For Beach Bum: Lanikai Beach
Lanikai, translating to “heavenly sea”, is a stunning clear water beach perfect for stand up paddle boarding, snorkelling, swimming and just relaxing in on the beautiful white sand and catching some rays. Lanikai was my favourite beach on O’ahu. It’s about 1/2 mile, crystal clear waters and hardly any waves or wind which make the water extremely calm and safe for swimming. When we were there, the locals told us that it’s not uncommon to find sea turtles in the ocean that will swim right underneath you when your paddle boarding out. I definitely recommend stand up paddle boarding at this beach if you’ve ever been curious to try it. The calm waters make it super easy to learn and get the hang of it.
Kailua, HI 96734, USA
For the Surfer: North Shore Banzai Pipeline
Famous for its giant waves that reach up to 40 feet tall, this is the best place for an experienced surfer to ride some tube waves. If you’re not an experienced swimmer or surfer beware! These waters have a seriously strong current that can catch you off guard and pull you into the ocean. The sunsets on this beach are gorgeous and there are a lot of cool and unique food trucks near by to catch a bite after a good surf session.
Ehukai Beach Park, Haleiwa, HI 96712, USA
For the Underwater Explorer: Hanauma Bay
About 400 species of fish are known to inhabit the bay and it’s well known for its sea turtles. If you are into snorkelling this is definitely the place to check out some reefs.I would definitely recommend heading to Hanauma Bay early in the morning to avoid busy times, because it’s a very popular tourist destination and the parking lot fills up fast. Please be respectful of the corals, fish and wildlife!
Hanauma Bay, Honolulu, HI 96825, USA
For the Nature lover: Manoa Falls Trail
This is a beautiful and leisurely trail through lush greenery. Theres gorgeous giant trees and bamboo lining the entire trail on your way to the waterfall at the end. It costs 5$ to park right before the trail head next to a restaurant with washrooms. Although it’s an easy trail, I would recommend wearing proper running shoes or hiking boots because it can be a muddy and slippery due to rainfall. The waterfall it’s self is quite pretty but the jungle on the way to the trail is what made it special to me! Absolutely gorgeous.
Na Ala Hele: Manoa Falls Trail, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
For the Adrenaline Junkie- Haiku Stairs
Not recommended if you are afraid of heights
This hike is moderate to difficult depending on your hiking experience. The view at the top is absolutely breathtaking and the best part was watching the sun rise while eating my orange and Clif bar. As the title suggests you are taking the stairs to the top of the mountain. The nickname for the hike is the “Haiku Ladder” because at the beginning it is a ladder that goes straight up, along with other vertical sections throughout the hike! The hike gets even more difficult because it has to be done first thing in the morning while it’s still dark out. The hike is illegal and we do not condone the hike, we only want to inform people who are going or want to do the hike anyways. I started the hike at 3:30am, packed my camera bag with an orange, 2 Clif Bars, and 2 bottles of water. You need low rise summer hiking boots for the dewy steps, a light rain jacket, and thin grippy/tacky gloves. You can find out how to get past the guard at Haiku Stairs here. The combination of variables; darkness due to nighttime, getting passed the guard, and the steepness will definitely get your adrenaline pumping! The hike is approximately 2.5 hours up and 1.5 hours down for a total hike time of 4 hours not including the break at the top.
Haiku Stairs, Kaneohe, HI 96744, USA
For the Hiker- Pu’u Manamana Turnover aka Crouching Lion Hike
This hike is a very easy hike, unfortunately we did it in the rain it was extremely muddy and slippery and I would recommend doing it when it’s dry unless you don’t mind getting dirty. It’s all uphill, and you’ll have to use both your arms and legs to get up to the top, but it’s a very easy and short hike and it’s definitely worth the views. As you get higher and higher up passing he crouching lion, it gets more and more narrow and potentially dangerous with pretty steep drop offs so I would recommend only going up to the crouching lion- the first peak with an obvious plateau if you have young children with you, if you’re an inexperienced hiker, or someone who is afraid of heights. The trail head is a bit tricky to find because you have to go through trees, but once you’re on it it’s obvious enough to follow the path. Wear proper hiking shoes or running shoes and be prepared with bug spray if you do choose to hike it when it’s damp. The views are gorgeous so bring a camera!
52-180-52-204 Kamehameha Hwy
For the Romantic Couple- Ala Moana Beach
This is an excellent spot to sit back and have a romantic picnic and watch the sunset together. Ala Moana is a free public beach that does get quite busy in the evening around sunset time, but for a good reason! We saw the most beautiful sunset in this location while we were in Hawaii and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants sit back and appreciate the beautiful Hawaiian sunset. You can pack a quite picnic to enjoy or go out for a romantic dinner right after because it is very close to the waikiki strip.
1201 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814, USA
For the Shopaholic: Waikiki Beach Shopping Strip
If you are someone who loves to shop, the waikiki strip is the place for you! It’s located right alongside, parallel to the beach and there are tons of high end and fancy stores to shop at such as Nordstrom, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Tiffanys, Chanel etc. There are also the usual popular stores that you’d find in malls and other small boutique style stores with more unique items for sale. There are also a variety of restaurants on the strip so if you’re looking for a place to eat and you’re near by, I would recommend checking it out. We ate at the Cheesecake Factory and the Hard Rock while we were there. Both places had about a 45 minutes wait time around 7pm so be prepared to walk around for bit while you wait to be seated. The area is very pretty, clean and well manicured but very touristy. There is an ABC convince store on every corner through the strip that sells trinkets and typical tourist souvenirs. It’s worth walking down and checking out in the evening even if you’re not much of a shopper because it is quite beautiful around sunset and at night.
Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI, USA
If you know of any secret gems in O’ahu or even cool spots that I didn’t mention above, leave them in a comment below!