Highlights of Oahu, HawaiiUSA
A L O H A !
Hawaii… My love… My second home…
You have had my heart the moment I stepped off that plane all those years ago. With your palm tree lined streets, sparkling coast line, the most beautiful and kind culture, incredible shopping and not to mention all the wonderful food that can be consumed, it’s an easy place to fall in love with.
I have been putting off writing this post for quite some time now as I feel the pressure to do this place justice – for anyone that knows me, this will come as no surprise – but if I am yet to personally meet you, I’ll let you in on a little secret… I am OBSESSED with Hawaii… There isn’t a destination in this world that makes me feel the way I do when I travel here. If there was such a thing as a “spirit destination”, Hawaii would be it for me.
Oahu, is the third largest of the Hawaiian Islands. Oahu stands for “The Gathering Place” which holds many truths seeing it’s home to about two-thirds of the population of the US state of Hawaii. Honolulu is the state’s capital which also hosts the International Airport and with a direct flight to Honolulu only a being 10 hour flight from the east coast of Australia, it’s the closest American state to our shores which makes it a very popular destination for us Aussies.
There really isn’t a bad month to travel to this destination which makes it even more appealing – even in their winter (Dec-Feb) the weather can still hit the late 20’s (Celsius) so you can enjoy sun, sand and surf all year around – a travellers dream!
Below is a list of my TOP PICKS for places to stay, see and do while you are on the island of Oahu – over the coming weeks I will drill down even further into these areas, but I thought I would start with some of my all-time favourite recommendations. This may be my first post on Hawaii, but it most certainly won’t be my last!
Each and every time I have had the pleasure of visiting Hawaii I have always stayed in the Waikiki area and my resort of choice is the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel & Resort. I like to call it my second home and it’s the place I often find myself daydreaming about. Location-wise – you can’t beat it! Right on the shoreline of the infamous Waikiki Beach and a hop skip and a jump to restaurants and shopping facilities.
It has something for everyone – an incredible family friendly pool area with slides included and my favourite part of the resort – the adult only infinity pool. Kick back on a floating beanbag with a cocktail in hand and enjoy the views of Waikiki Beach and Diamond head off in the distance. Keep an eye out for turtles popping up for air in the ocean right in front of the pool too! Sound like paradise? Well no word of a lie… It really is!
Let’s be honest, you could swim anywhere in Hawaii and it would be incredible, but if I had to choose I would say Waimanalo Beach is my top pick. It’s about a 25min drive north east from Waikiki itself so if you have a car this is the perfect destination to take a dip. It’s the bluest water you’ll find in Oahu and it’s generally pretty flat and because it’s more of a local’s beach, not many people are ever there which is a huge bonus. I promise it’s worth the trip!
The best snorkeling is at a place called Hanauma Bay – it’s a protected area and you have to pay a fee of $7.50 and watch a short preservation video but it’s the best snorkeling you will find on the island. On a good day it’s really flat and protected if you get the right winds. There is a beach there so you can even spend a whole day to make the most of the admission fee and there is plenty of places to hire snorkeling gear too. TIP: Get there early! I have driven past around 8-9am before and it’s already been closed due to overcrowding as there are only 300 car spots available. It’s a tourist haven so if you drive, get there early but if you don’t have a car, book yourselves on their shuttle that takes you there so you don’t have to try find parking. Oh and it’s also worth mentioning that the park is closed on Tuesdays!
Turtle (aka Honu) Spotting
Apart from swimming with turtles in front of the Shearton Waikiki Hotel & Resort (like I mentioned above) if you head up to the North Shore area, there is a place called Laniakea Beach which normally hosts a bunch of turtles. The sweet little things hang around sun baking on the beach looking all cute and lazy. I have also snorkelled with a few of them in the beach too so don’t forget to take your snorkeling gear along with you to catch a glimpse of them in the water. Be mindful though, all sea turtles in Hawaii are protected by both State and Federal Law! It is illegal to touch or harass them and if caught, fines can be as high as $25,000USD and may include a year in prison! Eeek!
Shopping in Waikiki is pretty great along the main strip of Kalakaua Avenue, but my favourite spot on the island would be Ala Moana Shopping Centre. It is the largest shopping centre in Waikiki and it’s just got a really cool vibe. It’s design is half inside and half outside which makes it the largest open-air shopping centre in the world! With over 300 shops, restaurants and bars, there will be something for everyone. There is a little tourist trolley that can take you from Waikiki to Ala Moana for a couple of dollars but, personally I find it VERY touristy so I just recommend jumping in a cab or even walking there as it’s only about a 20 or so minute walk from Waikiki.
If you are looking for some hiking activities, I recommend climbing to the top of the Diamond Head State Monument. The 360 degree views from the top are amazing and you will see the stunning coastline for days! Best to do it in the morning as the hike path can get really packed with tourist groups and of course it can get really hot in the warmer months. I have driven there and parked in the car park a couple of times or you can also get a cab there or walk as it’s not too far from Waikiki. The park opens at 6am-6pm daily and it will cost $5.00 per car or $1 per person for pedestrians, CASH ONLY so take your coins and notes.
Three words… The Cheesecake Factory! Hands down this is my favourite restaurant to frequent. And frequent I do! There barely goes a day when I am in Hawaii where I don’t pop in for a meal or to pick up some desert to go. With more than 250 dishes available on the menu, there will be something for EVERYONE! Just make sure you save some room for desert… Their cheesecake varieties… To. Die. For!
A random TOP PICK but I just felt this needed a mention – Hawaii is famous for it’s “Shave Ice” and I have come to love to grab one on the go and it’s especially nice on those hot Hawaiian afternoons. My flavour of choice is rainbow!
Pay Your Respects
If you are after some history, the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor is definitely a place you won’t want to miss. With 1,300 free walk-in memorial tickets available daily on a first-come first-served basis, if you are not heading there with a tour, you will want to get there early to make sure you don’t miss out. Tickets are available from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Centre and gates open from 7am to 5pm daily.
Find a spot literally ANYWHERE along the shoreline of Waikiki beach. It’s quite a sight to see and the beauty is you can enjoy it night after night and it’s absolutely free!
Each Friday evening the Hilton Hawaiian Village puts on a free firework show along Waikiki Beach. The show usually begins at 7:45pm and lasts about ten minutes and it’s spectacular! The display can be seen pretty much anywhere along the shoreline from Waikiki Beach up to the Hilton, but my favourite place to view them is standing on the rock formation pier opposite Fort Derussy Beach Park.
This post is only a snippet of what Hawaii has to offer and I hope it has inspired you to make a decision to travel there yourself one day. There is so much more to share with you on this destination so stay tuned for more posts in the near future…
And as always, I would LOVE to hear your thoughts!
Are there any tips you would like to share on Hawaii? If so, please comment below!