If you're planning a trip to Hawaii, it's likely that you'll go to Honolulu. The city is the capital of the state of Hawaii and a great place to start a vacation. However, there is a lot more to see on the island of Oahu than just Honolulu. From gorgeous hiking trails to a delicious afternoon shave ice treat, make sure to hit these ten Oahu hot spots during your stay on the island.
Top 10 Things To Do When Visiting Oahu
The stunning shore of Waikiki is lined with resorts (and tourists), but you will see from the start that it’s a popular place for a reason. From here, you can launch a catamaran into the turquoise waters, take surf lessons, or rent a board on your own. The resorts also provide inner tubes to float that will let you float out to the sandbar, which allows you to get pretty far into the water and still stand. Enjoy lunch and a piña colada or three at the famous Duke’s Waikiki just off the beach.
2. Shrimp on the North Shore
The secluded countryside of Oahu lies on the North Shore of the island. Here you will find solitude, mom-and-pop shops, and gorgeous beaches and views. Famous for its garlic shrimp, you can sample the cuisine at Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck or Romy’s Kahuku Prawns. Leonard’s Malasada Truck also features phenomenal dining.
3. Matsumoto's Shave Ice
Located in the historic surf town of Haleiwa on the North Shore, Matsumoto’s has been a local favorite since the 1950’s. Producing over 1,000 scoops of shaved ice daily, owner’s Stanley and his wife Noriko keep the tradition of the family-owned business alive. Scoop up an original t-shirt and try an exotic flavor combo of shaved ice or ice cream at this town favorite!
4. Waimea Bay
This historic surfer’s paradise is also in Haleiwa at the mouth of the Waimea River. The Valley has a botanical garden and is home to the beautiful Waimea Falls, where you can swim for a small entrance fee. Jump off the ledges if you dare!
5. Go to a luau
If you can spring for it, a candlelight dinner at sunset by the beach is an experience not to be missed while on the Hawaiian Islands. The feasts can include favorites like pork from a spit, lomi salmon (cold tomato and salmon salad), taro bread rolls, or a coconut dessert called haupia. Of course, the performances and other cultural activities set each luau apart, so check out different venues around the island for the best fit.
6. Eat the Street
Modern Hawaiian cuisine features a mix of island, mainland, and Asian influences. Food truck culture has also gained popularity over the years, and now Eat the Street provides a monthly venue for the best of the best in transportable Oahu food to convene. Check out hipster Kakaako on the last Friday of every month for mouth-watering waffle dogs with cheese, li-hing lemonade, and more in a wide array of delicious treats.
7. Honolulu's Chinatown
This is an off-the-beaten path Honolulu gem for foodies, art lovers, and night crawlers alike. The Oahu market is a treat for the senses with Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese stands full of fresh favorites at reasonable prices. There’s also a monthly First Friday festival with an art walk around Nuuanu Street. Then Chinatown comes alive around nighttime, with underground bars and clubs, and live music at historic Hawaii Theatre, that will give everyone something to choose from.
8. Snorkeling Hanauma Bay
Hanauma Bay State Park is a protected marine life conservation area that was formed within a volcanic cone. This unique setting has become home to a diverse and pristinely guarded ecosystem that has dazzled visitors for years. Teal waters, vibrant marine life, and thriving coral are just some of the things snorkelers can to look forward to. It’s a definite must-see.
9. Koko Head Stairs
Skip the stairmaster at the gym in loo of this trail. One thousand steps in the Koko Head Park will lead you to stunning 360-degree views of the island that will make it well worth the effort. You’ll feel on top of the world from the accomplishment and the height!
10 Watch the sunset at Kailua Beach Park
If a half mile expanse of soft white sand with turquoise waters and gentle breezes sounds appealing, Kailua Beach Park in the city of Kailua will be a vacation highlight for you. It’s a popular spot for water sports, inviting visitors and locals to windsurf, kayak, parasail, and body board. Dive shops and islandwear shops are conveniently located near the beach, along with plenty of restaurants to choose from. Like the also popular Lanikai Beach, visitors might even catch site of sea turtles here in their natural habitat.
This article was written by Lauren Riley.