There are a billion things to do on the island of Oahu. A billion.
Its touristy, loaded with pricey hotels, plenty of options for eating and not enough time to take it all in!
So why would I bother to tell you where to go?
I wouldn’t, but you ought not to miss out on these 6 Places
Ugh! I know, but stop rolling your eyes!
You don’t want to miss out on Waikiki and here’s why:
Though its littered with tourist and hotels, its also loaded with some of the best food options and many places that locals secretly love too. Chef’s inside these “luxury” hotels have made a name for themselves as well taken some of these menus to the next level.
You will also see amazing views of the island just off the shore!
(We rented an Air BnB Yacht in Oahu, which surprisingly was very affordable! The captain took us out for a sunset cruise on the first night. The views of Diamond Head and the glittering hotels were a pretty wonderful sight. And to top it off you’ll get a chance to watch the surfers catch waves while you cruise by)
There are some little hidden gems here in Waikiki, you just have to look hard enough to find them! One place to find is the Bailey’s Antiques & Hawaiian Shirts where they have a collection of over 15,000 vintage and new Hawaiian print shirts. Don’t forget Leonard’s bakery for some delicious treats.
Honolulu Jewelry Co.
This company started in the 80’s but promises to keep the Hawaiian Heirloom jewelry alive. They’re based out of Honolulu with its first location inside the AAFES on the Naval base at Pearl Harbor. You can find a few other locations scattered about the island, but the flagship location is just a short 10 minutes drive from the Airport (toward Waikiki).
(I’d spotted this jeweler in the Hawaiian Airlines flight catalog, one piece caught my attention: The Plumeria Collection. Plumerias have become a favorite flower of mine since our trip to Tahiti. Their fragrance is soft, floral and sweet. After returning home from Tahiti I’d found someone who would ship me a branch to grow. After some struggles with my plant, I’d become attached and now it’s just a special flower to me.)
Inside the flagship location, which is not very large and hidden in a small strip center next to a travel agency. The staff is extremely friendly and not your usual “pushy” sales personnel. They take great care to make sure you get what you want and make sure the presentation of you new piece of jewelry is sent home with you with care.
Looking for a cozy sunset dinner? Look no further. Tucked into the very northwest corner of Oahu is a well known resort called Turtle Bay Resort, known for being the main setting for the movie: Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Pa’akai is 1 on 7 dining options here at Turtle Bay. They offer a casual dining experience with multi course chef plated meals. The dining room has large windows for viewing the sunsets that cascade into the room, but don’t sit in the wrong spot (you could be blinded by the light).
(We’d scheduled dinner just at the “perfect” time, right at sunset. The first 10-15 minutes of dinner was a full distraction, between the waiters trying to get your drink order and the sun setting… We should have shown up 10 minutes earlier! After viewing the sunset, we finally started to look at the menu and selected our main courses. Each of us got something different including the 7 course meal option.)
Is it a tourist trap or is it amazing? I vote both! The Dole Plantation has the World’s Largest Maze… in theory, you could get trapped in there! The maze has 8 hidden plaques to find and can be completed fairly quickly.
(We were on a bit of a time crunch during our visit but wanted to go in the maze; we decided to split boys vs. girls and set a timer for 20 minutes… who could get to all 8 stations in the time allotted. The girls won, duh!)
*Tip: Wear close toed shoes for this visit
After exploring the maze, there are multiple things to do from riding trains around the plantation grounds to seeing the pineapple fields, as well there are pineapple gardens to walk through. Once you think you’ve done it all here, walk into the gift shop area and get yourself some Dole Whip (yeah, the kind you get at Disney)!
The gift shop has so many souvenirs to choose from, it might difficult to get out of there.
(Our first stop was through the gift shop and we spent a good chunk of time in there, more than we should have. You can purchase pineapples to ship back home from the plantation if you want! There’s also a roasted corn stand, which I’m not sure how the two (pineapple & roasted corn) go together but the corn was great!)
Nalu Kintetic Spa
If you’re looking to unwind and take in a full day of R & R, then you need to head to Turtle Bay Resort’s Nalu Spa. You may not be staying at the resort, but you could just plan a day here! With a variety of spa options and great views, you’ll probably want to book a room.
(Since we were staying at the resort, us girls had planned to have morning massages while the boys played a round of golf. After massages, we lounged at the beach then had lunch and headed back to the beach to spend our day taking it easy. In the late afternoon the 4 of us had additional spa appointments- full body massages, express (upper or lower) body massages and facials.)
Check out all the spa offerings from Nalu Kinetic spa here
Pearl Harbor sees thousands of people daily, if not hourly. It’s one of the island’s most iconic sites. Its a major part of U.S. History and is a must see. Though the memorial site is off shore and can sometimes be closed based on weather conditions, walking through the main site will provide you will vital information on the events during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Similar to Hiroshima, its important to see and sympathize for those areas that were attacked. History is a lesson to be learned. Here at Pearl Harbor they are still finding pieces of ships and pulling them from the waters. If you take a look around and observe where many of the ships were you would be surprised at how massive this attack was for them.
(When we’d arrived to Pearl Harbor, it was pouring rain. The shuttles out to the memorial were closed, but we could see it from the shore and it’s pretty far out there. Some people have made crazy remarks that the memorial is “haunted” or that they’ve seen ghosts. I’m not really sure and cannot make any claims, but we did read as many plaques as we could and took in as much of the area for the brief time we were there. Pearl Harbor has major security, you will not be allowed to carry a purse or bags inside. Everything must be put in the lockers (located to the right of the entrance), as it’s still an active naval base, security is at high level.)
Have any places you think should be on this list? Leave me comments below!
Until next time, Safe Travels
See more photos from our travels to Oahu here