Cheap flights, best friends, endless horizons and 100 tubes of sunscreen (slip, slop, slap, yo) sums up our trip to Waikiki and, boy, was it amazing! Taking that first step off the plane felt unreal – Waikiki is the REAL DEAL of tropical paradises – mountains, rainforest, palm trees, sunshine, ocean and all. It’s definitely one of those *pinch me* moments.
The majority of our time was on the island of Oahu, although we made certain to spend a couple of days in Maui (check out our antics here). The tourist hotspot of Waikiki, where we were based, appeared as a super-sized version of home’s Surfers Paradise. Being completely central to the attractions, aka the famous Waikiki beach, shops and cafes is definitely an advantage. For those Insta-dreamy hikes, coastlines and pristine beaches however, further venturing around the island is needed.
Most places on Oahu can be reached by the bus for a few dollars, however it’s not the most time economical option, nor is there any room for personal space. We recommend hiring a car, at least for a few days, as it makes getting around just that much easier! Proving that it is possible to do Hawaii on a budget, we did take the bus for the entire trip without any large hassles! ‘The Bus’ website and app will give you the required timetables.
Now you know how to get around … “Let’s go to the beach–each, Let’s go get away… !“. There are so many beautiful beaches to visit whilst on Oahu! The shores of Lanikai, Kailua and Makapuu are outstandingly beautiful. The protected Hanauma Bay is a great spot for snorkelling, with the view from the cliff peak absolutely incredible! Just don’t let it distract you too much on the walk down to the ocean, or if you’d prefer to stare dreamily into this paradise a shuttle is on offer. Snorkels and goggles can be purchased from ABC stores so make sure you pick up some before you go.
Top tip: spend an early morning or late afternoon hiking (unless you want to become a melting human popsicle)! There are *thousands* of routes available, and one to suit every fitness level. We climbed Diamond Head which, thankfully, was reasonably easy. Reaching the summit was like being on top of the world, with the best views to boot – a definite must! Koko Head was recommended as another great hike, however with higher difficulty due to the steep booty working incline.
The legendary surfing mecca of North Shore evokes feelings of the quintessential 1960s Hawaii haven. This essential trip is reminiscent of a time relatively before big commercialisation. We were treated to a show by some of the best surfers worldwide at the Vans Triple Crown. To catch the big waves with swells of up to 30ft, visit between November to February. Otherwise the waves tend to subside during the summer months. Waimea Bay is popular for cliff jumping and topping up that tan. Whilst, Shark’s Cove has plenty of rock pools to snorkel and live out your Little Mermaid fantasies (singing with your very own posse of pretty, colourful fish, obviously). We do highly recommend wearing surf shoes though, as the rocks can be very sharp. Visit the little town of Haleiwa and treat yourself with the best ‘to die for’ acai bowls! Post feed, jump onto a stand up paddle board and paddle alongside some friendly sea turtles – no joke!
Experience US history and pay your respects at the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbour. Touring the historic naval base is free, however you will need to get a tour ticket with an assigned time. The tour takes about 75 mins, including a 20 minute video and boat ride to the suspended memorial hanging over the Arizona wreckage. Finally, bags are not permitted into the memorial (locker storage is available). Be prepared to wait due to large crowds – tours leave every 15mins, however we still waited over an hour.
The majority of food on the island is imported from mainland America, hence it can come across as rather expensive. Worry aside, there is an abundance of options that will satisfy even
Ashleigh the most fussy eater. Everything from locally made traditional meals to snap-happy cafes, Mexican, Asian, fast-food and everything in between. For fresh food, ensure you check out the local food trucks! I can categorically verify that the North Shore’s garlic shrimp is totally gnarly!
Ride on, Oahu…!