Jedd spent much of his growing up years living in Oahu, he shares his local perspective. Oahu is the third biggest island in the Hawaiian chain. It’s home to the state capital, the biggest airport, the world famous Waikiki beach, and the only interstate “highways” that don’t actually go between states. Many visitors to Hawaii opt for Kauai, Maui, or the Big Island because they are less developed and less crowded, but there are many things to do in Oahu, and it is still a perfectly worthy destination.
Live more like a local: Outside of Waikiki, you can easily feel like you’re part of the everyday world of Oahu. In fact, there are almost no hotels on the rest of the island. The other islands tend to be more tourist-centric (i.e. big resorts and everything catered towards tourists). If that’s what you’re are looking for, great. But if you want to eat what locals are eating and do what locals do, then Oahu is your best bet.
Big attractions: Natural beauty? Check. Historical landmarks? Check. Museums, boat rides, other tourist attractions? Check. Check. Check. Oahu has a little bit of everything – and maybe a bit more to offer in regards to variety than other islands. There are a lot more attractions on Oahu that are more easily accessible. This includes hiking, snorkeling, surfing, shopping – things you can organize on your own rather than needing to go through a travel agency (though they have those, too).
Waikiki Beach: (not my favorite place but nice to see). It’s gotten really developed and I usually go for people-watching.
Diamond Head Crater: Straight-forward hike up to the top and great views of Waikiki and the Ko’olau mountain range. Worth doing at least once.
Hanauma Bay: Some of the best snorkeling in the world and just a neat experience. It’s also just a beautiful area to go to the beach, relax, etc. It’s an old volcanic crater!! A must!
North Shore: Watch surfers, sample the shrimp food trucks, just drive and enjoy the beauty and laid back lifestyle. Did I mention eating?
Chinatown: Some of the best Asian food in the country. If you haven’t been to Asia, this is the next best thing (one of my favorite places to eat is the Pig & the Lady restaurant).
Pearl Harbor: The most visited attraction on the island. Pay respect to the fallen at the Arizona memorial and tour old warships.
Hike: There are so many waterfalls and great views on Oahu. There’s too many to list but check out our guide to hiking on Oahu to get started.
Eat: Oahu has the best variety and the best prices in the state.
The metropolis area of Honolulu is known as “town.” It’s a pretty big area and is the business heart of the island. This means that every morning, from all directions, people are headed to town. This is the BIGGEST thing to be aware of when planning your itinerary for your visit to Oahu. From 6:30am – 9:00am there is a ton of traffic heading to town and from 4:30pm – 7:00pm going away from it.
So when making your choice of where to stay, you want to take this into consideration and choose activities where you are going against the flow of traffic.
“Country” refers to basically any area outside of the main city. Do not be fooled into thinking that it means anywhere outside of the city is typical country, farm life. It does mean that these areas are usually less busy and chaotic. Some of our favorite areas to visit around the island are Kailua to the East and Haleiwa on the North Shore.
For more details about where to stay depending on the goals of your trip, as well as what to consider when booking your stay on Oahu, check out our free guide.
Have you been to Oahu? What things to do in Oahu should we add to our list?
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This is a guest post by Michelle and Jedd of Intentional Travelers. This 30-something couple left their full-time jobs to join the Peace Corps, then became digital nomads, doing work online as they travel the world.