Jake and I visited Oahu for 10 days in January 2022, and it was the best trip we’ve ever taken together! I put this post together to share some Oahu travel tips, a few of our favorite things on the island, and some of our favorite photos from the trip.
Oahu is my personal favorite of the Hawaiian Islands, but I highly recommend not spending your entire trip in Honolulu or Waikiki. While these are fun areas of the island, especially if you love shopping or big cities, we actually didn’t spend any time there on this trip. The windward side of the island and the North Shore are absolutely incredible, and you should definitely spend at least a few days exploring these areas!
Where We Stayed
We rented an Airbnb in Kailua, our absolute favorite area of Oahu. We were only steps from our favorite beach in the world! There are a lot of great areas to stay on Oahu – we personally love the windward side (where Kailua is) and the North Shore the best, but if you love cities, staying in Honolulu or Waikiki can be really fun too!
What We Ate
One of our favorite places to eat on the island was Cinnamon’s Restaurant in Kailua! My favorite dish there was the red velvet pancakes, and Jake’s favorite was loco moco with corn beef hash. Their cinnamon rolls are also a must-try! We went here multiple times because it’s just soooo good!
I can’t attest to this since I don’t eat meat, but Jake swears that Temura’s Fine Wine & Liquor has the best poke in Hawaii!
A few of our other favorite restaurants on Oahu:
Goen Dining & Bar (an absolute must-try)
Kalapawai Cafe & Deli (love their iced coffees!)
Bob’s Pizzeria (the best pizza ever)
The Sunrise Shack (all of their menu items are vegan and so good!)
For desserts, Leonard’s Bakery has the best malasadas on the island. Matsumoto’s Shave Ice is phenomenal, and Liliha Bakery is another personal favorite!
One of our favorite things was visiting the Kailua Farmer’s Market on Thursday evening! There were a ton of food stands, and we ended up with a mix of tons of different foods to try. I highly recommend checking it out!
What We Did
We spent a lot of time reading on the beach! We actually did this every day on our trip. One mistake that I see a lot of people make on vacation is to try to fit in activities back-to-back every single day. While I understand the desire to fit in as much as possible, you deserve some time to relax and recharge. Be sure to spend some time relaxing!
One of the first things we did was visit Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden in Kaneohe, on the windward side of the island. This botanical garden contains 400 acres and it is completely free to visit! It’s absolutely beautiful, with views of the Koʻolau Mountains and lots of gorgeous plants and flowers. There’s also a small lake with Koi fish in it. You can also camp here with a reservation! It’s incredibly gorgeous and peaceful.
One of our favorite hikes was the Lanikai Pillbox Hike. It is a pretty steep hike, especially at the beginning, but the views are worth it! Keep in mind that this trail can get very muddy and slick if it’s rained recently, so I recommend going when it’s been dry for a couple days.
Another great hike we did was Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail. Whale mating season in Hawaii is typically December through April, so we brought binoculars, and we were lucky enough to see some whales off the coast! This hike is all paved, so it’s not a difficult hike, but it is steep at a few places. The views are fantastic, and I definitely recommend checking it out! I recommend going early in the day as it can get very busy.
We also spent some time shopping in Kailua, one of our favorite shops was Twin Islands. There’s lots of great shops around the area! Another favorite was Calvin & Susie, a local pet shop where we got toys and treats for all of our pets. We also visited Bookends, a new and used bookstore in Kailua where we got some great books. They had a section with books written by local authors, and we got a fantastic cookbook from that section.
We also spent an entire day up on the North Shore of Oahu. We spent the morning relaxing on a gorgeous beach that we had completely to ourselves (except for the sunbathing sea turtle), and then walked around Haleiwa Town for a while. We also got some Matsumoto’s Shave Ice, which was delicious and so refreshing.
A few other great hikes that we love but didn’t do this time:
Diamond Head (arrive early to avoid the crowds)
Koko Head (this is a hard one!)
We also got tattoos on our last day (something we do every time we visit Hawaii) from Aloha Tattoo Company in Kailua. They were great and super easy to schedule our appointments with!
I opened my print shop after this trip! You can check out all of the Hawaii prints here.
Use code OAHU2022 to save 10% on your print shop order!
A few money-saving tips!
I definitely recommend signing up for Scott’s Cheap Flights (or a similar service) to get alerted when flight prices drop. You can save $100s doing this!
Another recommendation is a travel credit card with great rewards. I personally use the Capital One Venture Card which gives you 2x the miles on every $1 spent, 100,000 bonus points, and will cover the fee to get TSA pre-check approved (which I highly recommend!).
If you’re not TSA pre-check approved yet, it will save you so much time in the airport! You have a much shorter line for security, you don’t have to take off your shoes, and you don’t have to take any liquids or electronics out of your bags. It’s a game changer!
Get married in Hawaii!
Hawaii is my favorite place in the world, and I cannot recommend getting married in Hawaii enough! If you’re interested in getting married in Hawaii, these blog posts might help:
Why You Should Elope in Hawaii
Best Island to Elope in Hawaii
Complete Guide to Eloping in Hawaii
I hope this post was helpful as you begin planning your trip to Oahu! And if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me on Instagram or e-mail me anytime!
Enjoy your trip to Hawaii, it’s unlike anywhere else in the world!
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