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What to do on Oahu, Hawaii

Hawaii Bucket-list Trip Ideas To Curate A Perfect Custom Hawaiian Travel Itinerary

As far as Hawaiian islands go, Oahu, is a pretty big place, and there are a lot of exciting places and activities to see. But as anyone who has visited Hawaii knows, there's also a lot you can't find in any guidebook or travel magazine. That's where I come in — I know the best places to go at all times of day, night, and everything in between. Let Jess be your Hawaiian personal travel planner and we'll show you the secrets to make your trip to Oahu better than ever!

The Best Kept Secrets of The Eastern, Western, Southern, and Northern Shores of Oahu

Oahu's East Side

If you want to get away from the crowds and find some quiet, peaceful beach time on Oahu's east side, take a 20-minute drive further east from Waikiki, and you'll be met with some of the most beautiful views in the world.

Koko Head crater hike is a very challenging hike that includes 1,048 stairs leading to the top of a crater. It's not for the faintest of hearts, but the locals often do this hike weekly for exercise.

Makapuu Beach State Park is one of my favorite places on Oahu - it's a hidden gem with great views from atop a hill and miles of pristine beachfront.

Waimanalo Beach is another one of my favorites! It's a long strip of beach that doesn't get overcrowded on weekdays, so you can enjoy this beautiful view in peace.

What to eat on Oahu's East side

There are so many great food options on the east side of Oahu that it's hard to choose just one. My favorites include Kona Brewing Company for the beautiful water views, Kokonuts Shave ice & Snacks for their shave ice, and big Acai bowls.

Both Oahu locals and tourists know of the famous Waikiki Leonard's Bakery for its fresh and delicious malasadas but did you know that there are other locations scattered along the island? Skip the line and head to Koko Marina center, where you'll find a Leonards's truck parked, ready to serve you with some of their best-loved treats.

Oahu's West side

West Side is often a forgotten part of the island, but it is home to some of the most beautiful beaches on the island. You can make a day trip out of it by driving up early and doing the Ma'ili Pillbox hike, where you get a bird's eye view of all the beaches and towns on the west side.

Afterward, head over to Aloha Poke, a local poke and plate lunch spot, before heading to Yokohama Bay, the furthest beach you can drive to before you reach the end of the island, otherwise known as Kaena Point.

hawaiian food on your custom hawaiian travel itinerary
Say aloha to poke

Some other great places to visit on the west side are Electric Beach for snorkeling, Mermaid Caves to view a magical and enchanting swimming cove, Makaha beach, and Makua Beach.

Oahu's North Shore

If you're looking for the best beaches and food spots on Oahu, the North Shore is where it's at. From Waimea Bay, one of the most beautiful places in Hawaii to jump off the famous jumping rock, to Sharks Cove, which offers an alternative snorkeling experience. If you're an adrenaline junky, Banzai Pipeline is a must-see during winter for its massive waves and professional surfers. The Ehukai Pillbox hike is your spot if you just want to hike. It's beautiful and family-friendly but not overpacked like other known hiking spots on the island.

Oahu's North Shore is known for its great food, and there are many tasty places to try, but if you're looking for something a little different, here are some suggestions:

  • Aoki's Shave Ice: This place is just across the street from Matsumoto shave ice, but it is even better, and the line is a lot quicker! The flavors are more intense than Matsumoto's, and the ratio of ice to toppings is perfect. You won't regret trying this place out!

  • Foodland Poke: I know what you're thinking, "Why would someone eat raw fish from a grocery store?" But Foodland has some of the best poke for your money. They always have a great variety of flavors, and you can either order it alone or in a rice bowl. My personal favorite is eating poke with pita chips!

  • Giovanni's Shrimp truck: If you've been doing some research on the best food on Oahu, I'm sure you have come across the name Giovanni's. Located in Honolulu and North Shore, this place truly has some of the best shrimp in the state. I have never once been disappointed eating their garlic or lemon butter shrimp. Make sure to bring cash, as they are a cash-only establishment!

Oahu's Southside

The South side of Oahu is where Honolulu and Waikiki lie. Although most locals do not enjoy the crowded and trafficked area, there are still many spots that cannot be missed.

Canoes Surf Break is one of Oahu's most popular surf breaks and one of the best beginner breaks on the island. It has a wide, gently sloping reef perfect for beginners to learn how to ride waves and get comfortable in the water. Moku Hawaii, down the street from Canoes, offers surf lessons as well as budget-friendly surf rentals.

If you're looking for a new adventure, try catamaran cruising in Waikiki. You can choose from several companies, but my favorite is the Manu Kai Catamaran for its all-you-can-drink cruise and low prices. The Hawaii Glass Bottom Boat is another excellent option for family outings. This boat is BYOB, but it cruises along the Waikiki coast until Diamond Head offering better chances at seeing ocean wildlife.

Waikiki is full of countless food options, but here are my favorites.

  • Banán: known for their vegan ice cream made from bananas. This is a unique and tasty treat to enjoy after spending a day in the hot sun.

  • Marugame Udon: While driving through Waikiki, you will most likely see a huge line waiting outside the door and wonder what it's for. Marugame Udon offers delicious udon at a great price. Pro Local tip: order by phone to skip the wait and walk directly to the front when you arrive to receive your food.

  • Bogart's Cafe: My all-time favorite breakfast place where you can find breakfast classics and typical local food such as Taro bagels and pancakes, Haupia waffles, and breakfast fried rice.

  • If you're looking for a night out on the town, it's hard to beat Lulu's Waikiki on Monday nights and SKY Waikiki on Friday nights. But if you want something a little different, check out Moani's on Saturday nights for some live reggae music. The locals go there every week!

We hope this Hawaiian custom travel guide helps make your vacation Itinerary of Oahu that much better. Whether you're staying at the beach or in a luxury hotel, it's hard not to love the island paradise that is Oahu. So what are you waiting for? Contact Jess to book your personal Hawaiian travel itinerary today.


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