Top 7 Things to do During Your Honolulu Assignment
You landed a travel therapy assignment in Hawaii! It’s a dream come true. As your plane descends over the blue ocean and you see palm trees swaying in the wind, it dawns on you that this is your new home. You’ll be living in Hawaii for the next three months!
As a traveling speech pathologist who made Honolulu her home, I’m here to help guide you to make the most of your time in Hawaii when you’re not working. Three months can go by quickly and there is a lot to see and do, so it’s time to get started now.
1. Soak up the Sun and Enjoy The Water at Waikiki Beach
Waikiki Beach is the famous 2-mile stretch of sand on the south shore of Oahu. The main street of Waikiki, Kalakaua Avenue, is filled with shops and restaurants. Waikiki is a popular meeting spot for groups of travelers, whether it’s going out on a sunset cruise, dinner, or drinks at a local bar.
During the day, you can relax in the sun, surf, paddleboard, sail on a catamaran, or paddle on a canoe. You can take surf lessons and rent equipment from the multiple beach shacks that line the shores. And don’t forget your snorkel because you might be lucky and spot one of the many honus (Hawaiian for sea turtles) that live in the waters of Waikiki.
By night in Waikiki, you can enjoy one of the many beach bars, listen to live music, go shopping, dance the night away, or eat at one of the many amazing eateries close by. On Friday nights, you will be dazzled with a weekly firework show from the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
Waikiki Beach by day
2. Learn about Hawaiian History and Culture
As a travel speech therapist, you are a guest in another home and I think it is important to learn the culture and history of the area that you are traveling to. The Bishop Museum in Honolulu is a wonderful place to learn about the history of Hawaii and Polynesian culture. They have the largest collection of Hawaiian cultural artifacts in the world. The Bishop Museum also boasts a vibrant schedule full of speakers, festivals, and after-hours events that you can attend during your assignment.
3. Go Chasing after Waterfalls
Hawaii is full of hikes and adventures through stunning landscapes, some of which lead to waterfalls. Manoa Falls is a short, heavily trafficked waterfall hike in the Manoa neighborhood of Honolulu. The hike is 1.7 miles out and back through lush greenery to the 150-foot flowing waterfall.
Manoa Falls is a very lush and green hike with consistent rainfall keeping it green. Be prepared for rain and mud on this hike and dress accordingly.
4. Jet Away on an Inter-island Getaway Weekend
The state of Hawaii is an island chain with eight islands, six of which allow tourism. I recommend island hopping to another island at least once during your travel therapy assignment in Hawaii.
There are multiple daily flights between islands on Hawaiian Airlines and Southwest Airlines, so you can even leave after work on a Friday night. If you are working on Oahu, here are some amazing getaways you can do on a weekend.
- Kauai: Explore the Napali Coast and Waimea Canyon
- Maui: Drive and explore the road to Hanna and go whale watching in the wintertime
- Big Island: Go to Volcanoes National Park to see Kilauea volcano and do a night snorkel in Kona with the Manta Rays
5. Hike to the Top of Diamond Head Crater
Arguably the most recognizable natural vista in Hawaii is the Diamond Head crater. The slope of the crater rim is the famous backdrop of Waikiki Beach. This extinct volcano erupted one time over 300,000 years ago, leaving the crater that we see today.
From the top of Diamond Head, you have incredible views of the Pacific Ocean as well as Waikiki Beach. There is a paved hike to the top of the Diamond Head crater. The hike is at the Diamond Head State Monument park and is by reservation only, so make sure to plan in advance. The journey to the top is 0.8 miles with a 550-foot elevation gain. Be sure to bring water and wear your sun protection, because the hike is very exposed with little to no shade.
View from the top of Diamond Head Crater
6. Visit the North Shore
Oahu’s North Shore is most famous for its laid-back surfer vibe, with larger-than-life waves and surf competitions. Whether you are around in the summer or winter, the North Shore is an easy getaway to escape the hustle of Honolulu. It’s only about an hour's drive from most of Honolulu, so you can easily go for a day.
While you are on the North Shore, stop at the town of Haleiwa to walk around and explore. The town is filled with local art galleries and shops. You can eat shaved ice from the famous Matsumoto’s shop and grab lunch from one of the many restaurants or food trucks in town. If you like shrimp, Giovanni's shrimp truck is a famous staple of North Shore cuisine.
7. Take Time to Relax and Watch the Sunset
Sun setting on another beautiful day
Sunsets in Hawaii are magical moments filled with mystique. At the end of a busy day at work, there’s nothing like finding a good spot to relax and watch the sun go down. Grab some traveler friends, a blanket, and some ono grindz (Hawaiian Pidgin for delicious food) and relax as you watch the sun fall into the ocean.
As you watch the sunset it hits you that you aren’t ready to leave and maybe you want to extend your travel therapy assignment in Hawaii. Time to let your recruiter know you might be here for another three months of adventures!
Julia Kuhn, MS CCC-SLP is a traveling speech-language pathologist who primarily works in hospitals. She began her travel adventures in 2010 and has made Hawaii her home since 2016 when she took an assignment in Honolulu. You can follow Julia’s adventures through her blog at www.thetravelingtraveler.com.