Oahu is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and somewhere I hold deep in my heart. With such a diverse array of things to do – it makes it such a unique and special place to experience.
The outdoors of Oahu is somewhere you will never lose creativity at. Is it where I seek healing and inspiration. It is unlike anywhere I have ever been.
We compiled this post as a comprehensive guide of everything Oahu has to offer – both the well-known and the unknown. Read on to discover the parts of Oahu that make it so special.
Header Photo by @captain_potter
TIPS WHEN TRAVELING TO OAHU
Be flexible and plan when demand is low – in which accommodations and flights will be cheaper. If you’re curious about the weather – anytime is a great time to visit with temperatures averaging from roughly 75° -80° F. During winter – nights get only slightly chilly, leaving practically every day a beach day.
If you’re looking at getting away from the hustle of Waikiki – look for accommodations on the North Shore of Oahu. It is a much more raw-type of feeling when visiting Oahu.
Oahu has the best bus system out of all the Hawaiian Islands – don’t hesitate to use it. It is very affordable and a nice alternative to taxis.
Other than accommodations, food, and transportation, practically everything else on Oahu is free – so make sure to capitalize on it! There are lots of beautiful beaches, hikes, and scenery around the island that you cannot miss out on.
THINGS TO DO/SEE IN OAHU
From beaches, hikes, beautiful scenery, there is so much I can go on about Oahu – but we made sure to condense it to the absolute essentials. There is so much to explore on this lovely little island.
1. THE NORTH SHORE
The North Shore of Oahu is one of my favorite sides of the island to feel some island vibes. It features some of the best beaches on the island and so much to do. You will never run out of things to do here.
Coconut Forest: I would say this is the most magical place on the island. Period. This place truly shines during sunset, where the sun shines through the trees, leaving the entire place glowing. It is located on private property – so we will not disclose the location. Click here for a beautiful video of the Coconut Forest.
‘Ehukai Pillboxes: If you’re looking for the best view of the North Shore – this is the hike to do. Taking roughly an hour to complete, the ‘Ehukai Pillboxes is best done around sunset for the best views.
Sharks Cove: Snorkeling at Shark’s Cove is one to remember. It is one of the most popular snorkeling spots on the North Shore of Oahu.
Makua Beach: Located on the West side of Oahu. One of the most beautiful beaches on this side of the island. Located right next to Makua Cave – which we included on the 10 Best Hikes on Oahu.
Lanikai Beach: One of my personal favorites. The absolute best beach to just relax at. The water and sand here is something else. Lanikai Beach is also right next to Lanikai Pillboxes – which is a beautiful hike to do for sunrise. You can also kayak out to the beautiful Mokuleia Islands, which is commonly referred to as the Mokes.
Sunset Beach Park: Located on the North Shore of Oahu, this is an unforgettable beach. During winter months – it is filled with both surfers and tourists. This is the very beach they hold massive competitions for surfing. Right next to here is Sunrise Shack – a beautiful place to stop at for coffee, tea, or papaya bowls.
Waimea Bay Beach Park: This is one of the most lively beaches on the island; There are always people playing football or soccer and enjoying themselves. Known for cliff jumping off the 23-foot rock during the summer, and surfing during winter months. During winter months, waves can reach up to 30-40 feet in height. From snorkeling, cliff jumping, and rock climbing – this beach has it all. A definite must-visit when coming to Oahu.
If you’re looking for more beaches on Oahu, then click here for the best on the island.
Lulumahu Falls: Lulumahu Falls is one of my favorite waterfalls on the island. I recommend this it over Manoa falls for the fact that the waterfall is nicer and not as well-known/crowded.
Manoa Falls: This waterfall is one to remember. It is one of the most interesting forest-type of atmospheres on the island that makes it so different from all other hikes on the island. The waterfall tends to be quite small whenever I hike to it, so I would recommend visiting Manoa falls after heavy rainfall.
Waimano Falls: This is an awesome spot for cliff jumping – with a jump of approximately 20 feet. A short, yet rewarding hike. The perfect waterfall to have fun and let loose with friends.
Maunawili Falls: 2.8-mile roundtrip. A beautiful waterfall and one that is nice to relax at. Most that visit here jumps off the top part of the waterfall – which is roughly a 15-25 foot drop. Beside the waterfall is an even higher point to jump off which adds around 10 feet more in height.
If you’re looking to learn more about the best waterfalls on Oahu, then click here.
Electric Beach: Named Electric Beach due to the power point located across the street – which causes the water here to be warmer, attracting lots of fish and sea life. Dolphins often frequent here.
Makua Beach: We included Makua Beach because of the dolphins that frequent here. It is a very beautiful beach located on the West Side of Oahu – and probably one of the most beautiful on this side of the island.
Hanauma Bay: Beautiful place to snorkel at and relax with friends. It can get quite crowded here – so make sure to come early in the day.
Shark’s Cove: Located on the North Shore of Oahu – Shark’s Cove is something special. It is safest to go during summer months because the current is mellow – and during winter months it can get pretty hectic.
Kulima Cove: A great alternative to Shark’s Cove when the current is too strong or parking is filled. It is located at Turtle Bay Resort – which we go over in the section “Where to Stay”
Makua Cave: In my opinion, one of the best hikes on the West side of Oahu. It is an absolutely beautiful sight to see during sunset.
Crouching Lion Mini Hike: A short and steep hike – yet incredibly rewarding. Being surrounded by the beautiful green luscious landscapes and vibrant blue water makes this hike one like no other.
Stairway to Heaven: Hiking the Stairway to Heaven for sunrise was one of the most rewarding, yet scariest experiences of my life. Starting off the hike by sneaking past a guard before dawn and hiking in the pitch black to be greeted by a long staircase of nearly 3,922 steps. With both unsteady and slippery railings and steps, you get a feeling of unease. At some points, the stairs go completely vertical and you’re left gripping on for dear life as the strong wind blows from all directions. Reaching the very top takes lots of perseverance as there are checkpoints along the way that makes you question continuing. As the sun rose, the sky cleared and left us with the most beautiful glow and sunrise we’ve ever seen. It’s no question why so few have the courage to take on this hike.
Makapu’u Lighthouse: A popular place for whale watching. Located here is the beautiful Makapu’u Tidepools – which you absolutely have to see when visiting Oahu. Click here for our full article on the Makapu’u Tidepools.
Ehu’kai Pillbox: An absolute beauty during sunset – featuring the most astonishing view of the North Shore of Oahu.
Lanikai Pillbox: The perfect quick and easy hike for sunrise on the East side of Oahu. A must-do when visiting the island.
If you’re looking to learn more about the best hikes on Oahu, then click here.
WHERE TO STAY
The North Shore is a nice escape from the hustle of Waikiki. If you’re looking for a place to stay away from the city – stay at the North Shore of Oahu. Most of these accommodations are much more practical due to both the location and pricing. If you want a much more raw experience – don’t get caught in the hype of Waikiki.
Turtle Bay Resort: Beautiful luxury hotel. It is one of the largest and most popular accommodations on this side of the island with 410 guest rooms and 42 beach cottages. Located at the Turtle Bay is Kulima Cove – which is a beautiful place to snorkel.
Courtyard by Marriott: Sports a very modern look and is very spacious. It is located next to some of the most beautiful hikes on the island, such as Laie Falls, Crouching Lion, Ma’akua Ridge Trail, and so much more amazing hikes.
Tiki Moon Villas: Clean and modern look with a beautiful view of the Ko’olau Mountain Range. It is located next to the very popular Polynesian Cultural Center.
Paradise Bay Resort: The most affordable place to stay on this list. It is located more east in comparison to the other hotels – which makes it the perfect place to stay if you’re more of the adventurous type due to it being close to some beautiful hikes.
If you want to read more about the Best Hotels on the North Shore of Oahu, then click here.
If you want to be in the city and experience Oahu’s nightlife – then you absolutely need to stay at Waikiki. It’s very beautiful and convenient to experience the Friday night fireworks show which is #3 on our 45 Best Things to do on Oahu – which you can find here.
Halekulani: One of the most acclaimed 5-star hotels on Waikiki. The price is quite steep – but you get what you pay for. It’s very modern and spacious, with stunning views no matter the type of room you choose to stay in.
The Kahala Hotel & Resort: A luxury hotel located in the heart of Waikiki. With a luxury spa getaway that is geared for relaxation & rejuvenation.
The Royal Hawaiian: Sporting its iconic pink design and beautiful views of Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach – makes it a hotel you cannot miss. The Royal Hawaiian is ranked 4.5-stars.
The Modern Honolulu: Its location makes it very easy to explore the depths of Waikiki. It is conveniently located less than five minutes away from the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort – which is where the Friday Night fireworks show goes off at.
Outrigger Reef: Beautiful Hawaiian hospitality. It sports a beautiful view of Diamond Head.
Hilton Hawaiian: Home of the amazing Friday Night fireworks show. If you are staying here – it is a must to experience. Located right next to Waikiki Beach makes this such a convenient place to stay.
Waikiki Marriott: Located right next to the Honolulu Zoo.
Located on the West side of Oahu – Ko’olina is a beautiful place to stay for total relaxation. It is constantly changing, growing, and expanding. It is a very popular place to stay for celebrities.
Four Seasons Resort: Very popular place to stay for celebrities. Beautiful and modern. Wonderful staff and very welcoming community.
Aulani Disney Resort & Spa: Offers lots of fun-filled activities ranging from a raging river, slides, and a kids club. Wonderful and friendly staff.
WHERE TO EAT
Seven Brothers Burgers: Very modern and local vibe. Interesting style and the burgers are some of my favorite that leaves me wanting more.
Ono’s Seafood: One of my favorites to grab poke at.
Haleiwa Joe’s: Located in the heart of Kaneohe. Delicious steak and seafood selection.
Sunrise Shack: Located next to Sunset Beach on the North Shore of Oahu, the Sunrise Shack is an awesome place to grab a coffee and they also serve delicious Papaya Bowls.
Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck: The most famous shrimp truck on the island. Extremely delicious and pretty good portions. Lines get very crowded during lunch time so make sure to come early or be willing to wait up to an hour or more.
Bogart’s Cafe & Espresso Bar: Delicious breakfast food. Extremely relaxing setting. They have some amazing Acai bowls and coffee. Lines can get quite long and parking is free but limited.
Haleiwa Bowls: Delicious Acai Bowls. Located right next to Haleiwa Beach Park.
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