There is more to Oahu than Waikiki and to get the real feeling of Hawaii you must travel beyond this destination. I suggest you spend a day or two lounging by the pool or taking a quick walk to a nearby more local beach with crystal clear water.
The other days I will suggest a few day trips that require renting a car but will take you to some of the best Thai food of your life as well as end of the road desolate beaches that will have you forgetting you are still in America.
Cruzing the Westside
Your day starts by getting off Waikiki as early as possible. I suggest you head to Eggs’n Things for breakfast. It is located at 343 Saratoga Road Honolulu, HI 96815. This popular breakfast place serves both tourists and locals. I have nursed many hangovers in this spot. Shhh, don’t tell.
The drive to the Westside takes a bit so after fueling up at breakfast it is time to hit the road. The first stop is locally called Electric Beach due to the Electric Plant that is across the street. Part of their cooling process involves sucking in saltwater to run against their pipes. This warmed up water is than pumped back out into the ocean. In turn the area has developed into one of the best snorkeling spots on the island. The sealife love this warm water and you will find hundreds of fish, sea urchins, starfish and even turtles. The waves can be rough where you enter and exit the water but after a few feet it is typically very calm. This is definitely a local spot so it is best to leave your valuables in the car when you go for a snorkel. This beach isn’t the prettiest of spots in your day so after your snorkel it is time to hop back into the car and on to the next adventure.
For the next leg of your trip you follow the road till it goes not further. Once there you will have arrived in Ka’ena Point State Park. Shortly before the road ends you will find a white beach that seems to go for miles. You can either spend the rest of your day here or if you are feeling even more adventurous you can take the 2.7 mile hike out to Ka’ena Point. Good shoes and lots of water is recommend. Even if you decide to not do the hike I suggest you at least walk for a bit along the cliffs. It is a landscape the you won’t find on the mainland.
I suggest you stay out here for sunset and start the drive home shortly after. There is often traffic back to town and if you are doing this drive on the weekend it might take a while.
My final stop for you is at Cocina. This is in an industrial area of town that is quickly gentrifying. On my recent trip to Oahu last month I ate here twice! You must get the Fried Avacado! Cocina is a tiny spot with just a few tables and counter space but worth the visit. The bar next door makes delicious cocktails as well. Walk around the block and you will also find a sausage place that is all the hype right now. This is where the cool kids of Honolulu go to dine.
When talk of the surf scene in Hawaii they are usually speaking of the North Shore of Oahu. This is the mecca of surfing in the Winter. This is where Pipline, Waimea Bay and the famous Sunset Beach are. If you were to travel there during the winter you would be welcomed by a swarm of surf magazine media, cameras on the beach, contests being held and many a pretty surfer boys and girls to gaze upon. This is basically my wet dream come true. Even though you won’t be visiting in the winter this part of the island is worth a visit. This to me is the real Hawaii. Waikiki is great for what it is but it is as far removed from the North Shore is vibe as NYC and the North Shore are.
It’s up to you if you wanna hit the beach first or go to town first. I would suggest picking up a picnic lunch and lots of water than heading to the beach first. The drive to the North Shore is a little long so you probably will be ready to stretch your legs and jump into the ocean for a swim. Don’t worry the ocean is usually calm during this time of year but I do recommended asking the concierge at the hotel for the surf report before you head out that way. On calm days my favorite spot is Waimea Bay! I think it is one of the prettiest spots on Oahu and if you are anything like my friends and I it is the perfect spot for your own mermaid photo shoot.
After a few hours of sunbathing here I would suggest you drive further down the road and check out the Sunset Beach. Notice the big houses that line the water. These are each owned by the big surf companies and house the surfers in the winter.
Once you are done with the beach and getting hungry for dinner drive in Haliewa and eat at Opal’s. This place is run by such a lovely man and he makes some seriously good Thai Food. Haliewa is a cute little town and deserves some time spent merely for walking around and shopping. There are cute sops where you can find locally designed jewelry, always my favorite type of souvenir.
Random Spots To Check Out In Town
Kaimama Beach is one of my favorite urban beaches. It is a short 10 minute walk down from Waikiki. You just keep walking along the water towards Diamond Head and past the zoo. This little patch of sand is my Honolulu oasis. The water here is way cleaner than the ocean in front of the Waikiki Hotels. In my opinion I would walk this walk every day if you want to swim as opposed to just staying in front of the hotel.
You can’t visit Hawaii and not try a Plate Lunch. That would be blasphemous! My favorite plate lunch in the state is at Diamond Head Market And Grill which is located at 3158 Monsarrat Ave, Honolulu HI 96815. The Terri-Beef here is out of the world. The quality of meat that this places uses is above average as far as plate lunch spots are concerned and they even have brown rice if you are feeling extra healthy.
Diamond Head Cove Health Bar is located just down the road from the plate lunch spot. Their Acai Bowl is one of my favorite post beach healthy snacks. Nice and cool like a shave ice or ice cream but way healthier.
Rumfire in the Sheraton Waikiki is a fun spot to grab a few cocktails. I love the ambiance of this bar.
Lucky Belly is a cool Ramen restaurant in Chinatown. The food is excellent and they have really killer cocktails. The Pig and The Lady, also in Chinatown, is on my to-do list for my next trip to Oahu. I have been only hearing good things. Maybe you will beat me to it and you can tell me all about it.
Pack Light! Seriously no one dresses up in Hawaii. You really have no need for shoes fancier than sandal. A few bikinis, sundress, a wide brim hat and sunglasses are all you will need.
Act like a local… by throwing the Shaka sign in photos. This is what you might know as the ‘hang loose’ sign but whatever you do, never shake it.
Local delicacy You can’t visit Hawaii and not try a Plate Lunch. That would be blasphemous!