Oahu is the most populated and most important island in Hawaii. Honolulu boasts a big city feel without losing an inch of its coastal charm. You can still spot surfers riding bikes in beach wear through the fanciest street of the city at rush hour. If you are looking for a sunny getaway, look no further.
It doesn’t matter what you are looking for on your vacations, you can find it in Oahu. Nice resorts, budget-friendly accommodation, a city equipped with good hospitals (just in case), malls, luxury boutiques, a surfer’s paradise, great food, beautiful hikes, snorkeling and scuba diving, museums, cultural experiences, luaus, a submarine ride, desert beaches and the list goes on and on.
Where to stay:
I’d say Waikiki is one of the most famous beaches in the world, right up there with Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, in Rio and Maya beach, in Thailand. By staying at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort it makes it super easy to enjoy the widest stretch of sand Waikiki has to offer apart from numerous swimming pools, bars, restaurants, shops, convenience stores, an exclusive artificial beach without waves, etc. Every Friday night they offer a firework show right on the beach. We had a great experience in this hotel! To stay here, you are looking at $250-$300 USD a night.
If money isn’t an a problem and you were looking to just stay in one place and relax, Aulani Disney Resort would be the place. They offer everything from Ukulele lessons, movie nights, fire pit storytelling to character experiences. There is also everything from splash zones to multiple pools with slides and zero entry. Best part, they even have a kid’s club! To stay here, you are looking at around $500 USD a night.
What to do:
Polynesian Culture Center
Located about an hour north of Honolulu, this is a must see attraction for all ages. So much can be learned here about Polynesian culture and its peculiarities. The Polynesian Culture Center isn’t just a building that you go in and learn about the culture. It is divided into all the Polynesian islands and you go to each one over bridges. At each island, you get to learn about that island and culture. The exhibitions are really interesting and hands on for both kids and adults. To top it all there is a fantastic show and you can opt to be part of an extremely authentic luau with delicious food.
I took my 4 year old son to this amazing submarine ride as his birthday gift. Just like his mama, he will usually pick experiences over gifts. Every single penny spent on this great adventure was well worth it. Being able to see sunken ships, remnants of airplanes as well as sea turtles, sharks, octopuses and all kinds of marine life from inside a submarine navigating near the seabed is something a kid (or an adult) will never forget.
Taxis in Hawaii are super expensive, rent car for a day and explore the North side of the Island. There is a lot to see around the North Shore, make sure to visit the Dole Plantation on your way there and have a pineapple ice cream. If you like seafood, most specifically shrimp, then you must try the food at Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck.
If you are feeling lucky, stop by Laniakea Beach and try to spot sea turtles laying around on the sand. It is really easy to find a nice beach to spend the rest of your afternoon. Waimea Bay Beach is really good for kids and if you want to try surfing you can pay Sunset Beach is the place for you. But if you want an amazing, sandy beach with infrastructure, a bar and a restaurant, beach sunbeds for rent, nice fresh water showers, snorkeling and surf classes you have to go to the Turtle Bay Resort. You don’t need to rent a room to use the beach and you pay as you go to use their infrastructure.
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is a State Park and a must go for all visitors in Oahu. About 10 miles (20 min) east of Honolulu, you can reach the Park by taxi (aprox. US$ 50 one way) by car (arrive early to find parking) or by their shuttle service (place a reservation). Make sure to bring snorkeling equipment, a small cooler with snacks and drinks and enjoy the whole day at the most incredible beach and marine life sanctuary in the island. The Park is closed every Tuesday and people are not allowed to bring alcoholic beverages.
Visiting this incredible piece of American history and seeing USS Arizona Memorial and Battleship Missouri with one’s own eyes is something to remember. An indescribable experience filled with pride, empathy and gratitude. Arrive early and book a tour to avoid the crowds – especially if you are visiting with kids. No bags of any kind are allowed into Pearl Harbor and stroller use is really limited so make sure to bring your baby in a carrier stacked with diapers and wipes.