- Stop for some macadamia drizzled pancakes at Boots & Kimo before spending a day at Lanikai Beach.
- Snorkel with sea turtles through the gorgeous reef of Hanauma Bay.
- Visit the memorial site of Pearl Harbor.
- Body surf at Sandy Beach and enjoy a shaved ice. (my recommendation: mango/watermelon or lilikoi/guava)
- Sneak your way to the Stairway to Heaven (Ha'ikū Stairs) for the best hike of your life.
- Spend a sunset at China Walls.
- Paddle board around Waikiki Beach.
- Take a drive to the Makapu'u lookout for some amazing views of the coastline. Walk just a little further to Makapu'u Point Lighthouse for a beautiful view of the ocean.
- Take a morning hike to Diamond Head for more amazing views.
- Rent a car and drive to the North Shore.
- Try and hike the Haiku Stairs on your own, it can actually be really dangerous. Go with a local or someone who knows the way and what they're doing.
- STAND ON THE CORAL EVER. Wherever you're snorkeling. You're incredibly bothersome if you think that's ok.
- Fly Allegiant. Try to avoid it as their flights are always delayed.
It's been a dream of mine to go to Hawaii ever since I was little. In fact, it still seems like my trip to Oahu wasn't real, that's how good it was. I left confused as to why the entire planet isn't flocking to Hawaii. Incredible views, hikes, and beaches, this place has it all.
Here's my itinerary for an adventurous yet relaxing 7 days in Oahu
Day 1 - Arrive/Explore Waikiki Beach
Day 2 - Sandy Beach and Ha'ikū Stairs (Stairway to Heaven)
Day 3 - Pearl Harbor, North Shore, Waimea Bay, Waimea Falls (rent a car)
Day 4 - Manoa Falls, Lanikai Beach, Makapu'u Lookout, China Walls
Day 5 - Hanauma Bay
Day 6 - Diamond Head or Koko Head, Waikiki Beach
Day 7 - Back to the mainland :(
Spent wandering around Waikiki. I had some dinner at the Hilton Hawaiian Village where I was staying and caught up with an old friend from high school who was living on the island. Of course the night ended with a midnight swim.
Waking up to a view of the ocean to my left and the island to my right, I did not want to waste any time before setting off to explore the island.
My friend picked me up from the hotel and we began our journey to the Ha'ikū Stairs. For those of you who don't know, the Ha'ikū Stairs were used for an old U.S. Navy radio facility and has been closed to the public since the 1980's due to lack of upkeep. A guard sits at the bottom fining anyone who attempts to climb them. The more and more information I heard about the hike being impossible just made me want to try and climb them even more. Plus that's all anyone talks about nowadays when visiting Oahu.
We heard that the guard goes on a lunch break during the afternoon so we made a pit stop at Sandy Beach to stall and have a body surfing sesh. The on shore break here is HUGE. I would say you definitely need to be an experienced swimmer to get in the water, but if you are it's a lot of fun. Boys and girls, wear a secure bathing suit.
After a much needed shaved ice, we stopped at Makapu'u lookout which I think is one of the most beautiful lookout points on the entire island. And so easy to get to!
Then we started to think, "But when is lunch time?" Who knows. We were hoping it was at 12:30pm. We began making our way inland to Ha'ikū Road in Kāne'ohe where we parked the car and started our walk towards the entrance. Now another myth is you're apparently not supposed to be seen on this road. If you are caught, people will tell you to walk back since it's private property. A truck passed by us but luckily they thought I was a local and we continued on.
Next, we had to determine if the guard was there. Luckily, my friend had done this before so all I had to do was follow his lead. We stepped through a hole in a fence and peered over the bushes. Of course the guard was there. That didn't stop us though.
We crawled quietly through a bamboo forest where I began to get eaten alive by mosquitoes. Seriously a swarm was following me.
BRING BUG REPELLENT.
We managed to pass the guard who was giving some poor Asian couple a ticket so he was preoccupied. Now we had to climb up to the road but the only way up was through an old sewer drain. My friend turned to me and said "watch out for cockroaches." Great. I was just happy to get away from the mosquitoes. The sewer tunnel was so long, my vision began to turn red and my ears began to ring because it was so dark. We eventually made it to the other side where we made a run for it at the count of three, scaling the side of a mini mountain, running to the entrance, and sprinting up the first flight of stairs. As if my heart wasn't already about to fall out of my butt from an adrenalin rush, I had to do a full on sprint up 200 stairs. I didn't even feel like I was in my body.
The bright side: WE MADE IT. We climbed up the 3,922 stairs to the clouds. At the top there's a weird abandoned concrete structure and a large satellite from the old Navy facility. And the view.. it's breathtaking.
The way up took about an hour and a half but the way down only takes 35 minutes. Maybe even shorter but I'm terrified of heights and at some points the stairs are completely vertical so I was going slooooow. Seriously, the best hike of my life.
On the way down there was still a guard but a different one. So my friend and I were ready to receive our ticket and as we walked towards her car dreading what may happen, this chill security chick just waved to us and said "Ah you're coming down? You're ok." We were stoked!! SUCH an amazing day!! With our adrenaline and excitement finally wearing off, our legs turned to jello and we crawled back to the car to go home.
Rent a car and tour the island!
First stop: Pearl Harbor. If you go in the morning and you're one of the first 2,000 people, you'll get a free ticket. It's chilling to know all of the bodies are still in the U.S.S. Arizona and to see the oil from the ship continually leaking up to the surface. I definitely recommend stopping at this memorial, especially if you're an American.
Second stop: Dole Plantation. Now we ended up here on accident in an attempt to find the Dole Sunflower Fields. I guess they aren't in bloom in September. If you have a pineapple obsession or want to find anything made of pineapple, then visit Dole. If not, just keep going.
Third stop: North Shore. It's amazing how vast and seemingly unpopulated the island becomes as soon as you leave Honolulu. We stopped in the town of Haleiwa where we got a shaved ice from the popular shop Matsumoto (THEY HAVE EVERY FLAVOUR UNDER THE SUN)
I had lilikoi (passionfruit) and guava. We walked around a bit to check out the boutiques and surf shops. If you're a bikini addict (like me), definitely stop here for the San Lorenzo bikini store.
Fourth stop: Waimea Bay. We hung out at the beach for a couple of hours where my mom and I spent most of the time sun bathing and floating along the shore. Waimea Bay is a really peaceful beach to escape the crowds of Waikiki. And of course the water is gorgeous.
Fifth stop: Waimea Falls. Just next to Waimea Bay, there's a 30 minute hike through some beautiful gardens. However, this stop is really touristy and you have to wear a life jacket to enter the water. The heck?
Sixth stop: We passed Banzai Pipeline and Sunset beach (both flat at the time), and since I was with my parents and they aren't huge beach goers, I let them continue on. We ended up stopping in Ka'a'awa were we had some dinner at the crouching lion which overlooks the water. If you go here, have their veggie stew with coconut milk and the coconut shrimp! It's amazing!
Last stop: Waikiki
After a morning açai and pitaya bowl, we made our way to Manoa Falls. Parts of Jurassic Park were filmed here and it definitely looked like it. It's a beautiful lush hike to the waterfall and pool. The waterfall is incredibly tall with a tiny pool below. I recommend packing some lunch and hanging out here for a few hours if it's not crowded.
After the falls, we drove to Lanikai Beach, where I felt like I was in a postcard. I want to say it was my favourite beach on the island but that's hard to claim when all of Hawaii is a true paradise.
Unfortunately, some rain storms put a halt to our beach day, so we drove to Makapu'u Lookout and hiked to the lighthouse since it wasn't raining there. Once you reach the lighthouse, the endless ocean will definitely make you realize how far away from the mainland you are.
One more pitstop before getting back to Waikiki! China Walls is the perfect hangout spot to watch the sunset.
For dinner, Ala Moana Mall's Japanese food court is where it's at. This place is awesome! It's like going to Tokyo. Ramen, udon noodles, sushi, teriyaki chicken, fried rice, they have errrrrthang. And it's legit.
Stop for some breakfast at Boots & Kimo in Lanikai. It's pretty busy, but the banana pancakes with macadamia sauce will make up for it.
The rest of the day was dedicated to snorkeling around Hanauma Bay. So many sea turtles and so much beautiful coral. Entrance is $7.50, and there's a shop that offers snorkeling gear for $20. Before you can enter the park, you'll have to watch an informational video to teach you what not to do when snorkeling on a reef. Aka don't stand on it.
Like I said, China Walls is an amazing local hangout spot, where I wanted to spend every sunset. My friend and I found at a great tree bench that we claimed after having a swim. If you can find it, it's the best seat in the house.
Now, you can spend your last day hiking Diamond Head or running up the stairs at Koko Head, but I wanted to spend as much of my day in the water as I could. Plus Diamond Head is crazy touristy and I felt I saw the best views already. So I spent the day paddle boarding around Waikiki beach. There were turtles popping their heads up everywhere!
One last pitaya bowl before bidding this sweet paradise farewell. Until next time Hawaii, I'm coming back for ya!
One last thing. Make sure you grab yourself a jar of this before you depart. IT'S LIFE CHANGING.
Are you as obsessed with Pacific Islands as I am? Check out more photos from Hawaii and more: