When most people think of Hawaii and the island of Oahu, they are taken to a tropical oasis with pristine waters. Truth is, Hawaii is a unique destination with breath taking hikes and delicious local eats. Oahu is home to Hawaii’s capital city of Honolulu and the famed Waikiki Beach. This island is a must do for first time Hawaii travelers! Here’s how to visit Oahu in just 48 hours!
- Start the day with a hike to the top of Diamond Head, a iconic volcanic crater that offers panoramic views of the island. Jen and I had a blast hiking up Diamond Head, but be warned the parking lot fills up very fast so unless you want to walk one mile plus to get to the park, show up early! If you’re truly adventurous and would like an even tougher trail, try Koko Crater. This grueling hike is the world’s number one Stairmaster!
- After a nice hike, head over to Oahu’s Chinatown for some amazing seafood at Maguro Bros or Ono Seafood (closer to Waikiki) for some mouth watering poke. Both spots are excellent.
- Head to Waikiki Beach for some swimming and sunbathing, or take a surf lesson if you’re feeling adventurous. Spend the afternoon recharging after a grueling morning hike and enjoy the beach.
- There are plenty of great dinner spots to chose from. Whether you’re planning on eating in Waikiki Beach or venturing out, try out local cuisine and hole in the wall spots. There’s so many to choose from!
- Take a drive around the island to explore some of Oahu’s beautiful natural scenery. Some popular destinations include the North Shore, home to some of the world’s best surf breaks, and the winding roads of the Pali Highway, which offer breathtaking views of the Koolau mountain range.
- Try out Giovanni’s Shrimp truck or Matsumoto Shaved Ice, two of the most popular places on the North Shore.
- In the afternoon, visit the Polynesian Cultural Center, a living museum that showcases the traditions and cultures of the Pacific Islands. During certain times of the year, you can find a variety of food stalls here and it can be a great place to grab a snack.
- In the evening, enjoy a sunset dinner at one of Oahu’s many seafood restaurants, which offer fresh catches caught daily. Oahu is also home to a variety of Japanese restaurants, so if you’re tired of seafood, try some Tonkatsu (Japanese Cutlet)
These are just a few suggestions, and there are many other activities and attractions to enjoy on the island of Oahu. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or outdoor adventure, Oahu has something for everyone. The trip plan suggested is also perfect for budget travelers as there are many free hikes and Diamond Head will only cost you $10 per person. Meanwhile, hole in the wall eateries are also perfect for those of a tight budget. In contrast the mediocre food served on Waikiki’s main strip, hole in the spots serve far superior food for a fraction of the price.
Jen and Calvin’s Food Suggestions for Oahu
Sweet E’s Café – Excellent mix of traditional and Hawaiian breakfasts. Also serves delicious French toast made with Hawaiian sweet bread.
Leonard’s Bakery – Serves malasadas, a type of sweet, deep-fried doughnut that is popular in Portuguese-speaking countries.
Aloha Kitchen – Fluffy Soufflé pancakes!
Musubi Cafe Iyasume: This popular local chain serves a variety of musubi (rice balls wrapped in seaweed) and other Japanese-inspired dishes, including bento boxes and noodles.
Marugame Udon: This popular chain of udon noodle shops has several locations on Oahu and is known for its fresh, handmade noodles.
Helena’s Hawaiian Food: This popular local restaurant in the Kalihi neighborhood is known for its delicious Hawaiian dishes, including lau lau, kalua pig, and poi (mashed taro).
Rainbow Drive-In: This casual local chain serves a variety of American and Hawaiian comfort food, including burgers, sandwiches, and plate lunches (a combination of meat, rice, and macaroni salad).
Ono Seafood: This local institution in the Kaimuki neighborhood is known for its delicious poke and other seafood dishes.
Tamashiro Market: This seafood market in the Kalihi neighborhood is known for its fresh poke, which is made with a variety of different types of fish.
Maguro Brothers: This popular poke chain has several locations on Oahu and is known for its high-quality fish and customizable poke bowls.
Other Hikes (can be substituted for Diamond Head):
These are some other hike options to try out if you want something more challenging or less strenuous than Diamond Head. You may need to pay for parking and remember to get there early as these hikes are extremely popular.
- Koko Head Crater Trail: This strenuous hike involves climbing over 1,000 stairs to the top of Koko Head Crater, with panoramic views of the island.
- Manoa Falls: This moderate hike leads to a 150-foot waterfall in the lush Manoa Valley.
- Lanikai Pillboxes: This moderate hike takes you to two military bunkers with panoramic views of Lanikai Beach and the Mokulua Islands.
- Makapuu Lighthouse Trail: This moderate hike takes you to the Makapuu Lighthouse, with breathtaking views of the eastern coast of Oahu.