Top 3 things to do in Oahu, Hawaii

Whenever I return from a small trip or vacation, the two things I am asked the most are: 1) What was your favorite thing to do? and 2) What was your favorite thing to eat? Often times, the answer to the second question is also the answer to the first… but I will talk about that more tomorrow.

I recently traveled to Oahu for the first time and, for the most part, had a blast. There are so many things to do and see on the island. From snorkeling to Pearl Harbor to eating (my favorite), there’s no way you could get bored–in fact, a week was barely enough for us to do everything we had planned. In the end, here are the top 3 activities & places I would recommend:

Diamond Head Hike
View from the top of Diamond Head Hike

1. Waimea Bay

This North Shore beach is absolutely stunning. The water here is so clear that you can see your feet underwater, and the sand is incredibly soft and fine. However, beware that this is a huge surfing spot, so the waves can get a little bit rough. In addition, the water gets deep really fast and the sand is not packed in, so beginning swimmers and children should be extra alert. If you’re at the beach just to sunbathe, you’ll definitely enjoy it here due to significantly lower tourist levels.

Cost: $10 for parking lot across the street

Other beaches: Although Waimea Bay is definitely my favorite beach that we visited, Waikiki is also great if you don’t mind the crowds. The water at Waikiki is quite shallow and calm, making it much safer for swimming. There are also several beachside bars to grab a drink from or relax at. As for any future trips to Hawaii, I’ll definitely have to make my way to Lanikai Beach in Kailua which I have only heard good things about!

2. Diamond Head State Monument

Hiking is a really popular activity in Hawaii, and Diamond Head is by far the most tourist-packed trail. Wake up early to start and finish before you have to battle the sun (and all of the people). In my opinion, the hike is relatively easy. The most challenging part of the course is the flight of 100 steps, but there is a resting point right before that as well as many others along the trail. Depending on your pace, the hike can take anywhere between 45 minutes to 2 hours round-trip.

Don’t forget your camera! The view from the top is what makes this hike so worth it. You can see all of Waikiki and so much of the island.

Cost: There is a $5 parking fee for those that drive to the monument, and a $1 entrance fee for walk-ins.

Other hikes: For a more scenic, nature-filled hike, I highly recommend Manoa Falls, which also has a $5 parking fee.

3. Ala Moana Center

I just love shopping, so my final recommendation is Ala Moana Center. What makes shopping in Hawaii so great? The tax is only 4%! This is a wonderful mall that has nearly 300 stores, including many of your standard American brands and local specialty stores. Moreover, there is a huge, diverse food court, and the really awesome Shirokiya will make you feel like you’re in Asia!

Cost: Parking is free, but be careful about how much money you spend inside…

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