How to Spend a Week on Oahu
The Best Hikes to Do on Oahu
Pillboxes Hike, Lanikai
This is an insta-famous hike, and for good reason. Offering one of the best views in all of Oahu, the hike up to the Pillboxes starts at Kaelepulu Drive and winds up a windy ridge for about half an hour to large concrete pillboxes. Perched on top, you can see the beautiful Lanikai Beach and the Moku Islands, and if you time it right, sunrise from here is arguably one of the best on the island.
Nu'uanu Pali Lookout Point, Pali Highway
Off the Pali Highway is a stunning view point where you can pull off the main road into lush greenery where both the wind and the view will knock you off your feet!
Jackass Ginger Pools, Pali Highway
Just before the lookout (see above), there is a short hike down the Judd Trail to the Jackass Ginger Pools, an ice cold cluster of natural pools, slides and waterfalls. The water was beautifully clear and it danced gently over the rocks. In the Hawaiian heat, even in the middle of December, we were completely dry just a few minutes after leaving the pools.
Kaniakapupu Ruins, Pali Highway
A few minutes along the road from the Jackass Ginger Pools is a small gap in the overgrowth where a path of wildly overgrown and beautiful bamboo leads to the Kaniakapupu Ruins built in 1847! It was only in use for a few decades before it was abandoned, and now you can wander all about it.
Diamond Head Crater, Honolulu
One of Hawaii's most famous hikes, Diamond Head sits just outside the bustling metropolis of Honolulu, and allows hikers to climb an actual crater! It’s easily accessible by bus, and we also passed plenty of direct shuttle buses coming from the hotel district. The whole thing is 1.5 miles round-trip but there is no shade so it’s pretty hot and sweaty the whole way up. Also, you’re meant to pay a $1 entrance fee but we didn’t see anyone in the ticket booth even after waiting five minutes, so we ended up just walking in! If you have a car, parking is $5.
Tree House, Tantalus
Along the drive up to Tantalus overlooking Honolulu is a darling little tree house with incredible views towards Waikiki and Diamond Head Crater. The climb is scary and the route across to the platform is nerve-wracking, but the view is so well worth it.
Puu Ualakaa State Park, Tantalus
We drove through Tantalus and stopped in at Puu Ualakaa State Park to drink in the gorgeous panoramic views over Oahu's southern coast. The almost 360-degree views of the island were jaw-dropping.
The Best Beaches on Oahu
Sunset Beach, North Shore
We took advantage of cheap transfer bus fares (buy one ticket and get a free second transfer ticket) and took the bus around the northern coast of Oahu in search of the beautiful Sunset Beach on the North Shore. The main beach was unfortunately blocked off with yellow caution tape, but we found a tree that was beautifully shaped for some neat photos.
Waimea Bay, North Shore
Hopping back on the bus from Sunset Beach took us to Waimea Bay to catch the afternoon sun. Probably the least touristy of all the beaches we visited, it was quiet and relaxing.
Banzai Pipeline, North Shore
While this beach is particularly incredible year-round, especially well-known for its fantastic surf, getting to experience the Surfing World Cup here was unreal. We woke up at 3am in order to nab a good spot and piled onto the beach with the other onlookers in time for sunrise and the start of the event where world champion surfers took on the waves to compete for three world titles!
Lanikai Beach, Kailua
I was so excited to visit beautiful Lanikai Beach! Given that this is my first time visiting a tropical destination, it was absolutely breathtaking to experience turquoise waters, pure white sand and breezy palm trees in real life.
Kailua Beach, Kailua
Kailua Beach is Lanikai's lesser-known neighbour that has more of park vibe than tropical beach front. The sand is more filled with shells and pebbles, but when it began to rain, the overcast clouds created a stunning, moody backdrop.
Sandy Beach, East Coast
On the eastern side of Oahu lies the beautiful Sandy Beach, probably my absolute favourite of all the beaches that we had a chance to visit. Between sporadic bursts of warm rain we wandered in and among the rocks and watched the sunset and I felt completely in awe of the beauty sprawled peacefully out before us.
Waikiki Beach, Honolulu
It's fascinating seeing the 'tourist' side of Hawaii in the form of the Waikiki Beach strip with jam-packed all-inclusive resorts and beaches but I'm so glad I had the opportunity to see Hawaii for what it really is.It was still fun to resort-hop the length of the Waikiki strip, wandering through the expensive resorts and hanging out on the Hilton's hammocks.
Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon, Honolulu
Owned by one of the beachfront resorts, the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon is popular with children seeking water-sport thrills. The most stunning sunset of the entire trip seemed to light the nearby Ala Wai Yacht Harbour on fire.
Where to Eat on Oahu
Acai Bowl at Haleiwa, North Shore
Of course, the acai bowl is something that Hawaii is more than well-known for. A delicious blend of frozen acai berries topped with all sorts of treats, makes for a beautiful bowl that can be eaten at any time of day for any meal. Probably the island's best acai bowls are created from scratch out of a beach hut at Haleiwa Bowls on the north shore.
Shave Ice at Waiola's, Honolulu
For a treat we headed to the well-known Waiola's for delicious rainbow shave ice with condensed milk toppings.
Acai Bowl at Andy's, Manoa
We hit up Andy's in the centre of Manoa Marketplace, a delicious place to grab acai, sandwiches and other fresh deliciousness.
Poke Bowl at Ono's, Honolulu
We finished off a day of beach adventures and sandy explorations with a fresh poke bowl from Ono's, a hidden hole in the wall in Honolulu that the locals know well.
Korean BBQ at Sura Hawaii, Honolulu
The Sura Hawaii in Honolulu is amazing because they bring you a whole pile of raw stuff (meats, eggs, veggies, side dishes, sauces, everything) and then you cook it right on your table top!