halona cove

Oahu Must Sees, Dos, and Eats

 

And if you don’t want to read the details of my day-by-day, here’s a summary of what I recommend on Oahu. I tried my best to make it more of a local experience while incorporating some tourist attractions, because those are the most popular things for a reason! Feel free to reach out or comment with any questions!  

I provided links for the experiences and hikes that lead to the full post with more descriptions and photos.

Experiences:

Kaneoheo Sandbar
Rent a kayak and paddle out to the sand bar to stand in the middle of the ocean. When the tide is low, the sand sits well above the water.

IMG_8606.jpg

Snorkeling at Shark’s Cove
Shallow waters with plenty of cool fish in an enclosed area. Also checkout Hanauma Bay (more crowded and touristy, but a great spot) We recommend full face snorkel masks, they make everything so much easier, and pickup a pair of fins at a local store!

Swim at Halona Cove
This was a great spot to just swim and jump in the waves, they aren’t small waves, but also not gigantic. This spot is also really easy to find and get to!

RNCA7703.JPG

Sunset at China Walls
A great spot to see the last light of the country and watch the surfers, plenty of parking and easy to find!

IMG_0731.jpg

Sunrise at Sandy Beach
Worth waking up to see all the colors of sunrise reflect on the tidepools at Sandy Beach (a.k.a. Broke Neck Beach). Stop at The Cream Pot nearby for breakfast!

Hangout at Lanikai Beach
Just one of many of Oahu’s gorgeous beaches, hard to find parking though so just drive around. Bring lunch and hangout all day!

Other: Sunset at Sunset Beach, Aloha Stadium Swap Meet, Snorkel at Hanauma Bay, Shop at Ala Moana Center, Shirokiya Japan Village Walk, Shop at Waikele Outlets, Buy a fresh coconut from a road-side stand or farmer’s market


Hikes:

Makua Cave
1.7 mi RT, Easy-Intermediate, Stunning sweeping view of west side’s coastline.

IMG_9486.jpg

Koko Head
1050+ steps, Intermediate, amazing 360 views of entire southern part of island

Lulumahu Falls
2.5 mi RT, Easy-Intermediate, Extremely muddy

IMG_9887.jpg

Makapu’u Tidepools
2 mi RT, Intermediate, Hike down from the Makapu’u Lighthouse trail to these semi-hidden tidepools that you can swim in!

Crouching Lion Hike
1.5 mi RT, Intermediate, Pretty steep and muddy hike but a nice view! You don’t have to walk all the way out to the rock to get the view either!

IMG_0783.jpg

Food:

Helena’s Hawaiian Food
Hands down our favorite spot to eat on the island. We were obsessed with their spare ribs, but their laulau, kalua pork, and macaroni salad was all delicious. There is usually a wait but it’s totally worth the wait, or take it to-go!

Foodland Poke
Foodland is just a grocery store but it’s probably the best deal on the island for poke, good quality for a reasonable price. Can’t go wrong with a half pound of Shoyu Ahi, half a pound of Spicy Ahi (not spicy), and a bag of Tostito’s Scoops.

Ono’s Steak and Shrimp
Something so simple about really good steak, butter garlic shrimp with rice, and macaroni salad just sealed the deal for me! Another great option is Giovanni’s Shrimp.

LNEQ9197.JPG

Other great food: Button Up Cafe, Sura Hawaii, The Cream Pot, Poke on Da Run, Rainbow Drive-In. Great food we wanted to try but didn’t get to: Boots and Kimo’s, Marukame Udon


Dessert + Snacks

Liliha Bakery
Specifically the Matcha and Chantilly Coco Puffs! Seriously so good, my mouth is watering just thinking about them.

Haleiwa Bowls
We had two other acai bowls while on the island but this was definitely our favorite. I also wanted to try Sunrise Shack but didn’t get the chance.

Modo Donuts
If you like mochi, you need to try these, they have so many good flavors. Their location was a little hard to find but I shared a tip here! My favorite flavors were cookies and cream, black sesame, and earl gray!

NVDB6773.JPG

Shimazu’s Shave Ice
While everyone recommends Matsumoto’s, I loved Shimazu, short line, lots of options, huge portions, and good quality! We got the Milk Green Tea and Matcha flavors, haha adventurous I know. (Thanks for the recommendation Bailey!)

BNXB1051.JPG

Other: Ube Pie from McDonald’s, Malasadas from Leonard’s, Dole Whip from the Dole Plantation

 

Oahu Day 1 + 2 | Electric Beach, Makua Cave, Koko Head, Halona Cove

 

Day 1 — Leeward (East)

As soon as we got off the plane, picked up our rental we went straight to Helena’s Hawaiian Food. Which was hands down our favorite food spot on the island. Directly followed by a trip to Foodland for a few pounds of poke. After we dropped our stuff off at our family’s place we were on our way driving up the East side of the island towards Makua Cave.

We stopped at Electric Beach on the way there which is known for its snorkeling. The waters there are warmed by the power plant next to the beach. Unfortunately we didn’t spend much time there or see anything. My guess is we were a little farther down on the beach away from the power plant and also didn’t commit to swimming a little farther out. Mind you we were so excited, this was our first beach of the trip, and were also trying to make it to Makua Cave for sunset.

We drove farther up HI-83 and parked at the Ka’ena Point State Park sign, that someone unfortunately knocked down. This spot had a really cool view of the coast. From there walk farther down the road to the 25mph sign, not the No Tresspassing sign. There is a path, made by others who have walked up.

Day 2 — Hawaii Kai (South)

We started the day early by hiking Koko Head, we knew it would be busy since it was a Saturday but also wanted to beat the sun before it got too high in the sky. I think we arrived around 7:30AM and it was already busy, not overwhelmingly crowded but busy.

I will say that this hike isn’t easy, it is 1,050+ steps. it’s completely doable but it isn’t easy. Jordan and I are both semi-fit, not top athletes who could run up this mountain, but moved at a moderate pace, taking maybe two or three breaks. But people of all athletic levels were doing it, just take it at your own pace.

kokoheadstairs

I will say, while we were sweating bullets, huffing and puffing all the way up in the heat and humidity, the top was definitely worth it. Not only for the views but the cooling winds that greeted us in the best way. You basically get a 360 view of this corner of the island.

 
 

Post hike we drove just 6 minutes away to Halona Cove. We hung out and enjoyed the natural wave cove for an hour or so before checking out the surrounding lookout areas.

We ended our day early to return home to celebrate Jordan’s Grandma’s 90th birthday! But before doing that we picked up an Acai Bowl at Lanikai Juice, tbh I would give it a 2.5/5. It was good, but felt really corporate, less homemade. It was also pretty pricy. I wouldn’t recommend coming here, there are plenty of other spots on the island that definitely felt more authentic.

lanikai juice