There's a good chance you're starting your day in the heart of Honolulu, and if that's the cases, breakfast at Bogart's Cafe is a must before hitting the road. This true hole-in-the-wall, home-style eatery is nestled in a small shopping center in Waikiki and is the go-to spot for many locals in search of a varied and very reliable breakfast and cup of coffee. On any given morning, it's a good idea to call your order in before getting there, because it can be quite a wait otherwise. But hey, that's just a testament to how good their food is.
From here head south east. Your next stop will be gorgeous Hanauma Bay. You'll want to head out here on any day but a Tuesday, when the fish preservation bay is closed to the public. Making a home in a collapsed volcano crater, Hanauma Bay is always flourishing with tons of exotic fish, all in abundance thanks to the protected area. Bring a snorkel and mask and hit the water, or just have a photo shoot from above. Either way you're sure to enjoy the beauty.
Aerial view of Hanauma Bay — Photo courtesy of Jade Eckardt
Further down the road is Sea Life Park, where you'll be treated to fish, turtles, dolphins and sting rays galore. The world's only wolphin (half whale half dolphin) resides here too. Families can explore the park in a short time or spend a few hours. It's an easy stop along the journey through the east side and offers an up close look at the best things Hawaii has under the sea.
For the east side's tastiest local food, drop into Keneke's Plate Lunch & BBQ in Waimanalo. They're famous for their pulled pork sandwich, and this is a very simple and quaint shop. Order at the counter and then take the food to go to a nearby beach, or eat it at an on site picnic table. Taking the food to a beach is a better option though.
From here, gorgeous Lanikai Beach is the next stop. Roughly a mile long, the beach is covered in fine white sand and is a popular place for water sports of all kinds - canoe paddling, snorkeling, boogie boarding and swimming. Two small islands rest offshore, providing a backdrop unique to the island.
Offshore beauty — Photo courtesy of Lanikai Beach
After hours in the sun and surf, continue east toward the Polynesian Cultural Center. Resting on 42 acres, the center serves to share Polynesian culture but also provides food and entertainment. Spend the evening at the luau, or just explore the grounds with the family.