Collected by Stephanie Perry , AFAR Local Expert
The very best things we ate, saw, and did while on Oahu.
55-370 Kamehameha Hwy, Laie, HI 96762, USA
When you're ready to see more of Oahu than just Waikiki, spend a day at the Polynesian Cultural Center. This Mormon-owned (but non-proselytizing) cultural center employs many BYU Hawaii students (the campus is next door), and takes pride in having...
Pacific Monarch Hotel, 2427 Kūhiō Ave. #1F, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA
Down a tiny alley, next to a surfboard-rental shop, you'll find cubby-sized cafe called Iyasume Musubi. With off-the-path charm, they serve bento boxes, rice bowls, and a wide menu of musubi (including the infamous Spam) for under $10. Don't wait...
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...
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...
530 S King St # 202, Honolulu, HI 96813, USA
Hawaiians are crazy for Christmas (especially the Jackson 5 Christmas Album, but that's a story for another time)! The fun kicks off at the beginning of December at Honolulu City Lights with a tree lighting ceremony, parade, and street festival....
Royal Hawaiian Center, 2233 Kalakaua Ave Suite 304, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA
Satisfy your sushi cravings at Doraku Sushi. This reasonably-priced Japanese restaurant's owner is the son of Benihana's founder and located on busy Kalakaua Avenue—right in the middle of the action. Feast your eyes on this ahi poke: local tuna,...
56-777 Kamehameha Hwy, Kahuku, HI 96731, USA
If you're in Oahu's North Shore area, stop for lunch at Fumi's Kahuku Shrimp truck — it's the one with a mural of a gigantic, rearing shrimp. They're not rock-bottom cheap, but you get a lot for your money; $13 gets you a plate piled high with...
64-1550 Kamehameha Hwy, Wahiawa, HI 96786, USA
Sure, it sounds a little cheesy, but if you're planning a day-long drive around the island, the Dole Plantation is a fun stop. You can take a quick restroom break, grab a smoothie at the cafe in the back, and pick up some tropical treats and...
2237 Kūhiō Ave., Honolulu, HI 96815, USA
If you're looking for a one-of-a-kind holiday treat, then taro pie might offer the bragging rights you're after. It's available at McDonald's in Hawaii, but only during Christmastime, and it's beloved by locals in much the same way that, say,...
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...
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...
Laniakea Beach, North Shore, HI 96712, USA
More commonly known as Turtle Beach, this Oahu North Shore cove often attracts honu, aka Chelonia mydas, the largest of the hard-shelled sea turtles. These big, friendly giants can reach 400 pounds as adults and are herbivorous, feeding primarily...
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,...
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...
933 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816, USA
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...