Try An Off The Beaten Path Restaurant
Dukes Waikiki restaurant is probably on your list of places to eat on Oahu, but why not branch out and experience some more local, off the beaten path eateries as well?
From an all you can eat buffet at the Hare Krishna temple, to a sunny smoothie shack, tacos, Instagrammable ice cream and more, check out my list of 15 unique places to eat on Oahu. And if you follow a plant base diet, click here to discover 23 must visit Oahu vegan and vegetarian restaurants.
Grab Some Ramen And Cheap Beer At Shirokiya Japan Village Walk
Shirokiya Japan Village Walk is not technically not an off the beaten path thing to do in Oahu but unless you are Japanese, theres a good chance you might not come across it during your research.
Located in the Ewa Wing of the Ala Moana mall, this indoor market is beautifully decorated with flowers and paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling. Japan Village Walk is primarily a food court featuring dozens of vendors serving Japanese cuisine such as ramen, sushi, bentos, udon, soba, onigiri, bubble tea, desserts and more.
Shirokiya Japan Village Walk is also one of the best places to grab cheap beer on Oahu. Their beer garden area serves beer as cheap as $1, with pitchers ranging from $8-16.
In addition to food and drinks, there are also a few shops as well as a stage for live music and a childrens corner with Gachapon machines.
ADDRESS 1450 Ala Moana Blvd. Ste. 1360 Honolulu, Hawaii 96814
Oahus Best Hikes And Trails
Manoa Falls is a popular hike that goes up to the Manoa Waterfall. You can expect to get some mud on your shoes, but in general this is a hike that even kids can handle.
Koko Head is a hike to be challenged. Its a long set of train tracks that go straight up, up, and up and never seem to end. This is a hike that will test your endurance and is great for group bonding!
Makapuu Lighthouse Trail is a very easy hike thats great for any age. If you have a harder time walking, this might be a good trail for you as its a paved path all the way up to the viewpoint.
Kaena Point Trail from Makaha is in West Oahu and theres a good chance youll see Hawaiian Monk Seals and maybe even dolphins. This trail ends at the Kaena Point Bird Sanctuary.
Kaena Point Trail from Mokuleia has the same destination as above but skirts the North Shore instead. Youll also have a good chance of seeing some Hawaiian Monk Seals here, too.
Maunawili Falls is a popular hike for both local residents and tourists. Expect to get a little muddy so wear good shoes.
Lanikai Pillbox Trail is highly recommended because its short and gives you an awesome view of the Lanikai and Kailua Beaches.
Kuliouou Ridge Trail is one of my favorite hikes in Oahu. It has a little bit of everything and is more on the challenging side when I want to work hard for that view.
Olomana is a hike for the advanced and in shape. It does get dangerous the farther you go so be aware of your surroundings and be careful.
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Explore Oahu Like A Local
We all love to explore new places, but now, everyone ends up in the same place with social media. Sometimes even overcrowded that you dont want to explore that site anymore.
Visiting a new destination is about exploring and enjoying, not waiting in line to get the perfect Instagram picture. I love to explore things that locals also explore.
Locals tend to know the secret, great spots. Many things posted online on things to do in Oahu are super touristy.
There are many places that Hawaii has to explore from the beach to deep in the mountain. There is something to explore for everyone.
Here are great things that even locals enjoy doing.
But first, some tips on exploring Oahu responsibly
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Go Behind The Scenes On A Hawaii Five
Do we have any passionate TV fans in the house?
As you let the show-obsessed guide take you on a journey around the island, youll be able to visit famous locations like the Hawaii Film and Sound stage and McGarretts House .
A sit-down lunch and hotel pick-up are also included, so all you need to do is go with the flow and enjoy the day!
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Spend An Afternoon At The Spitting Caves
This is one of our favorite places on the island. During our first visit, we saw a mother whale and her calf jumping and playing offshore. That view combined with the spraying water of spitting caves was surreal. We spent a few hours just taking in the moment on the rocks.
The volcanic coastline is large and again, with barely any people. So you can enjoy this spot in peace. Spitting caves is also a spot for some of the best pictures on the island. If youre lucky, a rainbow will appear over the cave entrance, which makes for amazing photographs. Wed recommend bringing lunch and spending a few hours on this beautiful volcanic coastline.
China walls is close to spitting caves, which is another one of our favorite places. We just cant get enough of the dark volcanic rock and deep blue ocean views. The water is so clear and deep, turtles are swimming around and even monk seals! Wow, wow, wow, we cannot get enough of this place.
Malaekahana Beach / Campground
If you are looking for an extended visit, or even just a peaceful day on Oahu, I highly recommend Malaekahana Beach Campground. Located on the eastern side of the North Shore, Malaekahana is the perfect spot for beginner surfing lessons, quiet family swimming and picnics, camping and glamping options.
With camping prices starting at $10/night, this is the safest available option on the island. I was able to stay here for a full month, and used the public bus to navigate anywhere on the island. Just a 10 minute walk to famous food trucks, a 10 minute bus from Turtle Bay Resort , and a 30 minute ride from Haleiwa Malaekahana is one of the best kept secrets on the island. Also, there are TURTLES! I like turtles.
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Catch A Sunrise From The Lanikai Pillbox
While you may have heard about the Stairway to Heaven hike on Oahu , the Lanikai Pillbox is a lesser known but just as beautiful spot to see the sunrise. It takes about 40 minutes to drive to the beginning of the trail and about an hour by bus. Once you get to the base of the trail, its a short yet steep hike up to the lookout point.
Surf Lessons At Waikiki Beach
Waikiki Beach is one of the most popular Oahu attractions. This is the busiest tourist spot in Hawaii. The white sand, clear blue water, and never ending small waves make this a perfect spot for beginners to become a grommet . Great instructors make this possible for even the least athletically inclined. Check out some of the most popular surf lessons I could find here.
Book your tour: Oahu: Group Surfing Lesson in Waikiki Beach
Psst: If youre interested in planning the cheapest trip possible to Hawaii, then I created a free cheatsheet for you, which details the top 5 tools we used to plan our trip to Hawaii. or the image below to download it!
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Enjoy An Aloha Island Tour
We used Groupon to book the Aloha Circle Island Adventure and it didnt disappoint. From the time we were picked up in Waikiki , it was nonstop fun. We enjoyed taro donuts while exploring and learning about Oahu. We cannot recommend this tour enough for anyone looking to see the hot spots in Oahu and learn more about the island from a local. Book a full circle tour out of Honolulu here
Tip: Call and ask to be scheduled with Uncle Tony. He is the true reflection of the Hawaiian culture and makes you feel like ohana. During our tour, he made a few extra stops and gave us a lot of interesting information about how Oahu came to be. He even held and played with our little one so we could eat.
Explore The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum
Located within the walls of an authentic WWII-era hangar, the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum provides a fascinating insight into the famous attack, with a focus on the planes involved.
Besides the equipment and artifacts, the museum also features a gift shop, cafe , and state-of-the-art flight simulators.
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Eat An Authentic Hawaiian Plate Lunch
Dont go to Hawaii without tasting real Hawaiian food.
And by Hawaiian food, I mean the amazing melting pot of flavors inspired by Japan, China, Korea, and all over the world.
Hawaiian-style plate lunch usually consists of a meat entree, two scoops of rice, and one scoop of macaroni salad.
This is where you can try kalua pork, kalbi ribs, mochiko chicken, lau lau, katsu curry, beef stew, and so many other flavorful options.
And dont forget to grab a Spam musubi, which is sort of like a Spam sushi roll, for an after-lunch snack!
Learn About The Iconic Attacks At The Pearl Harbor National Memorial
Whether you see the USS Arizona Memorial, Battleship Missouri Memorial, just walk around the city, or all of the above, no trip to Oahu is complete without a day exploring the site of the tragic Pearl Harbor attack.
Now one of the areas most popular tourist attractions, the landmarks here are powerful and fascinating, and with so many tours to choose from, theres something for everyone.
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Dive Beneath The Surface On An Atlantis Submarine
Want to get up close and personal with green sea turtles, sharks, yellow tangs, and eels? Then look no further!
Secured in the comfort of either Atlantis 48-passenger or 64-seater submarine, guests will descend 100 feet beneath the surface of the ocean, where the marine ecosystems dazzle, delight, and amaze.
A Locals Tips For Visiting Oahu
FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH HAWAIIAN CULTURE Before Hawaii became the 50th state, it was an independent nation known as Kingdom of Hawaii, and they had Kings and Queens. The United States overthrew the monarchy and today, many Hawaiians still consider their islands to be an occupied state. Acknowledging and observing Native Hawaiian culture and learning about their history will give you a greater appreciation for the islands during your visit.
THE BEST POKE IN OAHU Shannon has polled locals from all over the island on where to find the best poke, and the overwhelming response is always Foodland . After eating an obscene amount of poke in my life, I was excited to see how it compared. Needless to say, the hype is real and Foodlands secret spicy tuna will forever live in my memory as the best poke Ive ever eaten.
RELATED POST:15 OFF THE BEATEN PATH PLACES TO EAT IN OAHU
TRAFFIC Youd probably never guess this, but Honolulu is known to have some of the worst traffic in the nation. If you rent a car in Hawaii, make sure to check the traffic especially if youre catching a flight home. Shannon also stresses that island time is not just a saying. People drive slow and it can be frustrating if youre not used to it. Relax and be patient.
When searching for a reef-safe sunscreen, look for ones without oxybenzone and octinoxate. Many of the Hawaiian gift stores will carry it but its going to be cheaper to pack your own.
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Parasail Over The Brilliant Shoreline
With hundreds of miles of sparkling coastline and a topography covering everything from towering volcanoes to seemingly neverending Forrest, Oahu is undoubtedly best viewed from above.
Even if youve never parasailed before, dont fret with an experienced instructor riding tandem, all youll have to do is relax and enjoy the panoramic views!
Ditch The Mai Tai Try The Beer
Locals and transplants alike have kick-started Oahus craft beer scene and its growing fast. Ask the owners at Beer Lab for the best small-batch experiments that represent the citrusy flavors youd expect in an island brew. To sip small-batch brews alongside university students and auntie and uncle, head to the open-air tap rooms at Honolulu BeerWorks or Waikiki Brewing Company.
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Enjoy A Beach Day At Ala Moana Beach Park
Waikiki beaches are beautiful, but extremely busy which can make it stressful to lay there for an entire week. Instead, try out Ala Moana beach park in Honolulu. Its a perfect place for swimming, paddleboarding and relaxing. The beach is protected by a small reef, which means that you dont really have to worry about sharks ! Apart from the calm waters, the park has banyan trees and palms to relax under and many families spend the day barbecuing and chilling. This is one of our favorite beaches on the island. The vibe is amazing. Check it our for yourself.
Go Skydiving In The Worlds Most Beautiful Dropzone
Okay, whos ready for the ultimate thrill?
Nothing quite gets the heart race and the blood pumping than freefalling from over 12,000 feet above the ground at break-neck speeds of 120 miles per hour!
Moreover, theres arguably by location more suitable to do it than the pristine coastline, deep blue waters, and lush green forest of Oahu.
So, are you brave enough?
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Cool Of With Some Waiola Shave Ice
Unlike the rest of the United States, Hawaii isnt big on ice cream.
Instead, if locals arent enjoying an acai bowl, theyre keeping cool with a traditional and simple cone of Shave Ice. Ask any Honolulu resident: theres no joint more famous for a dessert than Waiola Shave Ice.
While its a little off the beaten path its definitely worth the extra time to get there!
Snorkel At Hanauma Bay
Considered the premier snorkeling destination on the island, Hanauma Bay is teeming with colorful sea life warm, clear waters shallow reefs, and terrific views.
Since this popular spot often gets busy as the day goes on , a guided experience is recommended plus, that way, all the equipment, and transportation is included!
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Explore Honolulu With A Scavenger Game
For when exploring a city at a leisurely pace becomes too mainstream, why not take it up a notch with a fast-tracked adventure around the city?
With challenges to complete, riddles to solve, and an easy-to-use app running the show, a scavenger game not only takes you to places like the hidden gems of Waikiki, but also makes it fun and exciting all the way through!
Thrilling North Shore Oahu: Best Fun Affordable Things To Do
We love Hawaii, and Oahus North Shore is a really special place. We spent time finding the best things to do on the North Shore and know youll love our plan. This is a guide to creating the best adventures for your trip to Oahu, and you wont be disappointed. PS: we have our favorite spots to see sunsets on Oahu as well!
We, along with our friends from Its A Family Thing, Corritta and Mea, got together to share our best tips for planning a remarkable, one-of-a-kind trip away from Waikiki to the pineapple fields and beaches of Oahu. Be sure to follow this awesome family on and too.
Doing a road trip around Oahu? Get my book: The Road Trip Survival Guide!
You cannot visit Oahu without stopping and admiring the North Shore. The North Shore has everything to offer from scenic hikes, ziplining, iconic surf waves, mouthwatering food, sea turtles, beautiful beaches, indescribable sunsets, and so much more. Spending two or three days enjoying what can be described as country setting with pineapple fields stretching for miles and beaches is so perfect you almost think the experience cant be real.
What you’ll find…
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Watch A Surf Competition
Regardless of whether you personally hit the waves or not, surf competitions on Oahu particularly the North Shore of the island are an unforgettable spectacle.
With 20-feet-tall barrelling waves, beautiful sunshine year-round, and some of the most exciting talent in the world congregating to ride the whitewater at the legendary Banzai Pipeline.
Soar Over The Island With A Helicopter Tour
Since Oahu are so geographically diverse, with lush forest, towering volcanoes, built-up resort towns, and endless coastline, a birds-eye view of the area is about as magnificent as it can get.
Simply choose your ideal duration and location, buckle up, and enjoy the panoramic views on offer from thousands of feet up!
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See Famous Artists Work At The Honolulu Museum Of Art
Originally founded way back in 1922, the crowd-favorite Honolulu Museum of Art houses the largest art collection in the state, with a vast collection that highlights the spectacular works of renowned artists from near and far with a few names you might just recognize: Hokusai, van Gogh, Gauguin, Monet, Picasso, and Warhol, to name a few.