(Closed) Oahu Traveling Tips

posted 6 years ago in Honeymoons
Post # 3
1963 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

I would rent a car.  There’s alot to do/see on the North Shore!  Even though the Polynesian Culture Center is kind of touristy, I’ve always enjoyed it!  For local style food, L and L barbeque is very good.  Kind of hawaiin fast food.  You’ll find all kinds of nice restaurants in waikiki or aloha tower.

Post # 5
433 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

Hey, I live in Oahu and would be happy to give you any tips. I would defintely recommend a car, especially if you are someone who likes to do off-the-beaten path things rather than sit on the beach all day (and even the best beaches, in my opinion, aren’t the ones by the hotels but ones on the west or north side of the island). There are some fantastic hikes here, depending how adventurous you are– short easy hikes to waterfalls or longer hikes to amazing views of the whole island (I can recommend more specific ones if you let me know what you like). Pearl Harbor is great– plan to go really early because tickets to go out the boats sell out early every day. Snorkeling at Hanuama Bay is really fantastic and you can rent the snorkel stuff there. There are a lot of beach-front restuarants along Waikiki where you can get your MaiTai fix πŸ™‚ If you go to the west side of the island, Lanikai or Kailua beaches are amazing, there are small islands you can kayak to from them, and Buzz’s Steakhouse next to the beach is a good place to eat.

Post # 7
699 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

Mai tais at House Without a Key at the Halekulani…  sigh.


Another vote here for getting a car. There is so much to see outside of Waikiki; previous posters have mentioned some good spots. If you’re going to do Pearl Harbor, definitely do it early in the trip when you have nasty jet lag and are waking up ridiculously early anyway, that’ll help you get there early. Maybe to save on parking you can just rent a car for some of the days, and plan to stay in town for the rest of your trip?

Oh, and malasadas at Leonard’s! We usually end up there the first morning we’re in town, before it’s even light out.

Post # 8
433 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

@SuperDuperBrit:  Yeah, there aren’t as many as other islands (Maui is AMAZING for waterfalls), but there are a few. The most popular waterfalls to hike to are Likeke, Maoa, and Mauawili. You can also go to Waimea Falls on the North Shore, which you can swim in the bottom of, but you have to pay admission because it’s in a botanical garden (it’s really nice though, and more of a walk along a paved path than a hike). I like La’ie Falls a lot too but it’s a harder hike and a lot more off the beaten path (you really have to know where to go, it’s not as well marked). The other hikes that I love are the “ridge trails” from the southwest corner of the island– Mariner’s Ridge is the most popular and probably easiest. You end up at the top of a mountain that lets you see the island from an incredible view. If you do those and if you like beer, go to Kona Brewing Company after the hike πŸ™‚

If you go to the west side of the island, Kailua has a nice town center with some shops, you can get shave ice and there are a number of restaurants (Maui Tacos and Teddy’s Burgers are cheaper lunch places popular with the tourists and Buzz’s is a little classier). On the North Shore, you can get shrimp from a shrimp shack (amazing), check out the beaches, and go to the Dole Plantation (pretty touristy, but you can see how pineapples grow and walk around their store for no admission).

Post # 9
3886 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

Many of the larger hotels and resorts have car rental desks onsite so you can rent the car for a day trip and bring it back at the end of the day. No paying for days where you don’t drive it, no paying for overnight parking at the hotel.

Post # 12
1038 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

If you want to do a snorke/swim with dolpins tour get a tour from these guys…





They are a family run business and just awesome! They pick you up from your hotel and take you on the west side of the island.  You board a small boat and go out and snorkel and swim with dolphins and turtles.  I had so much fun on that tour.  We went in Jan and the water clarity wasn’t the greatest due to recent storms so we couldn’t stay in the water too long but still had a blast.  The whole family is super nice and fun. Seriously cannot say enough nice things about them. 


I went with a friend of mine(I got to stay at her timeshare for free!!) and we only rented for a couple days of our trip.  We used the car to drive to Pearl Harbor(although there are plenty of tours that will take you and the bus goes there as well), Dole Plantation, the northshore(spent the day at Turtle Bay resort on the beach…where Forgetting Sarah Marshall was filmed) and to the Polynesian Cultural Center.  The rest of the time there we didn’t want to pay $30 a night parking fee so we paid $25 each for a 4 day bus pass.  Seriously the buses go everywhere and were very easy to access.  Everyone there uses the buses. 


Hiking Diamondhead is a must btw.  Get there early though to beat the heat and the crowds.  For Pearl Harbor get there early as well so you can get tickets for the AZ memorial ferry.  We got there too late in the day so I wasn’t able to go on the ferry to the memorial(was not happy about that) but was able to still walk around and check out the museum there.


For shopping I’ve heard to go to the Aloha Stadium(I think that is name) on Wednesdays for the swap meet they have weekly.  We didn’t go but I heard you can buy stuff MUCH cheaper than other places. 

The Polynesian Cultural Center is cool, but heads up…..it is a mormon run place.  NO alcohol sold there at all and you need to be dressed appropriately(basically they don’t want tourists running around in tiny shorts and bikini tops).  If you go there you HAVE to go for the night show…best show they have. 


If you or your Fiance are LOST fans there are tours you can take on the island as well to different places where the show was filmed.  My friend never watched the show or else I would have loved to check out a LOST tour.  I did go hiking at a waterfall and a restaurant near the waterfall had the polar bear cages from the show and the Orchid station(if you didn’t watch, you have no idea what I’m talking about, lol). 



As for packing…yeah no way you could pack it all in a carry on.  I actually brought 2 suitcases AND a carryon  and had to ship stuff back to fit within the weight limits, lol(I seriously overpacked cause I had no idea what to bring).  Bring lots of swimsuits(obviously), sundresses, comfortable shoes if you do a lot of walking, shoes appropriate to hike in, cute stuff to go to dinner/out in, shorts, tank tops.  If I went back(and I really hope to one day) I would be able to just bring one suitcase and a carryon.



Hope you have an amazing time! Hawaii is just beautiful, I was thinking the whole time I was there “how could me and Fiance get a job here and move out this way”.



Post # 13
2125 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

I love Oahu! My family vacations there every year for a month. My parents lived here back when they first got married, so we come back to visit. (I say here, because I’m actually in Oahu right now lol!)

For starters, I would recommend renting a car- there is so much to do all over the island, it would really help you maximize your trip. We rent a house when we stay, and rent our car from JN Cars- they’re always in excellent condition. Last year we were even given a brand new car!

When we stay, we typically stay on the Windward side, in an area of Kailua called Lanikai.If you make it over to Kailua, definitely go to the beach in Lanikai- it has a GORGEOUS view of the Mokolua mountains-breathtaking! And it’s really very quiet, not crowded at all. One of the best things to do is to rent a Kayak for the day and Kayak out to the Mok’s- they’re bird sanctuaries, but you can bring a lunch and eat it on the shore. If you go at just the right time, you can see the birds (Wedgetailed Shearwaters) nesting- very sweet! In my opinion, the BEST shave ice on the island (shave ice is a MUST) is Island Snow, in Kailua. Forget what the tour books say about Matsumoto’s Shave Ice (North Shore)- you’ll wait in line half an hour and it isn’t as good. In Kailua, there is a wonderful (but somewhat $$) restaurant called Buzz’s or a cute Deli/Market called Kalapawai. In the mornings, my family (I have a foot problem, but would join them if I could!), hikes up the mountain in Lanikai. It gives them the opportunity to hike without taking up a whole day.

On the North Shore, there is a small beach in Haleiwa called Turtle Beach or Laniakea Beach. During the day, GIANT sea turtles come up and bask on the shore. You can walk right up to them and take pictures, or you can go snorkle in the water and swim by the ones that do not come to shore. In Haleiwa, there is a great burger place called Kua ‘Aina. They have great normal burgers as well as mahi mahi burgers. One thing I would HIGHLY recommend is to go see the sunset in Haleiwa- it’s incredible. There is a delicious restaurant called Jameson’s that you can eat at and watch it from, or there are many spots on the beach you can watch the sunset from. Jameson’s makes a mean Mai Tai! For lunch, we always pick up shrimp from one of the (many) shrimp trucks. Another fun thing to do is when you drive around, you’ll often see  locals on the side of the road selling various fruits. Stop and get some! They’re really yummy treats on a warm day. Oh! And Haleiwa Joe’s! There is NO restaurant in Hawaii with better views. Make sure you go to the one in Kaneohe if you want the views.

Waikiki is actually the part of the island I am least familiar with- it is REALLY crowded. However, it is a long stretch of beach, and different sections of the beach have been “unofficially” dubbed different types of beach. There is a “gay beach” a “skimpy bikini” beach, and many more. I love to eat at Cheeseburger in Paradise there.

Hanauma Bay and Pearl Harbor are both too good to pass up. My recommendation is the get to both right when they open. Hanauma Bay will fill up the parking lot QUICKLY and once that happens, you cannot get in. My recommendation would be to get there RIGHT as it opens, stay a few hours, and then do something else with the rest of your day. Hanauma is great, but it’s important to try and maximize your time. 

The Polynesian Cultural Center is fun, I’m going tomorrow actually. It’s a (teeny tiny) bit cheesy, but if you go, I agree with PP- stay for the evening! 

This is turning into a REALLY long post, I’m sorry! There are so many rock formations off the water and islands (like Chinaman’s hat) that make for some beautiful pictures! If you want more information on those, PM me and I can give you specific directions to some of the unnamed rock formations and pictures, so you can see what I’m talking about. (ex: we went to one yesterday we call Papa’s Rock, because when my parents lived here, my grandpa came to visit them and was driving through various neighborhoods when he discovered it. It’s a long stretch of black rock with a hole in the middle that waves can splash through at certain times of the day)

Oh! And how could I forget Waimea Bay?! If you’re a thrill seeker, there is a giant rock you can jump off. It’s REALLY an adrenaline rush.

Here are a few pictures of some of what I was talking about: (sorry SO and I are in them, I don’t have any without me on this computer) Feel free to PM me for more pictures.


Kayaking in Lanikai. The Mok’s are in the background. It’s such a quiet, non-crowded beach. It’s my favorite part of Hawaii.


Sunset in the North Shore (taken at a beach somewhat near Jameson’s.)

And the view from the hike in Lanikai:


Again, feel free to PM me (or heck, if you want, I can give more info/pictures on this thread if you want them). Hope I helped! I love Oahu and will be honeymooning here too in two years!


Post # 14
699 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

Dole whip is this pineapple soft-serve stuff (not sure if it’s sorbet or has some dairy in it) that they have at the Dole Plantation–if you’re there anyway, it’s definitely worth trying.

Can you tell we totally travel on our stomachs? And Darling Husband is from Honolulu, so we spend even more time eating when we’re there since he needs to eat all those yummy things from his childhood. πŸ™‚

Post # 15
1140 posts
Bumble bee

Haleiwa Eats in Haleiwa on the way to the North shore is amazing thai/america food. Teddy’s burgers in Kailua is also soo good. I def recommend getting a rental car since navigating on the island is super easy with only having 3 main highways. 

Post # 16
248 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

I just got engaged in Oahu! We really enjoyed ourselves. We didn’t rent a car and walked every where (up to eight miles a day) and I enjoyed it. But I don’t like to do things on vacation except lay around and eat. We pretty much just hung on the beach, ate a whole bunch of food, and went shopping. 

My best tip is eat as much fruit as possible. Pineapple is amazing in Hawaii. We loved getting dole whips (pineapple soft serve) and we found this place on the Waikiki strip that sold pineapple ice cream-amazing. Also, eat some sushi while you’re there. We found this one place inside a hotel and ate there three different times. It was a long walk for us but so worth it if you’re into sushi http://yuzuhawaii.com/

Oh and bring some sweaters. I was so cold in Hawaii. It was only getting up into the lower 80’s when I was there (way too cold to go swimming) and it was getting into the 60’s at night and in the early morning. I brought my summer clothes and had to go buy a sweater. 

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