Oahu Travel Guide

I adore the island of Oahu. As far as which island is my favorite, it’s a toss up between Oahu and Kauai. For first-time visitors to the Hawaii Islands, I’d recommend seeing Oahu first. There’s so much to see and do and it’s all amazing. 

Where to stay:

The best hotels on Waikiki Beach based on location are the Sheraton, the Royal Hawaiian and the Monoa Surfrider. These hotels can be very pricey so the two budget hotels that are perfectly fine (just nothing fancy) are the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort (#1 Outrigger to try) and the Outrigger Reef Waikiki (#2 choice). Outrigger #1 is literally right next to the Sheraton in the perfect spot. We’ve stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village too and it was totally nice but a 15 min walk from the action. Not a huge deal so it’s worth considering.

If you’re staying on the North Shore (which I would recommend doing for the majority of your visit), Turtle Bay Resort is a must (it’s where “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” was filmed). The rooms have been redone recently and the pool and sunset views are spectacular.

Must eats in Honolulu:

You MUST go to breakfast or lunch at the Heavenly Cafe. It’s so hip and delicious.

Check out Island Vintage Coffee (get the honey latte), on the second level of the Royal Hawaiian Center.

For dinner, we really like Hula Grill for the fresh fish meals, the organic ginger soda, hula pie and the live hula dancer!

Duke’s at Outrigger #1  has a fun open-air atmosphere and we love going there for the breakfast buffet.

Must eats on the North Shore:

If you’re in need of breakfast one morning, grab a breakfast burrito at Kono’s in Haleiwa’s North Shore Marketplace. The joint is very casual but the breakfast burritos are awesome. Sometime we get up early, drive over there to eat outside and then go about our day.

Across from an awesome surf shop (see below) is an adorable acai/smoothie stand called Haleiwa Bowls…get the Surfer Bowl!

Beet Box Cafe – in the back of a health food store (keep driving past North Shore Marketplace and it’ll on your right)…super tiny, hippie cafe but the avocado toast is amazing.

Grass Skirt Grill offers a great fish-on-top-of-salad entree (they are only open ’til 6pm so you may want to go for early dinner at 5pm or for lunch).

Before sunset one night, buy a couple slices of the Chocolate Haupia Pie from the to-go fridge at Ted’s Bakery. Take the pie slices across the street and eat them at Sunset Beach while watching the gorgeous sunset.

Don’t miss the shave ice (add vanilla ice cream) at Matsumoto General Store.

Must dos, must-visits or things to consider:

Walk around the Royal Hawaiian Center open air shopping area in Honolulu. Check out the awesome boutiques..the shops in Honolulu are the best I’ve seen in any city – no joke!. My faves are Rebecca Beach (inside The Royal Hawaiian), Fighting Eel and Tori Richard (for maxi dresses and cover-ups).

Watch the sunset on Waikiki Beach any night you are in downtown Honolulu. If it’s a Friday, the Hilton Hawaiian Village lights off fireworks for free.

Snorkel at Hanauma Bay (South Shore)…one of my all-time favorite things to do in Oahu.

Waimea Valley! Pay $10 or $15 to walk a paved way and check out some pretty variations of flowers and trees. Bring your bathing suit…at the very end is a swim-able waterfall. Entrance to The Valley is directly across from Waimea Bay Beach (an amazing beach to visit for an afternoon). We got to make free leis at the entrance too.

Swim with the sharks with North Shore Shark Adventures. You leave early in the morning from Haleiwa Town and do cage dive w/ sharks ..so much fun!

Sunday night at Turtle Bay is a blast…pay for the luau buffet dinner (I think it’s $30 or $40 each) and grab a good seat early to watch the sunset and entertainment right by the pool.

Do the luau dinner and entertainment show at the Polynesian Cultural Center (North Shore, about 15-20 mins south of Turtle Bay). I personally like this…feels like a very organized Disney production but it’s fun.

Shop the awesome boutiques in Haleiwa Town (North Shore…10-15 minutes from Turtle Bay), including the oldest surf shop in Hawaii, Surf ‘n Sea.  I also love popping into the clothing boutiques like Guava Shop and San Lorenzo Bikinis.

If you have time, try snorkeling at Shark’s Cove and visit the Dole Plantation (about 20 mins south from Haleiwa) just for kicks.


Prev post: Kauai Travel GuideNext post: 7 Things I’m Loving Lately

Related posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Brianne Profile

A brand marketing/PR exec and new mom based in Boston; sharing my thoughts on fave destinations, gift ideas, décor, style, beauty and more. Read More

Latest Posts
Shop My Instagram