I'd never thought I'd go to Hawaii. The flight, the distance, the cost... it just seemed too far and too out of the question. But, when I found out I'd be travelling to Vancouver (half the distance from Toronto) for work, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get myself on another plane over the Pacific and explore this island. Brandon met me in Vancouver on my last day of my work trip and together we took a flight to Honolulu. From the moment we landed on Oahu Island we felt serene, at ease and in a state of pure bliss. We wanted a few days to relax but also really wanted to explore the whole island so we decided to stay two nights in Waikiki, then we rented a car and drove to North Shore where we had rented a darling little AirBnB apartment.
I have to give a huge thank you to Kristiana, of Window Seat Style. She is a total Hawaii expert and gave me the most amazing travel tips and recommendations. She has tons of posts on Hawaii on her blog as well, which you should check out!
While I am by no means an expert like Kris, I do have some fun tips and photos to share. Here is my list of top 10 things to do in Oahu. And keep scrolling for more pics and tips at the end!
1. Rent a car and explore the island.
I cannot stress how vital it was for us to have a car. We would literally start our day on one side of the island and by nightfall we had made it to the complete opposite side, exploring all along the way. It will really help to have a car so you don't feel stuck, confined or grounded to one area! The highways are so straightforward and the roads are so easy to navigate. Anyone could really find their way across the island. It will make visiting the Dole Plantation, Hanauma Bay and other little towns must easier!
2. Stop at a fruit stand.
Watermelon, pineapple, coconut, repeat! It became a daily routine for us to stop at one particular fruit stand on the Kamehameha Highway. I have never tasted fruit so fresh and sweet in my life! The ladies would slice up mixed baggies of exotic fruit like dragonfruit, passionfruit, and rambutan, or you could buy whole. We also got fresh coconuts to drink, and B, being the smarty that he is, got the ladies to slice up the coconut meat for us and bag it with chilli seasoning. So delish!
3.Watch a sunrise/sunset.
Staying on the North Shore was ideal for catching the sunsets. Sunset Beach was our favourite and we often found ourselves racing to make the clock! We would pack up beach chairs and snacks and join the other viewers on the sand for a magical experience. Just check out the weather network and plan your day accordingly to the time.
Oahu has some of the most beautiful landscapes imaginable. If you get a chance I would recommend doing a hike or climb up one of the mountains for stunning views of the island. We climbed Koko Head on our first day which was quite extreme but it was such an amazing experience I'll never forget! Just google it and you'll see what I mean! We also climbed Diamond Head which is more moderate and very close to Waikiki and the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail (people were doing this with strollers and in flip-flops), which was the easiest of the three.
|At the Dole Plantation|
|View from Diamond Head|
I've been obsessed with acai bowls for a long time, but having them so readily available and made with the freshest fruits imaginable was another thing! Trying out a new stand or shop became a daily ritual. If you're staying in Waikiki, I recommend Diamond Head Cove Health for delicious acai and their thick honey. On the North Shore, there is the famous Haleiwa Bowls, which lived up to the hype, and my personal favourite-- Crispy Grindz! It's a food truck near the Pipeline/Sunset Beach area that was started by a couple from Brazil. They have the most amazing toppings and I loved that the bowls were not overly sweet. Blueberries, peanut butter, and bee pollen always! We also tried our first pitaya bowls, which are made with dragon fruit. They are insanely delicious and I'll be on the hunt for them here! You can acai bowls almost anywhere on the island.
|Diamond Head Health Cove|
|Pineapple tasting at Dole|
6. Explore the North Shore.
While many people stay in Waikiki, and it is nice, it's also crowded with tourists, commercial shops, and high rise hotels. If you're looking for a more typical beach strip then, by all means, flock to Waikiki Beach. I'm so happy we decided to take up residence on the North Shore for a few nights. It's mellow, relaxing and just so serene. There are so many amazing little shops and restaurants to check out, and surfers galore! While on the North Shore you must eat try the food trucks, have Matsumoto's famous shave ice (really just a snowcone, but something to do), eat at Rajanee (a BYOB Thai restaurant), stop into Wow Wow for Hawaiian lemonade, and have a coffee at Brew & Foam (my favourite was "The Mexican"-- 2 shots of espresso, with cayenne and cacao made into an almond milk latte). You also need to stop into North Shore Goodies for some guava jam and their famous coconut peanut butter. It's all natural (the ingredients are coconut and peanuts) and SO amazing. I brought back jars of it!
|Exploring Waimea Valley|
|Pineapple Whip at Dole Plantation|
7. Seek out private beaches.
Every beach we came across was public! We would literally drive around the island scoping out the most secluded spots and took up camp. Just be mindful of squatters (you'll see the tents).
|South Shore Grill|
I still can't get over how delicious the food is in Hawaii. The best fish tacos we had were found at South Shore Grill in Diamond Head area (it's actually across the street from Diamond Head Health-- perfect for lunch and dessert!). You can literally find taco stands everywhere! Make it your goal to try as many as possible!
9. Relax by the pool.
Treat yourself to a day by the pool or quiet lagoon. Your muscles will certainly thank you after a day of hiking Koko Head! Our hotel had a great pool, but you can also find places to rent a chair or cabana in Waikiki. There is also the man made beach fronts also known as the Ko Olina Lagoons (basically swimming pools) which have public access but are centred around resorts. You may just snag a lounge chair!
|North Shore Goodies|
Macadamia nuts, Kona coffee, peanut butter...the list goes on! Have your fix while you can because you'll certainly miss it when you're gone. Bring back as many bags of nuts and coffee that you can fit in your bag. You'll find most of these goods at the local ABC stores or grocery stores. Be on the look out for 100% Kona coffee and the higher the percentage the better. Don't forget the all natural Coconut Peanut Butter or Guava Jam from North Shore Goodies!
Get in the water! Swim, snorkel, surf- get out there!
Respect the environment. Don't touch the wildlife.
Go turtle spotting at Laniakea Beach (Turtle Beach) near the North Shore.
Try the pineapple soft serve at the Dole Plantation, and be sure to take a peek into the pineapple fields.
So there you have our Hawaiian vacation all wrapped up with a pretty bow! What do you think? Does Hawaii interest you? If you're looking for to enter a mellow dream world that is also mixed with fun and adventure, Oahu is for you. If you have any questions let me know! I'd love to hear your thoughts on this travel guide, too! If you want to see more pictures, keep on scrolling!
|Giovanni's Shrimp Truck- North Shore|
|Brew & Foam|
|Pineapple plant at the Dole Plantation|
|Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonade|