Afterthoughts: Making the Most of a Fresh Season of Adventure in Hawai‘i

The summer after.


Afterthoughts The Summer After

Illustration: Getty Images



It feels surreal to type this right now, and I’m probably jinxing everything as soon as we publish these words, but I think we’re all ready to have a normal summer. Not just normal, but fantastic.


Beyond all the typical summer activities like going to the beach and barbecuing, I’m making goals this year to try a bunch of new things. Because while routine may be comforting, it makes every week blend into the next.


So if, like me, you and your homies are immunized and ready to make the most of our longer days (we’ll gain 25 more minutes of daylight by the end of May), here are five things to put on your (hopefully) post-quarantine bucket list.


SEE ALSO: The Best Things to do Outdoors While You Staycation on O‘ahu During Quarantine


Explore a new garden.

Spending more time in nature can de-stress and ground us. Besides the city’s five main botanical gardens, there’s also Lyon Arboretum in Mānoa, the Friendship Garden in Kāne‘ohe, even the cactus garden at Kapi‘olani Community College. I’m planning to check out the thousands of plants, plus cultural sites, at Waimea Valley. I’ve parked there and walked across the highway to jump off the rock at Waimea Bay (one bucket list item done), but I’ve never seen the waterfall, despite being a big fan of Lost and the scenes filmed there. I recently watched the series again, so this is now top of the list.


SEE ALSO: Photo Gallery: See Some of Honolulu’s Exceptional Trees


Check out a museum you’ve never visited.

Did you know you can take a 90-minute train ride from the Hawaiian Railway Society with just a single stop for ice cream? Tell me that’s not the perfect summer activity when the temperature gets into the upper 80s. I’ve never been to the Hawaiian Mission Houses either, which just celebrated its centennial in 2020. Even if you’re not interested in trains or missionaries, both museums are run by nonprofits that could use the support. And I bet you’ll learn some new trivia for your next dinner party. Check out our list of insider tips for local museums.


See the island from a different perspective.

Many of us have become way too comfortable within our own four walls. Step back, way back, and take in our home from somewhere completely different. Try a helicopter tour or go parasailing with a local company. It doesn’t cost much to rent a kayak with a friend and head out to Mokoli‘i or Nā Mokulua. I could definitely use a hearty workout after all the nights spent lying on the couch in front of the TV.


Try a new hike.

If the above is too adventurous, check out the 360-degree views from a peak in the Ko‘olau. There are dozens of maintained trails across O‘ahu, ranging from easy to challenging, and many are quick enough to complete between sunrise and your first Zoom meeting of the day or after work before sunset. I’ve never hiked Ka‘ena Point because it’s the farthest point on the island from my Hawai‘i Kai neighborhood, but I’m betting a late afternoon stroll along the coastline is pretty magical, with the Leeward Coast on one side and the North Shore on the other.


SEE ALSO: 24 O‘ahu Hikes We Really Like


Eat a super indulgent meal.

Considering how little I ate out in the past year, it won’t destroy my bank account if I splurge on one swanky night. A prix fixe at Michel’s, nigiri at Sushi Ginza Onodera, perhaps a porterhouse at Ruth’s Chris Steak Housedon’t wait for a special occasion. Putting on a nice outfit for the first time in a year is cause enough to celebrate.


It might not be the best summer of our lives—I’m still waiting for the official word that we’ve downgraded from a pandemic and can walk around in public without face coverings—but after what we’ve been through, even small adventures and simple thrills can bring back the joy we missed out on last summer.