Travel Dates: My husband and I have each been to Oahu multiple times for work, so we’ve experienced half of the year there! My husband has been there four times for work (October, December, March, and May), and I’ve been there three times (September, April, and May). (Sadly, we’ve never been there together, so we haven’t done a romantic helicopter ride.)
Hotel: If you’re not military, I enjoyed my stay at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort. My room was paid for by my airline because of engine problems, so check the prices, but it was a great location and resort.
If you’re military, I highly recommend the Hale Koa on Waikiki. The prices are based on rank, and very reasonable for the location. The rooms may not be quite as fancy as a 4-5 star hotel next door, but the resort has everything you need; a beautiful beach, pool, fitness center, restaurants, activities, etc. It’s a few minutes walk from the start of the main drag along Waikiki beach. The hotel also has a famous Luau, and you don’t need to be a guest to attend.
If you’d rather save some money, and you are military, there are other great options on the various military bases. I’ve stayed at the Inn of the Corps and the Five Palms on Kaneohe Bay. Both are great prices (less than $100 per night) and include a light breakfast. My husband enjoyed staying at the Navy Lodge on Pearl Harbor. For these options, I definitely recommend a rental car, and parking is free on base. If you’re staying at Hale Koa, a rental car would also be nice, but you may need to pay for the parking structure.
Transportation: I recommend a rental car. They’re not too expensive if you book for the week, and you’ll enjoy being able to drive around the island, visiting the North Shore, and different hiking paths throughout the island!
Our Favorite Things to Do:
- Waikiki Beach
- Enjoy the waves, try surfing, take in the sun, shop along the Waikiki Beach Walk and Shopping Plaza, try some frozen yogurt, and maybe stop at the zoo at the south end.
- Hike Diamond Head
- Located at the south end of Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head is a fairly short hike (about 30 minutes) with spectacular views of the southwest corner of the island. If you park outside of the gate and walk in, you don’t have to pay, otherwise it’s a couple of dollars to park but free to hike!
- Hike Koko Head (Crater Trail)
- A steep climb up 1,048 steps on an old railroad track, with sections of the path having little ground holding up the track, it is well-worth the sweat to enjoy the views from the top! It’s estimated to be 1.5 miles round-trip from the parking lot. Bring water and go early before it’s too hot in the sun.
- USS Arizona Memorial
- Make a reservation online in advance, or show up on the day of for space-available tickets. Peak season will be tough, but online reservations are only $1 convenience fee. Even if you can’t get on to the USS Arizona, you can visit a memorial and enjoy Pearl Harbor.
- Hike to Manoa Falls
- The waterfall wasn’t quite as impressive as I was expecting (100 feet), but the trail was nice and shaded, beautiful for a different type of scenic pictures, and it’s the home to many movie and TV shows. Several scenes from Lost and Jurassic Park were filmed here. Parking is $5, or you can take a bus or walk into the entrance.
- Makapuu Lighthouse Trail
- Another beautiful lookout and great for pictures!
- Visit the North Shore
- Famous for surfing and turtles along the beach, the North Shore is worth the drive! Try the famous food trucks, such as Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck.
- Hike the Pill Box in Lanikai
- Chinatown (Honolulu)
- Kailua Beach Park
- Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
- KCC Farmer’s Market – Try some fresh coconut juice, and then enjoy the coconut!
- Polynesian Cultural Center
- Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck on the North Shore
- Leonard’s is a famous old-fashioned bakery serving delicious malasadas.
- The Health Bar – A few minutes drive from Waikiki beach, I absolutely love their Acai bowl!
- Duke’s on Waikiki – Popular bar/restaurant with delicious drinks and entertainment.
- Haliewa Joes – Gorgeous scenery on the Windward Coast of Oahu.
- Kalapawai Café in Kailua – Delicious food in the cute town of Kailua.
- Cinnamon’s Restaurant in Kailua – We enjoyed a great lunch; however, the scenery is definitely lacking (no views).
- Yogurtland – Okay, it’s nothing fancy, but I enjoyed a “light” yogurt while strolling Waikiki beach, and they have a great variety of toppings.