My time in Australia has sadly come to an end, for now. But to say that my journey home was an easy one would be a damn lie. In fact, to get from Brisbane, Australia to Providence, Rhode Island I had to walk through 5 different airports, 2 custom offices, 3 security screenings and spent a combined 23 hours on 5 different airplanes and another 14 hours in layovers. At this point you’re probably reading this and thinking “OH HELLLL NO, CHANTEL YOU MUST BE OUT OF YOUR MIND!”
Frankly, you’re right. By the 4th flight I had convinced myself that I must have been out of my mind to think that traveling for two days straight wouldn’t be awful. SO. VERY. WRONG. But all of the madness I just described aside, there was something pretty spectacular about these interesting travel days. That being my 11 hour layover in Honolulu.
I landed in Honolulu at 10:45am and knew my plane to LA wasn’t going to take off until 10:50pm. In my opinion that was the perfect layover to find a spot on the beach and perfect my tan (seeing as the winter in Australia didn’t help much). I checked the weather the night before and with an 80ºF/26ºC forecast I knew my plan was a good one.
To make matters better, whilst checking into my flight in Brisbane, I looked over and noticed a girl around my age with a backpack and an LA Dodgers hat. Naturally wanting to make friends everywhere I go I quickly asked “Hey are you from the States?” she answered yes and we quickly bonded over the ridiculously cheap round trip flight we scored to Australia ($500, WHAT A STEAL!!).
I figured my plan to lounge around in Honolulu would be even better with a buddy so I quickly invited my new friend and she accepted my invitation and happily informed me her friend was in the middle of suggesting a bunch of places to check out. LOCAL SUGGESTIONS?!! EVEN BETTER, YES!!
This is how our day turned out and if you EVER have an 11 hour layover in Honolulu I could not recommend this itinerary more.
After checking our backpacks for our future flight, we hopped a cheap transfer into the city for $10. It had been a little bit of time since our last meal and seeing as my new friend and I are adults we settled on a sufficient meal of ice cream. But not just any kind of ice cream, we were on the hunt for Banán. A food truck serving up dairy free ice cream all made from locally sourced ingredients. Sounds pretty standard, but that is where you are SO SO SOOOO wrong. A quick look at their Instagram will show you why they are certainly one of a kind and worthy of your visit. 1. The ice cream is presented beautifully, every, damn, time. 2. Not only is it presented beautifully but that presentation typically involves a wide array of fresh fruit toppings. 3. YOU CAN HAVE YOUR DELICIOUS CREATION SERVED IN A PAPAYA BOWL. A PAPAYA BOWL PEOPLE. Who needs bowls when you can have your ice cream served in one of the yummiest fruits this world has treated us to?!?!!? Don’t believe that this is one of the most delicious things you’ll eat in awhile, check out this picture. I can already see you drooling.
Stomachs full from a delectable ice cream lunch, best place to digest would OBVIOUSLY be a secluded beach that is NOT tourist covered, Waikiki beach. Diamond Head Beach fit that criteria to a T. With open spaces of sand and the random tan local scattered here and there this place felt perfect. The next couple of hours were spent tanning (topless of course, THANK YOU SECLUDED BEACHHHH), swimming and a quick chat with any person that walked by with dog. This place felt like a little slice of paradise and exactly what I envisioned when I thought of a beach to relax on in Honolulu. Bright, sunny sky, crashing turquoise waves and soft sand. THIS PLACE WAS PERFECT.
At this point our ice cream was digested and my friend and I were getting PRETTY ravenous. Which brings us to our next layover destination, Shirokiya Japan Village Walk. Nuzzled in Ala Moana is a massive village where Asian vendors line up and serve their most delectable creations. You can get it all here. From edamame shakes, to hot pot meals, sushi, udon noodles, pho, yakisoba, gyoza, yakitori and SO MUCH MORE. With all this food it would only make sense that you would need something to drink too. Well wash down all this food with $1 beers and $4 pitchers. Coming from Australia where a 24 pack of beers will run you $72 I had to practically pick my jaw off of the ground when I walked in and saw that deal. This place is a backpacker’s paradise, cheap food and even cheaper drinks. MY FAVORITE COMBINATION.
In between stuffing our faces with sushi and cheap Sapporo we snuck out of the village and ran across the street to Waikiki beach to catch the sunset. The view is spectacular no matter where you sit. At this point I was so content with how my layover was going. Two delicious meals, an afternoon spent at a practically private beach, a sunset over a famous beach and my friend and I still had some hours to kill.
Last but certainly not least was our quick visit to Honolulu Beer Works. A small brewery serving up a bunch of craft beers and good eats boasting local flavors and ingredients. This place had a hip, open feel and apparently, Tuesdays are trivia night in case that’s your kind of thing! I was killing the trivia, just saying.
HANDS DOWN BEST LAYOVER EVER. No doubt about it. I felt like I saw really incredible parts of the island that I would have otherwise missed out on if I just headed towards the obvious Waikiki Beach area. SO if you have a layover in Honolulu or you’re going for a visit, take my advice and check out these places. Mahalo!