Before I got pregnant I had plans to leave Toronto as soon as the weather turned cold. It’s become a bit of an accidental yearly tradition for me after moving to the wintery side of Canada, and in my mind 2018 would be no exception. I started the year in sunny Palm Springs, and in the case my attempts to get pregnant didn’t work out (everyone reminded me again and again it can take a lot of time) I hoped to finish out the year on an epic adventure to Japan, topping it off with Christmas in Hawaii.
When I saw those two lines appear on a test back in June it didn’t immediately click that for the first time in a long time I’d be firmly grounded in Toronto this winter. As Summer slipped by and the sweaters hit shop shelves it finally dawned on me with what I can only describe as a feeling of total panic. I’m not great with the cold, and even though I have the best reason ever to get cozy at home this year, the idea of not being able to leave the snow and ice behind had me shook.
I started to reason there had to be somewhere hot I could go in my second trimester, the best time for a babymoon before things get really rough, but it turns out there are still a ton of Zika travel warnings in Mexico and the Caribbean, making pregnant vacations at any stage more complicated than I had expected. Yes, the threat has significantly dropped and the chances of coming home with Zika at this point are fairly low, but I decided for me personally the cons still outweighed the pros. Again and again my heart kept calling for Hawaii, but it just seemed too far away and too expensive. I had sort of given up on the idea of escaping to the sun one last time before baby when my dear friend Bianca surprised me with a trip for the two of us! It was the sweetest gesture EVER, and before I knew it I was boarding a plane to one of the most beautiful places on earth!
Originally from the West Coast, I had been to Hawaii a couple times as a kid on family vacations, but this was my first time visiting the Islands as an adult with my own agenda. I landed in the humidity armed with a long list of pastel places I had to see, with inspiration from my pals at Ban.do and suggestions from my local friend @GirlandHerPearl. We chose to stay downtown Waikiki to get the bustle of the city and all the fun that includes, but rented a cheap car to explore faraway beaches and tasty food destinations most days.
Overall this 5 day vacation was everything I could have hoped for and more for a last hurrah. I absolutely do not believe life ends after baby, but it was really precious to have a final trip to myself, with endless time to bask in the sun and wander through shops full of breakable objects without worry. It gave me time to thank my body for all the heavy lifting its done lately, and fuel up for the final three months of pregnancy in Toronto’s deep winter. And now? Now we wait for the biggest adventure yet!
Scroll down for my list of must-see pastel places!
Where to Stay //
There are so many amazing hotel options in Waikiki that it can be hard to pick just one, but we couldn’t help but fall for The Laylow . Newly renovated and steps from the beach, this pastel paradise was dreamy down to every last detail. The restaurant, the gift shop… even the wallpaper in the elevators was on point. I’m not sure I’ve ever blended in at a hotel quite so well!
How to Get Around //
A car is pretty much necessary in Hawaii unless you want to stay right in downtown Waikiki (or whatever city you’ve chosen a hotel in!) We rented something super basic for super cheap and it was a great decision, though you may want to consider a larger vehicle with 4 wheel drive if you’re venturing off the beaten path (we may have gotten a bit stuck in some sand on a beach at one point!)
What to See //
Leonard’s Bakery // Hawaii’s first Malasadas, which are basically delicious Portuguese donuts served hot! I recommend getting one of each kind (the Li Hing was incredible)
Rainbow Drive In // A classic Hawaiian fare takeaway counter with amazing cheap eats.
Bailey’s Aloha Shirts // All the vintage Hawaiian shirts you could ever ask for! Careful with your shopping though, some of the oldest shirts go up to $3000.
Hula Pie at Duke’s // A tourist favourite, I remembered this place from visiting as a kid and I have to admit the Hula Pie was JUST as good. I recommend bringing a friend or two to share this monster dessert… or if you’re pregnant and anything like me go ahead, get a whole piece to yourself!
The Royal Hawaiian What kind of blogger would I be if I didn’t mention Hawaii’s pink palace? If you’re able to get a table for brunch be sure to try the pink guava pancakes!
Shimazu Shave Ice // There is shave ice available almost everywhere but this place makes them as big as your head and has SO many delicious flavours. By far the best selection we saw.
The Surfjack Hotel // Famous for their awesome “Wish You Were Here” postcard pool, this hotel wasn’t my favourite for food but their coffee/gift shop was adorable!
Yanagi Sushi // A local favourite, this might just be the best sushi outside of Japan (and it feels like you’re in Japan too!) Reservations highly recommended.
SALT at Our Kaka’ako // We only stumbled across this spot because I was determined to go to ARVO for their famous avocado toast, but basically it’s a brand new shopping centre of sorts in Hawaii’s most “indie” neighbourhood filled with all sorts of wonderful curated shops and restaurants. These were our favourites but more businesses were in the process of opening too!
Paiko Plant Shop
Lonohana Estate Chocolate
Butterfly Ice Cream
*If you’re not on a babymoon I also highly recommend walking around all the awesome breweries in this neighbourhood – there are so many and they’re all SO cute!
Spots we wanted to see but didn’t quite make it to //
Dole plantation, Ice HNL, Hawaiian Sweet Potato Factory (they have a rainbow sandwich!), Awa and Olena Jewelry, At Dawn Shop, Bevy Cocktail Bar, Taco’ako