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

Let us know if you have any questions about any of these locations. Aloha!

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

Related: 5 Amazing Hikes on Oahu.

Where to say

Where to eat

*Interested in swimming with sharks without a cage?  Check out my blog post about my experience here.

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 oahu 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 Koolina 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.

Related: Where to find sunflower fields on Oahu.

Best beaches

  • Haunama Bay
  • Makapuu
  • Waimanalo
  • Kailua
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 Guest House

modern honolulu

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.

Best beaches

  • Ala Moana Beach Park
  • Kaimana Beach Park

Best Hikes – South Shore

  • Diamond Head

Where to stay

Where to eat

My Oahu Travel Guide

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