Oahu will always be a special place for us as it is where we first met and fell in love. No matter where we find ourselves, part of our hearts will remain on Sandy Beach.
Living on Oahu allowed us to discover places tourists might not think to look for. Some of our favorites were in Hawaii Kai such as Spitting Caves and China Walls. If you’re the scenic driving type then you have to check out Tantalus Drive. You’ll enjoy the rainforests and incredible views, especially of Honolulu from up in the mountains. Lanikai is a personal favorite spot for swimming, though it no longer is an “off the beaten path” beach and parking can be difficult because there is only on street parking available and there are many houses along these streets. Waimanalo can be another amazing and relaxing beach for sunning and swimming and, if you’re planning a trip there, time it to allow picking up breakfast sandwiches at Keneke’s. It’s a local favorite!
North Shore trips were not complete without a stop at the Pali lookout, Byodo Temple and Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck. Waimea Beach is a great candidate for swimming and, depending on how bold you are, cliff jumping! Don't forget to take a peek at Laniakea for turtles! Haliewa is probably more of what you pictured when you thought of Hawaii than the rest of Oahu; surf shacks, beaches everywhere (check it out in the winter for giant waves!), and pineapple fields.
There is no shortage of great hikes or campsites on Oahu but Kuli’ou’ou and Hawaii Loa Ridge were our absolute favorite hikes for their dynamic topography and viewpoints. Also, we had an incredible time camping at Bellows, complete with fishing and fire dancing.
We played tourist plenty of times with snorkeling trips to Hanauma Bay (get there as soon as they open; the earlier you are the more sea life you will see!) or being entertained at Germaine’s Luau, a great activity for big families or families with children. Our favorite though was renting kayaks from Kailua Beach Adventures and kayaking out to the Mokulua Islands for a beach picnic. One year for Matt’s birthday we even went skydiving with Skydive Hawaii. What a rush!
Waikiki was always a great time! Whether you are grabbing a Mai Tai and some food at Duke’s (named in honor of Duke Kahanamoku), taking the Na Hoku booze cruise (a catamaran with an open bar), shopping or catching a surf lesson, it has many experiences to offer and something to offer travelers of all ages.