Before school kicked into gear for the year, I spent a whole 

week in Hawaii on the picturesque island of Oahu. Being the tourist I was, and my roommate being the local, these 5 places were a must for both of us. Even my roommate hadn't done some of the things listed before I arrived. 

1. Island Vintage Coffee

foie gras
Marialicia Garza

Move over Starbucks: there is another popular coffee chain on this island. Island Vintage Coffee (IVC) has your choices of local coffee, acai bowls, smoothies, and teas. I like to think of it as the island version of Starbucks. I taste-tased their Tropical Tea and Acai Bowl. There are locations all over, and for the locals, it's just as good as Starbucks. Their menu even included full meals and I even got the chance to try the Ahi Burger (pictured above). 

2. Koko Carter 

water, grass, bird
Marialicia Garza

Now, this may be a shock for some, but I actually hiked on this trip. Koko head Carter was a great workout. It is 1.5 miles round-trip with the challenging steep stairs/ladder to reach the top. It took me a little less than an hour to reach the top and 45 minutes to go back down. The view was well worth the hike and effort. We went around 5:30am and made it up top right after sunrise. While many tourists do the Diamond Head hike I definitely recommend going out and try the challenge of Koko head. 

3. Polynesian Culture Center 

coffee, tea
Marialicia Garza

I love going to at least some type of museum when I travel, just to get an idea of an area's history and the Polynesian Culture Center was the place to do it. Their prices are pretty high, but most tickets include packages of shows and meals. I got to learn about all the different islands and about each culture. We ended our night there with a buffet dinner and the show Hā – Breath of Life. This is one of my favorites of the trip mainly because of how interactive the whole place was and the mini culture lessons.

4. Kailua Beach

tea, water, beer
Marialicia Garza

There are so many beautiful, bright beaches that's it's hard to just choose one. Kailua stood out to me because of how fine the sand was and the different tides. This is the spot that most water activities take place, especially surfing. I'm not a fan of surfing, but the sands were a beautiful cream and the water was a magnificent crystal clear blue. 

5. Waikiki

Marialicia Garza

Every tourist needs to experience Waikiki, even if it's to just walk around or explore the beaches. It's a huge hot spot for shopping, ranging from typical mall shops to high-end shopping; you can see an H&M and then stumble upon Yves Saint Laurent right next door. Walking the strip at night gets you tangled in crowds from late-night activities, but it's well worth it.

This trip was definitely worth all of the hours spent on a plane, in the airport, and walking everywhere. It was a blast to experience these things with my roommate, who also had never seen them before either. Being with her meant I was mistaken for a local – which definitely wasn't a bad thing!