Elvis Presley, palm trees, surfing, and turtles. All these images are conjured up in my mind when I hear the word Hawai’i. Queue Hawai’i Five-O theme song.
I’ve been to the beautiful, yet, very touristy island of Oahu twice now and every time I leave, I can’t wait to get back. The first trip was predominantly based in Honolulu with a sightseeing tour of Pearl Harbour. This most recent second trip was a highlight, not only did I get to spend 9 glorious nights on Oahu, but my friend and I drove around the island with overnight stops along the way. Whilst on this trip we didn’t stop at Pearl Harbour, my recommendation especially if you’re a history buff is to definitely visit this place.
Now, Oahu by no means is a big island. You can drive around it in a few hours, but what good is that if there is so much to see and do (by do, I mean lay on a beach and soak up the sun)? And even stopping overnight in certain towns you’ll still not get to experience everything (my next trip will be to get out and see the waterfalls).
If you haven’t seen the North Shore than you’re missing out! Head up to the North Shore and experience Waimea Bay, Banzai Pipeline and Turtle Bay. Plus, don’t forget the food trucks, they’re a must!
Our trip was a mix of hotels, Airbnb’s and backpacker’s accommodation.
From Honolulu, we headed to Waimea Bay. It’s only about 1.5 hours from Honolulu, but we instantly got that amazing feeling that we were on a tropical island. On our way there we drove past the Dole Plantation, which was a good little stop to stretch our legs and visit the site of one of Hawaii’s most famous pineapple plantations. Word of warning though, the queues to get into the attractions can be long, so if you decide to go plan ahead and get them online. The Maze was a lot of fun and is suitable for all ages. Unfortunately, the letdown for me was that there were no fields of pineapples that you could walk through.
From there we kept heading north and made a lunch stop in Haleiwa where we visited the food trucks. We had lunch at Surf n’ Salsa and it was yum! My choice is the shrimp tacos (to be honest that was my choice throughout the whole road trip).
Word of warning the beaches are rough as they are surf beaches on this side of the island, so if you’re not a keen surfer or don’t like waves, you’ll probably be lying on the beach and taking in the rays (like I did). It’s a good spot to just relax and breath in the fresh air. This place was beautiful and I recommend everyone stop and visit even if only passing through.
Next stop, which was literally no more than 25 minutes down the road from Waimea Bay, was Turtle Bay Resort. I highly recommend at least a night at Turtle Bay Resort.
There are 7 dining options including the Lobby Lounge to choose from. And the cocktails are divine. My tip is after a swim head to Roy’s Beach House and grab a refreshing cocktail or two.
When it comes to rooms, ask for a partial ocean view room if you can’t get the ocean view room. The views are simply breathtaking.
From there we headed south back towards Honolulu. We did stay in an Airbnb in Hauula for the night. It’s a lovely residential area with a great beach with calmer waters.
The next day we headed to Kualoa Ranch. This place is awesome. Not only is it the home to sets for Jurassic Park, Kong: Skull Island and Lost, but it also was used by the military during WWII and you’ll see bunkers scattered around. This place is huge so you have a few options of activities to choose from. We chose to do the movie bus tour that lasted for 90 minutes and gave you a nice tour of parts of the ranch with a few stops for photos. It’s a fun day out!
From here we went to Hanauma Bay for some snorkelling. A few things to note about this place. One it’s amazing! On a serious note, there are opening and closing hours and the bay is closed on Tuesdays. There is a small parking fee of $1USD and you’ll have to get in early because the car park gets full. When it comes to snorkelling equipment, you can hire it there. However, it’ll cost you roughly $20 USD for a standard set and to be completely honest you can get a snorkel set from the supermarket for about $10-15 USD. So, my tip is just to buy one from the supermarket, and you can use it as many times as you like at different beaches. Now just so you are prepared there is no food available in Hanauma Bay. So, stop at a food truck along the way and have something to eat. Enough about the logistics. Hanauma is full of amazing marine life so if you have an underwater camera make sure you take it with you. Or get a waterproof casing for your phone.
Staying in Honolulu you have a range of great hotels to choose from. We stayed at the Waikiki Resort Hotel, which was pretty reasonably priced. The hotel is a block back from Waikiki Beach and is in a pretty good location. You can walk everywhere.
When in Waikiki, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to food. However, the Cheesecake Factory is a must as is Duke’s. Both great places to grab a meal and also a cheeky drink. Happy hour at the Cheeseburger In Paradise is also good for drinks that will only cost you $6 USD.
Now to the very important bit of this blog post! Make sure you either come with an empty suitcase or bring one. If not you’ll end up buying one and if you do get it from at Ross Dress For Less – because the shopping is insane!
Jump on a bus and head to Waikele Premium Outlets. A round trip including pick up from your hotel should cost you no more than $18 USD. Apart from driving there yourself, this is the cheapest way to get there. Waikele is about 35 minutes from Honolulu. The outlets have designers from Armani to Polo Ralph Lauren all at really affordable prices.
Ala Moana Center is also a hot spot to pick up some great purchases.
Getting around Oahu you have plenty of options from buses to taxi services. But if you want to do it in style there’s only one-way. Hire a Mustang! Unless you’re travelling with more than two people then you’ll need a Jeep.
Whatever you do, stop and take in the Aloha vibes!