Before visiting Hawaii for myself, I always wondered if the islands were a little overrated. People talked about places like Oahu as if it were paradise - perfect weather, lush foliage, fish-filled waters, etc.
I wondered though how good it could really be. Surely it has its flaws...
Nope. Besides the fact things are a little expensive, Oahu is perfect. Since spending 3 full days there, I can't stop gushing about all the same things other people gushed to me about. Incredible hiking, white-sand beaches, and 20 more cliché descriptions of tropical destinations.
It really is a place everyone should experience at least once, if not twice or three times! One thing I know for sure is I'll be back soon, and it'll be even harder to leave.
To help convince you of everything I've claimed above, I've detailed out 6 reasons why Oahu should be your next vacation. I hope you agree with me by the end of this post, and find yourself searching for plane tickets. ;)
1. Endless Hiking
There are a million and one hikes in Oahu, each of them worthy of world-wide fame. The only tough part is choosing which one(s) to do, and accepting the fact that you’ll have to save the rest for next time.
The hike we decided to do was Koko Crater, also known as Koko Head Stairs. This hike is short, but demanding. It starts at the base of a large crater, and leads straight up an old railroad track. Since the track dates back to World War II, it’s old and slightly falling a part. Each ‘step’ is more like 2.5 steps, making the climb more and more difficult as the trail gets steeper.
But wow, are the views worth it!
Read more: 3 Easy Hikes Near Puerto Vallarta
Here is a list of a few other hikes in Oahu locals recommended:
- Crouching Lion
- Manoa Falls
- Lulumahu Falls
- Tom Tom Trail
- Wiliwilinui Ridge
- Pink Pillbox Hike
2. Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay
If you like snorkeling, Hanauma Bay will be paradise for you. This giant nature preserve is filled with brightly-colored fish, sea turtles and other coral life. Just make sure to put sunscreen on or you’ll fry!
In regards to snorkeling gear, you can bring your own, or rent from a small kiosk at the base of the bay. For $20, they’ll loan you a snorkel, mask and a pair of fins. You can also rent a locker from them if you’re worried about leaving your valuables out (although it's a very family-friendly area).
TIP: There’s a $7.50 admission fee for visitors age 13 and over, as well as a $1 parking fee for people driving into the park.
Read more: The Ultimate Sayulita Travel Guide
3. Polynesian Cultural Center
The Polynesian Cultural Center is a hands-on experience that teaches people about the different cultures of the Pacific Islands. Unlike traditional museums where exhibits are static, the Polynesian Cultural Center brings 6 different island cultures to life with real natives, dancing and activities.
These are 6 the different islands you’ll learn about:
After exploring the different villages, you can eat dinner at the center and stay for their evening show, “Hā: Breath of Life.”
4. Delicious Food
I don’t know if Yuting and I were just super lucky, but everything we ate in Oahu impressed us. From giant garlic prawns, to pineapple shaped shortbread cookies, we were in heaven.
Below are a few of our favorite restaurants we discovered, and what each of them are known for:
- Uahi Island Grill - Classic Hawaiian food near Kailua Beach
- Sam’s Kitchen - Waikiki seafood joint with garlic prawns
- Honolulu Cookie Co. - Pineapple shaped shortbread cookies in Waikiki
- Cafe Haleiwa - North Shore breakfast place with smoothies and Belgian waffles
- Fumi’s Kahuku Shrimp - Shrimp food truck on the North Shore
- Highway Inn - Authentic Hawaiian cuisine near Ala Moana
- Kona Brewing Co. - Pizza and beer near Hanauma Bay
Read more: 12 Things You Need to Experience in the Philippines
5. Big Waves on the North Shore
Oahu’s North Shore is famous for consistently big waves, and the occasional ‘super waves.’ If you’re an experienced or amateaur surfer looking to be challenged, you should be able to find plenty of action at places like Sunset Beach, Waimea Bay Beach Park and Pipeline. If you’re a beginner, check out Chun’s Reef, Puaʻena Point and inside Haleʻiwa.
Even if you’re not interested in surfing though, watching other people surf on the North Shore can be pretty entertaining. Yuting and I hauled out his drone at Sunset Beach and got a ton of video footage.
TIP: Check out Surfline for daily surf reports in Oahu
6. Gorgeous Beaches
Like hiking, your options are seemingly endless when it comes to finding a nice beach to lay on. Rent a car from Turo or hop on Oahu’s public transportation line, TheBus, and you can spend an entire day beach-hopping.
Here is a list of some of my favorite beaches we found:
- Waikiki Beach
- Sandy Beach Park
- Kailua Beach
- Sunset Beach
If you’re lucky, you may even spot a few whales in the distance! We saw a few breach at Sandy Beach Park, and it made our trip.
Read more: Getting the most out of 3 days in Oahu
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