Heading to Hawaii? This Oahu Travel Guide will help you plan your trip to the “The Gathering Place,” the third-largest of the Hawaiian Islands.
This Oahu travel guide includes:
- Best beaches
- Best hikes
- Where to stay
- Where to eat
- Ultimate experiences on the North Shore, East Side, West Side, and Waikiki.
Oahu Travel Guide – North Shore
An hour’s 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
Best Hikes – North Shore
- Kaeana Point
- Ehukai Pillbox hike
Where to say
Where to eat
- Nuy’s Thai Food – Waialua (Lunch)
- Pupukea Grill – Across from Shark’s Cove (Lunch)
- Haleiwa Joe’s – Haleiwa (Happy Hour)
- 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.
Travel Insurance – I never travel without Travel Insurance. I’ve had several injuries and mishaps occur while traveling. From a broken ankle to refilling prescriptions, I never hesitate to visit a doctor abroad because I know I’m covered. I like World Nomads because it’s so easy to file claims.
Travel Guide: 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
Best Hikes & Caves – West Side
- Upper Makua cave
- Mermaid Caves
Where to stay
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
- Sandy Beach
Best Hikes – East side
- Tom Tom Trail
- Makapuu Tidepools
- Lanikai Pillbox
- Koko Crater Trail – Koko Head Stairs
Where to stay
Guide to South Shore – Waikiki
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
Best Hikes – South Shore
- Diamond Head
Where to stay
- The LayLow, Autograph Collection – A mid-century modern boutique hotel with city and ocean views.
- 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. Check out the Penthouse at the Modern.
- Prince Waikiki – Waikiki – Featuring a rooftop pool with the most amazing view and a full-service spa.
Where to eat
- 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)
Start your night with cocktails at the Hideout, a rooftop urban oasis at the Laylow in Waikiki. It’s a hidden gem in the heart of Waikiki. Enjoy live entertainment every night of the week, before making your way to Sky Waikiki. Cool off with the tropical breeze at this rooftop bar and restaurant/nightclub. Enjoy happy hour drink specials from 5 pm – 9 pm.
Go beyond the lobby bookshelves and step into THE STUDY Bar + Lounge inside the Modern Honolulu. THE STUDY has Happy Hour every night from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Live music starts at 8:00 pm. After a few hours at THE STUDY, make your way past the velvet rope to ADDICTION, one of the hottest nightclubs in Honolulu. Reserve a table and dance the night away.
You may also like:
I lived on Oahu for three years in Waikiki and the North Shore. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. I’m happy to answer any questions to help you plan your trip to the Hawaiian Islands. Send me a message anytime!
- Things To Do On Oahu – Top Bucket List Experiences in Hawaii
- Oahu Travel Guide – Best Beaches, Hikes and Ultimate Experiences
- Sunflower Fields on Oahu – Waialua, Waimanalo, Kapolei
- Where To Stay on Oahu – The Modern Honolulu
- Maui: Top Tips For Watching the Sunrise at Haleakala
- Things To Do in Lanai, Hawaii – The Ultimate 2-day Trip
- Swim With Sharks On Oahu – The Ultimate Bucket List Experience
- Where to eat in Waikiki – Honolulu, Hawaii
This site contains affiliate links. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.