There’s a reason Oahu is known in Hawaii as “The Gathering Place.” Though Oahu is actually the third-largest Hawaiian island, it is the most populous and visited of the islands, and is home to the state’s capital, Honolulu.
But just because Oahu is one of Hawaii’s most well-traveled vacation destinations, that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of sites and attractions off the beaten path, if you know where to look.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying any number of typical “touristy” attractions when you visit Oahu. By all means, you should hike Diamond Head, tour Pearl Harbor, explore the Dole Plantation, attend a traditional luau, dine at a shrimp shack or lounge on the shores of Waikiki.
But if you’re a Hawaii timeshare owner who has been visiting the island for years, you may be looking for something new. Likewise, some travelers – even Oahu first-timers, like to enjoy the natural splendor of a tropical paradise away from all the hustle and bustle.
If either of these sound like you, rest assured: there are dozens of ways to enjoy Oahu, just outside the city lights. Below, we’ve outlined a few, in no particular order, for you to explore on your next trip to Oahu.
Tour the City on the Cheap: One of the best-kept secrets on Oahu is the public bus ride! No, really! The public bus route around the entire island of Oahu costs only $2, and follows a route that is over 150 miles! But the best benefit to riding “the Bus” is that you can get off and on at different beaches or towns for up to two hours without incurring a second fare! The bus is a cheap, fun way to escape the cement of Waikiki and discover the lush island’s more remote shores and unique neighborhoods.
Picnic on a Secret Beach: “From Here to Eternity Beach” is a secret hideaway located below the Halona Blowhole parking lot kept private due to the admittedly treacherous climb down to the sand. Still, for the brave, young or athletic, this semi-private beach is never crowded and offers breathtaking views.
Located below the Halona Blowhole parking lot, this special spot is never crowded. The break in the ocean cliffs and the surrounding crags provide protection from the wind, while gentle waves tumble ashore. Turtles frequent the small cove, seeking respite from the otherwise blustery coast. “From Here to Eternity Beach” is great for packing a picnic and holing up for the day.
Enjoy Natural Splendor with Gorgeous City Views: Just north of downtown Honolulu are a half dozen hiking trails in the Tantalus area. One of the most scenic is the two-and-a-half-mile Makiki Loop Trail, which affords some of the best views of the city below. During the steep walk up the mountain you’ll appreciate the fragrance of wild ginger, mango, guava, eucalyptus and bamboo.
Snorkel amid Green Sea Turtles: East from Waikiki, past Hanauma bay, past Sandy Beach and then just past Sea Life Park you will see a long pier with a building on the end, the water is clear and the snorkeling is pretty nice on the left side of the pier. If you park about 1/8 mile before the pier the snorkeling is also good and you will probably see Green Sea Turtles.
Enjoy Authentic Affordable Cuisine: The Kapahulu Ave restaurants are famous for their affordable and authentic, yet still diverse dining opportunities. From Japanese ramen houses to local Hawaiian grills, you can eat like the locals do on Kapahulu Ave.
- Hike Mt. Olomana
- Hike Puu Manamana (for experienced hikers)
- Kayak out to the Mokulua Islands
- Explore Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden