I recently returned from one of my favourite trips to date, 2 weeks in Hawaii. Since arriving home, I have remained in a zen state with the image of Hawaiian beaches in my mind. Having stayed on the island of Oahu, I now have a long list of places to recommend that I thought I would shove together in one massive blog post.
Beaches: If you are after beautiful serene, turquoise waters, white sand and palm trees, my top beach to recommend is Kailua Beach Park located in Kailua on the east side of Oahu. The beach also has hammocks and swinging ropes to enjoy, which provide for some great photo ops.
Just a little further on from Kailua is another spectacular beach, Waimanalo Bay. The extreme cliff faces drop at the edge of the beach, creating a spectacular view. The water is much like Kailua, flat and clear.
If you are a surfer or just enjoy watching massive waves, you must venture to the North Shore. North Shore is home to some of the worlds biggest surfing competitions and definitely requires courage to get into the water. The best beaches on the North Shore to visit include Waimea Bay and Pupukea Beach.
Lastly, if you do find yourself staying in the tourist central area of Honolulu/Waikiki, I definitely recommend walking to the edge of Honolulu to get away from the crowds. Fort Derrusey Beach Park is perfect for those days where you don’t want to get on the bus for 1 hour and would just prefer to float all day in a ring.
Activities: Having never been snorkelling in my life, I thought Hawaii would be the perfect place to change this. We visited Hanauma Bay located on the South East side of the island. This beach is absolutely stunning and provides you with the opportunity to view hundreds of different fish and sea creatures, and if you’re lucky enough (or brave enough to swim out far enough) you might catch a glimpse of a turtle. When going snorkelling, visit the local Longs Drugs or ABC store to purchase your own snorkel, as this will save you $$ compared to the rental prices at Hanauma Bay.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) is a must when visiting Hawaii. If you are staying in the Honolulu/Waikiki area I once again recommend walking further down to Fort Derrusey Beach Park as the prices for rental equipment (surfing, SUP etc.) are about a third of the price to central Waikiki. We rented SUP boards from the company KOA and it ended up being great value. The water is perfectly calm at Fort Derrusey Beach Park for beginner Stand Up Paddle Boarders, such as myself. Oh and you might be as lucky as us and spot a turtle swimming in one of the reefs close to the shore.
Hiking is another must whilst in Hawaii, however due to our lack of a car, we were only able to venture up the Diamond Head Crater, which was spectacular.
Food: My number one recommendation for food has to be Nalu located in Kailua. If you get the chance to go to the east side of Oahu then you must stop into Nalu for the Roast Beef sandwich (which I have been trying to recreate since arriving home) and an acai bowl.
Having eaten an acai bowl everyday, I think I found the best one on Oahu. Haleiwa Bowls located on the North Shore is home to the most incredible acai bowl I have ever tasted. With an endless list of add ons, it is definitely worth the trip.
In terms of food recommendations in Waikiki (in other words, food that isn’t from a chain like the Cheesecake Factory which for some reason constantly has a 100m long line out the front), you should visit Bill’s Hawaii (pictured), Noi Thai, Marukame Udon, Mahaloha Burger (also one in Kailua) and most definitely Whole Foods. Whole Foods in both Kahala Mall (close to Waikiki) and Kailua, saved us many a times particularly with breakfast.
Shopping: Aside from the insane amount of amazing American stores in both the main street of Waikiki and Ala Moana, Hawaii is home to some great shopping. Local store Fighting Eel, Sand People and Mahina are a must. If you are in need of some bargain shopping, head to the Waikele Premium Outlets for all things Kate Spade, Ralph Lauren, Saks off Fifth Avenue, Calvin Klein, Gap, Clarins and the list goes on. If paying with mastercard, head to the information centre for a coupon book as you will be able to redeem extra discounts in some of the stores.
Well there you have it. My guide to the best places to visit in Oahu, Hawaii. I can assure you that one day I will be going back to Hawaii and will definitely be venturing to the other islands as they look even more incredible. Overall, if you are after a beach holiday that also combines shopping and adventure, then Hawaii is for you! Also, flights from Australia are very very affordable (another win)!
See you soon!