Oahu Attractions

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Read the latest COVID19 updates for Hawaii here:

•  https://www.oneoahu.org/reopening-strategy
•  https://www.oneoahu.org/faqs/?fbclid=IwAR1HfhUzL-eiq2zMS8BTLRK9Qhxoxrh1bZdG0g0gCmHach_72KlSyD41_Zw#permittedactivities

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Aloha!

Below are some recommendations for some of the many things you can do on your vacation, plus some tips.

Enjoy your stay on Oahu!

— LODGING —

— TRANSPORTATION —

  • If you’re not in a hurry and want to save money, you can catch the bus to many places on the island.  Public transportation isn’t extremely efficient, here, but it’s only $2.75 for two rides (if you get a transfer and use it within a certain amount of time).  If catching an Uber (use promo code lolao856ue for a free ride – new users only), you’ll get quick service in Waikiki.  If you’re on a less crowded area of the island, you may find times when no Uber drivers are available to come to your location. This is when also having the Lyft app may come in handy!
  • There are various other travel options on the island of Oahu including shuttlestaxis, the Waikiki Trolley, and more!

— PARKING —

  • Most beach parks have free parking lots as well as restrooms (although cleanliness is hit or miss).  If visiting Waikiki, try your luck parking along the Ala Wai for free.  There is also a small free parking lot just west of the lagoon that is outside of the Hilton Hawaiian Village.  Otherwise, be prepared to pay for metered parking which is $1.50/hr (some spots have a two hour limit), park at the Hale Koa for $8/hr or $72 for 24 hrs max (there is both a covered lot which gets full during big events happening at the Hale Koa Hotel as well as an outdoor lot across from the Fort Derussy Beach Park).  Of course, if you’re staying at a hotel you can probably also valet.  You know… if you’re fancy.

— FREE/CHEAP ACTIVITIES & SHOWS —

  • Ward Village (Honolulu)
    At and near the Howard Hughes building in Honolulu off of Ala Moana Blvd., you’ll find fun free events such as Kona Nui Nights (live Hawaiian music and hula dancing), Courtyard Cinema (indie films shown here), free lei making classes, free outdoor yoga classes, discounted movie theater tickets, and more.  Check their website for details!
    *Parking – free lots near TJ Maxx, Whole Foods, and Piggy Smalls
  • Royal Hawaiian Center (Waikiki)
    Catch weekly hula and Hawaiian entertainment in this beautiful grassy spot in the heart of the outdoor mall off of Kalakaua.  There is also another place in the mall (near LUSH) where they have live entertainment for you to enjoy in between shopping in Waikiki, as well.  Check out the schedule here.
    *Parking – street metered parking (free after 6pm), paid lots
  • Daily Hula Show at Ala Moana Mall
    No kidding, you can catch a free 20 minute hula show at the mall at 1pm every day at the Centerstage (just a few minutes walk from the parking lot on the Kapiolani side)!  Seriously, you need to check it out.  The dancers are amazing and the show is really well done.
    *Parking – free parking structure
  • Fireworks
    Every Friday at 7:45pm on Waikiki Beach near the Hilton Hawaiian Village, catch a fireworks show while overlooking the ocean.
    *Parking – free lot near the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon/Hilton Hawaiian Village (cars are towed after 10pm!), paid parking stalls, paid lots, and street metered parking (free after 6pm)
  • Waikiki Strip
    Catch street musicians, dancers, magicians, artists, and mannequins along Kalakaua on Friday and Saturday nights.  Similar to Hollywood Blvd. in California, the Waikiki Strip never fails to have random entertainment for you to enjoy while walking to a shop or restaurant.
    *Parking – street metered parking (free after 6pm), paid lots
  • Check out other events here!

— PLACES —

  • Dole Plantation
    There is a fun maze, here, and a shop full of everything pineapple.  They also do tours of the property.
    *Parking – free lot

— BEACHES & LOOKOUTS —

  • Lanikai Beach
    This beach has the most beautiful turquoise water and you can see the Mokulua Islands from the sand (you can also kayak to them).
    *Parking – residential street parking that gets packed midday and on weekends, when the weather is good.
  • Hanauma Bay
    This beautiful beach is a safe place for the family go to snorkeling.  The beach access fee is $7.50/person.  You also have to watch a 9 minute video that covers rules for protecting the sea life.  You can rent snorkel gear down by the beach and even take a ride a the cart to and from the entrance if you don’t want to take the trek down the hill, on foot.
    *Parking – $1 large lot
  • Makapu’u Beach
    This beach is my favorite, for aesthetics.  If you’re a surfer you might find this spot to be great.  I am not sure if people are ever allowed to swim there as I have seen signs that say no swimming.
    *Parking – There is a free parking lot, here, and a dirt lot across the street (crossing the street is a bit dangerous, though).
  • Alan Davis Beach
    Just up the street from Makapu’u Beach, park in the lot designated for the Lighthouse Trail Hike and walk down the dirt path.  This beautiful spot has lava rocks and a small beach area.
    *Parking – small free lot for public use and dirt, roadside spaces
  • Ko Olina
    There are four beautiful lagoons, here, and three have hotels nearby (Disney Aulani Resort, the Marriott, and the Beach Villas).  Just west of the Disney Aulani Resort there is a secluded beach. If facing the lagoon in front of the resort, take the sidewalk to the right and follow it until you get to the sand.  There is a small walkway that will bring you to rocks.  Turn right, watch your step, and keep going until you reach the nice little beach that is just gorgeous!  Sometimes a seal hangs out there during which time there will be yellow tape restricting access to the few yards around the seal, in all directions, but you can still walk across and check out the nice view.
    *Parking – there are a few free parking lots for public use during daylight hours.
  • Laie Point
    This spot is really beautiful and unique!  There is also a beach nearby if you walk through a somewhat conspicuous walkway between the houses and down a flight of stairs.
  • Magic Island
    A lot of people don’t know there is a beautiful lagoon at the end of Magic Island.  After you park in the large main parking lot, walk south until you see the water.  You’ll also get a nice view of Diamond Head to the east!
    *Parking – free, large lot and sidewalk stalls
  • Lanai Lookout
    Also near Makapu’u beach, this lookout is breathtaking (see the background photo on this page).  Be careful if climbing over the wall, of course, but make sure to have someone snap a photo of you.  You’ll love it!
    *Parking – small free lot for public use.
  • Bellows Beach
    There is a portion of the beach that is accessible to the public before you reach the military entrance.  Sunsets are amazing here!  Be careful parking, my car got stuck in the sandy parking area, once.
    *Parking – dirt lot for public use.
  • Halona Blowhole
    This is just a fun thing to see.  As the water crashes up against the rocks, it shoots out through holes, like a blowhole.
    *Parking – small free lot for public use.
  • Halona Cove
    Right next to the blowhole mentioned above, this cove is famous for its cameo in a few movies and is a cute little spot to sunbathe off the beaten path.
    *Parking – small free lot for public use.
  • Pali Lookout
    This spot gives you a view of Kailua to the right and Chinaman’s hat to the left.  The parking lot is populated by chickens and roosters and watch out for bees.  It’s a nice spot to snap some scenic photos!
    *Parking – $3 lot for public use.
  • Tantlus Lookout
    Another beautiful spot, this lookout gives you a great view of Waikiki for above.
    *Parking – small free lot for public use.

— HIKING —

  • Manoa Falls
    For the able-bodied, walk a relatively easy 20 minutes up the bamboo-covered mountain to find a waterfall (how much water there is depends on time of year).  Be prepared to leave with muddy shoes and be careful; it may be slippery.  For the adventurous type, take a side trail and hike all the way to the top of the mountain for a beautiful view.  Also, don’t forget the bug spray.  Trust me!
    *Parking – $5 medium-sized lot
  • Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail
    This 20ish minute “hike” is beautiful and overlooks Kailua and Makapu’u.  It’s paved with asphalt and has binoculars along the way for catching a glimpse of whales that may be swimming by in the distance.  If you’re able bodied enough you can take the trek down the side of the mountain to the Makapu’u tidepools (not suitable for little ones)!
    *Parking – small free lot for public use and dirt, roadside spaces
  • Diamondhead
    A sidewalk leads all the way to the top of the mountain and has railings part of the way.  The view at the top is beautiful and there is a food truck at the bottom where you can get pineapples!
    *Parking $1 lot that fills up quickly during the day.
  • Lanikai Pillbox
    It takes approximately 20-25 minutes to walk to the first pillbox and the second one is not too far beyond the first.  The view is breathtaking!
    *Parking – residential street parking that gets packed midday and on weekends, when the weather is good.

– NATURE —

  • Harold Lyon Arboretum
    This is just a drive up the hill past Manoa Falls.  This place is definitely for the tree lovers out there as it is lush with lots of beautiful greenery and an open field of grass.
    *Parking – really small free lot for public use

— FOOD —

  • Down to Earth (King St., Kaka’ako, Pearl City, Kailua, Kapolei)
    This vegetarian grocery store has all the vegan junk food you could ever want, as well as produce and natural cleaning, makeup, body, and hair care products.  Their deli is to die for with a hot bar that is so much better than Whole Foods!
    *Parking – location dependent – free/validated parking structure (with purchase), free lot, or street metered parking (free after 6pm)
  • Ai Love Nalo (Waimanalo)
    After visiting Makapu’u Beach, drive up the street and get lunch at this place.  They have awesome buddha bowls and their BBQ Porto Sandwhich will change your life!
    *Parking – really really small free lot for public use, dirt roadside parking by McDonalds
  • Peace Cafe (King St., Honolulu)
    This place is more for people who like food that tastes healthy.  I would definitely recommend getting the Morraccan Stew *drools*.
    *Parking – really small free lot for public use in back, street metered parking (free after 6pm)
  • Simple Joy (King St., Honolulu)
    This place has a mix of Asian, Italian, and American dishes, all vegan and all good!
    *Parking – really small free lot for public use, street metered parking (free after 6pm)
  • Loving Hut (King St., Honolulu)
    This franchise restaurant will be different from one you may have visited (all my California people), so expect a mom-and-pop feel to it.  The food is amazing.  I recommend going to the one on King St. verses the one in Chinatown.
    *Parking – really small free lot for public use, street metered parking (free after 6pm)
  • Downbeat Diner (Chinatown)
    They can make most dishes vegan and it’s so bad for you, but so tasty.  From nachos to the vegan wings, get your junk food fix here!
    *Parking – street metered parking (free after 6pm), paid lots
  • Ruffage (Waikiki)
    This is a small spot with delicious menu options as well as some snacks and miscellaneous items like soap etc.  You’ve gotta try their vegan burrito!
    *Parking – street metered parking (free after 6pm)
  • ABC Store
    You’ll see these everywhere in Waikiki.  They’ve got snacks and even some miscellaneous items like camera and phone accessories, tshirts, and other gift items.
  • Farmer’s Markets
    Walk to a farmer’s market in Waikiki (there’s one almost every day of the week) or catch one on another part of the island.  The food isn’t really cheaper than in a grocery store but at least it’s local and fresh.  Plus, there are often food vendors selling cooked food, as well!
  • Tommy Bahamas
    There is a chic rooftop lounge with sand and fire pits that overlooks a bit of Waikiki.  Buy an expensive shirt (optional😄) and then go up the stairs to enjoy a cocktail and some apps, here.  It’s so random but I love it!
    *Parking – street metered parking (free after 6pm), paid lots
  • Vegan Hills
    I’ve only been here twice but the food was good and the place gets busy fast.  Early is best!
    *Parking – street metered parking (free after 6pm), paid lots

— SHOPPING —

  • Ala Moana Mall
    As the largest open-air shopping mall in the world, Ala Moana Mall probably has every store you could ever dream of entering.  From high-end stores to your basic fall-purpose shops, and everything in between.
    *Parking – free parking structure
  • Waikiki Strip / International Marketplace / Waikiki Beach Walk
    Walk down Kalakaua and you will find store after store of a variety of things to buy.  With Gucci, Victoria’s Secret, Game Stop and more, your shopping addiction can be tended to while you stroll through beautifully manicured sidewalks sprinkled with palm trees.
    *Parking – street metered parking (free after 6pm), paid lots
  • Hilton Hawaiian Village
    This property has various cute tourist shops and a few restaurants.  The best part is, you don’t have to be a hotel guest to enjoy them!
    *Parking – free lot near the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon/Hilton Hawaiian Village (cars are towed after 10pm!), paid parking stalls, paid lots, and street metered parking (free after 6pm)

— WHAT TO EXPECT —

  • Rain
    It rains every day somewhere and, often, only for a few minutes.  If the forecast shows rain during your stay, definitely keep a small umbrella with you, unless you don’t mind getting wet.
  • Rainbows
    Naturally, there is a rainbow everyday somewhere.  This never gets old 😁
  • Heat
    It gets really hot, here.  I actually think the ozone is thinner over Hawaii, or something, because… ouch!  Make sure to keep an eye on your tan lines because the sun doesn’t care if you have a photo session planned 😉.  Also, you might want to consider not packing any heavy clothing because you won’t need it.  I rarely find the need to wear close-toed shoes, here, and tank tops/light tshirts are a must, to avoid overheating.
  • Mosquitoes
    You might want to keep bug spray with you, especially anywhere near lots of vegetation.
  • Freeways
    The speed limit is fairly slow here so plan for extra travel time as there is traffic during rush hours, and some areas only have one road.
  • Crowds
    Waikiki is the busiest spot on the island so if visiting this area, don’t expect to get anywhere too quickly.  Also, there are parades in this area during some holidays (Hawaiian holidays included), so on those days, Kalakaua will be blocked off for part of the day.
  • Familiar Spots
    You’ll find a lot of familiar restaurants like the Cheesecake Factory, California Pizza Kitchen, and the Yardhouse.  You’ll also find places like Safeway (grocery), Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Ross, Whole Foods, and more.  So if you’re from the mainland, it shouldn’t be too much of a culture shock.
  • Random produce vending
    Keep an eye out for a pickled mango or avocado stand while driving along the coast.

— WHERE TO FIND IT —

  • Leis
    You can find leis at many stores including Times Market, Longs Drugs, Target, and Walmart.  There are also various little shops that sell them, such as in Chinatown.
  • Gifts
    If you’re looking for gifts to bring home, you’ll have great luck finding macadamia nuts (Walmart has an entire aisle dedicated to them), aloha shirts, and other Hawaiian themed items at chain stores like Walmart, Target, and Don Quijote.  There are also many gift shops in Waikiki and, of course, at various hotels and in the airport. Of course, you’ll save money by going to a chain store instead of shopping in Waikiki, at the airport, or at a hotel!


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