I have gotten a few requests to write a blog post on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, so here goes!
Although I have not been to this island as many times as Maui, I have still visited on 5+ occasions. Like everyone, I love some beaches more than others, so I will devote my time to those. However, there is so much to do on this island; the possibilities are truly endless based on your preferences and likes.
Waimanalo Beach Park
Located on the southeastern tip of the island, this is a great beach to go to if you are staying in Honolulu or surrounding areas. The drive up is absolutely stunning with cliffside views of the ocean and some delicious restaurants to stop at for a quick bite to eat.
Usually this beach is not too crowded and boasts warm sand along with clean, blue water. Although the waves can be rough during the winter, there is opportunity to snorkel if you find the right spot! This park also has miles of beautiful white sand, allowing for plenty of room to stretch out and admire the breathtaking views!
Right next to this beach is one of my favorite lunch stops: Ono Steaks and Shrimp Shack! Serving traditional Polynesian/Hawaiian food, you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, especially coconut shrimp. Coconut shrimp is one of my absolute favorite foods and I literally order it every meal while I’m anywhere in Hawaii. Even if you don’t like coconut (like me!), there is an extremely high possibility you will LOVE this delicious food made of magic. Anyways, back to Ono’s. Located right off Kalanianaole Highway, this is literally right next to Waimanalo Beach. Make sure you stop here for lunch, dinner, or even a mid-afternoon snack.
Located on the north shore, this is by far my favorite beach on the island. Even though it is a bit of a drive to get here, I promise it’s worth it! The white sand and turquoise water provide for dazzling views and there is plenty for people of all ages to do. I would suggest parking at the local church that is across the street in order to save time and money. Vendors also sell cheesy, cheap t-shirts near the beach park, allowing for a real touristy souvenir (I own about five haha).
Once you actually get into the beach park, it is U-shaped, opening up space on all sides of the bay to lay down and relax. There is also a huge rock on the west side of the bay that people climb on and jump off of. I survived the jump, but I must say it is much higher than it looks once you actually get up there! It took me a couple of minutes to gather my thoughts and tell myself to jump, but I did it and it was fun!
Below the rock where people jump off of, there is a lava tube you can swim through. Although it’s only about ten feet deep, my fourteen-year old self was too scared to swim through. However, I watched my sister and my uncle do it and they said it was a fun little activity!
*Please note that during the wintertime this beach can get huge waves and is extremely rough. They may close the beach due to this fact, so please check to see the weather conditions/operating hours before you go.
Ala Moana Beach Park
Located near the Ala Moana Shopping Center, this is a great place to go to just relax & sunbathe on the sand. Due to the central location, there are many restaurants to grab a bite at including Bubba Gump’s, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, and a plethora of asian inspired cuisine.
The beach itself can get pretty crowded during summer time and other peak months, so just head out early in order to grab a spot. There is also a homeless camp in Ala Moana Park, making it seem more crowded than it actually is.
Located on the west side of the island, Electric Beach is known for its dolphins and other abundant wildlife. The water is very clear and the sand extends for miles it seems. Because this beach is right next to the Hawaiian Electric Plant, there is a pipe on the south side of the beach that spews out clean, warm water. This attracts the myriad of turtles, dolphins, fish, and even whales that you see while here.
Although you may have to swim 400-500 yards to see the marine life, it is not hard to do with fins on and is worth it for the experience of just seeing these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat.
Located along Kalanianaole Highway, Eternity Beach is a beautiful place to stop at on one’s way around the island. There is a pull off you can take for the Halona Blow Hole which has plenty of parking spaces. To access this beach, you have to climb down some rocks from the opening on the south side of the parking lot. It is not a strenuous climb, but it may boast some troubles for those who recently had a hip/knee replacement or others who are not as steady on their feet.
When I came to this beach in January, it was busy! There was a bikini photo shoot in one corner, an exercise group in the other corner, and drones buzzing overhead. Even though it was a bit chaotic, no amount of distractions could’ve taken away from the turquoise water and gorgeous cliffs encompassing the bay.
If you are staying in Honolulu, you are most likely staying either on or near Waikiki Beach. This is a fabulous spot to be in because there are numerous restaurants around along with some high end hotels. The beach itself has a lot of shells on it in some places, so bring flip flops or reef shoes. Once you get in the water, it is very shallow and a great place to learn how to surf because you won’t get pummeled by the waves!
Things to do
Diamond Head Crater
Since my relatives live near Diamondhead, this was an easily accessible hike. Most people enter from Diamond Head Road and the parking lot is recognizable with signs to guide visitors. The only problem I’ve run into is not being allowed to park/hike because there were too many people! However, this only occurred during the middle of the day (noon-1pm) during the peak summer season. We went earlier the next day (8-9am) and both the trail and the parking lot were much less crowded.
For me, the hike up the crater was moderately easy mostly because it wasn’t too steep and there were handrails to guide you along the path. Only the very last part of the hike requires you to climb steep stairs, but it is not too bad as long as you take it slow. The view at the top is absolutely breathtaking and allows visitors to see the ocean, skyline, and inside the crater itself.
Located off of Highway 99, this is a great activity to do if you are headed to the north shore for a day! Here they farm large amounts of pineapples which means lots of pineapple-themed food! I highly recommend the pineapple ice cream because it’s both creamy and fruity.
In addition to the treats, there is a pineapple maze that everyone can participate in. After finding all the stations amidst the fruit, you turn in your card and see who was fastest. Even though this activity is fun, it can get very hot very fast so I suggest bringing a hat and lots of water with you!
La Mariana Sailing Club
I discovered this treasure because of my uncle! After a day at the beach, he took my family and me here to have lunch and it instantly became one of our favorite spots! The view is stunning because you are right on the marina and the atmosphere is even better. With a chill tiki vibe, you feel right at home and can obviously see why the restaurant was featured in the original Hawaii Five-O.
Here they feature “Zombie Mai-Tai’s” which are sure to make you drunk with one sip. My mom ordered one of these while here and it took her three hours to down the 12 ounce glass. Crazy! Besides this wild drink, the food was delicious and the staff was extremely accommodating. This place is a must!
Located just south of Waimea Bay, Waimea Valley boasts a beautiful waterfall and hiking trail in the jungle. Even though you can walk about a mile to get to the falls, there is a golf cart that takes you up there for $10. I guess you could call me lazy because I took the golf cart haha 🙂
Once you get up to the falls, there are people who outfit you with some snazzy lifejackets and then you can hop into the water! The water is clear and a bit chilly, but amazing nonetheless. If you are brave enough, you can even crawl up the waterfall and jump off it! After spending as much time in the pool as you like, you are free to walk (or ride!) back down the trail and stop to buy snacks & crafts at the post they have.
My very favorite spot for food (especially if I’m having a craving for sweets) is Leonard’s Bakery. Featuring a myriad of different flavored malasadas (fried doughnuts) which are absolutely scrumptious, this place is almost always busy! I suggest getting a half dozen or more depending on the size of your group… I could eat six in one sitting easy 😉