September 21, 2022

Our Complete Guide to Oahu!

Our complete guide to Oahu is HEREEE! Everything from the best beaches, to out of this world hikes, to insanely delish food! 😆 There is so much to do on Oahu; we could spend weeks here exploring! 🏝 Check out all of our fave Oahu recs below! 🤙🏻

Where to Stay:

Turtle Bay Resort - We love the bungalows and hotel for many reasons! First reason is because it's located on the North Shore (our preferred area to stay). This hotel has been beautifully renovated with a cute BoHo style and it’s nestled in the center of the best food and beaches on the island. It’s great for adults and families. Also a great place to take surfing lessons in the springtime!

Ko’ Olina Resort - This resort has really fun pools and slides along with calm ocean lagoons, perfect for families with young kids. Great place to stay if you plan to pretty much stay put at the resort during your stay. This resort is located on the west side of the island, which means the sun is almost always shining! The downside is that it is about 45-60 minutes away from our favorite beaches, hikes and restaurants.

Aulani Disney Resort & Spa - This resort has really fun pools and slides along with calm ocean lagoons, playgrounds and resort activities, perfect for families with young kids. Great place to stay if you plan to pretty much stay put at the resort during your stay. There’s an amazing Kids' Club here and you’re sure to see many Disney characters during your stay. This resort is located on the west side of the island, which means the sun is almost always shining! The downside is that it is about 45-60 minutes away from our favorite beaches, hikes and restaurants.

Sheraton Waikiki - This hotel and location in general gives off a more tourist-y vibe, but it has beautiful rooms and views! It is very close to a lot of restaurants, shopping and hiking. We love the high elevation from the hotel room balcony giving you a spectacular ocean view! On a calm day, it’s fun to rent paddle boards down by the beach, just a short walk from the hotel. Also a great place to take surf lessons.

Where to Eat:

Farm to Barn Cafe & Juicery - Here you’ll find food that is farm to table. Every plate is crafted with local, fresh ingredients that taste good and make you feel good too! Win, win! We love the Banzai Burger, Buddha Bowl and Sweet Green Juice.

Aji Limo Truck - This food truck is named “Oahu’s Favorite Food Truck”! It’s the cutest truck, open daily, and they serve Peruvian-Japanese fusion dishes. SO good! Check them out on Instagram, @ajilimo_truck or online! Everything is good - can’t go wrong!

Raised by the Waves - The most delish vegan-friendly, eco cafe that serves a variety of nutritious, organic, and locally sourced plant-based goodness! This one is a go-to for us for breakfast, brunch or lunch and for dang good reason. We go back every time we’re in town! Our favorite dishes: Sunrise Waffle, Vitamin Sea Bowl, Banzi Bagel, Aloha Bowl, Hapa Milkshake, Sunset Bowl, Blue Room Smoothie.

Lanikai Juice - One of our favorite spots in Kailua for açaí bowls after a hike or day at the beach. We brought our CSE protein stick packs in here and they were happy to blend them right into our bowls! Our favorite bowls are Açaí Extravaganza and Monkey Biz (using our protein).

The Beet Box Cafe Hawaii - SUCH a yummy hole-in-the-wall, vegan/vegetarian cafe that serves breakfast and lunch. Our faves from here: Banana Oat Pancakes and Beet Box Salad (not the best place to get açaí  bowls).

Hale’iwa Bowls - One of our favorite Açaí Bowl joints on the North Shore. These bowls are BEAUTIFUL! Our favorite is the Hapa Bowl, add strawberries, blueberries, cacao nibs, bee pollen and peanut butter or almond butter.

Nalu Health Bar & Cafe - This is our go-to stop for lunch in Kailua, the North Shore or Honolulu. Their food is as delicious as it is fresh! Here are our favorites:
Juices: Detoxifier, Heart Beet, Greenergy
Salads: Nalu Salad, Rainbow Salad
Sandwiches: Turkey Kale Pesto
Acai Bowls: Nalu, Ala Moana
Breakfast: Wrap, PB Toast

Seven Brothers - Seven Brothers is a classic! If you’ve never been, you need to go! Loveee the Paniolo Burger and also their potato chip fries. The line can be long and the service a little slow, but totally worth it! We would recommend coming here on a weekday vs. the weekend. 

The Sunrise Shack - Cutest spot with yummy, fresh food! We love that they have locations all over the island. These are a few of our fave things: Açaí Bowl, Blue Dream Bowl, Monkey Bowl, and the Turkey Caesar Avo Eater Salad (salad only available at the Kailua location).

Elephant Truck - This Thai food truck is UNMATCHED! 🔥 We recommend grabbing dinner and then walking across the street to Sunset Beach to watch the sunset. Our favorites are the Pad Thai and Panang Curry.

Ted's Bakery - Their baked goods are 😍🤤 To get a shot at the best selections for the day, head there in the morning. We personally love the Guava Danish, Carrot Cake, Macadamia Nut Danish and Chocolate Haupia Pie. For a true taste of Hawaii, we recommend also snagging a Mixed Plate Lunch!

Sprout Sandwich Shop - The sandwiches are perfect for on-the-go beach days or hiking adventures! Their menu is formed around locally sourced ingredients. All of their menu items are made daily from scratch with simple, wholesome ingredients. Our favorites are: The Duke, The No Comply, The Floater and The Big Kahtuna.

Leonard’s Bakery - Search locations for their truck - most often found in Hawaii Kai. Think warm donuts filled with coconut cream and rolled in sugar… they are to die for!

Matsumoto Shave Ice - You can never go wrong with a little (or big) shaved ice in Hawaii! We recommend hitting this place up at an odd hour to beat the long lines. Erika’s favorite: Melona, Banana and Coconut with vanilla ice cream and snow cap. JJ’s favorite: Melona, Blue Hawaii and Guava with vanilla ice cream and snow cap. 

Where to Hike:

Moanalua Valley - This hike was absolutely INSANE. It took us about 6.5 hours and it was around 13 miles round trip. We did get lost which added an extra 3 miles to the trip. 😅 I don't recommend that!

Follow All Trails on this one and you’ll be good! Wear good trail shoes and plan on getting very muddy! It is typically wet and rainy at the top so dress accordingly. Pack snacks and lots of water.

And be prepared to look like this ^ after the hike. 😆

Waimano Falls - This one may be the most fun! Only 2.9 miles out and back. Downhill on the way in, so the work is on the way home!

There are waterfalls, rope swings, and cliff jumping into natural swimming pools! You know we were all over those rope swings. 😜 Wear a swimsuit and Tevas.

Koko Head Stairs - The stair master has nothing on Koko Head with a total of 1,078 stairs and nearly 1,000 ft vertical climb. It's definitely intense, but the view at the top is 1000% worth it!

Do this one at sunrise; the beauty will absolutely blow your mind! We do this every time we go to Oahu. It’s a must! Wear a good pair of workout shoes.

Maunawili Falls Hike - This is an adventurous hike, but so lush and beautiful. Amazing views all along the way. River crossings, waterfalls at the top, and a pool to jump into from all different heights. Pack your mosquito repellent, wear good shoes and plan on getting dirty! We’ve done this hike more times than we can count.

Manoa Falls Hike - Little work for a big reward! One of the most gorgeous hikes on the island to a tall waterfall. 

Makapu’u Lighthouse and Tide Pools - Great paved trail that is not very long, but has a pretty steep incline. You will work up a sweat! 

We recommend going for sunrise and also going the extra mile by hiking down to the tide pools. You’ll probably get them all to yourself! 

Lanikai Pillbox Hike - One of the best views on the island. We recommend starting this hike before sunrise and watching the sky come to life with many other onlookers. This is a popular hike, so get there early to get a good parking spot. 

It’s a moderate hike to the pillbox (1.7 miles out and back), if you want to add more miles, the trail continues on quite a ways with spectacular views all along. Wear a good pair of workout shoes.

Diamond Head Trail - A tourist attraction that is not the most beautiful trail on the way up, but it is a great workout and provides an AMAZING view of Downtown Honolulu and the ocean from the top. Definitely makes the climb worthwhile. 

Waimea Valley Trail - A paid tourist attraction with a beautiful paved nature path that takes you to a waterfall. Wear your swimming suit because you can swim at the top, but they do require that everyone wear a life jacket, provided at the waterfall. Our kids really loved this one!

Where to Beach:

A great rule to follow when picking a beach is to get there early - before 9 am is ideal to grab a parking spot and beach spot. If you are going to hop beaches, it seems like most people start to clear out between 2-4 pm. That would be your next best chance at finding a parking spot!

Waimea Bay - Our favorite beach on the island. Huge swells in the winter, but calm as a bathtub in the summer. Gorgeous, clear water. Feeling adventurous? Join the locals and jump off Black Rock. We have seen a lot of cool marine life here so keep your eyes open - turtles, seals, dolphins, and whales!

It's also a great place to float on a tube or paddleboard in the summer. Sometimes when there has been a lot of rain, the river will connect to the ocean making it a really unique and fun place to play. 

Three Tables - The reef tables break up the surf a bit on this beach so the waves don’t ever get too crazy. Great beach for swimming and playing in the push and pull waves.

Great snorkeling out by the tables in the summer months when it’s calm. Love the coarse sand on this beach, it brushes right off! 

Halona Beach - Such a fun spot! Can be a bit wild in the winter, but we swim here year round. If you get there between 6-8 am you might even have it to yourself!

Try jumping off the black rock on the right side of the beach. Turtles frequent here, it can be a great place to snorkel when it’s calm.

Pipeline - Usually huge swells, but a beautiful beach for miles. We all swim here in the late spring/summer months.

Sunset Beach - Usually huge swells and not great for swimming, but the perfect spot to watch the sunset. Usually more calm in the summer months for swimming, but in the winter it can be a great place to watch experienced boogie boarders do their thing.

Lanikai Beach - Very calm beach with gorgeous crystal blue water. Perfect for kayaking, paddle boarding, beach games or sand castles. Great for small kids or for anyone that wants to camp out for the day and soak up the sun.

Waimanalo Beach - Great for boogie boarding, but watch out for jellyfish. They get brought in when it’s windy and their stings are not fun. Gorgeous light sand beach and pretty water! 

Turtle Beach - Fun little tide pools and a guaranteed spot to see turtles. Not the best place to swim or spend the entire day, but a fun stop off on your way to another location. 

Makapuu Beach - Hawaiian gem with a beautiful sandy shoreline. This spot is considered the premier body surfing beach in Hawaii!

Other Activities:

Jump off “The Rock” at Waimea

Kayak to The Mokulua Islands (The Mokes) and jump off the rock at Queens Bath

Snorkel Sharks Cove

Visit the Polynesian Cultural Center and LDS Laie Hawaii Temple

Go to the Halona Blowhole & lookout

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