how to be a tourist in o’ahu

how to be a tourist in o’ahu

After all of these years, and the many visits to my sister, brother-in-law, and niece, it is now that I am realizing that I never posted about how to be a tourist in O’ahu! So here it is!

1. EAT ALL OF THE FOODS

That includes, shave ice, plate lunches, poke, and much, much more. Here is a list of everything I have eaten so far

2. GO TO THE BEACH

I had to do an obvious one. There are endless beautiful beaches in Hawaii but here are the ones I had the chance to go to. Waikiki is a must 

Waikiki Beach on Oahu

3. VISIT THE DOLE PLANTATION

Go through the maze – my Dad and I did cheat and cut through a hole we saw because we were kind of done with it. But it was still a fun one-time experience

4. GO FOR A HIKE

It depends on what you want to see and what your skill level is (I’m a beginner). There is something for everyone. Easier, paved trails include Diamondhead and the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail. A more intermediate one would be the Lanikai Pillboxes. The hardest one I ever did was probably Mariner’s Ridge (or Kuliouou Ridge Trail), which I don’t think I’d do again

View from the top of the Lanikai Pillboxes!

5. EXPLORE THE NORTH SHORE

Make a day of it. Go to Turtle Bay (where Forgetting Sarah Marshall was filmed), see some sea turtles at Laniakea Beach, and get some garlic shrimp from Giovanni’s

Haleiwa, O’ahu (July 2021)

6. LEARN ABOUT PEARL HARBOUR

Admittedly, I did not love this, but I’m sure history buffs would disagree. You do get to go on some of the ships, which is actually pretty cool

7. SWIM WITH DOLPHINS

The captain uses sonar to locate the dolphins and it’s really awesome to see dolphins swimming below you

8. SEE SOME FISH

There are plenty of places to go snorkeling, but the most popular place is probably Hanauma Bay. If you go, go early, and follow these tips

9. SEE HONOLULU FROM A BIRD’S EYE VIEW

By going parasailing! Of course, this isn’t specific to O’ahu, but you will get an amazing view of Diamond Head from afar, and Waikiki, which is pretty awesome

10. EXPERIENCE CHINATOWN

There are plenty of great restaurants there, and you can see what Chinatown was like back then, since it doesn’t seem like a lot of the architecture has been updated

11. PIG OUT (LITERALLY) AT A LUAU

Where else would you be able to go to a luau? A pig cooked underground? I AM THERE!

12. SHOP TO YOUR HEART’S CONTENT

Ala Moana mall is the largest open-air shopping center in the world

13. CHECK OUT SEA LIFE PARK/HONOLULU ZOO/WAIKIKI AQUARIUM

All are pretty small but if you want something kid-friendly besides the beach, these are good options. If you don’t have kids, you can probably skip it

14. GET A PANORAMIC VIEW OF THE WINDWARD COAST AT PALI LOOKOUT

15. SEE OCEAN WATER SHOOT 30 FEET INTO THE AIR THROUGH A LAVA TUBE AT THE HALONA BLOWHOLE

Halona Blowhole – Honolulu, O’ahu (July 2011)

16. GO KAYAKING

I’ve been twice. The first time, I actually wanted to go so my brother in law, Taki, went with me. After that, I said never again. Fast forward a few years to when I meet Ben, and this is our first trip to Hawaii together. He wanted to go so I sucked it up and went kayaking again. After this, I also said never again and I mean it. It’s very strenuous and tiring. We went with Kailua Beach Adventures

Kayaking to the Mokulua Islands

17. DRIVE ON A SUPER WIND-Y ROAD AT TANTALUS LOOKOUT

Halfway up, stop for a view of Waikiki. If you keep going up, there are several hiking trails along the way. Just be sure not to leave anything valuable in the car because break-ins are

Tantalus Lookout – Honolulu, O’ahu (July 2021)

18. CHECK OUT SOME TROPICAL PLANTS AT HO’OMALUHIA BOTANICAL GARDEN

It’s free and there are plenty of walking trails and areas for a picnic

Family picture at Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens – Honolulu, O’ahu (July 2021)

The two things I haven’t done yet (which I want to) are go to Kualoa Ranch, where Jurassic Park was filmed, and go on a helicopter ride. I haven’t done the ranch because I always think of it too late and by that time, everything is booked up. I haven’t done the helicopter because I feel like a lot of the companies don’t have a great track record and I am reading about crashes pretty often.

Hopefully, this list gives you a start of what to see. Hawaii (or specifically O’ahu) is so much more than just Waikiki Beach!

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