Oahu is a vibrant mix of natural and cultural wonders with the entertainment and amenities of the 21st century. It has the perfect combination of beaches, food, history, and culture. This island is referred to as “The Gathering Place” as it’s typically where you will land first coming from around the world.
This island is one of the most popular destinations in Hawaii because it is home to the state capitol of Honolulu. At the same time, it is home to the majority of Hawaii’s population, making it the busiest island among the six main islands of Hawaii.
First time travelers may find the numerous attractions and must sees in the island overwhelming. However, with the help of this guide, you’ll be set to have a great vacation!
BEACHES OF OAHU
This island is one of the go-to’s when it comes to long stretches of fine sanded beaches. In fact, its coastline is measured to be 112 miles! It is blessed with perfectly blended waters—calm waves for snorkeling first timers and a wild sea for surfers who seek the thrill. It is one of the best tourist destinations for honeymooners, solo backpackers, and family because there are so many variety of attractions.
Here are some of the beaches you have to check out if you are in Oahu:
Also referred to as Turtle Bay, the Kawela Bay is located on Oahu’s northeastern tip, past Haleiwa and near Kahuku. It is one of the best places for children and first timers to snorkel since it is protected from large waves. Many tourists also take a chance to catch a glimpse of a honu (Hawaiian green sea turtle).
This beach was named after the breathtaking sunsets you can watch every day. This stretches from Oahu’s Ehukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline) to Sunset Point. This two-mile stretch of sand is considered one of the longest rideable surf spots in the world, and is well known around the world!
Probably one of the more popular ones, Waimea Bay is notorious for its monstrous waves during winter, but very small and family friendly water during summer. With full facilities, this is a popular beach for locals and visitors alike. Parking can be a little difficult, which is the only negative thing about this spot.
Waikiki Beach is not only the most famous beach, but also the most famous Oahu beaches, and spots in the world. It boasts more than four million visitors every year. It is the best spot to get the view of Leahi (Diamond Head). Waikiki is actually made up of a few beaches, including Fort DeRussy Beach to the west, Waikiki Beach (fronting the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and Westin Moana Surfrider), Kuhio Beach (along Kalakaua Avenue) and Queen Surf Beach, home to quieter stretches on the Diamond Head side of Waikiki.
When it comes to Oahu’s western coast, Makaha Beach is the most famous surfing spot where big wave surfing was pioneered. Beware of the sloping sand beachhead that can cause backwash and catch unsuspecting visitors off-guard. It’s also one of the best snorkeling spots on the island.
Tourists who would like to do some dolphin-watching should visit Yokohama Bay. This curvy beach with turquoise waters is a great spot to sunbathe and watch surfers and dolphins.
More than its fine sand-beaches and crystal clear waters, Oahu is also known for its rich marine biodiversity, making it one of the ideal snorkeling spots among the Hawaiian Islands. Here are some snorkeling sites you have to check out if you want to view Oahu’s underwater gems.
Kuilima Cove is arguable the best place for beginner snorkelers. Locals and some tourists call it the Turtle Bay because Hawaiian Sea Turtles often frequent the area, being a delight to children and adults.
Some tourists are afraid to visit this snorkeling spot because of the name. But the name actually comes from the shape of the cove, and you won’t have to worry about encountering any real sharks. It can be a little difficult to snorkel here in the winter, when the waves are larger, crashing over the cove.
Kahe Point Beach Park
Kahe Point is on the western coast of the Island of Oahu. It is a small, shallow bay, sheltered from the waves, is ideal for beginners. It is a great area to spot some honus as well.
Hanauma Bay is one of the most visited and most crowded snorkeling spots in Oahu, because it is a protected reserve, there is a large verity of fish and other underwater life. The fish also tend to be a lot friendlier and acclimated to humans here, great family spot!
For guests who are tired of going to beaches or doing water related activities, going to the malls scattered around the island is a good idea. Use this time to shop for souvenirs, try out local cuisines, and made-in-Hawaii items. Some malls even organize events featuring local art, fashion and accessories, swimwear, music, food trucks and entertainment.
Ala Moana Center
This mall is the biggest mall in Hawaii. This mall has everything you can ask for—with the touch of Hawaii all over it. From the local specialty stores, to food selections, you would definitely have a great time.
They feature daily hula dancing and entertainment as well.
Royal Hawaiian Center
Like the Ala Moana, Royal Hawaiian Center is also one of the leading malls in Oahu. It houses many restaurants, shops, and stores for guests who want to do some shopping before their trip ends.
Don Quijote is a Japanese discount chain store which offers almost everything at a relatively low price. One of its most distinguishing characteristics is that it’s open 24 hours a day.
The Hawaiian cuisine remains one to be the most diverse, interesting, and delicious foods in its region. It serves as a multi-cultural melting pot in the Pacific Ocean, marrying different cultures expressed in every dish and specialty in the islands. Despite its varied-flavored array of dishes and hundreds of food options, it remains one of the most distinct and identifiable cuisines in the world.
Helena’s Hawaiian Food
If you’re looking for traditional local comfort food without the touristy feel, head to this island favorite, where marinated pipikaula hang-dries over the stove and is grilled to order. Guests should try their famous fresh poi and juicy kalua pork.
One of the most popular dessert shops in whole of Oahu is Leonard’s Bakery, home of the loved Malasadas. Leonard’s Bakery has not only perfected the recipe, but also improved it along the way. Today, aside from the traditional Malasadas which are sugar coated, they offer these confections filled with varieties of flavor, including custard, chocolate, and coconut.
Rainbow Drive In
Make like the surfers do, and refuel with teri burgers or a mixed plate of barbecue chicken and battered mahi mahi, served with two scoops of rice and mac salad. Extra gravy is available to pour over your meal at your leisure. The plate lunches, like anything starchy and filling, are not for the carb-conscious.
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Eddie Keliinohomoku is the Director of sales and marketing and co-founder of Go Hawaii Tours and Aloha Trikke, With Direct Ties to the Hawaiian islands, Eddie's passion is sharing the islands and spirit of aloha with the world. "E Komo Mai"