Hawai’i is a place where beauty, culture, and strength meet. The land, water, and people are inspiring, always leaving you amazed. Lush green mountains full of the ancient spirits and a bright blue ocean surround you in every direction. There is not much that is more beautiful than this. Wait until you feel it for yourself!

Hawaii_mountain_sunrise
Photo by Jeremy Bishop

Culture

O’ahu is known to be the most touristy island. This does not take away from the culture and tradition that the Hawaiian people continue to share, or the epic adventures that await. Although it may be harder to see as the foreign people are dense in certain areas, you can still feel the “mana” or power of the Hawaiian people here. 

This is the land of Aloha. Home to friendly island people who take care of each other and their resources in everything they do. You may notice all the shaka’s being thrown out the window to change lanes when you are driving. 

Oahu_flower_necklece

The native people are watermen, mountain men, fishermen, dancers, healers, and storytellers. You can still find them practicing hula, making traditional flower necklaces (Lei) and crowns (Haku Lei), hunting/ fishing, and surfing.

It is easy to find your own peace if you do a little exploring and always respect the locals!! Listen to what they say with an open mind and acknowledge this is their sacred land.

Hawai'i_Oahu_Dana_surfing. Kohamea
Photo by Asia Bryne

Surf

If you have knowledge on surfing you know that Hawai’i is the birthplace of this renowned sport. It has been around since the King’s! Now it is home to some of the best surfers in the world and holds the most famous contests. Hawai’i is notorious for the clear blue water and perfect endless waves. 

Temperatures in Hawai’i are warm all year long! Although you will need some warmer clothes for the winter months it is still enjoyable in your typical island attire on a nice, sunny day. If you are going to surf north shore I would recommend some type of wetsuit top or spring suit to keep the wind chill off. 

Summer season is from June – September and can fire on the south shore, bringing swells that hold perfectly across a wide range of reefs. Some of the most popular are:

Waikiki (beginner)
Ala Moana Beach Park (intermediate – advanced)
Rockpiles (intermediate – advanced)
Diamond Head (beginner – advanced) This is my favorite wave on a good clean day. Normally the winds are on shore but for about 20 days out of the year the wind will silence and the waves will pump!
Publics (intermediate – advanced)

Hawaii_North_Shore_surfing. Kohamea
Photo by Jeremy Bishop

Winter season runs from November – February and is known for big wave surfing on the North Shore. These conditions and breaks make it a little more dangerous, not welcoming beginners. Please be smart when entering the water! Some of my favorite waves up north are:

Chuns (beginner)
Lanis (intermediate – advanced)
Puena Point (beginner – advanced)
Ehukai (advanced)
Sunset (advanced)
Haleiwa (intermediate – advanced)

For more advanced short boarders you can try:

Pipeline
Rocky Point
Log Cabins
Backdoor

Rentals and lessons are available around the island. South Shore has Moku, Moniz Family Surf, or Sparky’s Surf School. In Halewia there is North Shore Surf Shop, or you can contact Kai Sallas Surf School for surfing around the island.

Hawaii_Oahu_yoga_beach

Yoga

Yoga is extremely popular! You can find studios around the island or donation based classes at the local parks. Core Power Yoga, Open Space Yoga, The Yoga Room, Power Yoga Kahala are some studios on the South Shore.

Kapiloani park is the most popular for groups getting together in the mornings and afternoons for donation based or a small class fee. Go for a walk around the park to find people and see what is going on!

Royal_Hawaiian Hotel
Royal Hawaiian

Sleep

Hotels, Time Shares, Private Rentals, Hostels or Airbnb are available. Some places include Surf Jack, Alohilani, Royal Hawaiian, The Beach Waikiki Boutique Hostel, and Turtle Bay Resort.

It is pretty expensive to find accommodation in Hawai’i, depending on the season you can find deals so you must do some research before you go. Try to connect with people who have been or have friends there and see if they can help you out too.

Hawaii_Off The Hook Poke Market
Off The Hook Poke

Eat

Food in Hawai’i is delicious! Lots of places to get fresh caught fish and local produce like greens, root veggies, pork, or seasonal fruits. Downtown area has lots of Asian cuisine, dumplings, bakery’s, meat shops, 

Waikiki is a nightmare to drive in but has some cool new restaurants to check out around the International Market Place. 

Kakaako is the up and coming spot for food, art, beer, and music! Moku restaurant is a good place to start. Heaps of places to see here, I would recommend walking around the area and finding your own favorite nook! 

The neighborhood just outside Waikiki, called Kaimuki, is also becoming known for craft food and drinks. More of a laid back vibe with a younger crowd. Try Brew’d or Mud Hen Water

*MUST EAT: Diamond Head Grill, Off The Hook Poke, Waialua Bakery, Kahuku Farms. These are the places I always go back to and bring my friends when they visit.

Other Good Eats: Paia Fish Market, Haleiwa Bowls, Kai Coffee, Banzai Bowls, Teds Bakery, Uncle Clays House of Pure Aloha, Sweet E’s, Leonard’s Bakery.

Hangout

North shore is my favorite place to hangout. The mountains are huge and shine in the distance as you drive along the coast for miles to find the perfect spot on the beach to chill. There are no tall buildings or big shopping centers here. 

East side is known for epic sunrises! You can hike Lanikai Pill Box before the sun comes up and eat pancakes at a local cafe in Kailua after. 

Waikiki is fun for a night out or to go shopping at Ala Moana Shopping Center

Hawaii_beach_luke-mckeown
Photo by Luke Mckeown

Sandy’s Beach Park or Makapu’u normally have a fun local crowd and is a good spot to set up for the day. Just be careful before going in the water, the shore break gets massive! 

Kaimana Beach by Diamond Head is a beautiful place to watch the sunset or you can head over to Point Panic (next to Kewalo Harbor) and watch the body surfs enjoy their afternoon before the sun goes down.

Hawaii_Oahu_hike
Crouching Lion Hike over looking the majestic mountains and sea

Things to do

Haleiwa Harbor has a few companies that offer shark dives. I highly recommend facing your fear of sharks and joining the locals for a tour. You will be left speechless at the stillness in the deep blue ocean. Island View Hawaii is who I went with. 

Island View Diving with sharks in Hawaii
Photo by Island View

Taking a sunset sail out of Waikiki is magical. The view of the island from off shore beams with beauty. My favorite catamaran is Manakai, you can book online or meet them in front of the duke statue at Waikiki beach and sign up there. They have a huge rainbow sail that you cannot miss. It is also BYOB. My favorite way to watch the sunset is from the water. To me this is something you must experience when in Hawai’i.

Hawaii Waikiki Sunset sail Manakai
Sunset sail Manakai

Some of my favorite hikes on island are Manoa Falls, Koko Head, Kuliouou Ridge Trail, and Crouching Lion. There are many more to adventure if you enjoy being in the mountains. 

Put on a mask and snorkel when you get up to Sharks Cove on the north shore. Just outside the rocky pools you can find lots of fishy friends, crystal clear water and huge caves! It’s a whole underwater world!

Transport

If you want to do it all rent a car to save yourself the time of waiting on others for transportation and have your own freedom to explore! You can also rent scooters in Waikiki if you are staying in town. 

Public transport is average, the bus goes around the whole island if you are on a budget. Uber and Lyft are also very popular.

Money & Visa

You must obtain a visa before arriving to the US. As far as I know it is easy to get (depending on where you are from) and you can do it online. Good for 90 days. 

Hawai’i is EXPENSIVE! Remember most of its goods are shipped in. USD only.

Sustainable Travel

Bring only what you need! 1 of everything is enough. Reduce your waste, do not buy products you will continue to throw away while you travel. Bring your own water bottle, body products, reusable utensils and straws.

Use mesh bags to keep your stuff organized in your travel bag instead of plastic.

O’ahu Area Map

Dana Hamann Created by Dana Hamann Sep 21, 2019