We recently spent 16 days on the Hawaiian Islands.  Our trip did not disappoint! I’ve always thought Hawaii looked like paradise, and now I know it is for sure.  

We stayed at 3 of the Hawaiian Islands. Here’s our travel tips for Oahu!

When you arrive in Hawaii, you might have been on the plane for hours and you’re going to be fighting off sleep.  Try to stay awake as long as you on your travel day. Hit the beach for some sunshine and fresh air! During the summer the sun sets at 7pm so even if you go to bed at 8pm it’s a win.

Avoid driving around Honolulu!  Despite it’s small size, it’s a big city for sure and the traffic proves it.

Here’s the top places we suggest to visit:

Diamond Head.  You can hike to the top, but be sure to get there as soon as it opens.  The interior (close up) parking lot is small. If that lot is full you will need to park outside of the park and it’s a bit of a hike just to get there.  Not terrible, but just be aware of that!  

The hike also gets very busy.  No worries, once you get to the top of Diamond Head the views are amazing and worth it!

Costco is the place to go for cheap(er) gas, and cheap eats!  Even though we are not members, we enjoyed many a meal at their restaurant.  So much food for a great price! The Costco in Honolulu is crazy busy though, so be prepared for a lot of traffic.

Pearl Harbor.  I had mixed feelings about going to Pearl Harbor as I’ve heard it’s a very emotional place, which it was.  We went on the monument tour and toured the USS Bowfin submarine. When we were there, the monument was closed so you could not go on it, but the tour boat took you very close to it.  So be sure to check their website for times and closures. Be prepared to potentially shed a tear 🙁  

The submarine was a really cool tour and it’s self guided.  

Manoa Falls Hike.  The trailhead was a little hard to find.  It’s in the middle of a neighborhood, but keep looking – it’s well worth the search!  The trail could be very muddy if it has rained, but it was not the day we went.

The falls are really tall!

The beginning of this trail was a jungle! Such lush vegetation.

Tantalus road drive.  Drive up to the top to get a wide view of Honolulu.  

Duke Kahanamoku statue.  This was the only time we were brave enough to venture into the craziness of Honolulu downtown.  Great statue!! Parking is Honolulu was expensive and driving around the small downtown was overly crowded at night. But there were also a ton of stores which would be worth checking out.

Kualoa Ranch – I highly recommend an excursion to the Kualoa ranch.  This is privately owned, so there are fees involved for tours. We rode in UTV’s (large ATV’s) for our tour but they have many options.  This is where they filmed Jurassic Park and Lost (TV show) and many, many others.

You just have to get there and soak in all the amazing views. Breathtaking!!

Byodo-In Temple – get your zen on and bang the gong at this Buddhist temple (remember this one from Lost??).  Shhhhhh. Mind your manners too.

Sandy Beach Park – this is a small but beautiful beach with some strong waves.  We saw some cool animals swimming when we were there (barricuda!). It’s got “Park” in the name, which means there is a bathroom there.  

Halona Blowhole – You will see a sign that warns you NOT to go down to the beach, but you must.  You really must. And everyone does. It’s an amazing soft sand beach.

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve – I highly recommend getting there as soon as the park opens.  It’s a long walk down to the bottom but you could also take a shuttle bus (for a fee). It’s supposed to be the best snorkeling on Oahu, and we did see a wide range of fish (and seals on the beach!).  Beware that parts of the snorkeling is quite shallow so a lot of sand gets kicked up – the early bird gets the clear water!

Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail – this hike has no shade, so make sure you wear sunscreen and take water, but the reward is this view!! It’s a paved trail which is pretty short and even small children could easily hike it.

Maunawili Trail – Hike over to this waterfall and you will not be disappointed!  Maybe you will be brave enough to take a jump in? We were not.

Make sure you bring water along when hiking. We also had bug spray but never needed it. You will find fun stuff along the way on this trail 🙂

Dole Plantation – No trip to Oahu would be complete without taking a peek at how pineapples grow!  If you’d like to take the paid tour, make sure you get your tickets early. There was an 1.5 hour wait for the tour when we arrived, so we ended up skipping it.

No matter what, don’t forget the Dole Whip.  Yummmmmmmmm.

Lanikea Beach – You would be hard pressed to not find a sea turtle at this beach! There were many turtles swimming close to the shore and several up on the beach. You will need to park along the road to get to this beach.

North Shore food trucks – The shrimp sold at the food trucks is the best!!!   Be aware that some trucks are cash only. Luckily they let it slide when we were $2 short when paying for this meal. We made sure to carry more cash on the rest of our trip!

Even though we were on Oahu for only 5 days, we packed a lot in. I hope you found this helpful for planning some fun things to do on your trip to Oahu. It’s not hard to find something awesome! I will be blogging about the Kauai and the Big Island too, so please stop back for another visit 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.