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Pineapple Express at the Dole Plantation in Oahu, Hawaii

 

 If you every get a chance on your next visit to Hawaii, take some time and go ride the Pineapple Express at the Dole Plantation in Oahu, Hawaii. It’s a great little train ride through the Hawaiian pineapple fields. Some decades ago, Dole had a cannery location in town where you could take a tour of the facility and would be able to taste and drink free pineapple juice. Boy, those were the days! Pineapple Express at the Dole Plantation in Oahu, Hawaii

George Clooney isn’t the only star of the Oscar-nominated “The Descendants” — the island of Oahu is a star, too.

And while the movie is up for several awards on Sunday, including Best Picture and Best Actor, there’s no doubt that Oahu is already a winning vacation spot.
Pineapple Express at the Dole Plantation in Oahu, Hawaii

Though it’s tempting to just kick back and relax oceanside, there are tons of activities — and delicious regional dishes — that warrant getting off your beach chair.

Start with a hike up Diamond Head State Monument, a 300,000-year-old crater that was once home to Oahu’s coastal defense system. The 0.8-mile walking trail can be steep at times, especially near the summit, but the aerial view of the island is worth every step and gasping breath.

If you need to rest up before another trek, head west to Aloha Stadium, where a flea market is held
on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Vendors sell everything from handcrafted wind chimes to aloha shirts, making it a perfect souvenir stop. It’s also just a short distance from Pearl Harbor.

Traveling with tots in tow? Stop by the Dole Plantation. Kids will love hopping on the Pineapple Express, a vintage train that takes you through Hawaii’s rich agricultural history, or getting lost in the giant Pineapple Garden Maze. Don’t forget to grab a bowl of tangy pineapple ice cream on your way out.

From there, the North Shore is just a quick drive away. Stretching over 7 miles, the northern side of Oahu is a legendary surfing spot, especially in winter. It’s also home to Ted’s Bakery, a pastry shop specializing in
creamy chocolate haupia (coconut) pies.

For the best beaches, though, you’ll want to hit up the East Shore. While it’s easy to stay around the glitzy Waikiki Beach, Kailua or Lanikai, both on Oahu’s east side, embody the island’s laidback way of life. Along the way is also Hanauma Bay Nature Reserve, a protected cove with snorkeling and scuba diving.

If you prefer sightseeing, keep driving and you’ll eventually hit Byodo-In, a Buddhist temple that’s one of the most serene spots on Oahu. Further east is Kualoa Regional Park, where you’ll get an up-close look at Mokoli’i Island (usually referred to as the Chinaman’s Hat because of its shape) and Laie Point, a fishing peninsula.

Of course, a trip to Oahu isn’t complete without a sampling of local cuisine, based in fresh island ingredients and, like its residents, a blend of several cultures.

There’s no better way to start the day than with malasadas at Leonard’s Bakery. The sugar-dusted Portuguese doughnuts are always made to order and come plain or stuffed with fillings like haupia and chocolate.

For a taste of Hawaii’s famed plate lunches, head to Rainbow Drive-In. Popular items include the mix plate, a combo of beef, chicken and mahi mahi, and loco moco, hamburger patties, eggs and gravy, both served over rice and with a side of macaroni salad.

Another great lunch or dinner destination is Helena’s Hawaiian Food. Opened by the late Helen Chock, the tiny no-frills restaurant has been serving quality Hawaiian food since 1946. Now run by her grandson Craig Katsuyoshi, the kitchen churns out authentic island eats like kalua pig, fried butterfish collar and juicy pipikaula short ribs four days a week.

Looking for fresh fish? Try Tanioka’s Seafoods & Catering. It’s the place for melt-in-your mouth tuna. The hole-in-a-wall market-— there’s no seating, so customers often chow down in the parking lot — serves some of the best poke (chunks of raw fish) in town. Sold by the pound or in a bowl atop steaming rice, the fish comes mixed with soy sauce, chili peppers or other spices.

Shaved ice is the quintessential Hawaiian dessert and Island Snow in Kailua has one of the best. The fluffy ice is topped with a syrup of your choice and often with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or azuki (red) beans.

With its one-of-a-kind food, endless stretches of beach and stunning scenic views, a few days in Oahu
will give any New Yorker a healthy dose of aloha spirit.

 Catch your next ride on the Pineapple Express at the Dole Plantation in Oahu, Hawaii and enjoy the sweet smell of pineapple. The soil in Hawaii is so rich in minerals; every bit will do your health good.
 
~~Aloha Nui Loa

 

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