“Oahu is one-stop Hawaii!” (Fodor’s travel). It is a major destination. Its appeal is having all the best of Hawaii in one island. There is no need to repack your bags and travel to experience more while in Hawaii. Being the center of Hawaii and having its biggest city, Honolulu, Oahu offers the thrill of fast-paced life in modern and crowded Honolulu. In the northern and eastern shores and in the offshore islets, just a kayaking distance away, is where you can bask in an idyllic and laid back island-lifestyle.
Oahu’s Days and Nights
Days on the island of Oahu spells F-U-N! It is all about catching the biggest wave on a surf board on the North Shore or riding the waves in Waikiki. Replenish your energy by experiencing local produce in famous farm-to-table restaurants. Have a blast exploring the urban and Chinatown scenes; check the latest trends in fashion. If you have a heart for history, you’ll certainly love the multicultural heritage in this island and don’t miss the lolani Palace.
The nights on the island are as much fun as Oahu awakens to a different beat. The Brothers Cazimero at Chef Chai is still a top duo to beat. For Hawaiian music, the House Without a Key and Kana Ka Pila Grille (at the Outrigger Reef) are the city’s best spots. Jazz and blues are very alive in Oahu, as well as R&B, rock, reggae and pop. Fabulous spots to keep an eye are The Hilton Hawaiian Village, Rockin’ Hawaiian Rainbow, Anna O’Brian’s, Lewers Lounge, and the Veranda.
What’s In Your List?
There are too many fun things to do on the island, but if you want to have a taste of the top experiences, check out the Top 10 Things to Do on Oahu according to Jermel-Lynn Quillopo of Travel Channel. Quillopo writes…
Known as the “gathering place,” the island of Oahu is the third largest island of the Hawaiian chain … Hawaii is also a melting pot of diverse ethnicities evident in the island’s culinary traditions, entertainment, art and even languages. Enjoying fun in the sun on Oahu can mean admiring Mother Nature, hanging 10 in the Pacific Ocean or hiking old train tracks on top of a mountain.
- Kapiolani Community College’s Farmers Market: This is both a culinary school and a farmers market. Aside from the fresh crops, there are also homemade and artisan food products that you can bring home with you.
- Go to a Luau: For foodies, what’s Hawaii without a luau? Luau is after all a big part of its culture. Aside from the authentic and the traditional staples, there are other activities – stringing a lei, weaving a headband and throwing a spear while learning about Hawaiian history – that make it a real cultural experience.
- Eat the Street: For the real taste and celebration of its multicultural ethnicities, you need not go far: just head off to the streets. Like any melting pot, this where you can best experience local cooking and camaraderie. There are “manapua man” (food trucks) everywhere that sell eats ranging from light snacks to plate meals. “Eat the Street” is their last-Friday-of-the-month event in the cool neighborhood of Kakaako. Eat the Street here came to mean 40 converging food trucks bringing “the assorted flavors of Hawaii.”
- Iolani Palace: This used to be the official home of the monarchies of Hawaii, their Majesties, King Kalakaua and his sister Queen Liliuokalani. This is the only Royal Palace within the United States.
- Watch the Sunrise and the Sunset: The best view of the sunrise is in the Windward side of the island and the end of Kailua Beach that offers a scenic view of the Moku Iki island. The sunset best watched from the west or south shores of the island and in Kahanamoku Beach.
The rest of the list includes a surfing experience, a trip to the North Shore, shop souvenirs at Aloha Stadium, clamber all the way up Koko Head Stairs in the South Shore, and go “holo holo” (fun drive) around the island.
You can’t leave Hawaii without testing your legs and balance on a surfboard. There are unspoilt beaches and perfect wave breaks for beginners and advance surfers alike.
The North Shore is a promise of quietude after the busy streets of Honolulu. All it takes is a 25-minute drive to get there. Face your fear of heights by jumping off the Waimea Bay Beach rock. Complete the trip with the best lip-smacking treat in the area: the garlic shrimps. The best place to try it is in Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck and Romy’s Kahuku Prawns. Finish off the experience with Mastumoto’s Shave Ice or Ted’s (Bakery) famous chocolate and haupia (coconut) pie.
If you’re looking to stretch your dollar, the Aloha Stadium is the place to be. It has over 400 shops that sell anything that’s distinctly “Hawaii” that makes great gifts for friends and relatibes waiting back home.
Down the South Shore, the landmark you mustn’t miss is Koko Head Stairs. The challenge to ascend to the top will reward you with a breathtaking 360-degree view of Hawaii’s mountains and the sea. Avoid the intense heat by bringing/wearing appropriate provisions/gear (water, sunblock, hat, sunglasses, comfy walking shoes, etc.) and by going there either at the break of dawn or just before sunset.
If you are an adventurer, a holo holo ride around Oahu can take you off the beaten track to discover other things and experiences. Though this drive can take you just two hours, if you’ll rent a car and do some ‘slow traveling,” you can stop by the different spots for a wonderful memory of Oahu’s pristine allures, culture and cuisine.