The Complete Oahu Vacation Guide

Plan Your Best Vacation to Oahu Ever - Where to Stay and What to Do On Oahu

This is the Complete Oahu Vacation Guide, which is just about everything I know about Oahu that I think a first time oahu visitor wants to know at one time. This is the online version of my ebook, Plan Your Best Vacation to Oahu Ever, so if you’d rather read this in ebook form or be able to download it to your computer, you can right-click on the ebook link and save it.

Topics in this guide

So you’re planning a vacation to Oahu – congratulations! You are going to have SUCH FUN! First, you‟ll be flying in to Honolulu Airport (HNL). You may not need a rental car because the public and activity transportation is so good (and because parking fees are sometimes pretty high).

Also check out Hawaiian for great rates to Hawaii.

This is all my opinion, based on my preferences and resources. I hope my opinions help point you in the direction you most want to take based on your preferences and resources.

My Favorites on Oahu

Honestly, I like Waikiki the best. Probably because I live in Hilo (which is slow and quiet with not too much to do) so I like to visit the high energy with tons to do area of Waikiki. We always stay in Waikiki, we love Waikiki Beach, and we like to walk around downtown and ride the trolley around at night.

My favorite hotel: We generally stay in a different hotel every time we go but if I had to pick an absolute favorite, maybe it would be the Hilton Hawaiian Village (typical best price: $171 on expedia).

Rental Car or not.
My husband likes to get a car because that’s how he is, but if just my son and I go, we don’t. We take a shuttle from the airport to the hotel ($11 per person) and avoid the parking fees and headache.

Activities Outside of Waikiki:

If we want to do something outside of Waikiki, we consider the bus, a shuttle, or renting a car for the day in Waikiki. Don’t worry, this will all be incredibly easy to figure out once you get here. People will be falling over themselves to get you to take their shuttle or rent their car.

Availability of transportation: In the busy season (when we’re not in a recession ) availability might be an issue, but not usually. I wouldn’t worry about it.

Staying outside of Waikiki:

If I wasn’t going to stay in Waikiki, I would stay on the North Shore (turtle bay resort – best price I’ve found: $218 at Priceline) or maybe in a vacation rental on or near Lanikai Beach (Kailua area).

West Side? I’m not a big fan of the West side, probably because there are minimal tradewinds and I just get too hot, but there are some wonderfully inexpensive beachfront, long-term rentals out that way (Makaha Beach Cabanas, Hawaiian Princess).

Best Weather on Oahu

Oahu is an island full of great weather – you really can’t go wrong, winter or summer. Waikiki is great weather; the best you really need. The West Side has the least rain and the most sun, but it is far from everything. The East side has a bit cooler weather and not TOO much rain, especially close to the ocean.

Best Hotels in Oahu

These are the best hotels in all of Oahu, in my opinion. Generally, in Oahu you will find small pools with minimal extras at the hotels, because the great swimming beaches and extras are so easily available scattered around the island. Expect *not* to spend your whole vacation at the hotel.

If you consistently find higher prices than what I have found, maybe prices are up due to season high season or some other reason. If you find lower, don’t question it, just book it!

Best Overall, Beach-Locations, and Luxury Hotels On Oahu

This is my opinion – the prices given are the best price that I could find based on a search of Priceline, Expedia,, and the hotel website for the same time period. Prices could change, I just wanted to give you an idea of what the hotel rooms cost for each hotel.

You can click through to expedia for a review, or download my book for a very short blurb on each hotel.

Best Family Hotels on Oahu

Best Budget-Priced Hotels On Oahu

Many of these hotels don’t list with expedia and priceline. If you call them directly for reservations, be sure to ask: “do you have any discounts that could bring my rate down?‟ You could get a yes and a better rate off the bat.

I also highly recommend bidding on priceline. Most of these smaller operations do not sell rooms to priceline, and so if you are bidding on Priceline you will normally get something like the Waikiki Prince Hotel, which is a nice hotel. I have seen bids accepted for $75 there.

You’ll have the most luck with getting low bids accepted on priceline when the hotels are hurting for visitors, but try anytime. You could really get some good deals. When the hotels are hurting for visitors, I would even bid $95 or so on 4 star hotels. According to the Bidding for travel, the 4 star Hawaii Prince Marina has accepted bids at $75 in September of 2009 (last minute bids).

Best Romantic Hotels and Hotels for Weddings On Oahu

Bidding on Hawaii Travel at Priceline and Hotwire

Bidding on Priceline and hotwire is a great way to save money on hotels and sometimes even flights to Hawaii. I have personally bid and gotten $55 at the Royal Kona Resort, and $120 at the Waikoloa Marriott. My friend got $110 at the Waikoloa Hilton, and $85 at the Hapuna Prince. I know someone who bid and received a roundtrip flight from San Francisco to Honolulu for $250. These are good deals!

Oh, and don’t forget car rentals. You can get great deals on car rentals by bidding. The only issue with bidding for hotels is that you won’t know what hotel you get until you are locked in to paying for it. You just specify a certain star level or class of hotel. The only issue with bidding for flights is that you won‟t be able to specify an exact time, but they do tell you it will be sometime between x morning hour and x evening hour, so not too bad.

So How Should I Bid on Hawaii Travel?

Hotels: I like to decide on a hotel I like, then find out what its star level is. Then on Priceline, I go directly to naming my own price, and during the process priceline will tell you what the average price is for that star level. I then bid half of that. The priceline website will have a ticker of recently accepted rates in the area you are searching for that is helpful.

An awesome resource is the bidding for travel forum. If you scroll down on the home page you’ll see three Hawaii forums, based on which islands you are planning to visit. People bid, and then come here and post their accepted and rejected rates. I have heard that the posted “median retail prices‟ at priceline are sometimes inaccurate. I don’t worry about this in Hawaii because I am so familiar with what the hotels cost here.

You, however, may want to check prices on the website of a few hotels that are the same star level as you want. You can then try to bid 50% of that. Rental Cars – $15 a day is a good place to start, and check the recent winning bids on Priceline.

Flights – I like to bid 50% of whatever the going rate is and then bid up in $50 increments if that is refused.

Most Fun, Must-Do, Activities and Things to Do on Oahu

This is my list of the most exciting and fun things to do on Oahu in my opinion.

Wild Side Specialty Tours – small group, eco-minded, really cool, wild-dolphin swims. One of the most awesome things you‟ll ever do.

  • Atlantis Submarines tour. Good fun for kids and adults, very interesting, not scary. We had dolphins circle us when I went. That was really cool.
  • Learn to surf on Waikiki Beach, just show up and look for signs
  • Bodysurf at any beach with some wave action
  • Dolphin Quest at the Kahala Resort is good fun
  • The Arizona memorial is interesting to some, but my family enjoys the USS Bowfin Submarine museum and the Mighty Mo more.
  • Sea Life Park is cool if you have kids or are interested
  • The Polynesian Cultural Center is well-done with plenty of interesting shows and exhibits
  • The Bishop Museum is interesting to people who have an interest in Hawaiian culture and history
  • Charter Boat Fishing
  • Glider rides, sky-diving, or hang-gliding if you‟re brave
  • Helicopter or airplane tours of the island
  • Hiking Diamond Head, Manoa Falls, or Kapena Falls
  • Kayak Kailua Bay
  • Stand-up Paddleboarding, the newest craze around the world and in Hawaii. Easy, and good fun, but you may be sore the next day. If balancing is hard or if you have a wiggly child on the front, just paddle on your knees. Easiest for beginners with flat water and no wind. Go in the morning.
  • Sunset Sails in Waikiki. Just walk up to the boat on the beach and ask about it. Amazing sunsets every night and in your face
  • Whale Watching December to May – Whale watching is actually better on the other islands for some reason, but if you do manage to find a boat you like and see some whales it‟s an awesome experience
  • Hanauma Bay is cool for many – snorkeling with TONS of fish in a protected cove, and on 2nd and 4th Saturdays you can do it at night. Cool.

Inexpensive or Free Activities on Oahu

  • If you have kids, the Waikiki aquarium is worth a look and fairly inexpensive.
  • A Hanauma Bay snorkeling trip – this is the only beach in Hawaii you’ll have to pay to visit, but it’s not expensive at all
  • Rent snorkel gear, a paddle board, surfboard, boogie board, or kayak
  • Body surf at any beach with mild wave action, except Sandy’s, or anything with big waves. You want to enjoy your vacation, not see what the inside of Hawaii’s hospitals look like.
  • Hike anywhere. The hiking is really good and sometimes quite easy on Oahu, with great rewards (think waterfalls)
  • Honestly, Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park is a fun day at a decent price. My family likes it.
  • In the winter, head out to the north shore to watch the big wave action. You‟ve never seen anything like it.
  • Dole Pineapple maze – a hedge maze in the Guinness Book of World Records. It‟s cool and only $5.
  • Chinatown – authentic! And interesting
  • Hawaii‟s Plantation Village
  • Sea life park admission is relatively inexpensive if you don‟t do anything extra
  • Waimea Valley Audobon Center – used to be adventure park but now it‟s more of a garden. If there’s a lifeguard you can swim in the pool under the waterfall at the end of the park.
  • Beach-hopping – Just drive, walk, or take the bus until you find a beach and hang out. It’s really that easy on Oahu.
  • Catch the free torch lighting hula show every other evening in Waikiki. Just ask your hotel staff. It’s a great show.
  • I like to walk through the lobbys of the grander hotels on Waikiki beach to see what’s going on there. They don’t mind. No one questions you, but if someone ever did, you could just say you are scoping out the hotel for your next trip.
  • The Marriott Waikiki Beach has a mini-version of the Halona blowhole that goes off in their lobby every once in a while. Some places have cultural demonstrations, live music, or hula shows.

Best Ways I like to Save Money on Oahu

Bidding for travel
I like bidding at priceline for hotels and rental cars and airfare. This can save a lot of money right away

Hawaii Entertainment Book sells coupons books for dozens of locations across the country. The Hawaii book is pretty good if there are two of you, especially for fine dining deals. The Buy One Get One free Entrees are phenomenal.

There are also activity and casual dining coupons, national coupons (like free upgrade or free day car rentals, six flags coupons, and hotwire coupons) and supposed hotel savings. In my experience, the hotel savings are not any better than what you can find on the internet, and so I don’t recommend them. If you have a different experience I’d love to hear about it.

The book is typically best for Oahu, second best for Maui, and marginal for the Big Island and Kauai. I can’t recommend it for Kauai or the Big Island, really. Sigh. Wouldn’t it be nice if that changed in the near future. Check to see if the book works for your trip.

Go Oahu Card
The Go Oahu Card is a discount card that you pay a one-time fee for and then you can do whatever activities covered under the card at any time. I really like it for a certain class of vacationer: The type that consistently gets out and GOES to activity after activity. If you plan on lounging on the beach most of the day, this is not for you.

I also really like this for a gift to honeymooners or vacationers. What a great gift! (and I like the entertainment book as a gift too). Check to see if the card works for you.

Best Oahu Beaches and Must-See Beaches on Oahu

Don’t hit all of these unless you are really into beaches. Just pick a few and take your time.

** Note: In Hawaii, all beaches are public. Anywhere that there is water, there must be public access to the shoreline. If you are in a residential neighborhood and want to check out the beach, just look for the blue signs that say “shoreline access” and follow the path, even if it’s directly between two houses. Sometimes, though, residential beaches do not have restrooms or showers.

Don’t worry about directions too much. Oahu is a small island and you can see the ocean from almost everywhere. If you can see the ocean, you can find your way.

Waikiki Beach – This is where all the action is. Instant surfing lessons, paddle an outrigger canoe, walk up to a catamaran and be riding it over the open ocean an hour later … Waikiki Beach is an awesome whirlwind of activity and people with consistently awesome weather and mellow surf.

There’s a protected area for babies to play, plus wide spots and perfectly sandy spots. It’s like a giant, beautifully clean bathtub that you are sharing with the world. I love Waikiki Beach. A must-see beach.

Ala Moana Beach – This is a locals beach, and it’s very close to Waikiki Beach. It fringes Ala Moana Park, which is a great place to walk or picnic. It’s well protected and wonderful for kids.

Kahala Beach – A pretty beach in a very rich, residential area. Shallow reef with good snorkeling in some areas.

Hanauma Bay – The value here isn’t so much in the beach as it is in the snorkeling. The fish are everywhere, and they don’t run from people too much. They are used to us.

Kailua Beach – Awesome beach with tons to do. Rent kayaks right at the park and head out to the offshore islands.

Lanikai Beach – One of my favorite beaches ever. Really what a Hawaiian beach that is not a cove should look like. Lazy, gorgeous, relaxation beach.

Laie or Hukilau Beach – Really cool beach with one awesome off-shore island. Mostly calm and swimmable.

Sunset Beach – In the summer (may – September) this is an awesome, fun beach to play at. In the winter, the waves will scare you out of the water, but drop your jaw when they are rocking. It’s fun either way.

Sharks cove – An amazing snorkeling cove in the summer. In the winter the waves get too big.

Waimea Bay Beach Park – Awesome, awesome beach. Beautiful and fun. Turtles like it, people like it, definitely check it out for swimming in the summer. In the winter, you want to check it out but for the WAVES. Waimea Bay is where some of the biggest and wildest surfing waves in the WORLD are.

The south side and the west side have some very nice beaches that I have not mentioned (Ko Olina Lagoons, Makaha Beach Park, Papaoneone Beach …) but I am not going to go into them. If you are staying out there, you‟ll find them. If you are not staying out there, in my opinion it‟s not worth a trip because the beaches in the areas where you will be already are just as good. The only difference on the west side will be less people for the most part.

Oahu Areas, Weather, and Seasons

Waikiki/Honolulu Overview

Waikiki is where most people who visit Oahu stay. It is essentially the beachfront area of the large city Honolulu. It is incredibly safe for a large city. In fact, all of Hawaii is very safe. There are some thefts from cars, but person on person crime is very rare. There are over 80 hotels in Waikiki alone. The beach is packed every day – but it’s a good and fun kind of packed; lots to do and lots of happy people running around doing it.

The water is clear and refreshing (72 degrees year round) and the beach is clean. I like Waikiki. Some people will shun it because of the rampant commercialization and the skyscrapers and the buildings packed on top of each other, but as long as you know this is what it will be like, you can still enjoy Waikiki. The beach is phenomenal and makes up for all of that, plus the “country” of Oahu is a short ride away by car or bus. Good deal. Waikiki Hotels will offer the best deals in all of Hawaii and Waikiki activities such as surfing lessons and sunset or dinner cruises will also offer the most competitive prices in the islands.

Waikiki Weather and Waves

Average Temperature in Summer (May – September): High: 87 to 89 degrees F Low: 72 degrees F
Average Temperature in Winter (October –April) High: 80 to 84 Low: 68 to 70
Avg Rainfall per month in Summer ½ inch Avg Rainfall per month in winter 2 inches Waves in Winter Generally small waves in winter – still usually big enough for a beginner to learn to surf, but almost never so big your babies can’t play on the shore.

Waves in SummerHawaii gets South Swells in the summer, which means that occasionally, the waves will be so big on Waikiki Beach that you won’t feel comfortable being in the water unless you are an expert swimmer. There is an area in the center called Kuhio beach or Baby beach where there is a wall blocking the waves, so people can still get in the water. I wouldn’t try first-ever surfing lessons during a south swell though.

The Rest of Oahu Overview

Outside of Waikiki and Honolulu, you can find one Hotel on the North Shore, the Turtle Bay Hilton, and a few hotels on the West Side of the island like Makaha Bay Towers and Ko Olina Resort. All of these hotels are at least a half hour drive from Honolulu and the airport. There are also countless vacation rentals and bed and breakfasts scattered around the island.

Ewa Beach area

Location: South side on the other side of Pearl Harbor from Waikiki

Weather: Hot and sunny all the time, even at night this area will be slow to cool down Rain: very little – 20 inches or less a year

Waves: occasional big waves in the summer Beach: Ewa beach is long and pretty, with houses lining it. This is a residential area, and some of the beach leads to clear water, some is full of coral, rocks, and seaweed. We still swim in it but this may not be what you are looking for. Activities: Nothing really except hanging out on the beach. You‟ll have to go elsewhere for boats and attractions.

Hotels: None. There are plenty of vacation rentals.

West Side of Oahu This is Ko Olina, Nankuli, Waianae, and Makaha.

Safety Issue?
You may have heard that Makaha and Waianae are not safe areas. Well, it’s true that they are considered a poorer areas but that image of being not safe is outdated. Don’t leave valuables in your car and you’ll be fine out here.

Hot and sunny all the time, even at night this area will be slow to cool down Rain: very little – 20 inches or less a year Beach: There are many awesome beaches in this area.

Activities: The Ko Olina Hotel has some ocean activities, and Wild Side Specialty Tours: operates a wild dolphin swim in the area too.

Hotels: Ko Olina Resort , Hawaiian Princess, Makaha Beach Cabanas, and Makaha Valley Towers. You‟ll also find vacation rentals. Some of the places in Makaha offer great long term rental opportunities.

East Side of Oahu

This is Waimanalo, Kailua, Lanikai, Kaneohe, Kaaawa, Waimea, and Laie, although Laie is practically on the North Shore.

A bit cooler than the South and west sides thanks to constant onshore winds. Rain: A bit more rain, than other areas too, but not too much if you are on or near the beach. Between 30 and 60 inches a year.

Beach: Tons and tons of blow-your-mind-awesome beaches.

Lots of stuff to do: hike, windsurf, kayak, shop, sightsee, snorkel, lounge on the beach, and tons more. Hotels: None. Many phenomenal vacation rentals. I like Waimanalo area, Kailua, and Lanikai area – especially Lanikai for the beach.

North Shore of Oahu

This is Waimea, Kahuku, and Haleiwa. Small, laid-back, surfing towns.

Weather: Hot and sunny Rain: Between 20 and 40 inches a year.

Waves: Waves big enough to shake the ground in the winter months. People come from every country just to look at these waves. No waves in the summer months.

Beach: Great beaches and snorkeling coves. Swim in the summer, come just to look in the winter, unless you are an expert surfer.

Activities: Lots of stuff to do: hike, shark dive, gliding, kayak, shop, sightsee, snorkel, jet ski, lounge on the beach, and tons more.

Hotels: Only the Turtle Bay Hilton. Lots of right-on the-beach vacation rentals.


So that’s it, have a wonderful, wonderful vacation. Hawaii is a great place and you really can’t go wrong here. Leave me a comment if you want to share any stories or ask any questions.

Best Price on Luaus on Oahu

December 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Oahu, Oahu Activities, Prices, Vacation Planning 

I am planning a trip to Oahu this January but I am on a budget. The cost of luau’s are pretty steep on this island. Are there any economical luaus and where can I get any specials or discounts?

well, you have a few options – there’s something called an entertainment book that has a lot of coupons for Oahu.

in the 2010 edition (coupons good now) there is a coupon for 25% off Germaines Luau and Paradise Cove Luau for four adults.

There are also luaus at the Polynesian Cultural Center, if you were planning to go there anyway you could just purchase a ticket that includes a luau.

There are also coupon books available at the airport andyour hotel that may offer discounts, although probably not as much as 25% off.
Have a great time! Lisa

Where to Rent Camping Equipment In Hawaii; Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Kauai, or Big Island

Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii
Image by Jeff Kubina via Flickr

I am coming to Hawaii in Feb 2010 and would like to do some camping. Can you tell me if there are places on Molokai, Maui or the Big Island that rent camping equipment?

** update 2011, there are now some places to rent camping equipment – check the comments below this text for multiple links.

Sorry, but there really is no where to rent camping equipment on any of the islands. You’ll need to bring it or buy it when you get here – on Maui or the Big Island – molokai and Kauai will have the least buying options. Oahu will have the most buying options.

You may be able to rent camping stoves or larger things of that nature, but you will be limited on where you can use such a thing. No one rents tents or sleeping bags that I know of.

New rental places and stores do open up all the time though, so if anyone knows of anything or has a rental company website, please leave a comment. 🙂 thanks!

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Value of Hawaii All Inclusive – All Included Vacation Packages

December 4, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Hawaii - general, Oahu, Oahu Activities 

I’m in the process of planning my honeymoon and would love to visit Hawaii. I read some of the articles on your site and you seem to have a lot of knowledge about Hawaii. There’s a deal that I found on the internet, but my fiancé and I are unsure whether it IS really a good deal, like they claim. I copied and pasted it below. I would really appreciate it if you give me your feedback as to whether we should go ahead and book w/ them, or if we should book everything separately? (i.e. flight, hotel, activities, food, etc. to be separate) In other words, is the quoted price really worth it? Also, how much money should we plan to spend on top of this quoted price? (that is, for additional activities, food, etc.) We are trying to make it as affordable as possible. Thanks a lot!

**** Note. I was asked to remove the copied and pasted all inclusive waikiki vacation itinerary and I did. The itinerary included 1 to 2 activities per day, plus some meals, airfare and hotel, shuttle, transportation, tips, and trolley for a day.

So, I took your email and got the VALUE of what you are being offered as this: $1418.5 per person low-end, $1868.5 high end. Now, this is not a figure that can really be locked down, because I am figuring my values based on a low-moderate of what prices I know are available. For example, I did not determine the price of the Breakfast Buffet, but since I know breakfast buffets can be had in Waikiki for as little as $6 and as much as $30+ I decided on a low-moderate value of $12. The meal you may be booking could cost significantly more.

You also could go to Subway and get a breakfast Burrito and drink a bottle of water you got from the supermarket for $.60 and pay about $4 for breakfast .. it’s all relative.

That being said – here’s how I arrived at my figure:

I looked on Expedia fare tracker, and although most flights cost $900+ when you want to fly, there was one to be booked for $450.

Outrigger Waikiki West has an Internet Special at $89 per night. add taxes and fees and take this up to $105 or so. They also have higher priced rooms so I averaged $700 and $1050 and divided by 2 (per person) for 437.5 per person for 7 nights.

Lei greeting one person – $20
food plus tips: $200
activities: $300
airport shuttle each way plus tip $11

So, in terms of absolute money, I don’t think you are getting the best deal you could get. However, to have everything done for you and someone else worry about all the details and barely even have to bring a wallet? That may be worth it to you. Some people who work for themselves know the value of their time – and someone whose value per hour is $60+ or so would definitely find value in this trip.

Oahu Itinerary – What Things We’re Going To Do On Oahu, Hawaii

August 29, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Oahu, Oahu Activities, Vacation Planning 

Listed below are my itineraries for my Hawaiian Vacation for four adults. Can you tell me what you think? should I change, add or modify anything to my itineraries?

Flight departure to Honolulu, Hawaii

  • Morning: (0730hrs) USS Arizona Memorial Park/Museum (Take Ala Moana Blvd. /Nimitz Highway or (H-1) West to begin. While on H-1; look for the USS Arizona/Stadium exit, #15A)
  • Visit: the USS Bowfin Museum ($8), USS Missouri ($16), USS Oklahoma (Free), and Pacific Memorial Museum ($14)
  • Afternoon: Visit: the National Cemetery of the Pacific at Punch Bowl (2177 Puowaina Drive 1-808-532-3720-Free)
  • Drive to Punchbowl Crater (Site Seeing/picture taking)
  • Visit: the Iolani Palace (364 South King Street $12)
  • Visit: the King Kamehameha Statue (957 Punchbowl Street)
  • Visit: Aloha Tower and go to the observation deck (1 Aloha Drive)
  • Evening: at the Aloha Tower Marketplace and dine in one of many in restaurants in area
  • Saturday

  • Morning: Breakfast at Duke’s Waikiki (2335 Kalakaua Ave at the Outrigger Waikiki)
  • Full day at leisure
  • Relax at Waikiki Beach and take a picture with the Duke Kahanamoku Statue (Next to the Moana Surfer Hotel)
  • Late Afternoon (If time permits): Take Highway 61 (The Pali Highway)
  • Visit: The Nuuanu Pali State Wayside (for some pictures)
  • Visit: The Town of Kailua and the beaches of Kailua and Lanikai
  • Visit: Pinky’s Pupu Bar and Grill (970 Kalaheo Ave, Kailua) for a quick bite or snack
  • Evening: Dine at the MAC 24-7 (Hilton Waikiki Prince 2500 Kuhio Avenue) or any restaurant in Kailua or in Waikiki
  • Sunday

  • Morning: Visit Diamond Head State Monument ($5 per Car), Diamond Head Light House, Diamond Head Beach
  • Visit: Makapuu Lighthouse lookout point
  • Visit South Shore beaches: Hanauma Bay State Underwater Park, Sandy Beach (8800 Kalaniana’ole Highway), Moana Beach Park (1201 Ala Moana Boulevard)
  • Visit: Hike to the Manoa Falls
  • Visit: Halona Blow Hole (along the Kalanianaole Highway) and Hike to Halona Rocks
  • Drive around Round Top and Tantalus Drive on Mount Tantalus (GPS Pu’u Ualakaa State Park for directions to Mt Tantalus)
  • Visit: Pu’u Ualakaa State Park (Movie: Blue Hawaii with Elvis Presley was filmed here)-Park closes at 6PM
  • Afternoon: Take to North Shore (take H1 to H2 to drive along the center of Island)
  • Visit: The Town of Haleiwa
  • Lunch: at Cafe Haleiwa (66-460 Kamehamaha Highway) or at any of the numerous restaurants in town
  • Beaches to Visit: while at Haleiwa: Waimea Beach Park, Waimea Bay, Banzai Beach (where the famous Banzai Pipeline is), Ehukai Beach, Sunset Beach
  • Visit: Matsumotos Shave Ice (66-087 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa) for a brief snack of famous shaved ice.
  • Evening: Drive back to Waikiki for some relaxation or shopping and dine in one of the many restaurants in Waikiki
  • Boy, you are a trip planner after my husband’s heart 🙂 Me, I just show up and look around to see what looks fun. lol. So, my first impulse is that you have a LOT planned – but I understand – you want to see it all. Anyway, regarding Oahu, everything looks good to me. One thing is I would do Manoa falls before you head out to Hanauma Bay, maybe even before Diamond head – it’s more above Honolulu than to the East like the rest of that stuff. Plus, Manoa falls is a HIKE. It’s just a mile but most of it is sloped up. You’ll want water and maybe a change of clothes or at least a towel to dry off with. Also, Kailua and Lanikai beaches are so awesomely beautiful you might want to plan a swim there.

    Oahu Day Trip – One or Two Days on Oahu

    I am planning to be in Kona, Hawaii from May 17 to May 24 and would like to take in some
    of the sights on Ohau such as Pearl harbor and the Cultural Center. Any ideas on the best
    way to do this? I know each of these are at least a day in themselves. Maybe 2 trips or
    an overnight stay to catch both? What might you suggest?

    I would do an overnight stay in Oahu – otherwise you eat up too much of your day on the airplane, getting the car, etc. Plus that way you get to enjoy Oahu a bit – it really is very pretty. Have a great time!

    Inexpensive or Cheap Luaus in Honolulu – Waikiki – Oahu

    March 11, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
    Filed under: Oahu, Oahu Activities, Prices, Vacation Planning 

    Hi we are a family of 4 2 adults and 2 children under 10, we are going to hawaii next week. I need information about not so expensive luaus in Honolulu, all I have seen are very expensive!

    Hi, what are you wanting the luau for? Is it just for the hula show? because there is usually a free Hula show on Waikiki Beach – ask your hotel for details. If you absolutely want to do a luau, then wait till you get to Honolulu and pick up the free coupon books at the airport or in any bin that line the streets of Honolulu and leaf through them. You will get a sense of what the cheapest one is that you can find that you want to go to. Also, if you were planning to go to the Polynesian Cultural Center they have a luau that may help you offset the cost a bit. The cheapest price I see is $69 at Germaines – is that what you are seeing? You can probably find it a bit cheaper if you look in the coupon books once you get there.

    The Entertainment Book sometimes money off tickets at the Polynesian Cultural Center or similar entertainment.

    Good luck!

    Where Should We Stay On Oahu – Hawaii? Best Vacation Rental to Stay In On Oahu?

    September 19, 2007 by · 10 Comments
    Filed under: Oahu, Oahu Activities, Oahu Rentals, Vacation Planning 

    We’re coming over late november this year( 2 couples for the 1st time) & not quite sure what part of Oahu to stay at ( Looking at Condos or house rentals). We are surfers (Longboarders) but the girls will want to spend some time sight-seeing, shopping etc. Bearing in mind the time of year, where would you suggest to stay that would be close to beaches – not too far from shops. We’re not fussed with huge crowds. Looking forward to your response. Kind regards.

    Hi! Well, the waves on Oahu are big on the North Shore in November – are you looking for BIG waves? There is only one hotel-condoon the North shore – that’s the Turtle Bay Resort. Other than that, there are hundreds of house rentals – in some really nice areas.

    … however, the shops are mostly in Waikiki, which is on the south shore. the island is not big – if you stay out of traffic you can go from one to the other in an hour or less. Traffic is bad commuters hours INTO Honolulu in the morning and out of honolulu in the afternoon. You could stay at the halfway point of Kailua maybe .. but I think you would be happier either on the North Shore or in Waikiki.

    Hi Lisa. I am currently looking at home rentals for the week on Oahu. I have found homes at Waimanalo, Haleiwa and Makaha that looked good but I have no clue what might be best for our family. What is the best side of the island to stay on? We have 2 children, age 17 & 12. My daughter will be interested in soaking up the sun and my son will be interested in boogie boarding, swimming, etc. My husband and I are interested in a relaxing and seeing the sights! I know we can easily drive to any location we want to see but where would be the best location to STAY?

    In your situation, I would stay in Waimanalo. You’ll be right in the middle of the other two places, close to everything, and both of your kids will be happy. Plus, Waimanalo is really a great beach. You can’t really go wrong outside of Waikiki, but Waimanalo is probably the most right out of the three you mentioned. Have a great time! Lisa

    How to Best See the Volcano from Oahu

    Thanks 🙂 The volcano is on the Big Island, so the first thing you will need to do is get a flight to the big island – or you could look around for a tour company that would do an island tour for you, like this one.

    However, you are correct that right now the best viewing is from the air. You might just want to catch an inter-island flight to the Hilo airport and just walk over to the helicopter and small plane departures and take one of them, like Hilo Wings.

    If you do take a helicopter or small plane tour, here’s some pics of what you may see: my friend was up just last week and took these pictures.

    Now, as for the park being closed – everything is currently open except for some pretty advanced hiking trails near the current flow. The closures only lasted for a short time after the earthquakes around mid-June. There’s lot’s of interesting stuff to see and a huge crater that is easy to get to, but the flowing lava is only visible from the air right now. Check the absolute latest information with the National Park or my volcano blog.

    Have fun! Lisa

    First, what a great website! I find the information very interesting. My wife and I are planning a trip to Oahu next week and wanted to include a tour of the Volcanoes National Park. With all the current activity going on and based on their website, it appears that a good portion of the park is closed. We were really hoping to see some neat things, including lava, etc. With these developments, does it make more sense to tour from the air instead of the ground? If we still elected to tour from the ground, what is still open that would be worth seeing?

    Should I Rent a Surfboard in Hawaii or Bring my Own?

    January 14, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
    Filed under: Oahu, Oahu Activities, Vacation Planning 

    Vicki from Australia asks

    My friend is visiting Oahu in March. Would it be cheap enough for him to hire surfboards there or would it be better to bring his own?

    Hi Vicky,

    Well, before we explore prices and availability of surfboard rentals in Hawaii, let’s talk about whether it’s even a good idea to bring your own surfboard to Hawaii for use on your vacation. The How to Pack Your Shortboard for an Airplane Trip article at reveals that surfboard noses are commonly broken in baggage holds and that airlines can charge big bucks for handling surfboards – so that’s a pretty big strike against bringing your own surfboard.

    At Hawaii Surf Board on Oahu they state they offer free, island-wide delivery and pickup of quality surfboards for between $50 and $90 for the first two days and $10 each additional day. (Prices may change, check the website).

    Also, anyone who wants to just try surfing in the Waikiki area can walk onto Waikiki Beach and rent a surfboard for about $20 for an hour or two. Just look for the rental booths and the racks and racks of surfboards. There are several spots along the beach.

    So, Vicky, it appears to me that renting a surfboard once he gets here is your friend’s best option. I hope he has fun!

    More rental websites:

    Maui Fun Tours on Maui

    Hanalei Surf Company on Kauai

    Kona Boys on the Big Island

    … Neal wrote and suggested this – thanks Neal!

    I would like to make a suggestion to let visitors know that they can also buy a surfboard when visiting Oahu. While many may prefer to rent, there are other surfers who can buy a cheap used surfboard here and then take it home as surfboards back home cost way more than they do here. Hawaii, being the home of surfing also boasts a wide array surfboard shapes and types and lower end prices. Aloha, Neal

    Dolphin Swim Programs in Hawaii, Oahu and Kauai and the Big Island

    Years ago I was able to swim with dolphins (in a rescue program?) in a closed lagoon at a posh resort on the Big Island, for $50 if I remember correctly. Now my wife is interested but we are not headed that way. Heading to Oahu and Kauai end of November. Do you know of any other program like that?

    On the Big Island, you probably did the Dolphin Quest at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. These days, it’s more like $200 though :). I don’t believe there is any such program on Kauai, but on Oahu, you have the Dolphin Quest at the Kahala Hotel and Resort and the Sea Life Park has a dolphin swim program too. I can’t say which would be ‘better’ but I know in the past if the dolphin gives the OK you could hold onto their fin and get a ride at Sea Life Park, which is something the Dolphin Quest does not do.