Oahu Travel Guide – Best Beaches, Hikes and Ultimate Experiences

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.

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Sunset Beach North Shore Oahu

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.

turtles haleiwa

Best beaches

  • Haleiwa Alii
  • Waialua
  • Mokuleia
  • Kaena Point
  • Waimea Bay
  • Sunset Beach
  • Velzyland

Best Hikes – North Shore

  • Kaeana Point
  • Ehukai Pillbox hike

Hiking and Travel Guides:

Where to say: Hotels on the North Shore

Best Places to eat on the North Shore

  • 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.

Video: Want to swim with sharks on Oahu?  Read this.

travel guide oahu hawaii

Hawaii 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 Ko Olina for the Paradise Cove Luau or spend time in the lazy river at the Disney Aulani Resort.

Best Beaches

  • Yokohama Bay
  • Makua Beach
  • Makaha Beach
  • Electric Beach

Best Hikes & Caves – West Side

  • Upper Makua cave
  • Mermaid Caves

Where to stay

travel guide for oahu

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.


Best beaches

  • Haunama Bay
  • Makapuu
  • Waimanalo
  • Kailua
  • Lanikai
  • Sandy Beach
travel guide oahu

Best Hikes – East side

  • Olomana
  • Tom Tom Trail
  • Makapuu Tidepools
  • Lanikai Pillbox
  • Koko Crater Trail – Koko Head Stairs

Where to stay

Kailua Beach

Oahu Travel Guide: 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.

Best beaches

  • Ala Moana Beach Park
  • Kaimana Beach Park

Best Hikes – South Shore

  • Diamond Head
Where to stay on Oahu Hawaii

Where to stay

Where to stay on Oahu not Waikiki 

Let us know if you have any questions about any of the locations mentioned on this list. Aloha!

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)


Waikiki Nightlife 

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. 


Thanks for reading my Oahu Travel Blog featuring all the best things to do in Oahu, Hawaii. From Honolulu to the North Shore, there are so many incredible things to do on Oahu. If you have any questions about this Oahu Guide, let us know in the comments.

oahu travel guide

After Oahu, what island should you visit next?



Big Island:


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