, the allure of a fancy, tropical vacation wore off and I began to feel something else I had not exactly factored into my daydreams -- intimidation.
At the time, we shared a car, so when Dane left for the day, I would be at our house trying to pull together a home in the wake of never-ending boxes and packing paper by myself -- something I’m sure many military spouses can relate to at some point. I felt isolated and alone in a place that was so very different than the life and community I had left behind in Pennsylvania.
After several months of this, I decided that I needed to pull on my big-girl pants, get brave and shake myself from this mental fog and self-induced pity party. I love trying new foods, so I began researching delicious food options that are popular on Oahu. Each morning I would take Dane to work, then plug in a new place I wanted to try. I felt so silly using a GPS device to go every single place, but who cares? We are all new at some point.
Soon enough, I found myself sharing with Dane all the places I wanted him to try on our weekends together and diving headfirst into sharing my finds on my lifestyle blog, Communikait. Six years later, I’m far from an Oahu pro, but I feel confident going out and exploring in a place that once felt so foreign to me.
Navigating a new place can be intimidating and sometimes it will seem like it’s so much easier to just stay at home and do what you know -- i.e. binge watch Netflix with your dog. I can easily say that forcing myself from my comfort zone, exploring solo, and discovering new places to love in my new-to-me home was the best thing I ever did for my mental and physical health.
Today, I’m sharing my five favorite foodie finds on Oahu for any fellow spouses who might be living on or visiting Schofield Barracks, Joint Base Pearl Harbor, Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe, Camp Smith, Hickam Airfield, or Fort Shafter.
Lanikai Juice- This was the first açaí bowl I ever ate on the island and it’s safe to say I’ve been hooked ever since. Before I moved here, I had no clue what an açaí bowl was. If you’re not familiar, they are typically made by blending an açaí packet with fresh fruit and juice to create a sorbet-like base, which is then topped with fresh fruit, granola, and honey. Lanikai Juice has several locations across the island and also offers fresh-pressed juices.
Ai Love Nalo- Located right off Waimanalo Beach, Ai Love Nalo is a haven for anyone who may have a food allergy or follows a strict diet. They specialize in vegetarian and vegan offerings and serve the most delicious salads I have ever tasted that are topped with coconut bacon. Grab your salad or sandwich to go and take it to Waimanalo Beach that is located just across the street to enjoy some of the softest sand on the island.
E.A.R.L. Sandwich- Another food find that I was introduced to here in the islands is avocado toast. It has, of course, taken the world by storm, but one of the first places I ever enjoyed it was at Earl Sandwich, located in Kaimuki. This is a delicious sandwich shop that is one of those places you would probably miss if you were to drive by. Earl is Dane’s favorite for hearty sandwiches that are packed with flavor.
Haleiwa Bowls- I found Haleiwa Bowls one morning after I decided to venture into the sleepy surf town of Haleiwa after getting coffee at a delicious spot right near Schofield Barracks (the name is Greenworld Coffee Farm if you are interested). I just kept driving and stumbled upon the town and instantly fell in love. Haleiwa Bowls specializes in açaí bowls that can be completely customized and are served straight from a thatched beach shack.
La Tour Cafe- It seems really silly, but one of the places I missed the most after we moved to Hawaii was Panera. Doesn’t that seem kind of funny? Oahu lacks many chain stores that are popular on the mainland (Michael’s, IKEA, Chik-fil-A and Trader Joe’s, just to name a few), but I found myself craving the creature comfort of Panera. When a friend I “met” via Twitter suggested La Tour as a close second on the island, I packed up my laptop and went there for the day. With a few locations on the island, it quickly became my favorite for the deli-like menu, delicious macarons, and easy parking (a major plus here).
Kait Hanson is a freelance writer and the visionary behind Communikait. After residing on the East Coast, working for the NFL, and meeting her husband Dane, she traded leather boots for Birkenstocks and now lives in Hawaii. She’s equal parts sassy and smart-assy – always dishing out a sarcastic comment! She’s a margarita fanatic, serial jet-setter, and a lover of classic Ray-Bans. You can usually find her playing with her dogs, trying a new recipe, online shopping, or watching football. Ninety-nine percent of the time, she’s rocking gym clothes and if she’s not, you best bet she’ll document it (and share her outfit deets). Her goal is to use CommuniKait to inspire you to take great care of yourself -- get more sleep, take more vacations, eat amazing food, and spend more time doing the things you love!