Hawaii’s most popular island, Oahu, is so rich in history and natural beauty. The volcanic island is known for its beautiful beaches and adventurous activities and is home to the sobering historical landmark, Pearl Harbour. The friendly locals will proudly share the best things to see and do around their hometown over a serve of the island’s famous, colourful shaved ice. And for avid surfers or those keen to learn, Oahu’s surf is some of the best in the world.
Thanks to half priced airfares by way of a Take a Friend For Free Sale, I jetted off to Hawaii in March with 9 of my closest friends. And what better time to spend two weeks in paradise than over my 26th birthday?
It was a whirlwind week of sun, cocktails and activities. Despite my efforts, I wasn’t able to try everything in one week (I could stay there for weeks) though I did find some gems I would gladly recommend to friends visiting the island.
EAT & DRINK
Fresh tropical fruit | One of the best things about traveling to a tropical destination is the abundance of fresh produce. Visit one of the many roadside fruit stands or markets for the freshest produce.
Sweet corn | A memorable bite for me was discovering Kahuku Corn during an unexpected roadside stop. This is not just any corn on the cob. The steaming fresh cobs, dotted with pale yellow kernels and housed inside fresh green husks is the sweetest corn you’ll ever try. No wonder the locals have nicknamed it Candy Corn. Stands around Kahuku sell it by the cob, harvested on the very same day.
Shaved ice | There’s nothing better than icy cold, super sweet, shaved ice on a hot day. Shaved ice is an iconic Hawaiian treat and although it may seem hard to mess up, Matsumoto’s shaved Ice, Waiola Shave Ice and Haleiwa Shave Ice do it best.
SKY Waikiki | This cozy rooftop bar in the sky was perfect for sunset cocktails, live acoustic tunes and views over Waikiki.
The strip along Waikiki Beach is home to Duke’s, Roy’s and The Cheesecake Factory and not too far away are gems like Tropical Tribe, Peace Cafe, Loving Hut and Greens & Vines but we’ll save those for another post.
If you like shopping, you’ll love Oahu. From outlet finds to beachside souvenirs to high-end retail therapy, there is something for everyone in Oahu. Grab a bargain at Waikele Premium Outlets or visit one of America’s biggest malls, Ala Moana Center. Just be sure to leave room in your luggage or you may need to buy another suitcase like I did!
SEE & DO
Diamond Head | Hike the crater of the extinct volcano to reach amazing views over Waikiki.
Waikiki Beach | You can’t visit Oahu without seeing Waikiki Beach. One of the most famous beaches in the world, Waikiki is busy but great for sun soaking, paddle boarding and beginner’s surf lessons. The main strip is full of stores and eateries when/if a break from the sun is in order.
Hanauma Bay | A gorgeous little nature preserve perfect for snorkeling. You won’t have to swim far to see colourful coral, fish and even sea turtles.
Nuuanu Pali Lookout | The best spot for panoramic views over the windward coast of Oahu.
Kuuala Park | Make a pit stop in Kuuala Park to see Mokolii Island (Chinaman’s Hat) from the shore.
Haleiwa Town | This North Shore town is one hours drive north of Waikiki and is known as the surfing capital of the world, as well as home to some of the island’s best shaved ice!
Dole Plantation | One of the islands most popular tourist attractions. Visit DP for the famous “Pineapple Experience” where you can take a train ride tour of the plantation and try the produce. If tours aren’t your thing, don’t worry, you can still try DP’s pineapples from one of the many roadside stalls around the island.
Chief’s Luau | One of the highlights of my trip! The performers at Chief’s Luau know how to put on a show! Get picked up by the CL bus, get leied upon entry, eat all you can eat at the buffet and watch some of the island’s best performers.
GETTING THERE & AROUND
AIR | Most airlines fly to Honolulu International Airport however Hawaiian Airlines is Hawaiis most popular airline. I tried and tested an Australian budget airline to Oahu and it’s safe to say I’ll be opting for Hawaiian Airlines or any other carrier for my next Hawaiian getaway.
CAR | Car rental allows you to really explore the island at your own pace. Although not all of Oahu is accessible by car, there is a popular route around the perimeter of the island which passes through most of the main attractions.
BUS | The 22, 23 or 58 bus will drop you right at the entrance to the park for the Diamond Head Hike.
BICYCLE | Honolulu is very bicycle friendly with tons of bike paths and tours to choose from.
When it comes to travel accomodation my first preference is always Air BnB. Not only does t save me money but it gives me peace of mind that I am not contributing to the impact large hotel chains have on the environment. If for some reason it’s not possible to book accomodation via Air BnB or other community based accomodation sites I look for self-serviced apartments and finally hotels.
I travelled to Oahu in a group of 10 which made booking self serviced apartments our easiest option. We booked two basic apartments in the Royal Aloha Condominium which were affordable, clean and with 5 minutes walking distance from the main strip of Waikiki along Honolulu Beach.
WHAT TO PACK
The weather in Hawaii is typically tropical. Of course it wouldn’t be a Hawaiian getaway without a trip to the beach so pack your swimwear, a hat and sunglasses but keep in mind that night’s can become breezy which may call for a light jacket. If you plan on taking advantage of Oahu’s many outdoor activities do remember to pack active wear and supportive footwear. With these packing tips in mind, if there is something you forget to pack never fret because Oahu is definitely not short of retail opportunities.
Vibe | Relaxed – Tropical – Touristy
Must do | Hike the Diamond Head trail, watch the sunset over Hololulu Beach, treat yourself to Haleiwas famous shaved Ice
Best time to visit | September to November for less crowds and less rainfall
Have you travelled to Hawaii?