What to do in Honolulu? One guru's top ten

What to do in Honolulu? Expert Susan Tanzman, owner of Martin's Travel and Tours, gives her best-kept secrets for doing Oahu like a local. Photo: courtesy of Outrigger Hotels

Susan Tanzman, owner of Martin’s Travel & Tours in Los Angeles, is one of the travel industry’s foremost experts on Hawaii. Here are her not-to-be missed tips for a visit to Hawaii’s third largest island. 

                                                                   1.  Best Lunch:

surfing in waikiki

Surfing in Waikiki. Credit: Outrigger Hotels

Giovanni’s White Shrimp Truck by the Polynesian Cultural Center…Garlic Shrimp is the best.

2.  Best Beach:  Waimanalo.  It is in a residential area but all beaches are public so every fourth house has a side entrance to the beach.  No one is there Monday thru Friday as the locals go to work.  It also has trees that line the beach so there is always a shady area for someone who doesn’t want to be in the sun.

3.  Best Donuts: Leonard’s Malassades. These are Portuguese donuts that will make you go back for more, and more. 

4.  Best Dolphin Swim: Wildside in the Wai’anae Harbor. Swim with the dolphins in the ocean and during whale season to see the humpback whales in the wild. 

5.  Best Fishies: Waikiki Aquarium.  This is likely the smallest aquarium in the world, but probably one of the most interesting and educational when it comes to exploring the coral makeup of the islands and what it means to a healthy eco-system.  Also, they are the only aquarium to have monk seals in captivity.

6.  Best Dinner Deal: Side Street Inn near Ala Moana. This may be a somewhat seedy area, but what food!  You can sit at a long table with strangers, see some of Honolulu’s great chefs take a load off as they arrive from finishing their restaurant shifts for the night and come here for dinner.  The menu is all Asian food from Japan, Korea, Philippines, China and Hawaiian Cuisine.

7.  Best Opera: Honolulu features a fabulous opera season during the first quarter of the year.

8.  Best Fest: Hawaii’s Food and Wine Festival in September is quite unbelievable as it offers great opportunities to taste the food of so many famous chefs from near and far – many who regularly appear on television.

9.  Best Farm to Table Lunch: Nalo Farms

10. Best Take-In: A private tour of the Arizona, USS Missouri, and Ford Island through a knowledgeable and able guide.


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Lark Gould


Lark Ellen Gould is an award-winning journalist who has spent the last few decades reporting on news, trends and nuances in the travel industry for top travel publications with a focus on Las Vegas, California, Africa, Asia, Pacific and the Middle East.
As a veteran news reporter covering hot spots (and cool spots) around the world, Lark knows where to go – and where not to go. Follow her findings in the Communities Digital News, LLC at The Washington Times where she is an associate editor for Food & Travel; also Larkslist and Travel-Intel, a weekly news publication that goes out to the travel industry.

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