From tourist attractions to the best places to hike this is a fantastic guide of spots to explore on Oahu. We hope you enjoy all of our tips for seeing the entire island.
Fantastic Guide of Spots to Explore on Oahu: Hotel
We recommend to stay at the Outrigger Reef Hotel in Honolulu. They have two hotels in Honolulu. This hotel is great because it was close to everything. However, it feels tucked away just enough from the center of the city. The hotel accommodations were exceptional, especially the Reef bar and restaurant.
We chose not to rent a car for the whole stay due to the 40 dollars in parking nightly. Since, we have learned that its more budget friendly to rent a condo that includes parking.
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Best Travel Gear
We arrived at the Honolulu airport, picked up our luggage, and arranged for an Uber driver to our hotel. The buses, shuttles, and ride sharing are a great option to travel in a less expensive way.
However, we did rent a car for two nights to explore everything that Oahu has to offer.
Waikiki beach has great landscaping, flowers, and the oldest tree on the island, the Banyan Tree. We found a great spot for enjoying the beach in Honolulu down by Fort Derussy. It is open to everyone.
The duke statue is in a popular spot on Waikiki. He was an icon to the area, and has lays placed on him.
Diamond Head Hike in the fantastic guide of spots to explore on Oahu
Diamond Head is a hike great for people of all ages. There are some steep stairs at the top, but there are benches and places to stop to take a break. However, the switch backs and railings make the hike easier. You do not have to be an expert to make it to the top.
The trail goes up to the edge of a 300,000 year old crater. It is an old post for the US military that has views of Honolulu and the Pacific ocean.
Get there early (by 9am) to beat the rush and the heat. Arrive before 4:30 because the park closes at 6, and it takes about two hours round trip.
Best Hiking Gear
Our Favorite! Koko Crater Hike
We have done many hikes in different places and this was one of my favorites. Koko head is a crater like Diamond head. This hike is .7 of a mile straight up hill. As you can see in the picture below it gets more steep as you get to the top. It last erupted over 30,000 years ago. This is the ultimate stair master at 1,048 old railway ties (stairs). Most people take two hours on this hike.
Hanauma Bay fantastic guide of spots to explore on Oahu
Hanauma Bay is the ultimate snorkeling destination on Oahu and the beach is breathtaking. The bay is open from 6am-6pm everyday besides Tuesday.
It was declared a protected marine life conservation area with paved trails and marine education center.
Haleiwa one of the best surfing areas in the country. They have many competitions on the north shore. Bonzai pipeline is one of the deadliest waves in the world, and is well known to the surfers in this area.
Parking is hard to come by, and you may have a bit of a walk. However, there are many places that sell shaved ice to cool off and restore energy.
The Dole plantation is over 3 acres of pineapples. They will teach you how to best cut a pineapple. There is a lot to see on the 2.5 miles of paths. They also have the pineapple express train tour, and the worlds largest maze. Personally, our favorite part was the pineapple ice cream for purchase.
Pearl harbor is the famous naval base that got attacked by Japanese forces December 7th of 1941. This can be an 8 hour event if you chose to see it all. They have tours of the USS Missouri battleship, USS Arizona Memorial, Pacific Aviation Museum, and the USS Bowfin Submarine. If you want to do it all they have many packages to chose from on visitpearlharbor.org. We spent 4 hours and decided that is all we could take in for the day.
This Palace is open from 9am-4pm in downtown Honolulu. Iolani palace was the royal residence of the rulers of the kingdom of Hawaii until they were overthrown in 1893. It was restored and open to the public as a museum in 1978. It is a great way to spend a rainy day. They offer guided and self-led tours
Monoa Falls is an out and back trail that features a bamboo forest and a 150 foot waterfall. It the tallest bamboo forest in Hawaii.
Parking for this hike was in the Paradise parking lot that charges a fee if you arrive after 7am. If you can find a spot you can park in the residential area nearby with a little extra walking to get there (1/4 mile). This was a hike that can be done by people of all ages. However, some days are slippery from the frequent rain there.
Nu’uanu Pali Lookout
At 1,186 feet this lookout offers scenic views of the windward coast of Oahu. This is a windy spot so hold on to your hat. Pali means cliff and this was the site of the battle of Nuuanu. Many soldiers were forced off the cliff to their death.
fantastic guide of spots to explore on Oahu: China Town
Located in Downtown Honolulu this is a spot for shopping and markets. We happened to get to experience it during Chinese new year. They had a dragon dance competition which is often seen in festive celebrations.