Oahu is unquestionably the most visited island of Hawaii and while most people spend the majority of there stay in Waikiki (and for good reason of course), many do however miss the chance to explore Oahu’s more natural and scenic side…
Hire a car
I do highly recommend hiring a car if you are staying longer than a few days in Oahu. If you really want to get off the beaten track then this is your answer.
Check out North Shore
It’s a must to check out and North Shore, the breeding ground of some of the best international surfers! Time it right and you might see one of the international surfing contents that are held here each year… And if not, enjoy the scenery as it is b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l-l 🙂
The drive up to North Shore is also pretty epic, with many cool beach stops and local towns that are worth stopping for along the way. You will notice it is also far less touristy.
Turtle Bay is a little further north past North Shore and although it did get its name after the green sea turtles that inhabit the area to lay their eggs each year (you might just get a chance to see some big sea turtles!), it is also a popular spot for surfing (in the winter months as the waves are big), to snorkel and fish.
You can’t miss Turtle Bay Resort here as well, which was the filming location for the movie ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshal’ !
Drive on the H3 Highway
Given that you have a hire car, you can enjoy driving on the H3 Highway. The highway runs through luscious green valley’s ( Hālawa and Haiku Valley) and tunnels – with some pretty epic views, especially for a highway! I reckon the views are even better when it is/has been raining..
Visit Pearl Harbour
World War II has played such a big part in shaping today’s history. Make the trip to Pearl Harbour and relive the details from over 50 years ago and see parts of the ruins that still remain today.
Kaena Point is the most western point of Oahu and can only be reached by foot via hiking trails. Even if you don’t plan to hike, the drive to get here is gorgeous and well worth the road trip just to experience this side of Oahu. There are beautiful stretches of long sandy white beaches (that are almost all uncrowded) and big sweeping cliffs that are postcard worthy…
For those that enjoy a nature walk, reaching Monoa falls does require a short waking through rainforest to reach the falls at the end. Although the falls themselves arnt particularly fantastic, the walk through rainforest vines, bamboo trails and rocky stairs are well worth it…
Makapuu Point Lookout & Lighthouse
Makapuu sits on the most eastern point of Oahu and the lookout and lighthouse comprise of cliffs that rise high above sea level…with some pretty spectacular views! There is a beach down the bottom – just be careful of the rocky shoreline and rough seas around this area. The area is a very beautiful and picturesque spot nonetheless!
On another note; if you are heading here from the direction of Waikiki, you will bypass other cool beaches and towns that are worth stopping by such as Hanauma Bay and Sandy Beach Park.
Stairway to Heaven
Although the Stairway to Heaven has been officially closed to the public since 1987 (after being build and used during World War II), there are still many brave travellers who have tried their luck at completing the trail – and with some amazing photographs to show.
A lot of the track has been destroyed by weather over the years, making it dangerous and unstable in many places. There are often guards on duty detaining anyone from entering, so if you fancy the thrill, go in the early hours of the morning or dare to be caught trespassing.
Taste some local food
Particularly in the northern parts of Oahu, do yourself a favour and stop at one of the roadside Shrimp Stations – although it may seem a little pricey, it’s fresh seafood at its best!
Round Top Drive
This secret hideout spot not many tourists know about (yet!) and it has some of the best views of Waikiki. The drive up the mountain is an adventure in itself; windy and bendy upward roads but with luscious rainforest views. Get here before dusk to see the sunset over Waikiki and watch the city turns to lights!
Note: If you get car sick, take some sick tablets with you in case, as the bendy roads can knock you around a bit!
And if you are strapped for time or don’t have a hire car but still want to see parts of the island?
Then fear not, as there many day tours on offer that take you around to parts of the island so you can get a small taste of Oahu. Tours will generally pick you up right outside your hotel and drop you off once the tour finishes. This certainly makes for a stress-free day and you will have a local tour guides to give you full information on sites and locations.