A Guide to Oahu
Collected by Allison Murray , AFAR Contributor
From the beautiful, white sands of Waikiki, to the heights of Ka‘ala, to the laid-back lifestyle and surfing on the North Shore, Oahu has it all. With urban highlights in Honolulu and easily accessible escapes into nature, it’s the ultimate island getaway.
2233 Kalakaua Ave Suite 304, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA
Never being an adventurous sushi eater, I have no problem savoring every bit of every dish I have had at Doraku Sushi in Waikiki. In fact, nearly every time I have visitors in town, I suggest we head to this restaurant. No one has left...
Round Top Dr, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
Kailua, HI 96734, USA
Lanikai Beach is no secret to the locals, or to tourists, as it is consistently ranked among the best beaches in the world, and it's arguably the best beach on the island of Oahu. Chances are that if you're visiting Hawaii then you're probably on...
99-500 Salt Lake Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96818, USA
The ABC Stores on Honolulu's every corner actually aren't a bad place to pick up inexpensive gifts for loved ones back home. But true bargain-hunters will want to make the 20-minute drive from Waikiki to the Aloha Stadium swap meet, held every...
49-560 Kamehameha Hwy, Kaneohe, HI 96744, USA
Kualoa means “long back,” and the land and name fit with its massive mountain range. Established in 1850 and known as a sacred place, it was a residence of kings, training ground for royalty, a sanctuary and refuge. King Kamehameha III’s physician...
2335 Kalakaua Ave #203, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA
For me, ceviche is a mandatory menu item: if I see it on the menu, that's what I'm having. I was a little hesitant about "Polynesian-style ceviche" at the Hula Grill, but ordered anyway. I shouldn't have worried: it turned out to be a magnificent...
4055 Pāpū Cir, Honolulu, HI 96816, USA
The home of Doris Duke in Honolulu is often overlooked by visitors to Waikiki focused on swimming and shopping, but it is simply stunning. You'll get there by a pre-booked shuttle bus from the Honolulu Academy of Art (also worth a visit), and can...
66-111 Kamehameha Hwy #101, Haleiwa, HI 96712, USA
Uncle Bo's has easily become my favorite place for a cocktail and pupus (Hawaiian for "appetizers"). Not particularly splashy on the outside, the interior has a bit more character, and their food is something special. Uncle Bo's Thai style clams...
423 Kaumakani St, Honolulu, HI 96825, USA
Unlikely as it may be, if you climb the steps to 1208ft (or 368m) at Kokohead, there is quite a bit of street art...er, trail art. Usually spotting the tagging at the conclusion of an intense and beautiful hike is a disappointment, but the...
1602 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96826, USA
All of the sandwiches at Storto’s are named after surf breaks. My favorite is the Sunset, which is roast beef, ham, and turkey. —Hoku Haiku 66-215 Kamehameha Hwy., Haleiwa, (808) 637-6633. This appeared in the June/July 2013 issue. Read more...
Honolulu, HI 96825, USA
This fighter plane sank during a training exercise during WWII when the pilot ran out of gas and had to ditch the plane. It's a smaller wreck but still really cool, 97 feet to the sandy bottom. There are large schools of fish jammed into the...
933 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816, USA
Kapiolani Park Beach, Diamond Head - Kapahulu - St. Louis, HI 96815, USA
The Hawaiian Islands are made up of many more cultural groups than Hawaiian Islanders and white settlers. Located between Asia and North America, the blend of cultures is much different than the other 49 States. Every time I host guests in ...
7491 Kokonani St, Honolulu, HI 96825, USA
Looking for something low-key and different to do on one of our last days on Oahu, we found the Koko Crater Botanical Gardens. While the 'hike' was really more of a walk, the impressive crater ridge and amazing assortment of some seriously crazy...
Magic Island, Honolulu, HI 96814, USA
Even before I moved to Hawaii, I knew I wanted to be a part of the Lantern Floating Festival. It takes place on Memorial Day weekend in May at Ala Moana Park in Honolulu. An estimated 40,000 people turned out for the 2012 celebration where...
Waikiki Beach Walk 1st Floor, 226 Lewers St, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA
A trip to Hawaii is all about getting out on the water, even for just an afternoon or evening. There are plenty of touristy booze cruises operating from Waikiki, but the Na Hoku II is an outstanding value even before you figure in the...
100 Hanauma Bay Rd, Honolulu, HI 96825, USA
We learned about this hard-to-find, stunning "spitting cave" in our guidebook, Oahu Revealed. Accessed via a semi-hidden public access walkway (there's a sign) in the dead end at the end of Lumahai Road, the short but steep trail leads down to a...
Honolulu, HI, USA
There's a certain kind of peace that one feels when basking in the Waikiki sun. You go there, banana daiquiri on one hand, and a trusty old camera on the other. You capture the moment and say to yourself, "ahh...this is paradise."
2801-N2 Lā-'ī Rd, Honolulu, HI 96816, USA
Waikiki and the North Shore get most of the attention on the island of Oahu, and for good reason. Oahu is the surfing capital of the world and has something to offer every skill level, but hiking on the island of Oahu is one of its best-kept...
3308 Kanaina Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA
If you're hungry for a deliciously carb-heavy Hawaiian plate lunch, why not go to Rainbow Drive-in and enjoy a meal fit for a president? It's true: President Obama ate there as a kid and tries to make it back during his visits. Starting at 7 am,...
11 Arizona Memorial Dr, Honolulu, HI 96818, USA
Many people go to the USS Arizona memorial, watch the film, and then take the shuttle out to the sunken ship, but plan to spend a bit more time at this park. The museums here are excellent, the grounds are beautiful, and pay the extra admission...
2330 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA
*Unfortunately this market has closed to make way for new development. It might surprise you to know that one of the best places for your touristy Hawaiian Islands souvenirs is at the International Market; smack dab in the middle of Waikiki....
2877 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA
Some of the best snorkeling we did on Oahu didn't cost a cent—including Sans Souci Beach, a walkable distance from the Waikiki hotels and close to the aquarium. But why pay to get into the aquarium when you can wade right into the water and see...
1156 Koko Head Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816, USA
Growing up in Hawaii allowed us to have exposure to many types of foods. Japanese, Chinese, Hawaiian, Korean, Portugese, Puerto Rican, Filipino, Tonga—the list goes on and on. One of the treats we would enjoy was Li Hing Mui, a type of preserved...
42 Pier, Honolulu, HI 96817, USA
Every morning from Monday to Saturday visitors can watch the opening of the Honolulu fish auction. The bell rings at 5:30am and enjoy the flurry of activity of buyers bidding on fish for their clients. If you want visitors can also buy fish...
364 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96813, USA
The grand koa wood staircase was shining with a new coat of oil as the focal point of the room; it’s beautiful curves lead the eye gently from the second floor down to the first floor. Men and women dressed in ornate gowns and neck-restricting...
1113 Smith St, Honolulu, HI 96817, USA
From the dingy exterior, you might expect Little Village Noodle House to be a hole-in-the-wall, but it's surprisingly cute and nicely decorated inside, with fountains, decorative woodwork, and nice tables and chairs. The chef's special fried rice...
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