This post was last updated on January 27th, 2016
It wasn’t love at first sight when we arrived in Oahu. After a quick and easy plane ride from Maui, we were ready to dive into the legendary island of Jurassic Park and Hawaii Five-O. Instead, we were met with a completely disorganized rental car office (we won’t go into the details) and gridlock rush-hour Honolulu traffic. Way too many hours later we finally arrived at Dan’s sister’s house, much in need of a bite to eat and a quick siesta.
Thankfully, we had family to take us under their wing and show us the natural beauty of Oahu that mesmerizes even the most jaded of travelers—once you’re well past the traffic jams and never-ending queues.
With a bit of adventure and a touch of Hawaiian spirit, it won’t be long before you, too, fall in love with all Oahu has to offer. Here are ten reasons to get you started:
10 Reasons To Fall In Love With Oahu, Hawaii
1. The Hiking
Whether you’re seeking tucked away waterfalls or expansive vistas, there are heaps of hiking opportunities that promise picture-perfect moments across Oahu. Diamond Head Crater and Manoa Falls are two of the most popular hiking trips; we say, don’t miss the stunning (if somewhat lesser known) Kuliouou Ridge Trail. This intermediate four-mile out and back trail offers some of the best views of Oahu’s valleys and coastline, and was one of our favorite hikes we have done in a long while.
For a comprehensive list of hiking opportunities in Oahu, this is a great compilation.
2. The Food Trucks
I have a bit of an obsession with food trucks, so it was a no-brainer to hit up as many as possible while driving along the North Shore. The Elephant Truck and Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck are two North Shore classics worth checking out. Then there are also food trucks boasting Hawaiian Shaved Ice, artistic coffee menus, Hawaiian classics, loaded tacos and more. The key is to arrive hungry and only sample a bite or two at each food truck to get the most bang for your buck and limited appetite.
3. The Surfing
Oahu’s North Shore is synonymous with epic surfing opportunities, and for good reason. Whether you plan to ride the waves or just watch in awe as others perform death-defying moves, you won’t fall short of opportunities around North Shore. If you’re just getting started, Waikiki is a more manageable place to learn how to surf safely while still having a ton of fun.
4. The Rugged Windward Coast
The true beauty of Oahu (the one typically depicted in Hollywood) is found on the Windward Coast, or the East Shore. There are plenty of stunning sights to be seen, but be sure to snorkel in Hanauma Bay Park, stop for a photo at Kailua Beach and shop for souvenirs (or embark on an outdoor adventure) at the generations-old Kualoa Ranch.
5. The Spa At Halekulani
We’re spa junkies, so it should come as no surprise that a couple’s massage tops our list of reasons to love Oahu. We indulged in a romantic Taurumi Tahitian treatment at the Halekulani Spa, and though a bit pricy, it was easily one of the best massages we’ve ever had. That’s saying a lot since we’ve long lost track of how many massages we’ve received. What’s more, the post-massage ice cream mochi made our #halekulanimoment as scrumptious as could be.
6. The Diversity
Oahu is home to a vast amount of diverse peoples and ethnic communities from around the world. Not only does that make the island a unique place full of various beliefs, cultures and customs, it also means that you can find mouthwatering and authentic food from around the world on nearly every corner. While we were in Oahu, we indulged in Japanese, Indian, Traditional Hawaiian, Vietnamese…and that’s just the start!
7. The Nightlife
While we didn’t have any nights out on the town that were too crazy, there’s no denying that Waikiki is overflowing with bars and clubs for those who want to dance the night away. We opted to go to a few local bars with Dan’s sister, none of which we remember the names of, (and not because we had too much to drink-ha!) The best we can do is offer this list of bars to check out in Waikiki with the promise that Oahu has all varieties of nightlife, whether you’re the in-bed-by-midnight type (like us) or a party animal.
8. The Sunsets
Trust us, they’re gorgeous. We recommend taking paddle boards (and maybe a bit of wine) out just before sunset. All the beginner surfers will have headed in by then, so you’ll be left with a spectacular show all to yourself. Just make sure you’re able to get back in to shore to return the paddle board before it gets too dark!
9. The History
From the traditional Hawaiian monarchy to the devastating attack on Pearl Harbour, there’s much more to Oahu than pretty beaches and dense jungle alone. It’s worth taking at least a day to explore the historic landmarks across the island to get a sense of the history that has formed Oahu into the island it is today.
10. The Aloha Spirit
Because let’s be honest. It’s Hawaii, and how can you not fall in love with the Aloha spirit the moment you arrive?
Have you been to Oahu—and if so, did you fall in love with this Hawaiian island, too? Either way, we’d love you to share your thoughts and comments below!