Ultimate Oahu Travel Guide – How to plan the perfect 2 week adventure!
Planning and prepping for our big summer getaway this year, Scott and I were eager to see how Oahu would hold up to the other Hawaiian islands we have been too. When asking our close friends and family what they thought about Oahu, they seemed a little hesitant explaining that it was more “touristy” and city like than all the other islands, we were nervous of the unknown and questioned our decision..would there be enough stuff for us to check out/do? Was 16 days way too long of a trip for this island?
By the end of our trip we laughed at ourselves for doubting Oahu’s potential, it truly is the perfect getaway for your travel needs. We loved Oahu SO much that we created an ULTIMATE travel guide to share our insights on how YOU can plan + make the most out of your trip to Oahu 🙂 Below you will find our top recommended hikes, food & drink spots, off the beaten path activities, and sightseeing locations!
My personal favorite activity while on the island, an outing to the hush, hush destination of Mermaid Caves. Finding this spot is a little tricky but don’t worry we got you covered, check out our full write up on Mermaid Caves here.
If you plan to do some hikes during your stay on Oahu this one should be at the top of your list. A great “first hike”, the best way to be introduced to the beautiful forest/mountainscape of Oahu, the Lulumahu Falls Hike is great for kids & dogs, & don’t forget to grab your suit if you wanna stand next to the waterfall!
Okay.. I’m gonna get really real with you here…Waiting in a very long line for these noodles is 100% worth it. Don’t miss out on this experience. Tucked away in the busy city of Honolulu is Marukame Udon, it’s the best!
We love our blog post dedicated to our time spent at the Byodo-In Temple. Such an amazing spot for photography AND getting some quiet time taking in the beauty of the temple’s grounds inside and out.
Drive Around the Island
We recommend to do this at the very beginning of your island adventure, if you’re renting a car you gotta drive all the way around and see what you’re working with! We love sightseeing and doing our own thing the first full day of our trip, it helps us prioritize what we want to see first and plan out the rest of our outing during our stay 🙂
Sunrise at Makapu’u Beach
Although we didn’t see too many sunrises on this trip, we were glad we got out of bed for this one. Makapu’u beach is located next to the famed lighthouse lookout with amazing views of the sea.
Drinks + Dinner @ Duke’s
Night out on the town? Gotta stop at Duke’s for some killer food & delicious drinks. For a night you wanna “treat” yourself, we promise Duke’s will NOT disappoint. (FYI Their lobster is to DIE for!)
After doing some research online about the variety of hikes on Oahu, we were a little nervous about this one, but it definitely became our favorite after we got the nerve to do it. Luckily for you, we have a whole blog post dedicated to this famed Oahu hike, check it out here for our tips + advice 🙂
Island Vintage Coffee
If you love coffee & bagels (like us) then this is the spot for you! We got coffee multiple times here and tried out a Taro bagel for the first time. It was awesome. Located in the touristy hub of Honolulu, this location was only a quick walk away from Waikiki Beach.
Be prepared to spend a couple hours enjoying Oahu’s diverse and unique botanical gardens. The island offers a few gardens to choose from but our favs that we checked out were the Waimea Valley Botanical Garden and the Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden. We had a blast checking out these spots, make sure to read our blog post to get the full run down of each one!
When exploring the Hawaiian islands, Scott and I always look for any spots for a good old cliff jumping session, luckily for us, China Walls was only a short distance from Honolulu. Known as a local spot, not too many people know about China Walls which is nice, because you can enjoy the atmosphere without the crowds, read our blog post about China Walls here.
Sunset at Waikiki Beach
Want a cheap activity that’s suuuuuper romantic? Catch a sunset at Waikiki Beach! With tons of restaurants and bars close by, why not spend a day at the beach until the sun sets and then grab some grub with the one you love?
Being that we were staying in a cozy hotel in the city of Honolulu we were constantly surrounded by city life. Some days we felt lazy and didnt want to drive far out on the island for that “remote” atmosphere we love so much, discovering Tantalus Drive was a serious game changer for us, located right outside the city, Tantalus became our go to when we needed some space from it all.
Oahu is known for it’s unique landscape, with steep cliffs and scattered showers, the hiking trails on the island give you an intimate essence of the island itself. Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail was a beautiful hike that took us high up into the mountains, a killer workout with some killer views, you gotta check this one out.
I know this one may seem silly BUT L&L on Oahu is so yummy! We got L&L multiple times during our trip and loved every bite of it. If you’ve never tried this fast food joint out before you won’t regret it! With it’s Hawaiian infusion this is a great meal after a day of hiking or picnicking at the beach!
A really fun hike for kids & families, Maunawili Falls hike will have you slipping and sliding the whole way to the waterfall at the end of the trail! By far the muddiest hike of them all, make sure to read our blog post for some tips before embarking on this muddy quest to the Maunawili waterfall!
Ever wanted to try a tie-dye late? Well now you can! ARVO Cafe has a wonderful selection of coffee drinks and cute bites so you can get your caffeine fix before embarking on a day full of activities! P.S. the avocado toast is BOMB
Whether you’re renting or bringing your own gear to the beach, Oahu is known for its beautiful underwater coral. Hanauma Bay is a great spot to snorkel but you have to get there early because it is a hot spot for tourists, regardless any beach on the island will give you an amazing experience of the ocean below.
If you’re going to Oahu then you have to stop and check out the Pali lookout! Located right outside Honolulu, if you’re renting a car, you will probably pass it a bunch of times while venturing to other parts of the island. Take a few minutes to park and check out some AMAZING views of the island from up top the Pali Mountains.
Although we did TONS of stuff we feel like we could have definitely spent more days on the island exploring further. We had a wonderful experience here and hope this Oahu travel guide gives you some ideas on what to do on your next trip to Oahu!
P.S. Check out our “Oahu Video Series” on Youtube here!