Things to do in Oahu. Some tips from a first timer.

Well I’m back from vacation and feeling well rested and refreshed. We had an awesome time in Honolulu. If you’ve never been to the island of Oahu I highly recommend you take advantage if you get the chance to go. There is so much to do you really can’t pack it all into just one trip.
Honolulu is definitely a unique place. It’s a city with a crazy nightlife and more places to go shopping then you could ever imagine nestled right alongside beautiful beaches with crystal clear waters. Waikiki beach, where we stayed, is a 2 mile strip of hotels, shops, restaurants and cafes right by the ocean.
A great way to save money is to utilize the convenient public transit system of Oahu. The city bus is literally called “The Bus” and it can take you anywhere on the whole island in under 2 hours. We bought 4 day passes for $25 (a ticket will cost you $2.50 without the pass)
Here are some places we went to that were free (or almost free) and definitely worth checking out if you are heading to the island

Diamond Head Crater Hike

View of Waikiki from the top of Diamond Head

Diamond Head is the most recognized landmark on the island and can be seen in the distance from Waikiki beach. We took a 20 minute bus ride to the start of the trail. The hike is a series of switchbacks up the crater. Then you go up a couple flights of very steep stairs and through a lit tunnel up to a lookout point on the top of the mountain. The views are spectacular and you can get some amazing photos from the top. The length of the hike is about 1.5 miles and it took us about an hour round trip.  Cost is $1 per person for entry and $5 per car for parking.

View of the ocean from the top of Diamond Head

USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor

View of the memorial taken on the boat ride over.

There are several tours you can take at Pearl Harbor but the Arizona Memorial is free admission. I’m not really into history or even knew much about the attack on Pearl Harbor before we got there but I was pleasantly surprised, it was really interesting to check out. There are a couple of small museums you can walk through to learn more about the events leading up to and the attack on Pearl Harbor before you head on a boat ride to the memorial site. They have the memorial structure built upon the remains of the shipwreck. You can actually still see oil leaking out of the wreckage into the water after all these years. I highly recommend a trip to the memorial site, it’s a very moving experience.

Hanauma Bay

View of the bay from the top of the hill

Hanauma Bay is a wildlife reserve on the South Eastern side of Oahu. It is a protected coral reef where visitors can go snorkeling and get up close with the aquatic wildlife. Admission is $7.50 per person and you have to watch an informational video about the reef and preservation of the bay before you can go down and check out the beach area. We some some amazing fish and sea turtles! The sea turtles were incredible. You get right up close to them watch them swim and eat in the coral reef. They were really cute.

You can see the coral reef from above the water. Tons of fish swimming in the reef area.

Manoa Falls

View of the falls from the top of the trail

The hike up to Manoa falls is like trekking through a lush rain forest in the middle of the jungle. The vegetation is so different compared to what we have here in the Pacific Northwest. Huge thick bamboo stalks, gigantic banana leaves and huge trees covered in vines. It feels like you are in one of the scenes from the TV show Lost (actually the whole Lost series was shot on Oahu) The trail is about 2 miles round trip and it was about a half hour bus ride to get there from Waikiki.

Of course, there’s always relaxing on the beach and hitting up the shops along the  main strip. You can rent a surf board and take lessons along the shores of Waikiki beach or rent stand up paddle board and other water sport equipment.

Relaxing on the beach on a sunny day

Amazing sunset off of Waikiki beach

If we get a chance to go back to Oahu I’d like to head up to the North Shore to which is world famous for huge waves and where the worlds best surfers go out to compete in surfing competitions every winter.

Have you ever been to Oahu or any of the Hawaiian Islands? What did you like best about your trip? Let me know in the comments!

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2 Responses to Things to do in Oahu. Some tips from a first timer.

  1. Janet says:

    Thanks for the tips! I used to live on Oahu (Go UH!) and can't believe they charge to go to Hanauma Bay now! Glad you had a fun time.


  2. If I could convince my husband to move to Hawaii I already be packing my bags and booking the flight! I think they charge now to help with the maintenance of the bay. I heard it was almost ruined at one point from too many tourists.


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