If you’re flying all the way to Hawaii, are you really only going to see Disney’s Aulani while you’re there?! If so, that’s absolutely fine! Everyone travels differently and if that’s your style, then we say go for it. But if you’re a bit more of a traveler, adventurer and explorer, like we are, and want to explore more of the beautiful island of Oahu, here are some amazing places you can add to your Hawaii adventure.
We found you can drive most places on island within 1-1.5 hours from anywhere else on the island, but this will all depend on traffic. Do your best to avoid rush hour at all costs.
Ever wanted to see a pineapple plantation?! Well, now is your chance! The Dole Plantation is every pineapple lover’s dream, with lush gardens, pineapple merch and our favorite snack, dole whip. And trust me when I say, Dole Whip is the absolute best in Hawaii. It just is. Trust me on this one. Have fun navigating the maze, take the train around the plantation, explore the gardens, and grab some of their delicious food.
According to our friends in Hawaii, this is totally a touristy thing to do in Oahu. But hey, you’re a tourist, right?! So live it up. Kualoa Ranch is where many movies have been filmed including Jurassic World, Jumanji, Kong Skull Island, 50 First Dates and more. Kualoa Ranch offers all kinds of tours all over the Ranch that allow you to see some amazing views, learn awesome history facts and they even have food if you need to fuel up for your adventures. We took the 2 hour UTV tour, got some amazing photos, learned a ton of cinematic history and had an absolute blast. They have all kinds of tours, so check out their page to find one perfect for you!
Explore the North Shore
We actually spent part of our trip in an Airbnb at the North Shore and had the opportunity to really explore the area. From exploring the local beaches, to trying out as many food trucks as we could, to drinking all the coffee and exploring the historic town of Hale’iwa. Grab some famous Matsumoto Shave Ice and see why they’ve been around for over 60 years!
The waves on the North Shore are generally the best surfing waves from what we are told, so grab an iced coffee and head to the beach to watch the surfers do their thing. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, take a surfing lesson yourself! You’re in Hawaii after all.
While Aulani is located on the western part of Oahu, and has some of the best sunsets you will find, if you head over to the eastern part of the island, you’ll find some of the whitest, softest sand with the most gorgeous turquoise water that resembles something out of a dream! We were planning to do the Lanikai Pillbox Hike to catch the sunrise on that part of the option, but those plans fell through and it’s definitely at the top of the list when we make it back.
There is a reason that Lanikai Beach is consistently voted one of the best in the world. And although some people have criticized it for being too overrun with tourists(we didn’t notice that), it’s well worth the visit. And if you do find that it’s too crowded, never fear because there are more beaches along the Eastern coast that are just as beautiful.
I actually wasn’t sold on visiting Waikiki until friends told us it was a must for first time visitors to Oahu. I don’t recommend spending all of your time here because it is crowded and very consumer driven, but it’s also very beautiful in it’s own way. We loved grabbing a coffee from Kona Coffee Purveyors, exploring the open air mall Ala Moana Center, walking Waikiki Beach and visiting the prettiest pink hotel, the Royal Hawaiian.
Keep in mind, this is VERY touristy. So if crowds aren’t your thing, definitely feel free to skip this for a less crowded part of Hawaii.
We narrowed it down to 5 to to keep it manageable but trust me when I say there is SO MUCH MORE to see and do. Hike the beautiful Waimea Valley and Falls, explore the gardens of Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens, snorkel at Hanauma Bay, hike Diamond Head and hunt down every instagrammable spot on Oahu if that’s your thing. We definitely did not have enough time to see or do everything that we wanted, so you know we’ve already been trying to plan a trip back!