We all have our happy place, and Adam and my happy place involve the sand under our feet, the salty ocean washing over and the bright blue sky with pockets of marshmallow clouds under us. We grew up visiting the ocean, a treat for during our much-awaited summers.
Generally, Muslims do not think of Hawaii as a vacation place. They associated it with its clichés and stereotypical cultures, which are mostly conflated with other island cultures.
We realize that a beach vacation might not be for everyone, but we can agree that we all need to schedule more time with nature. And Hawaii does not seem to have a shortage of sorts.
There are many brilliant places to experience in Hawaii and in this blog post; we want to showcase some of our favorite places on the most urbanized island- Oahu.
Oahu’s Muslim friendly beaches will make you fall in love with nature.
First, we want to highlight the beaches. Hawaii has many picturesque, unbelievably turquoise coasts. Many of these spots have corals and marine wildlife to experience. I mean how cool is it swimming and finding a turtle pass by you.
Travel Tip: With the dangers of the sun and some of the rugged coasts, it is better to wear longer swimwear- burkini wearers rejoice! – to protect yourself.
1. Ala Moana Beach Park
The beach at Ala Moana is probably the most accessible beach, aside from the ones in Waikiki- the main tourist area on the island. It is a family beach, perfect for Muslim families, usually filled with little kids, wedding photo ops and a great site for a family picnic. The beach has natural sand adjacent to one of the biggest parks in towns. It is also across the street from the biggest outdoor mall in the state.
2. Hanauma Bay
Hanauma Bay is one of the most visited snorkeling places on the island because of its reefs and spectacular views. The bay is accessible by car or by bus from the main area of town. Parking spaces are limited so make sure you come early. After parking your car, you would need to walk down some steps before reaching the beach.
There are changing areas at the beginning of the steps and near the beach. They are not always well-maintained so make sure you come prepared with any hygienic necessities that you think you might need. You can rent snorkeling gear on-site or buy some if you think you will be snorkeling more often on other beaches.
3. Kailua Beach
This place is one for the books! It is an ideal place to kayak because you can access Chinaman’s Hat Island only by kayak. On offseason, you can also see seals on this tiny island. I’ve seen a turtle while kayaking to the island. If you’re lucky, you might see one too!
You can head out to Kailua Town after you’ve developed an appetite for various eateries. A good Google search will show you so many options. We tried Over Easy and loved their brunch and lunch options. If you still need a little boost, we recommend ChadLou’s Coffee, not only for its delicious coffee but also for its aesthetics. The coffee shop is near a couple of boutiques so make sure to browse for cute and unconventional souvenirs.
Hiking is a great activity for Muslim couples to spend some quality time together in nature.
1. Diamond Head Crater
The Diamond Head Crater is the remnants of a volcano that has now been turned into a popular tourist site. The site is accessible by both a bus or a car. There is a small fee to visit the site ($1 on foot or $5 if you’re visiting by car). To get to the top of the crater, you have to climb a decent number of stairs but the view of the beach and the buildings is totally worth it! On your way back, you can hydrate by getting a coconut or pineapple drink from the stand near the entrance.
You can also check out one of our favorite spots, da Cove Health Bar and Café, for the best mouthwatering acai you’ve had! Or if you feel like you need to load on carbs, you can try Leonard’s Bakery for some malasadas! They’re fluffy, fried balls of dough with various flavored fillings. With anything popular, Leonard’s usually has a line-up.
Travel Tip: Leonard’s Bakery only takes cash, so make sure you have some on you.
2. Lanikai Pillbox
The Lanikai Pillbox hike is also another great place to check out some cool views of the island and the beach. It has a less sturdy, more muddy hiking trail but it is less crowded than its counterpart the Diamond Head Crater. This hike is located in Kailua, so you can definitely visit Kailua Beach after your hike or head to Kailua town for some healthy food options like the famous acai and poke bowls.
3. Manoa Falls
Manoa Falls is one of the main hikes on the island that allows you to experience a wide range of vegetation. The trees are spectacular, and the entire hike makes for great Instagram pictures.
Bonus: The end of the hike is a waterfall!
There are many other places to see for Muslim Travelers in Oahu.
1. SALT at Our Kakaako
Visit Salt at Kakaako to enjoy some more contemporary food options, including mixed cuisines, cute coffee shops, and healthy brunch options. These food outlets are in Kakaako, one of the upscale neighborhoods in Oahu. Kakaako is known for its pretty murals that make Insta-worthy backdrops for your pictures.
One of our favorite spots here for breakfast is Morning Brew. We usually try to get there early to avoid the lines, especially during the weekends. We also enjoyed Bluetree which has more unique coffee flavors. While we haven’t tried it (yet), Moku Kitchen has vegetarian options and uses locally sourced food.
2. International Hawaiian Village
International Hawaiian Village is an outdoor/indoor mall located in Waikiki, the main touristic neighborhood on the island. It is in proximity to Waikiki Beach. International Hawaiian Village has a varied selection of local stores and high street stores. More than that, it is a nice place to sit and enjoy the weather on its comfortable chairs.
Bonus: The mall even has rocking chairs! At night, the place is beautifully lit.
3. The Masjid- Muslim Associated of Hawaii
Oahu also has a masjid. Meet the small Muslim community on the island by attending a Friday prayer if you’re in town. The masjid is located in a reconfigured house that is a quiet neighborhood, close to the University of Hawaii Campus.
As a disclaimer, visiting Hawaii is great, but we urge you to respect the cultural and natural landscape of the island and be mindful of the existing protective measures that are implemented to protect some of the natural resources and take some time to learn about the historic significance of Hawaiian culture.
Just as we would like people to be mindful and respect some of the rules while visiting our religiously significant places, we want to recognize that some of these places are of similar value to our fellow Hawaiians.
In our attempts to experience and interact with some of the wildlife, we have tried to follow as many local approaches and have not jumped with the tourist charters or mass tourism initiatives.
We are not advocating for our approach, but we chose to do this simply because we want to minimize our ecological footprint as we travel.
We recommend if you really want a local experience to try volunteering at some of the various ‘aina-based (local) non-profits that promote environmental stewardship. There are many organizations that take care of the Loko i?a (fish ponds), at a Lo‘i (taro patch) or at the pet shelter.
Let us know and we’ll be happy to connect you with some people.