One of the hardest decisions to make when planning your holiday is deciding which island to visit in Hawaii. There are 8 islands in Hawaii and they are all unique and beautiful in their own way, however the most popular islands to visit are Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii (The Big Island). Having been to all the major islands, here are some of my experiences and recommendations to help you plan your trip.
Oahu (The Gathering Place)
Oahu is the busiest island in Hawaii and home to Honolulu, the largest city in Hawaii. Oahu is famous for many sights including Pearl Harbour, North Shore, and the busy Waikiki Beach. The Waikiki beachfront walk is very busy with tourists and is surrounded by hotels, shops, cafes, and restaurants. If your’e looking for a busy city on an island then Oahu is the place for you.
Things to do in Oahu:
Lanikai Beach: This beach is by far the most beautiful beach in Oahu if not Hawaii. Located in Kailua on the east side of the island, Lanikai beach is a quiet beach with soft white sands and clear blue water. It truly feels like paradise here! A must visit for all travellers!
North Shore: If you’re looking for peace and quiet away from the craziness of Waikiki then a day trip to North Shore is the perfect escape. North shore is home to the beautiful Waimea Bay, known for it’s big surfs. If waves are not your cup of tea then you can head to Turtle Bay where you will find turtles sun baking. For souvenir shopping go to Haleiwa town where you will find many boutique shops selling homemade crafts & gifts. For local eats you must try the shrimp trucks and shave ice in the area. Some popular shrimp trucks are Mackey’s Shrimp Truck or Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck. For shave ice check out Aoki’s Shave Ice or Matsumoto Shave Ice.
Shark Cove: Voted as one of best spots for snorkeling in the world, Sharks Cove is a must visit for those who love snorkeling. Located on the North Shore of Oahu, this area is surrounded by loads of rocks and beautiful marine life. As with all snorkeling spots, make sure you get there nice and early (between 8am-10am) to enjoy the calm clear waters and be able to find parking.
Diamond Head: If you’re looking for a good hiking trail then you must check out Diamond Head. The summit trail is around 2.6km and takes around 2-3 hours round trip. Once you reach the top you are presented with beautiful panoramic views of Waikiki and south Oahu. This place can get very busy so get there early to avoid the crowd.
Pearl Harbour: If you’re into your movies then you’ll probably know the famous Hollywood film “Pearl Harbour” and the incidents that took place in 1941 when the Japanese launched a surprise attack on the US. Today Pearl Harbour is a memorial site where you can visit and read up on the history of the war between the two countries. Be sure to get there early (before 7am) as tickets for the popular Arizona Memorial tour gets sold out very quickly.
Waikiki Beach: You can’t come to Oahu and not go to Waikiki, it just wouldn’t be complete but chances are you’ll book a hotel in this busy area. Waikiki has many shops and restaurants that will keep you busy with shopping and eating. Some popular local eats to check out are Eggs and Things for breakfast and if you love ramen, check out Nakamura. The oxtail ramen is a must try!
Waikele Premium Outlet: Spoil yourself by finding bargains at Waikele Premium Outlets. There are over 200 shops to choose from and you will need to spend at least a day here.