Aloha! There are countless reasons to love Hawaii. Breathtaking views, pristine beaches, cold Mai Tai’s and welcoming locals, are just a few.
The most populous of the Hawaiian Islands, Oahu is part bustling metropolis, part nature wonderland. For those looking for a romantic getaway or unforgettable family vacation, it’s sure to delight.
Based on our exploration of the island, we’ve compiled our top picks for sightseeing and relaxation. Book your trip today to enjoy them for yourself.
The mountainous terrain of Oahu offers unprecedented hiking opportunities. Climb to the top of the ranges for a bird’s eye view of the valleys, beaches, ocean and city below.
The most popular hike on the island is Diamond Head, which takes you up a segment of the Koʻolau Mountain Range to an old military observation platform with views of both the Pacific Ocean and Wakiki Beach below. Like most of the hikes on Oahu, it’s best to do this one in the morning before the afternoon heat, as it’s all up hill.
Our favorite hike, however, is the Lanikai Pillbox Hike in Kailua. While steep, you can hike the whole thing in about an hour and are rewarded with the most scenic views of the shores below. (The picture on this blog post was taken from the top.)
If you’re really feeling adventurous, there’s also the Haiku Stairs, which takes you up 3,922 stairs for a 360-degree view.
A Night Out on the Town
For all the action, head to Waikiki Beach—home to almost all the resorts on the island. Among this tourist mecca, you’ll find some of the best restaurants and shopping on the island, plus your fair share of street vendors. Enjoy free fireworks year-round on the beach every Friday night, courtesy of Hilton Hawaiian Village. Watch the night show over a late-dinner, or while enjoying a cocktail or shave ice.
For a bit more laid back atmosphere, but still great dining and some cool local shops, travel to the North Shore.
If you’re there between November and February, you may even glimpse the area’s famous waves, which are legendary throughout the surfing community.
Other cool places to grab a bite while you’re on the island include Kona Brewing Company, home of best craft beer on the island, and Ono Hawaiian Foods, a neighborhood dive well known for its traditional Hawaiian fare.
Beaches and Beyond
All beaches in Hawaii are public, so there are plenty of options to consider. Due to its proximity to the resorts, Waikiki Beach is often a popular destination. That said, some other great beaches include: Turtle Bay (sea turtles can usually be spotted here!), Lanikai Beach and Kailua Beach, among others.
Also, if you’re looking to snorkel, plan a trip to Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve or Shark’s Cove. (Note: For the latter, you need your own equipment.) Both offer clear, shallow water that is perfect for seeing marine life.
A Touch of History
Pearl Harbor, the site of the historic World War II battle, is a must-visit destination. Take the ferry out to the USS Arizona Memorial to pay your respects to those who lost their lives in the 1941 attack.
Or, for a bit of local history, plan a day at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Here, you’ll find exhibits, food and shows that give you a feel for the history of the island and the cultures that first inhabited it. The Center also has a great luau to end your day.