Hawaii has been on my bucket list for a while so for my 24th birthday this year, I said LET'S DO IT. A couple of friends and I booked our tickets for the island of Oahu and soon after we were on our way to paradise.
We stayed a full week and split an AirBnB in Waikiki (which I recommend doing because it's expensive in Waikiki since it's more touristy) and rented a car off Turo. If you plan on doing a lot around the island, I do recommend renting a car.
Things to do
1. Makapu'u Hike and Tide Pools ⛰
Located on the most eastern point on the Island of Oahu, the Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail lead up to an insanely amazing view. The trail is about 1.5 miles roundtrip, continuously steep but paved with cement the whole way so I didn't think it was too difficult.
Pro tip: We bought a JBL Clip 3 speaker ($30 at Tjmaxx) and hooked in on our backpack so we had jams to keep us motivated!
About 5 minutes down the road are the Makapu'u Tide Pools. It's very rocky here so I definitely do recommend water shoes. I wore Chacos and even then the rocks were super slippery so be careful!
There were several "Scenic Viewpoints" along the road so we stopped at all those too.
2. Diamond Head Hike 🌋
When we got to Diamond Head, we looked up and said "We need to make it all the way up there?!" but the looks were actually deceiving. The Diamond Head Summit Trial is about 1.6 miles roundtrip, not paved and rocky but we only took about 30 minutes to get up there. It was pretty busy when we went around 11 am so I would recommend going earlier to find parking. Entrance fee is $5 for cars and $1 for pedestrians. This used to be a bunker for the US Army which you could see at the top.
Pro Tip: At the summit, there is a spot off the trail (which you're not supposed to do but we did 😬) onto a helipad with the best view for pictures
3. Sunset Sail ⛵️
We booked a sunset sail with the Kepoikai II sailboat. It was only $25 per person for an hour and $2 drinks for purchase on the boat. A super fun activity for a great price!
Pro Tip: Sit in the back if you don't want to get wet. I wore a swimsuit so I can sit by the netting and be splashed 💦
4. Polynesian Culture Center - Tours, Luaus and Fire Shows 🔥
Buckle up for a full day of activities. The Polynesian Culture Center is pretty much an entire theme park. There are a bunch of different packages you could book depending on what you want to do. We booked the Ambassador Luau Package for $148 per person from 12 pm - 9 pm.
They have different "villages" around the center to represent each Polynesian island such as Samoa, Tahiti, Fiji, etc. In the afternoon, we had tours and shows throughout the day that showcased each island's culture and background.
For dinner, the luau was a large buffet feast accompanied by a hula/fire show. After dinner, we attended a play, Ha: Breath of Life which included all different types of Polynesian performances. They also had a bunch of small shops along the villages to buy food/souvenir.
The coolest thing about this place was that the money they make as a tourist attraction contributes to providing higher education for students throughout the Pacific. Students from all over come to the Polynesian Culture center to work as tour guides, dancers, performers, service, and more in exchange for college and board!
5. Swimming with Dolphins 🐬
We booked with Ko Olina Ocean Adventures for the Speedboat Dolphin Snorkel. It was $140 per person for a 3-hour tour which included snacks and water for the ride, snorkeling gear (goggles and flippers) and lunch afterward. The goal was to snorkel with Hawaiian spinner dolphins but there weren't a ton during our tour so we only saw them from the boat. We did see a bunch of pilot whales, and snorkeled with a bunch of fishes, a sea turtle, and a shark! We picked this tour because they guaranteed to see either dolphins or whales or you get to ride for free again within the next 5 days.
6. Kualoa Ranch 🦖
Let's be honest, the whole reason we came here is because of Jurassic Park. We booked the ATV Adventure which included a Jungle Jeep Expedition, an Ocean Voyage Adventure, and an hour ATV ride through Jurassic Valley for $166 per person.
Multiple movies such as Jurassic World, Jumanji, 50 First Dates, Kong, Lost and more were filmed on the island of Oahu. The Jungle Jeep expedition took us through multiple film locations.
On the Ocean Voyage, we were taken on a boat to see the beautiful mountains and sea turtles.
The ATV tour had STUNNING views of the valley. We were taken into the secluded part where we were just surrounded by valleys. Remember the scene in Jurassic World when they were riding the Gyrospheres? This is where it was. The experience was amazing.
7. Waikiki Beach 🌴
Waikiki is the touristy area of the island so you'll see plenty of nice restaurants, shops, and malls by the beach. The beach is pretty crowded as a result but the palm trees and views were still amazing. They have a bunch of water activities as well.
8. Waimea Beach 🌊
Located on the North Shore of Oahu, we spent a day at the beach here. They're known for the waves here and the waves were indeed insane! When you picture Hawaiian surfers riding 30 feet waves, this is it. I definitely got my butt kicked by one of them but everyone had fun chilling in the wave by the shore. There's also a cliff you can jump off but I didn't trust my swimming skills for that.
Other notable places that we didn't have time to visit
1. Halona Blowhole
2. Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden
I mean, need I say more?
3. Hula Show on Kuhio Beach
FREE shows happen on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
4. Hanauma Bay Snorkeling
After this post, hopefully I've convinced you to put Oahu, Hawaii on your list! Everything I ate in Hawaii coming up on the next post 🤤
From 👩🏻💻with 💖,