Hawaii Travel Guide : Oahu Island

“Then the crew lowered the cage, and I experienced the thrill of knowing what it’s like to be up close and personal in the ocean with sharks.” – PG

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This is just a glimpse of the many unbelievable experiences I encountered while visiting the stunning Oahu Island last year with my husband and son. We were there to celebrate our third wedding anniversary. This was also our first time traveling with our son, so it was a very special trip for us. If you follow this blog, then by now you have probably figured out that I am a major planner. I had so much fun planning this Hawaii trip, and I’m happy to share my recommendations in this travel guide below in case you find yourself lucky enough to visit this gorgeous Island. If you enjoy my content please subscribe below to this blog. New posts up every Monday!

Where to stay?
Hilton Hawaiian Village

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This resort is located right on Waikiki beach in Honolulu. It’s a beach front resort covering twenty-two acres. I suggest staying in the Rainbow Tower, which is where we stayed. We had a corner suite with a view of the Honolulu skyline on one side, and the Pacific Ocean on the other. It was perfect! This resort is busy, but it never felt too busy. The resort literally has everything you could ever need, restaurants, ABC stores, several pool options, rental car services, a lagoon, and even a doctor’s office! True story…my hubby had some kind of allergic reaction during our vacation, so lucky for us I remembered the resort had a doctor’s office which we took full advantage of! Oh, and once a week the Resort puts on a fireworks show! People from all over the area, including tourists staying at other hotels, flock to see it. I felt lucky having the best view right from our room balcony. Top tip: Request a high floor in the Rainbow Tower. If you can swing it, book a corner room with Diamond Head views.

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Where to eat?

Duke’s Waikiki

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I truly enjoyed my entire experience here from start to finish. It’s a popular spot and for good reason. The food is delicious, the staff is friendly, and the atmosphere is lively..oh not to mention it has a great view of the beach too. Walking up to the restaurant we walked through an alley of colorful lined surf boards, which I have to say is one of my favorite photos captured in Hawaii! If you eat here you’ll be able to enjoy live music as well, which was the perfect setting for a fun meal!

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Hau Tree Lanai

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This was my personal best meal of our entire Oahu trip. This open terrace restaurant is located at the Kaimana Beach hotel at the foot of Diamond Head. It’s a steak and sea food menu with oceanfront views and a gorgeous setting under hau trees. If you looking for a romantic, elegant, delicious dinner or brunch spot, this is the place! Oh, and any parents reading this, don’t feel like you have to skip this because you’re traveling with kids. We had our 10 month old with us at the time and still had a very nice evening under the trees! Tip: Reservations highly suggested!

Steak Shack
There’s nothing better than a steak plate on the beach! I apologize in advance, but I do not have a picture of this meal, but I still wanted to include it because it was so yummy! If you’re on Waikiki Beach and just want a delicious cheap eat beachside, then Steak Shack is the place. It’s located between the Army Museum and Outrigger Reef Hotel. Tip: Cash only!

House Without a Key
This restaurant is absolutely beautiful with amazing views of Diamond Head. It’s located at the Halekulani hotel, and is more on the fancier/expensive side. The outside patio dining experience is picture perfect under the century-old Kiawe tree, which is faithfully preserved there. I found the food to be good, service good, ambience very good.

What are the best things to do?

North Shore Shark Adventures

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This was definitely a bucketlist thing for me, and something I highly recommend doing in Hawaii. This excursion leaves from Haleiwa Small Boat Harbor in North Shore, where you will then travel two miles out in to sea to cage dive with sharks in their natural habitat. The drop lasts about twenty minutes and is done in groups of about eight. The crew is very helpful and provides snorkel gear for you to use. You can take video yourself or pay extra for the crew to capture video for you. Overall, it was a really unique experience that later you can brag to your friends about! Yea..I caged dived with sharks, no big deal 😉

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Pearl Harbor

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This is a must when visiting the Oahu area. At Pearl Harbor, you can visit the spot where the US involvement in WWII began, and where it ended. You can also tour the Battleship Missouri, where the Japanese surrendered and ended the war. My little family and I had a lot of fun just walking around and taking photos. The gift shop was also really nice, and I bought several souvenirs there. Tip: Tickets are timed, and it’s best to buy them ahead of time.

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Manoa Falls

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This is a less than two mike trek through a jungle with what seems like endless views of greenery and bamboo trees. We did this hike with our son (in backpack carrier not stroller) as well so if you are a family looking for a good hiking option in Oahu I suggest this one. Keep in mind that it is slippery, so good hiking shoes are a must. At the end you will be rewarded with a gorgeous waterfall view.

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Kualoa Ranch

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By far this was probably this coolest place we experienced on Oahu Island. It’s about an hour from the Waikiki area. Driving up  I swear I thought we were entering Jurassic Park! Well, that’s probably because movies like Jurassic Park, and about another fifty Hollywood movies were filmed there. There are several tours to choose from like ATVing, a secret beach, kayaking, and horse back riding. We choose to do the movie tour and it was amazing! The beach views from this Ranch are amazing as well.

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Paradise Cove Luau

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There are several luaus to choose from in the Oahu area, including one on the rooftop of the hotel we stayed at, however, after reading several reviews we choose the Paradise Cove luau, and I’m so glad that we did! I saw the best sunset of our entire trip on this stretch of beach. The food was good, but the performances are what really stood out to me. This excursion has a pick up and drop off service from most hotels too. Once you arrive, there are several small activities to enjoy like a small hula show on the beach and a lei station. Tip: All the seats for the show are good, but if you purchase the premium seats then your dinner buffet is served for you as opposed to having to stand in a long buffet line.

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Waikiki Beach

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This beach for me was the perfect quintessential Hawaiian beach. It was busy and yet relaxing at the same time. How is that possible? Because it’s Hawaii that’s how! The views of Diamond Head are amazing from here as well. Tip: You can reserve umbrella beds along the beach from the hotels, just make sure to reserve them early because they fill up fast!

Haleiwa Beach Park

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This is located in the North Shore, but this particular beach park was very family friendly, and actually felt a lot more private compared to the busy Waikiki beach. The views included mountains on one side and palm tress on the other. The little town of Haleiwa is a super cute beach town as well to explore. Tip: You can snorkel here too!

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Lanikai Beach
This beach is considered to be one of the best beaches by the locals. The day we went it was raining, so I only captured go pro video (which you can see in my travel blog below) but no photos sorry, but it’s definitely a beach to check out. Just check out the reviews and photos on TripAdvisor.

Nuuanu Pali Lookout

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Several locals recommended this spot to us and after visiting it I can see why. It’s right off of the H1 and can really just be a quick stop if you don’t have a lot of time. It’s just a lookout, not a hike. There is parking attached to it for just a few dollars. The views are beautiful as you can see from these pictures. The day we went, it was raining and foggy, so I can only imagine on a clear day how the view would be.

Kuhio Beach Park

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This was a fun public stretch of Waikiki beach to visit. I noticed a lot of locals at this beach a well. We mostly strolled the area and took in the sites. An instagram must here is a photo by the famous Duke Kahanamoku statue.

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There are several others places worth mentioning that I unfortunately didn’t make it out to (mainly because we were traveling with an infant so sometimes plans change). Other spots to see would be Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay, and Wailea Beach just to name a few!

That concludes my Oahu travel guide. I really hope you enjoyed reading this post. Hawaii was a dream come true, and I hope this post has inspired you to visit the stunning Oahu Island. If you have any questions about anything I mentioned above, just leave me a comment below and I’d be happy to help you out. Be sure to subscribe to this blog for more content like this. New blog post up every Monday. New YouTube videos up every Wednesday. To see the travel vlog for this Oahu trip follow this link Hawaii Travel Vlog

 

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