It’s a given. No two people have the exact same recommendations for a travel destination. Naturally, there will be some duplicates, but we all just have our preferences.
Before my O’ahu trip, lots of folks reached out with quite the variety of recommendations. Some recs I tried. Some I didn’t. But all were appreciated! They gave me options to consider that I may not have found on my own.
Idunno about you, but when it comes to travel I’d always rather have too many choices than too few. Too many tells me it’s a reeeeaaaalllly good place to go!
Friends, O’ahu is one of those reeeeaaaalllly good places. And that’s why I’m gonna share my recs with you – for when you plan your own trip. (You really should get on that!) If you try them, cool. If not, I know you’ll still enjoy every moment of your time in Hawaii. But at least you’ll have options to explore.
So here ya go. My top recs in these three categories: food, beaches, and hikes.
da Cove Health Bar & Café – Yoshi, my Cool Dudes Tours hiking guide, recommended da Cove for its outstanding acai bowls. Truth be told, I hadn’t ever eaten an acai bowl prior to this trip, and where better to try one than Hawaii? Dad and I shared a giant Mana Bowl – a mixture of acai and dragonfruit, topped with bananas, strawberries, granola, and honey. (We nixed the coconut. Not fans.) After devouring that bowl, we were hooked. And of all the other acai bowls we ate on the trip, da Cove’s remained our favorite. Thank you, Yoshi!
North Shore Tacos – North Shore food trucks are kind of a big deal. Definitely part of the authentic Hawaiian experience. So, North Shore Tacos? No brainer. This truck is parked alongside several others, so you’ve got plenty of options if you just aren’t craving tacos. (But who ever isn’t craving tacos??) I ordered the fish tacos with sides of black beans and rice – and scarfed it alllll down from a picnic table with ocean views. Now that’s Hawaii living.
Diamond Head Beach – You may recall me mentioning that Dad and I boycotted Waikiki Beach during our trip. That whole crowded-with-tourists thing just doesn’t appeal to either of us. (I am SO my daddy’s daughter.) Thankfully, just down the road from Waikiki is a smaller stretch of sand known as Diamond Head Beach. White sand? Nope. Paradise-y feel? Nah. But guess what it does have? Fewer people. Sea glass scattered everywhere. High cliffs. Rocky tide pools. Lighthouse views. Basically, an adventurer’s dream beach. I left with a pocket full o’ sea glass and a goal to one day live closer to a beach like this.
China Walls – Not your typical beach, for sure, but who needs sand when you’ve got wave-worn, layered lava rock? This secluded spot completely surpassed my expectations and dad and I both dubbed it a trip favorite. We spent well over an hour here, walking the “walls” until we couldn’t walk any further. And guess what? We saw maybe half a dozen other people the entire time. That’s it! My kinda place. Also the kinda place I could easily spend all day exploring. How’s that for a recommendation?
Olomana (Three Peaks) Hike – I wrote an entire blog post on this hike, so you’ll just have to click that link to read all the deets.
*Disclaimer: This is an intermediate to advanced hike, and casualties have increased with its growing popularity. It’s a stunning trek, but a risk nonetheless.
Lanikai Pillbox Hike – Located on O’ahu’s windward side, this pillbox hike rewards you with views of Lanikai Beach and the Mokes (those two tiny islands in my photo below). It’s street parking only for this hike, so show up early to claim a spot. Roundtrip, it took us under two hours, including time for photos at the bunkers (a MUST), so there’s no excuse not to fit this hike into your itinerary.
Koko Head Crater Stairs – These stairs may be popular with the tourist crowd, but they’re no joke when it comes to the physical acumen required to actually reach the top. If you’re up for the challenge of climbing 1,048 stairs – 1,048 worn, unevenly spaced railroad ties, really – then this place is for you. Reaching the top is a major accomplishment, and the views are worth every glute-busting step. Don’t expect going down to feel easier, but hey. All part of the adventure.
I do hope these are helpful, but I also know that my preferences won’t match all of yours. So seek out more options. Consult trusty Google. Read other blogs. Ask friends who’ve vacationed here. Compile your own list. And then GO. Visit O’ahu. That’s the important takeaway here, regardless of what you do once you get there.