Oahu Travel Guide. What to do & where to eat
Oahu is such a huge island which has so much to offer. It has everything that you could think of doing on an island: abundant wildlife, beautiful beaches, gorgeous hikes, a lot of shops, fabulous restaurants, nightlife and so much more. We spent 7 days on Oahu trying to do as much as we can, and of course, it still wasn’t enough. Planning our activities on Oahu was probably the hardest part because of its abundance. So, here is your Travel Guide to Oahu, Hawaii. It will show you the places to visit and where to eat on Oahu.
Probably renting a car is the easiest way of transportation because it gives you a lot of flexibility. You can easily rent your vehicle when you get there. So, I guess the most popular choice is renting a Jeep. However, the public transportation system on Oahu is very well developed. So, if you don’t want to rent your own car I highly recommend using public buses, as they are a much cheaper and more convenient option.
Places to visit:
Dole Plantation – Here you can learn a lot about pineapples, see how they are grown, take a Pineapple Express Train Tour around plantations ($11), walk around Pineapple Garden Maze or try famous DoleWhip.
Diamond Head Hike – The most iconic site of Oahu which was created by the volcanic explosion. It’s an easy and pretty popular hike which offers gorgeous views of Oahu. Most people do it for sunrise or sunset, so be prepared that you won’t be alone but it’s definitely, a must do.
Hanauma Bay – it’s one of the best places to snorkel in Oahu and probably the most touristy one. This cove was once a volcanic crater, it’s very picturesque, full of fish and other marine life. You can even find a turtle here. Try to go early in the morning because usually, it gets very busy. If you don’t have your own snorkel gear, you can rent it there for $20.
Pillbox hike (Kaiwa Ridge Trail) – it’s hard to choose the best hike on Oahu because there are so many great ones. If I had to choose only one, that would be it. I would say that it’s a moderate hike, which final viewpoint rises above the whole area. Including beautiful Lanikai Beach, where we went after the trek to relax.
Manoa Waterfall Hike – it’s another easy, accessible hike which gets you through the jungle/forest land and leads you to a waterfall. I wouldn’t hike this trail only for the waterfall because it was very busy and crowded when we got there. Instead just enjoy the hike itself and don’t rush to get to the waterfall.
Kualoa Ranch (Private Nature Reserve) – this place preserves Kualoa’s sacred lands and celebrates its history. It offers different guided tours through the valley such as Mountain Bikes, ATV’s, Zipline, Horseback, Trolley, Bus, Boat, Kayak, Jeep, Catamaran, so you easily will be able to find something that suits you the most. Also, this place has been the site of over 70 Hollywood movies.
Polynesian Cultural Center – this is the place where you can learn and experience rich history of six different island nations (Tonga, Tahiti, Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, Aotearoa). Learn about the ways of how natives used to live, and even take part in authentic Polynesian Luau dinner and enjoy different songs, dance and celebrations from across the Pacific. Don’t live without seeing a breathtaking evening show “Ha: breath of life.”
Shark diving – One Ocean Diving offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience to swim with sharks in nature. You will learn about biology, physiology, the behavior of sharks and how to safely interact with them. It’s a little bit pricey ($165 per person) but definitely worth it.
Tip: Buy GoOahu Card if you plan to do a lot. We bought a 3-Day pass ($198 per person) and even though we could have done a lot more in those 3 days, we still managed to save $109!
Other places worth mentioning:
Byodoin Temple, Kapiolani Regional Park, Crouching Lion hike, Lyon Arboretum, Iolani Palace, Pearl Harbor, Bishop Museum, visit West beaches (especially for swimming with turtles), Olomana trail, Lulumahu Falls, Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden, Nu’Uanu Pali.
Where to eat:
I don’t want to repeat words like delicious, amazing and must try, so here is the list of places and foods that are definitely worth trying.
Ubae – purple cheesecake
•Modo – mochi donuts. We tried matcha green tea, cookies and cream and lilikoi
Kamehameha bakery – best poi glazed doughnuts
Acai bowls – at Crispy Grindz
Samoan half-moon pie – Polynesian Cultural Center
Dole Whip and Macadamia Nut Cheesecake – at Dole Plantation
•Giovanni’s’ Shrimp Truck – the most popular truck on Oahu. There was a line even before it opened. Famous for its garlic shrimp (but in my opinion, the one that we tried in Kauai was even better in my opinion).
Shrimp Shack – another very delicious shrimp truck, where we tried both garlic and coconut shrimp.
•Leonard’s bakery – you have to try delicious malasadas there. They taste like donuts but even better, and they offer several varieties. We tried: chocolate, original, coconut, macadamia, caramel, guava, and coconut turnover. My favorite was the guava one, and it’s a bright pink color.
•Ramen – at Shirokiya Japan Village Walk. It’s a Japanese food court located in Ala Moana Center. They offer a vast variety of Japanese dishes and fruits. The ramen that we tried there was amazing.
•Cheeseburger in paradise – a great restaurant near Waikiki Beach. The coconut Shrimp is a must try.
• Try Macadamia nuts
We stayed in 2 different Airbnbs (for a cheaper option), and the total was $402 for the two of us.
I hope I was able to help you to create a list of things that you should do on Oahu if you don’t have a lot of time.
Thank you so much for reading this travel guide, comment below if you liked it or would want to add something else.