Aloha vibes on Oahu

From Europe, Hawaii seems like the farthest place. But since I was already in Seattle, it only took me seven hours to get there. And, after the past few rainy days in the capital of Washington State, I was excited to spend the next couple of days on the Hawaiian island of Oahu and put away my winter coat for a while. From the airport, I took the local bus (line 20, 3$ one-way) to The Beach Waikiki Hostel, where I stayed for the first three nights. The hostel is not only super close to Waikiki Beach but also great for meeting people at their rooftop parties or on one of their many excursions around the island. So, with some of the people I met during check-in and after a short rest, we went out for drinks in the neighborhood. 

The following day, I woke up early, grabbed a bagel and iced coffee for breakfast, and then went on the hostel’s tour to North Shore, where I met Lea and Ines from Germany. At North Shore, we went to Pipeline, a popular surfing spot in Hawaii, and hiked up the hill at Pūpūkea-Paumalū Forest Reserve for some stunning views of Banzai Beach. During the tour, we stopped at Shark’s Cove and Waimea Beach and got the famous shave ice at Matsumoto in Haleiwa, the first place to sell the sweet island specialty. Waking up to a super sunny and hot day, I decided to spend most of the day at the beach and walk around Waikiki Beach, while watching the sunset at the beach with my roommate Nikki and Ines in the evening. Together with them and Lea, I went for brunch the next morning at a closeby restaurant with a great view of Diamond Head. After brunch, I checked out at the hostel, switched to my new accommodation, Shoreline Hotel Waikiki, and later met Nikki and Ines at the beach again to watch the sunset. And as it was still early, Nikki and I also went for drinks at a hotel’s rooftop bar afterwards.

My last day on Oahu started with brunch with a group of girls before we all went to Manoa Falls. And although we got lost in the forest on our hike and were a bit exhausted once we got there, it was indeed worth it. Later, we continued driving to Kailua, a town on the island’s east coast, where we took a dip in the ocean and hung out at the beach. On the way back and right in time for sunset, we stopped at Pearl Harbor and then went out for a last dinner together at Waikiki Beach as I went to Maui the following morning.

Want to know more about things to do and where to eat or drink on Oahu? Find a list with some recommendations below!

Things to do around the island

Watch the surfers at Pipeline, one of the most famous spots for surfing and surf competitions in Hawaii

Climb up the hill at Pūpūkea-Paumalū Forest Reserve for a stunning view of Banzai Beach

Go diving or snorkeling in the coral and blue waters at Sharks Cove

Hang out at the sandy beach at Waimea Bay, a popular spot for swimming and snorkeling in summer and surfing on big waves in winter

Swim and snorkel with native sharks on a shark diving tour at Oahu’s North Shore

Enjoy sunrise or sunset over Waikiki Beach from Diamond Head

Hike the Stairway to Heaven on the Moanalua Valley Trail, the legal way to reach the final section of the Haiku stairs (other hiking options on Oahu: Kuli’ou’ou Ridge Trail or Olomana Trail)

Try local beer at one of the many breweries on the island, such as Aloha Beer Co., Waikiki Brewing Co., Kona Brewing Co., Honolulu Beerworks, or Lanikai Brewing Co.

Visit Turtle Beach in Kawela Bay to see sea turtles in a rugged cove, with surfing, fishing, and diving over an off-shore coral reef

Stroll or drive through the lush 400 acres of gardens at Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden to see all the landscapes of Hawaii easily and for free

Where to eat and drink

Tikis Grill & Bar: typical tiki bar with outdoor seating and live music overlooking Waikiki Beach (tip: order a tiki cocktail to get the cup for free)

Matsumoto: ice cream shop in Haleiwa and the first place to sell shave ice, the Hawaiian sweet specialty

da Cove Health Bar and Cafe: small cafe offering healthy eats, such as Oahu’s best Acai bowl, and live music in the evenings

DECK: upscale New American restaurant and cocktail bar, also offering brunch in a stylish outdoor deck with views of Diamond Head

Swell Restaurant and Pool Bar: vibrant outdoor bar at the Alohalani Hotel offering snacks and cocktails, plus loungers, an infinity pool & live music

Duke’s Waikiki: popular beachfront restaurant with umbrella drinks, Taco Tuesdays, and an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet at a reasonable price

Sunrise Shack: colorful stand at Sunset Beach in Haleiwa featuring healthy foods and drinks, such as acai smoothies and papaya bowls

Kona Coffee Purveyors: bustling cafe in the heart of Waikiki serving artisan Kona coffee & b. patisserie baked goods

Farm to Barn Café: outdoor location in Haleiwa with fresh food for reasonable prices

Purve Donuts: donut shop specializing in imaginatively flavored made-to-order donuts

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