Oahu Travel Guide


So, it’s time for part two of my Hawaii travel guide: Oahu. 

I realized it’s kind of weird writing a guide about a place you lived because it gets personal, and there’s soooo much to write about. I swear I still find new stuff whenever I go back, even if it’s just a hike, a new food truck, boutique or coffee shop. 

But then I thought, ok, I’ve been back to Oahu about 7 times since we moved away two years ago (I’ve lost count. Don’t hate me), and I’ve kind of nailed down a list of places I try to go, things I do, and food I try to eat. 

So I figured that would be my guide. Along with stuff that is cool to do if it’s your first trip.

Here we go, writing this all down while I still have tan lines left over from our trip a few weeks ago. (And keeping places friends who are from Hawaii took me to that I promised I wouldn’t share, a secret.) 

The non-negotiable: Rent a car. So you can get out and explore. Just don’t get a bright yellow convertible Mustang. Trust me. 

To stay: 

• Airbnb it baby! You can then cook your own food, not have to eat a $35 breakfast buffet or pay for parking, and there are some really sweet places. 

• If resorts are more your deal the Sheraton Waikiki has the raddest and most scenic infinity pool overlooking Diamond Head (that I got kicked out of on my last trip. Damn you wristband police. But still, it was worth it.) and the Marriott waikiki has great ocean views in all it’s rooms, I think. Or Turtle Bay on the North Shore is kind of a no brainer. 

To eat: 

I’m probably leaving a ton out, but this is off the top of my head. 

• Wailua Bakery – Best sandwiches. Ever. Get papaya seed dressing on it and a jalapeno bun. And also get a wonderbar, and thank me later. Great iced coffee too. 

• Haleiwa Bowls – Most instagrammed Acai bowls on the planet. And rightfully so. 

Scoop of Paradise – Lilikoi Cheesecake ice cream. I just started drooling as I typed that.  

• Pupukea Grill. Freaking fantastic food truck. 

• Nicos on pier 38 – Grrrreat poke in the fish market. It’s my first stop after leaving the airport. 

• Buzz’s – A Mai Tai or BFRD at the bar will knock you on your arse. 

• Honolulu Coffee Company -The Kona French press is quite possibly my favorite cup of coffee on the planet. 

• Big City Diner – My favorite breakfast spot (haupia mac nut pancakes). My husband also swears by Rainbow drive in’s pancakes and loco moco.

• Kua Aina – An avo burger literally has half an avo on it. And I’m craving one now.

And last but not least, 

• 7 Eleven – For manapuas.

Favorite beaches: 

• Lanikai – Go early and hike the pillboxes then hang out before it gets super crowded.

• Waimanalo – Some dude in the  New York Times or Conde Nast named this the #1 beach in the US, (or world or something). Bummer. Secret’s out. 

• Waikiki – Super fun to go at sunset and listen to the live music.

• Sunset – Speaking of sunsets, sunset beach is great. Anytime of day.

• Waimea –  Gorgeous.

• Makaha –  Also gorgeous.

• Pupukea – Super gorgeous. Go for an early morning walk, Unplug and experience bliss. 

Things to do:

• Surf. If you haven’t ever surfed, Waikiki is a great place to at least try…along with 50 other people who are also trying. Which is a good thing. For lessons – Faith Surf School is run by a super rad family. 

• Walk the beaches on the North Shore and watch the surf.

• Lanikai – Do the pillboxes hike, followed by beach session, or if you drank a big red bull, go rent a kayak and paddle out to the Mokes too. 

• Hike. There’s lots of good ones, You really can’t go wrong. Koko head is great- If you want a good butt kicker with a view.

• Go swim in open water with with some dolphins or a bunch of sharks. Sweet. 

• Don’t make too many plans. Relax, roll around in the sand, explore, stop at fruit stands and food trucks, and spend as much time in the water as possible.

Places to shop:

Guava shop – This is where I first saw an Acacia suit five and a half years ago. They know what’s up, and always have great stuff.

Rebecca Beach or Diamond Head Beach house – Yet another amazing boutique with amazing gear. Rihanna shops there. Amen. 

Aloha Superette – Super rad little boutique with fun local labels that’s run by some amazingly stylish gals. 

I am not sure if it’s still open, but Drift boutique is amazing, and the owner, Laura, is a gem of a human being with seriously the most gorgeous blue eyes ever.

There’s some great lei shops in china town, with some seriously gorgeous creations. 

Ok wrapping it all up now. This is all getting me nostalgic. 

So much to do. So much to see, experience, breathe in and soak up. All on one amazing little island.

Oahu I heart you. 

Anyone there, or on their way there soon…go jump in the water for me. 

I know there are a quite few people who live on Oahu, or travel there frequently, … so please feel free to add in your recs in the comments below.

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