Known as “The Gathering Place,” Oahu is the third-largest of the Hawaiian Islands. While you may be tempted to spend most of your time in Honolulu, the state’s capital, there is nothing quite like taking time to experience the rest of the island. A perfect day for me is one spent on the North Shore swimming in the ocean, eating poke, and watching the sunset with friends.
Here are some of my favorite things to do and places to eat on Oahu.
1. NORTH SHORE
An hour drive from Waikiki, the North Shore is one of my favorite places in the world. I love it here! Start your day with a stop in Haleiwa and grab breakfast or lunch in this historic town before you head out on your adventure. During the summer months, the Country is flat and perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. In winter, the waves get big. In some places up to 25- 40 feet. There are several surfing competitions during the winter months (November- December) so beaches can get busy, and you can expect even more traffic.
- Haleiwa Alii
- Kaena Point
- Waimea Bay
- Sunset Beach
EAT and DRINK:
- Nuy’s Thai Food – Waialua (Lunch)
- Pupukea Grill – Across from Shark’s Cove (Lunch)
- Haleiwa Joe’s – Haleiwa (Happy Hour)
- Opal Thai – Haleiwa (Dinner)
- Haleiwa Beach House – Haleiwa (Dinner)
- Turtle Bay Resort– Grab a drink at sunset by the pool, Lei Lei’s (Dinner)
- Waialua Sugar Mill – Get your coffee fix and take a tour of how coffee is made.
*Interested in swimming with sharks without a cage? Check out my blog post about my experience here.
2. WEST SIDE
Pristine, uncrowded and beautiful.
Drive to the end of the road for some of the best beaches on the island and enjoy the view of the majestic Waianae Mountain Range. (Check the surf forecast or ask a lifeguard to make sure the water isn’t too rough before you go.) If you are traveling with family, visit Koolina for the Paradise Cove Luau or spend time in the lazy river at the Disney Aulani Resort.
- Yokohama Bay
- Makua Beach
- Makaha Beach
- Electric Beach
3. EAST SIDE
Starting from November to May, this is where you want to be if you want to go whale watching. After Hawaii Kai, Kalanianaole Highway is a scenic road with dreamy views and plenty of lookouts where you can stop and enjoy the view. There are also several hikes along this route, including the Makapuu Lighthouse trail and Tom Tom trail. Rent a kayak in Kailua and head to the Mokulua Islands, or go on a full moon hike on the Lanikai Pillbox trail.
- Haunama Bay
Photo by: Del Brown
4. SOUTH SHORE
Always sunny and rainbow sightings are almost guaranteed, Waikiki is busy, vibrant and your destination for nightlife and high-end shopping. (Chinatown also has a nightlife scene.) Take a surf lesson in Waikiki, or board a sunset catamaran cruise with your best friends. Wake up early, (really early) and walk towards Diamond Head if you want to enjoy the beach without the big crowds.
*The Hilton Hawaiian Village has a fireworks show every Friday at 7:45 pm.
- Ala Moana Beach Park
- Kaimana Beach Park
EAT and DRINK:
- Ono’s Seafood – Amazing Poke! (Only a 10-minute drive from Waikiki.)
- South Shore Grill– on Kapahulu (Lunch and Dinner)
- Diamond Head Market & Grill (Lunch and Dinner)
- Banan – Acai bowls (Waikiki or Manoa)
- Duke’s Waikiki – (Lunch and Dinner)
- Uncle’s Bo’s – on Kapahulu (Dinner)
- Rum Fire – Sheraton Waikiki (Drinks)
- Yauatcha – (Happy Hour) Read about my experience here.
- The Modern Honolulu – One of my favorite hangouts! Stop by for a drink at the pool, and stay for a night out at the Lobby Bar. Read about my experience in the Penthouse here.
- The LayLow, Autograph Collection – a boutique hotel with a friendly staff and great rooftop hangout space.
Have you been to Oahu? What are your favorite spots?
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