Hawaii is the only place out of Australia that I have visited three times, and I would go back time and time again. Out of all of the islands, theres a reason Oahu resonates so well with travellers. From honeymooners to families to backpackers, there is something for everyone.
But here are my favourite things to do on the island I call ‘heaven on earth’.
Swim at Waimea Falls
North Shore is a not-so-secret gold mine filled with breathtaking sights and attractions that still bring crowds, but no where near as swamped as Waikiki. The Waimea area is a particular favourite. The Waimea Falls and botanical park are a stunning mini adventure as you make your way to the falls on foot, (or golf buggy for an extra fee) surrounded by lush vegetation.
Jump off the rock at Waimea Bay
Definitely my favourite beach on North Shore, with the brightest blue water you ever did see. This place is stunning from every angle with a lighthouse to your right, jumping rocks to your left and dense rainforest behind you. Due to the sudden drop created by the waves during the surf season, it’s a perfect place to climb up the massive rock and jump. Although there are warning signs, no one seems to listen (or read, I should say).
Hike the Pillbox Trail
There are too many hikes/walks to count on Oahu, but the Pillbox Trail was both the easiest and one of the most beautiful. It’s easily accessible and the property owners allow people to walk it, unlike other illegal hikes. The vibrant blue waters of Lanikai paired with the colourful, graffiti covered boxes also make for some stunning photos.
Surf at Waikiki Beach
Obvious, I know, but Waikiki beach just makes it so easy. With places to rent boards everywhere and areas with small waves, it’s perfect for beginners. And if you just can’t get the hang ten of it (see what I did there), just float and watch the pros.
Snorkel at Hanauma Bay
Arguably the best reef on the island. You do have to pay to enter, and they make you watch an environmental protection video before entering to encourage people not to stand on the coral etc. Whilst that is great, unfortunately, some tourists just don’t care and the coral is very damaged.
Tour the Koala Ranch
See famous back drops from hundreds of movies such as Jurassic Park and 50 First Dates, as well as plantations and farms. The valley is ridiculously beautiful with towering cliff faces on either side, its easy to see why Hollywood caught on.
Watch the surfers at Sunset Beach
Watch the Hawaiins do their thing, or if your lucky enough, witness the pros at either Sunset Beach or the Bonzai Pipeline next door. They may have a surf competition depending on what season you decide to go. I’ve been in January when the waves are huge (as pictured), but in September it was flat as a pancake.
Take in epic views from Diamond Head
Probably the most popular attraction on the island, with its close proximity to Waikiki and the history behind the crater. The views all across the populated area are remarkable though.
Swim in turquoise water at Kailua
My favourite beach on the island hands down. It’s been voted multiple times as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and the town of Kailua is a nice getaway from the hustle and bustle of Honolulu and Waikiki.
Walk the 9km white sands of Waimanalo
If you want peace and quiet, then this beach is where to go. The longest stretch of beach on the island and with the only thing around being local houses, it’s extremely peaceful.
Spot turtles in Hanalei
Turtles are all around this stunning island but you have the best chance of seeing them in two places on the North Shore. Hanalei Bay is known to be a popular area for the little guys to bask in the sunshine on the shore. Try searching on both sides of the harbour. The second place is Turtle Bay nearby but as there is a private resort there it’s not as accessible (though your still welcome to check it out).
Attend a Luau
As the western world threatens to decimate the unique culture of the Hawaiian people, it’s great to learn a bit about their history and way of life. It’s also a really fun night out with traditional food and Mai Thais. Yum!
Hike Kamehame Ridge
See Waimanalo Bay from above with incredible views across the whole island. This hike used to be popular because of the Dead Mans Catwalk, a long slab of concrete which seemed to stick out over the edge of the cliff and painted with the now infamous words. But the property it resides on is a private property and as it was getting overcrowded with tourists, the council removed it.
The walk is still beautiful for the views, and it’s not a very long walk and all on paved roads. You have to jump a few fences with warning signs then once you pass a white power box on your right, turn right into a clearing with a rocky path up the hill to get to this lookout. You can also keep walking to go further along the ridge but to get to where the Dead Mans Catwalk once was you have to break into a power station up the top and it’s a bit of a mission.
That’s just some of my favourite things to do. What are yours?