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39 Reasons To Visit Oahu, Hawaii… Now!

Fat Mum Slim /

In partnership with Jetstar Australia.

Have you ever met someone who has been to Hawaii? I can assure you that if you have, you’d know… because they’d tell you. It’s one of those places that people fall deeply and madly in love with. There’s something about it that I just love. Well, a lot of things about it actually. Ask anyone that has visited, and you’re sure to get rave reviews and eager persuasion to get you to experience the same good vibes, and sunshine-y fun.

What do I love? I think most all that there is something for everyone. I’m happy there, so is Hubby, and the kids adore it. The island of Oahu is easy to explore, and you can do a lap of the island in less than a day. There’s something for the honeymooners, the foodies, the cocktail lovers, the surfers, the adrenaline junkies, and everyone in between.

While I was visiting recently, as a guest of Jetstar, I started to think about all of the things that people could do when visiting, and the list was long. You could visit every year for the rest of your life, and still find new things to do. This list just hints at some of the great offerings on Oahu, and also acts as a slight persuasion in hopes that you’ll visit one day and fall in love just like we have.

1. Hike Diamond Head
You can make it from the car park to the top of Diamond Head in under an hour, and feel like you’re on top of the world, witnessing breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and Honolulu. It costs just $1 for walkers and $5 per car load, and is a steal for the views that you’ll experience.

2. Watch the Friday night fireworks
Each Friday night, after the sun has set {around 7:45pm}, there’s a show in the sky for everyone to enjoy. The Hilton Hawaiian Village puts on the display, and tourists and locals flock to the shore to watch. It’s one of our favourite things to do. Find yourself a spot on the sand, and enjoy the show.

3. Take a snap with the Duke Kahanamoku statue
The Duke statue is an iconic part of Oahu, and a big part of the Hawaiian history. Duke Kahanamoku is the king of modern surfing, and a very popular photography location. Do as the tourists do, and snap a photo with the legend and even drape a lei over his arms.

4. Do a lap of the island
This is at the top of my list to do, so make sure you do it! Hire a car while in Waikiki {we used Avis at the Sheraton}. I like touring the island starting at Waikiki and exploring the Windward side first. I’ll do a blog post with loads of details, but if you leave around 7am you can beat any traffic and be at the North Shore just before lunch, in time to beat the lines at the Shrimp Trucks.

5. Eat a Malasada
What’s a malasada? I hear you ask. Well, it’s about the most delicious thing you might set your lips on. It’s a round doughnut type treat which you can get filled with custard or whatever filling the team at Lenard’s has decided for the week. I suggest you grab six {two custard, two plain and two of the flavour of the week} and make your way to Diamond Head Beach Park lookout to enjoy the view and your sweet treats.

6. See Oahu from a birds eye view
A beautiful, yet almost indulgent, way to explore any new location is by helicopter, and Oahu is a beauty to see from up in the sky. You’ll be in awe of the beautiful beaches, and of course Diamond Head Monument as well.

7. Try paddle boarding
While regular surfing can be more challenging for beginners, stand-up paddle boarding is one that anyone get the hang of, and Hawaii is the perfect place to start trying. You can hire a board at many spots along Waikiki Beach, but if you’re wanting to start slowly head down to the Hilton Hawaiian Village and hire a board there. You’ll find the lagoon the perfect place to start. For something completely cool, you can hire a board that lights up underneath, and take a tour on a Friday night, watch the fireworks display and also see the sea life swimming underneath you.

8. Travel back in time at the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor
Take a step back in time and visit the memorial that honors the 2388 Americans who lost their lives during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Set aside the better part of a day for this experience. The tour takes 75 minutes, but you’ll want to take your time to explore and take everything in.

9. Eat spam musubi sushi
Pop into a 7-Eleven or an ABC Store to pick up this favourite Hawaiian snack. It’s simply a slice of grilled spam, on top of rice and then wrapped with nori. Everyone has to do it at least once, right?

10. Stop for pie at Ted’s Bakery
Forget what you think you know about pies and imagine this; rich, and deliciously smooth chocolate custard cream on top a pie base, topped with whipped cream. At this famous North Shore bakery there are flavours ranging from chocolate to blueberry, and more Hawaiian flavours to tempt your tastebuds, like the Lilikoi Cheese pie. The question is, which will you choose?

11. Stroll through Haleiwa Town
Haleiwa has an old town feel and feels like you’ve stumbled across a beautiful gem, because you have! Explore yummy Mexican food {try the fish taco}, Shave Ice at Matsumoto or Aloha General Store, be in awe of the photography at the Clark Little Gallery and pick up some goodies or two.

12. Swim and play at Waimea Bay
Well known for it’s giant surf, it’s surprising to often find this spot the perfect swimming place with water as calm as a lake {the big waves are during the winter season usually}. In the busy months, get in early for a swim {the car park fills up quickly}. You can also watch as the locals and tourists jump off the Waimea Bay Rock into the water below.

13. Sail and snorkel
Snorkeling is one activity that my family really loves to do, and on a recent trip we took a tour with the Ko’Olina Ocean Adventures team. We sailed out at Waianae, had a delicious lunch, and snorkeled around. We saw numerous turtles, and as we were sailing back to shore we were treated to the sight of spinner dolphins swimming along side us.

14. Take a surf lesson
Ready to hang ten? The Faith Surf School is run my Tony Moniz, a Oahu local and big wave surfer, and is the most popular surf school in Hawaii. They get rave reviews, and you can try a one-on-one lesson, or go with a group.

15. Get lost at the Dole Plantation
The Dole Plantation started out as a simple roadside fruit stand, and has now become one of Oahu’s most popular attractions. You can take the Pineapple Express Train Tour, or the Plantation Garden Tour, or you can totally lost in one of the world’s largest mazes. It can take up to two hours to find your way in, and then out again, which will be the perfect time to stop for a famous Dole Whip on your way out.

16. Take a dip at Magic Island
Just a hop, skip and a jump from both Waikiki and Ala Moana Shopping Center is Magic Island, a beautiful swimming spot that makes the most ideal place to watch the sunset. You can set up for the day, and even find food trucks to appease the grumblings of your tummy between swims.

17. Visit Waimea Falls
Located in the Waimea Valley, is the beautiful Waimea Falls. The hike is one of the easier ones at around 5km {3.5 miles} of flat, paved walkways. In years gone by, the Waimea Falls used to be an entertainment theme park where you could sit and watch dare-devil cliff divers take the plunge beside the falls while hula dancers provided entertainment. Now it’s a more low-key location {no diving allowed}, that you can hike to and enjoy the view.

18. Visit Koko Crater Botanical Garden
Love plants? You’ll love this. You can take a 90 minute walk into this extinct crater, with around 200 acres of succulents, cacti and dry land palms. Be sure to wear proper shoes and take a bottle of water with you.

19. Visit Kailua Beach and town
One of the most beautiful beaches in the whole of the island, Kailua Beach is a stunning spot to visit and explore. After taking a dip you can stroll through the town for a little shopping and delicious dining.

20. Hike to Makapu’u Lighthouse
Take a short, yet uphill hike to this beautiful lighthouse and lookout. From this spot you’ll be able to spot some small offshore islands and a beautiful breath-taking view. The paths are lined, and while it’s one of the more popular walks, there’s room for everyone.

21. Try Poke!
Oh how I love Poke! Poke is diced raw fish, with different sauces and spices. I know I’m not selling it well, but you have to try it to understand how beautiful it is. The best on the island, and a favourite to locals as well, is Kahuku Superette on the North Shore. Now, I know as soon as you plug this location into your GPS and show up, you’re going to think you’re at the wrong place. It’s a small general store, but it has the BEST poke. Grab a few flavours and consider it your entree for lunch, before you try Garlic Shrimp. If you’re in Waikiki, you can try Ono Seafoods, or my personal favourite is the Poke Nachos at Yardhouse.

22. Be in awe of the stunning Sea Turtles
There is nothing quite as magical as seeing a sea turtle in the wild, and it’s something that gets me in the feels each time it happens. Just remember, they are protected and you should keep your distance and let them exist peacefully {don’t touch or chase them}. You can be swimming and they pop up next to you, but if you happen to approach one, remember to stay a few metres away and give them space. Our favourite spot to see them is Haleiwa Beach Park. You can see them pop up in the water, and munch on the seaweed at low tide. Next trip we’re keen to try Electric Beach as the water is said to have some amazing clarity.

23. Experience the KA WA’A luau at Aulani
Experiencing a luau is a must when visiting Hawaii, and this one is the cream of the crop. It’s perfect for kids, with ukulele lessons, lei making and other activities, but also perfect for adults with cocktails, a delicious feast and a show to entertain the whole family.

24. Swim with sharks, if you dare!
I don’t know if I’ll ever be brave enough to try this one, but it deserves to be on the list because I’ve heard so many people rave about it! Dive with sharks while in the safety of a cage, and be in awe of the sharks as they swim around you.

25. Go to Wet’n’Wild Hawaii
With all the natural waterways available on Oahu, it can be easy to forget about places like Wet’n’Wild but it’s one of Hawaii’s most popular family attractions and it’s worth the visit. There are 25 attractions to try out, so pack your bathers and some suncream and get ready for some fun.

26. Try Shave Ice
If you only do one thing on this list, do this {seriously, do more than this but this one is important!}. On the North Shore you can find great Shave Ice at Aloha General Store and Matsumoto, but you can find yummy spots that sell it in Waikiki too. The trick is to ask for vanilla ice cream in the bottom and condensed milk on top. Thank me later!

27. Visit the Garlic Shrimp trucks for a bite to eat
If you don’t eat the garlic shrimp at Giovanni’s, have you even lived? Each time we try this shrimp, we end up speechless, inhaling the deliciousness. It is SO GOOD. Giovanni’s is the most popular shrimp truck on the North Shore, and for that reason sometimes you can find quite a wait. During peak times you want to get there either before lunch or late afternoon for smaller lines. I think Romy’s {a minute or so down the coast} is just as good and their shrimp is farmed right there on site.

28. Go wild at Honolulu Zoo
A walk from the main shopping strip of Waikiki, is the Honolulu Zoo. Small enough to master in half a day, it’s perfect for entertaining the kids for a morning or afternoon. There are over 900 animals to see, including an Aussie animal or two!

29. Sip a Mai Tai at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel {Surf Lanai}
Mai Tais are the perfect cocktail to sip on as you watch everyone frolic in the ocean. Made with orange juice, pineapple juice, rum, lime and triple sec, it tastes like Hawaii. Sipping them under the shade of the pink Royal Hawaiian building with views of the beach, just seems like the right thing to do!

30. Eat your way through Chinatown
Every time I tell someone we’re going to Oahu, someone will tell me, “YOU HAVE TO EAT AT CHINATOWN!” I haven’t made it there yet, but I will people, I promise. The very popular Pig & The Lady gets rated very highly, as do Lucky Belly and Live Stock Tavern.

31. Get adventurous at Kualoa Ranch
Ever wondered where Jurassic Park was filmed? Or even 50 First Dates? Well, those and other movies have all been filmed at the beautiful working farm, Kualoa Ranch. It’s an all day adventure with ziplining, farm tour, horse back rides, ATV tours, move site tours and so much more, including a pretty impressive buffet lunch.

32. Learn the Hawaiian Culture
There’s something incredibly special about learning to Hula, and making a Lei. I kinda thought I was too old to Hula, but it turns out it’s quite an impressive party trick {better than flossing!}. Do as the Hawaiians do, and learn a trick or two from the locals. Usually you can get free lessons at your hotel or resort.

33. Take an Outrigger Canoe ride
If you like your sports sitting down, then this one is for you. Hop a board an outrigger canoe, and work with the team to get your vessel out on the water, catch some waves, and have some fun. It’s a great activity to do with friends, or the whole family {you need a minimum of 4 people usually}.

33. Enjoy breakfast at Bills
Tucked away in Waikiki is a little restaurant called Bills. It’s super popular, and also super delicious. Bills hails all the way from Australia, but I love visiting and seeing the Hawaiian twist on things. Try the corn fritters and ricotta hotcakes.

35. Take a dip at Ala Moana Beach Park
Every trip you take to Oahu, you’re sure to find a new favourite swimming spot. Ala Moana Beach Park is closer to Ala Moana Shopping Center and is a patrolled beach with a large swimming channel. It’s great for kids, and perfect if you want to swim a few laps.

36. Eat yourself silly at the Cheesecake Factory
This isn’t traditionally Hawaiian, and it’s incredibly touristy, but I say do it anyway because most people do. The meals are generous in size, the flavours are delicious and comforting, and the cheesecakes for dessert are next level. Just do it.

37. Go to the Polynesian Cultural Center
Enjoy the spirit of Polynesia with a visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center. There’s six Polynesian Villages explore, luaus, a marketplace and an evening show. It’s one of Hawaii’s most popular attractions.

38. Visit Aulani, A Disney Resort
We try and make Aulani a part of any Hawaii trip we have, because it’s such a special treat. It’s the most amazing resort, and just happens to have a few magical Disney touches; it’s where the Disney characters come to holiday. You’ll find stunning pools, water slides, the most luxurious day spa, delicious eateries, and so much more, while also being the most Hawaiian resort on the island.

39. Simply do nothing at all
While Oahu has a million things for the whole family to do, it also allows you to lie back on a beach chair with a good book {and a cocktail} and do nothing much at all. So if you want to do nothing but take in the sun {or even sunset}… you absolutely have my permission. I’ll pull up a chair right beside you!

Psst, Jetstar has a sale until this Tuesday where kids fly and stay free. You can pop over and check out the sale here.