Oahu Travel Guide
See below for all the can't-miss places to eat, explore, and enjoy in Oahu based on my travel experiences primarily in the North Shore area.
The map below identifies all the recommended things to eat and do in Oahu.
The places I listed on the map above, but with pictures and a description below.
After trying their coconut shrimp that I had heard my friends from Los Angeles praising, I can now tell you for SURE that this is something you need in your life.
There's a bunch of shrimp trucks in this one area —probably because there's a shrimp farm nearby. Since we were in a position to only choose one, Giovanni's seemed to be the stand out choice. And it didn't disappoint! There was even a funnel cake shop nearby, so we added that to our assemblage of food as well.
I got a pineapple, avocada, mushroom, cheese burger with their seasoned fries and a small salad. I highly recommend this meal. And this place.
Brittney was all too excited to finally go to the Dole Plantation. Although she was focused on trying their pineapple ice cream, she was more focused and ecstatic about getting the plastic piggy bank that the ice cream comes in.
This one is a special mention. Britt and I found this Asian Italian fusion place and had a "Cheese Cheese Cheese & Honey" pizza. Apparently I love the name so much that I still remember it today. It had a lot of cheese on it.
The food is good, and relatively inexpensive, and they had such enticing meals to choose from. Plus their restaurant name was featured in the movie "50 First Dates," so that was kind of neat.
So this place has shaved ice: pick some flavors, then get some ice cream, and — if you're feeling risky — add the beans. It's good. It's great. It's arguably the best shaved ice there ever is according to a lot of people I talk to. I can verify.
If you're looking for some fish tacos, go here. We actually met the owner and his brother and son when we went here — they're from California!
For a good acai bowl, you can trust Lanikai Juice to hook you up. It was my first experience with acai. I still get it today so that's must mean it had a good influence on me?
Bonus: Mauna Loa Milk Chocolate Macadamias
I'm pretty sure I'd be a couple pounds lighter if I never heard of these tasty treats. But I can go through a couple bags in one week. I just love them.
Don't miss these beaches, places, and activities!
I love turtles, and fitting to it's nickname, Turtle Beach allows you to view them up close. They usually come onto the sand. The particular turtle pictured actually looked right at me!
Sharks Cove is the best place to snorkel. There's turtles here. And it's just beautiful. A little rocky but so cool to walk around and explore.
Waimea Bay Beach Park
Waimea beach was one of the first places Britt took me to. We parked on the side of the highway and walked down (parking lot is limited). The waves are small but the water is perfect for jumping off of a rock. I was really proud of jumping ten feet.
I'm used to stand up paddle boarding in the ocean in Southern California where there are waves to get over. This was like stand up paddle boarding on a lake. It was really relaxing and easy. And more turtles!
I wasn't sure if this tour was going to be too "touristy" but ... with how much I love chocolate covered macadamia nuts I figured it was worth a shot. I was not disappointed by the bus ride through the farm, learning about some filming locations on the farm and nearby, how they grow the macadamia nuts, and the fire dance + education about how locals utilize a coconut in a variety of ways.
Best. Decision. Ever. Britt didn't have a car to get around on the first trip, so we took the bus to Honolulu from the North Shore (pretty easy) and got these rentals. A day let us keep it with us overnight and moped around the outside of the island.
As we mopedded back, we found this spot off the highway and enjoyed some of our cheesy pizza and then sat on the edge of the rocks to watch the blowhole explode every so often.
We went parasailing with H2O Sports. We had such a blast! Going so high up and feeling like you're flying is the best feeling. I'd do it over and over again.
Also a fitting name for this beach — it's truly a great place to watch the sunset. It's just a wide view of the ocean.
I've visited this place both times I've gone to Oahu. We took snorkeling gear and swam over to the little island that looks like a Chinaman's Hat — hence the nickname. It was a bit of a steep climb but so worth the view at the top. There's not a lot of sand space to lay on, but more park area, but it's pretty quiet and lovely to explore.
Polynesian Culture Center
This is one of the must-do's of Oahu. It's kind of like a Disneyland of all the worlds and cultures of Polynesia. I love that they celebrate these cultures and educate everyone coming through about the differences and similarities of each one.
I'm Mormon, so this was especially special for me, but the grounds here are really beautiful, and they also have a Visitor's Center here as well.
We took a boat with a group of people and saw some sharks in the water while we were in it. Of course we were in a cage, and it wasn't great white sharks, so it wasn't very scary. Just kind of cool.
Hanauma Bay is one of those picture perfect places you see on postcards of Oahu. But there's a price for that. You do pay to get in, and then it's also pretty touristy. I like the video they have you watch before you swim around and enjoy the fishes and lounge on the sand.
I'm glad Brittney practically forced me to do this trail. It was getting dark and I was worried about riding back on our mopeds. But c'est la vie. We went and at the top Brittney yelled "I love Hawaii!" and maybe scared the people next to us. But she only speaks the truth.
This is the place to watch the sunrise. Don't sleep in for this. People also jump off the rock on the side too. I get scared just watching them.
I've listed the hikes from easiest to hardest.
As said before, I'm glad we went on this trail! It was an easy 2 mile hike with a slight incline.
It's a swim (or kayak) to the little island from shore and a bit of a steep hike up but for the adventurous it's worth it!
This hike is not for the faint of heart. I only made it to the first level and that was as far as I could go. I did not physically, or mentally prepare myself for going to the entrance in the middle of the night and climbing up stairs, that turned into ladders, and nearly fainted. BUT if you can make it, seeing the sunrise from even the first level is amazing.
There's a long version, and a shortcut version of this hike. We went through the shortcut. It's a little difficult to find the entrance at first, and you go through some jungle with a lot of mosquitoes that freaked me out, but eventually you see the sun again and the view from the top is phenomenal. Just bring water.
It's easy to mix up this trail with the Laie Trail — which might also be worth doing — but either way, you're in for a long hike, with amazing views and a waterfall. Just be prepared.
For everything else we did.
Hammock all day
Go night swimming with glowsticks
Sleep in hammocks & wake up to sunrise
Become a sand turtle
Get lost in the Dole Plantation Maze
And for all the things we didn't do, like hike Diamondhead and see Pearl Harbor (make sure you get advanced tickets if you're in a time limit), I'm glad that we've got time to go back.