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You Had Me At Oahu

Adventure Awaits. Go Find It.

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” ― Jack Kerouac

Adventure Awaits. Go Find It.

You Had Me At Oahu

Not only is Hawaii one of the top vacation destinations in the world but Oahu is the most visited of the Hawaiian Islands.

Get ready to have fun and plan your Oahu vacation with ease.  My goal with this article is to inspire you and to give you a better understanding of what to expect if you choose to vacation on Oahu, Hawaii as well as what see and do during your vacation.

Below, I am going to go over the 7 sandy Waikiki beaches and 5 hot North Shore beaches as well as Things to do and DCT’s top 3 Oahu resort picks.

*Hint: The best way to make sure you have the best Hawaiian Vacation is to utilize a Travel Agent.

Adventure Awaits. Go Find It.

You Had Me At Oahu

Basic Knowledge Points About Oahu

You may be aware of the 4 main Hawaiian Islands… Oahu, Maui, Hawaii also known as “The Big Island” and Kauai but there are actually 6 islands that are open to tourists. On top of the main 4 there are also Lanai and Molokai.

A Little History Of Oahu

Oahu also referred to as “The Gathering Place” is the 3rd largest of the 4 top islands but has the majority of the population of all of them, about 976 thousand people in the year 2020.

A staggering 5.9 million tourists visited Oahu in 2019. I used the 2019 year due to a little thing known as Covid-19 skewing tourist numbers for 2020.

Oahu is the capital of the state, Hawaii, while Honolulu is the capital of Oahu. It’s the capital within a capital. I don’t think there has ever been another time to utilize that saying.

Main Tourist Areas On Oahu

On the South side of Honolulu is Waikiki. This is where all of the action is. Most of this activity is located along the main strip of Kalakaua Avenue. 

The enticing, palm studded Kalakaua Avenue runs along Waikiki Beach, from Kapiolani Boulevard all the way to Kapiolani Park.  Boasting the majority of Oahu’s high rise and historical resorts, restaurants, shopping and nightlife on Waikiki, there will never be a dull moment.  Well, unless you want it to be.

Let’s get to the beaches, shall we.

Adventure Awaits. Go Find It.

You Had Me At Oahu

Top 7 Beaches of Waikiki

Change into your swim suite and get ready to explore these Waikiki beaches.

Waikiki Beaches one of the most famous beaches in the world. Stretching 1.5 to 2 miles along Oahu’s southern coast, the Waikiki beaches are broken down into different sections. Some say 7 others 8 and even 9 different sections. It all depends on who you ask.

1. Kahanamoku Beach

Kahanamoku Beach is located in front of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel or the Rainbow Hotel (for its rainbow painted down one whole side of the hotel).

This beach is more like a cove and has calm waters due to being protected by a reef. It’s great for smaller children.

2. Fort DeRussy Beach

Fort DeRussy Beach is a 1/3-mile-long beach located in front of the Fort DeRussy Beach Park with grills and picnic tables, volleyball, racket ball and pickleball courts, a children’s playground and a U.S. Army Museum.

3. Royal Moana Beach

Royal Moana Beach or Royal Hawaiian Beach is one of the wider and longer Waikiki beaches running the length in from of Royal Hawaiian to the Moana Surfrider hotels.

4. Prince Kuhio Beach

Prince Kuhio Beach is located between the Moana Surfrider hotel and Kapahulu Groin or as locals nicknamed “The Groin”.

5. Kapiolani Beach

One of my favorites, Kapiolani Beach is home to the surfing hot spot known as Publics.

This beach stretches from the Waikiki Aquarium all the way to Kapahulu Groin or “The Wall”. The Kapiolani beach has enough room for surfers, body boarders, volley ball players and sun bathers. 

Bring a chair and enjoy the view.

6. San Souci Beach

Popular with snorkelers, surfers, kayakers and swimmers alike, San Souci Beach is located in front of the San Souci condos.

7. Outrigger Canoe Club Beach

Outrigger Canoe Club Beach also known as Colony Beach is popular with families and located in front of the Colony Surf Condos.

Adventure Awaits. Go Find It.

You Had Me At Oahu

5 Must See North Shore Beaches

On Oahu’s North Shore is a surfer’s paradise, having some of the best and most popular surfing beaches in the world. The North Shore is about a 1-hour drive from Waikiki so you may want to pick a few of these spots and make a day of it.

Below I’ve outlined some of the best North Shore Beaches so you will be able to quickly make a decision on which ones you want to add to you Oahu bucket list.

In the winter the waters of the North Shore Beaches may be too rough to swim but you can probably catch some surfing competitions here.

1. Laniakea Beach

Laniakea or Turtle Beach is where the endangered Green Sea Turtles come to rest.
The Green Sea Turtles or Lonu are a protected species so make sure to respect this precious marine creature so we may have them around for many years to come.

This reminds me, you may see volunteers and conservationists around any marine life that come ashore to rest such as sea lions and yes, turtles. They may rope off a section around them so that they are not disturbed but are also able to answer any questions you may have about the animals.

If you are lucky enough to see the Lonu or Turtles, please remember the following…

1. Do Not feed the turtles.
2. Do NOT touch the turtles.
3. Stay at least 10 feet away from the turtles.

2. Sharks Cove

With an intimidating name like Shark Cove, you may think it has a scary tale behind the name but it’s actually very simple.

This cove got its name from the reef just outside the cove resembling an outline of a shark when seen from the air.

Located in Pupukea Park, Shark’s cove is safe and a great place to snorkel. If you bring the kiddies, even better.

The water is calm during the summer months so children won’t have a problem moving through the water. Plus, in the summer months, the water is much clearer, perfect to inspect the ocean floor.

3. Waimea Bay

Waimea Bay is surfing “to be spot” of Oahu during the winter months. The wild waves tend to reach their peak here, swelling to 40 foot in height. 

During the summer months the water becomes calm making it great for cliff jumping and getting a serious suntan. 

Don’t miss out on this one.

4. Pipeline Beach

Pipeline Beach is the most famous surf area in the world. Competitors from all over come to compete in surfing tournaments. 

With insanely high dominating waves, riding the Banzai Pipeline is no easy feat. 

If you like surfing, watching surfing or just an adrenaline junkie bearing witness to this struggle between the swells and the surfer is awesome!

5. Sunset Beach

Just being located on the North Shore of Oahu means great waves in winter but during the summer you will be able to kayak, snorkel or swim the day away.

If you are able to get to White Sand Beach early, before the crowds, take a moment to meditate while listening to the calming effects of the ocean waves and breath in the healing of the salty sea air. 

Hawaii is infamous for its sunsets but stick around Sunset Beach until dusk and behold the awe-inspiring magic of mother nature painting the sky.

Adventure Awaits. Go Find It.

You Had Me At Oahu

Top Things To Do On Oahu

Pearl Harbor Memorial

If you visit Oahu, Hawaii and don’t make it to Pearl Harbor to honor our fallen and explore this unbelievable historical monument, you have really missed out. In other words, … Do Not Miss Out!

Between the Arizona Memorial, Mighty Mo (the Missouri Battleship), Bowfin Submarine and Aviation Museum, there is way too much for me to cover it all in this one article.

I have written about the Pearl Harbor Memorial in great detail with as well as answering any questions and pricing for passes (as of date) in the link below.

*Reading it will make you feel like you are there.

Adventure Awaits. Go Find It.

You Had Me At Oahu

Hike Diamond Head

Diamond Head is a remanent of the fragmented Ko’olau Range.

2.6 million years ago the Ko’alau volcano began erupting below sea level.

After a brief dormant time of about 1 million years or so, Ko’olau erupted again. This eruption created vents making the reminders we know today as Punchbowl Crater, Koko Head, Hunauma Bay and of course, Diamond Head.

Geologists believe Diamond Head is monogenetic, meaning it only erupts once, with one explosive eruption, which was around 150,000 to 200,000 years ago. Since that date, Diamond Head has been and still remains dormant.

How Did Diamond Head Get Its Name?

Diamond Head crater, also known as Le’ahi in Hawaiian, was given the nickname “Diamond Hill” by British sailors in 1825, believing the shimmering volcanic calcite crystals were diamonds. What a bummer, right?  

The volcanic crater’s Hawaiian name, “Le’ahi” comes from Diamond Head’s ridgeline resembling the dorsal fin of the tuna fish.

Are You Ready To Hike Up Diamond Head Crater?

Measuring at 762 feet above sea level, 560 feet rising up from the crater floor to the ridge and 3,520 feet across, Diamond Head dwarfs the cities below.

Hiking this giant usually takes about 1.5 to 2 hours (1.5 miles roundtrip), depending on how much time you spend absorbing the stunning scenery.

Be prepared to climb some stairs. Ascending Diamond Head means climbing up 2 sets of steep stairs, the first being comprised of 75 steps and the second, 99 steps with a dimly lit tunnel connecting the two.

Your effort scaling this magnificent giant will be so worth once you reach the top. Now you can head on over to Maui to start your trek up Haleakala.

Hours of Operation: 6:00am to 6:00pm

Cost: There is a $1.00 entrance fee and $5.00 to park.

Know Before You Go:

  • Diamond Head is not wheel chair accessible and not suited for anyone who has a heart condition or breathing difficulty.
  • Don’t forget to wear walking shoes.
Adventure Awaits. Go Find It.

You Had Me At Oahu

Explore The Dole Plantation

The Dole Plantation on Oahu, Hawaii is great for the whole family with tons of fun activities and the best Pineapple ice cream you’ve ever tasted, as my husband noted “it’s a great treat on a summer day”. (Laughing)

What You Can Do At The Dole Plantation.

  • Try to find your way through the Pineapple Maze is what it sounds like, a pineapple maze that is 3 acres all around.
  • The Pineapple Express is a 20-minute train ride that winds through the property for the little one’s delight.
  • There are 8 mini themed gardens you are able to tour, which smell amazing by the way.
  • Last but not least and undoubtedly my husband’s favorite; stop at the Dole Grill for that tasty Pineapple Ice Cream.

Polynesian Cultural Center

The Polynesian Cultural Center has been raved about so of course, I had to check this out for you. Wink, wink.

I have compiled pricing and inclusions for you below.

Islands of Polynesia

  • Adult: $69.95
  • Child (ages 4-11): $55.96
  • Children ages 3 and under are free.

Exclusive Gateway Buffet Package

  • Adult: $139.95
  • Child (ages 4-11): $111.96
  • Children ages 3 and under are free.

Exclusive Alii Luau Package

  • Adult: $169.95
  • Child (ages 4-11): $135.96
  • Children ages 3 and under are free.

Exclusive Super Ambassador Luau Package

  • Adult: $242.95
  • Child (ages 4-11): $194.36
  • Children ages 3 and under are free.

What Does My Admission Include?

Islands of Polynesia:

  • Self-guided tour through 6 different island villages
  • Hours: 12:45pm-5:30pm

Exclusive Gateway Buffet Package:

  • Self-guided tour through 6 different island villages
  • Buffet Dinner
  • General Level Seating at “HA: Breath of Life” show
  • Hours: 12:45pm-9:00pm

Exclusive Alii Package:

  • Self-guided tour through 6 different island villages where you and your family are able to interact with the villagers, some teaching you arts and crafts of their culture.
  • Award winning Alii Luau buffet with dinner entertainment
  • Luau-level seating at “HA: Breath of Life” evening show Additional Details
  • Flower lei greeting at Luau
  • Hours: 12:45-9:00pm

Exclusive Super Ambassador Luau Package:

  • Private guided tour through 6 island villages
  • Reserved canoe ride
  • Award winning Alii Luau buffet with live entertainment
  • Premium seating at “HA: Breath of Life” evening show
  • Ivory kukui nut lei at arrival and flower lei greeting at luau
  • Hours: 12:45-9:00pm

*All pricing and inclusions are intended for a guide only not as official pricing.

Adventure Awaits. Go Find It.

You Had Me At Oahu

Best Restaurants Near Waikiki Beach

Vacationing in Hawaii can get expensive but one way to help keep your food budget down is by eating off the resort grounds.  There are so many amazing restaurants to choose from on Oahu that I couldn’t possibly show case them all.  So, I have chosen our favorites which I’ve included below to help start your Oahu gastronomy adventure.

Kai Coffee Hawaii

Kai Coffee Hawaii is a great start to your day with one of the best cups of coffee, cappuccino or latte made with Hawaiian grown beans.  They also have breakfast sandwiches and pastries, if you’re a breakfast person.

Location: 2424 Kalakaua Ave, 207 S King Street, Honolulu

Hours of Operation: 6am to 2pm

Duke's Barefoot Bar and Restaurant

Dig your toes in the sand and order a mai tai at Duke’s Barefoot Bar and Restaurant, where no shoes equals service.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner entrees are served during the hours listed below but Duke’s sand bar and barefoot bar remain open for snacks, appetizers and beverages from 11am to close.

Location: 2335 Kalakaua Ave, Ste 116, Waikiki

Hours of Operation: Breakfast 7am to10pm

Doraku Restaurant

Where Latin inspiration meets sushi is at Doraku Restaurant.  If you are a sushi lover, you will not be disappointed with this one.  Doraku has more than just sushi for you travelers that prefer something warmer. From Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice to Ahi Poke, from Kobe Steak Sliders to Rack of Lamb, there is something for everyone.

Location:  2233 Kalakaua Ave, Suite 304, Honolulu

Hours of Operation: Lunch 12pm to 5pm, Dinner 5pm-10pm

Kono's North Shore

Kono’s North Shore

This Kono’s North Shore is actually located in Honolulu and is great for a quick bite.  Sandwiches are awesome and the Kalua pulled pork tacos are phenomenal.

Location: 2310 Kuhio Ave., #1A, Honolulu

Hours of Operation: 7am to 9pm

Tommy Bahama Restaurant and Bar

Last but not least, my favorite, Tommy Bahama Restaurant and Bar has an extensive menu with salads, pastas, burgers, steaks and seafood options.  This restaurant has 2 floors and if you can, try to be seated on the 2nd level for roof top dinning.

Location: 298 Beach Walk, Honolulu

Hours of Operation: 2pm to 9pm

Adventure Awaits. Go Find It.

You Had Me At Oahu

DCT's Oahu Resort Picks

What Are The Best Hotels On Oahu?

There are so many great, I mean really excellent hotels on Oahu so I am just going to go over my Top 3.

Halekulani Resort

Halekulani is another historical hotel but as with the Moana Surf Rider, you wouldn’t know it.

This is a beachfront resort with amazing ocean views and delightfully comfortable rooms you can pass out in after your fun filled day in the sun.

Other than their onsite restaurants and bars Halekulani invites you to enjoy their spa, fitness center as well as their sparkling heated pool.

Ah, luxury.

Moana Surf Rider

The Moana Surf Rider opened in 1901 being one of the original Oahu hotels, Moana Hotel also known as “the First Lady of Waikiki”.

You wouldn’t know this is a historical hotel by looking at it though. With its breath-taking beachfront location and its close proximity to all the shops and restaurants, this resort is a winner.

Boasting 6 onsite restaurants and bars as well as a tantalizing outdoor pool, the Moana Surf Rider also offers the only beach front spa.


Adventure Awaits. Go Find It.

You Had Me At Oahu

'Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach

The ‘Alohilani Resort and Spa is quite literally steps from the beach. There is a $45.00 a day resort fee that will get you access to the spa and fitness classes plus a $20.00 spa credit.

Even if you don’t utilize these, you are still charged the daily resort fee. This goes for every resort in Hawaii though.

‘Alohilani also has 3 restaurants, a refreshing roof top infinity pool and an enormous 280,000-gallon aquarium that invites you in to stay.

Hilton Hawaiian Village

Hilton Hawaiian Village is a beach front property with the famous Hawaiian Rainbow down the side of Rainbow Tower.

This resort is in front of “Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon,” and has 3 different building options, The Ali’i- Beachfront Boutique, Rainbow Tower and Tapa Collection.

Hilton Hawaiian Village, in a sence of the word, a “village” with 9+ dinning options including a market, Starbucks, fast food, Grab ‘n Go, ice cream & smoothies and more.

The 6 pools with water slides at the Paradise pool and the Adult’s only access, Kalia Tower Pool only adds to all that this property has to offer.

Adventure Awaits. Go Find It.

You Had Me At Oahu

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