Without a doubt, Oahu is considered to be one of the most desired vacation spots on the planet.
With its lush green vegetation, dreamy white sand beaches, exotic hawaiian culture, and fresh coconut juice, it is no surprise why tourists come near and far.
Oahu, one of 8 main islands, is full of surprises and unlimited things to do.
Whether you are traveling alone or with family or friends, there is definitely something for everyone. If you like a combination of city life with some of the most beautiful nature spots, Oahu is definitely the place for you.
In this blog post, I will share with you the top fun things I did in Honolulu. Hopefully, it will convince you to explore this wonderful city, if you have not been already. :}
Now, let’s begin!
Where I Stayed
During my trip, I stayed at the Wyndham Royal Gardens – Waikiki , which overlooked the Ala Wai Canal and was situated within walking distance to downtown Waikiki.
The hotel room was pleasantly sized, included a half kitchenette, and a balcony with a view of nearby sky rise buildings.
How to Get Around
Parking in Waikiki is known to be a real pain.
The hotel I stayed at, including the majority of other hotels in Waikiki, charged $35 per day for valet parking. WOW! (Self parking was not available.) $35 a day just for parking at your hotel adds up, especially if you plan on staying in Waikiki for at least a week.
Instead of renting a car for the entire duration of your stay, I recommend either walking or taking a Lyft/Uber to get around.
Traffic in Waikiki is horrendous, especially with all of the trolleys full of tourists and pedestrians constantly crossing the crosswalks. I personally preferred walking around the city not only because it was faster than driving around but because there were a plethora of shops to look at!
ABC Stores, Gucci, Chanel, delicious restaurants, coffee shops, Nordstroms…you name it, it was there! By walking around, you not only save money but you also get to truly see Waikiki and its little wonders.
Things to Eat
If you know me, then you know that I love to eat. Trying new types of food? Double yes!
Here is a list of some of the top restaurants/dessert places I tried:
- Hula Grill – Brunch, Lunch, and Dinner located right on the beach
- Top of Waikiki – Waikiki’s only revolving restaurant with stunning views
- Marukame Udon – Most amazing thick udon noodle soup with crunch, mouth watering tempura
- Maiko Green Tea Ice cream – Creamy Matcha and Vanilla Soft serve with freshly brewed coffee
- Honolulu Cookie – Pineapple shaped shortbread cookies dipped with various sweet flavors. Perfect as souvenir gifts.
Fun Things to Do In Honolulu
1) Waikiki beach
Waikiki Beach, easily the busiest beachfront city on Oahu, is where the majority of hotels, restaurants, shops, and other million dollar skyscraper buildings are located.
If you are trying to decide which city to stay on the island, I highly recommend staying on Waikiki because not only is that where the majority of tourists stay, but it also offers the largest choices for hotels (at least 90%) right next to or within a close proximity to the beautiful beaches.
Waikiki, in essence, is a big posh city on the beach with expensive designer shops like Gucci, Chanel, and Hermes, chain stores like the typical ABC Stores and McDonalds.
Everywhere you go, Waikiki beach is packed with millions of tourists from all around the world. Waikiki beach tends to get very crowded so make sure to get there early to snag a good spot!
2) Koko Head Crater Trail
Koko Head Crater Trail, an exciting and popular trail, was one of the hardest “StairMaster” workouts I had ever done in my life. Located in Koko Head District Park, my mom, cousin, and I left around 6am to begin our hike.
As our Lyft driver dropped us off, I was surprised to find a full parking lot. The air was crisp and cool once we stepped out of the car, and we were warmly greeted by the rising sun.
The short dirt stretch to the beginning of the trail was easy and relaxing.
Once we reached the beginning of the trail, I couldn’t help but feel a tab bit nervous as to what lay before me…stairs and stairs and stairs! It was nearly impossible to see the end of the trail.
With determination and a strong desire to accomplish this trail, we pushed through our fears and climbed.
The trail was easy for the first 100 steps, but steadily got increasingly difficult and steeper the farther up we climbed. After a few hundred steps or so, I would stop to wipe off the sweat from my forehead and take a sip of water while enjoying the views.
With a total of what felt like 5,000 steps, we finally made it to the top, and boy was it worth it! The spectacular panoramic views of Hanauma bay were jaw-dropping.
Throughout the hike, there were several times where I was so out of breath I felt like my body could not possibly go any further.
However, my positive mindset pushed me to keep climbing and not give up. All the sweat I wiped from my neck and sore legs was worth every minute. At the top, there were a multitude of fascinating view points to take pictures, rest, and simply soak in the views.
When attempting Koko Head Crater trail, make sure to bring a large bottle of water, a hat, lots of sunscreen, and your determination.
Avoid hiking Koko Head Trail after 11am because it will be sweltering hot.
The hike took me about an hour each way. Going down was somewhat easier, but by this time, my legs were heavily fatigued. Locals, who regularly traverse this hike, climbed Koko head trail within 20 minutes!
In the future, I hope to complete this hike as fast as the locals.
3) Hanauma Bay
After hiking Koko Head Crater Trail, we continued our journey to the next place: Hanauma Bay.
A short distance away from the trail, we were able to walk to Hanauma Bay within 15 minutes. By this time, my legs felt like jello and all I could think about was laying on the soft beach under the warm sun with a cold drink in my hand.
It was a good thing we decided to walk to Hanauma Bay because Ubers and Lyfts were not allowed to drop tourists off at the Haunama Bay entrance. Only Taxis were allowed due to government laws.
The rest of my family took a taxi and met us at Haunama Bay shortly after we arrived. Admission into Haunama bay was $7.50 per person (13 years and older).
We arrived around 11am, which was considered late, as most people flock to the bay as early as 6 or 7 am. The earlier you get there, the less crowded Haunama Bay will be, which means the waters will be calmer and clearer, with better views of the coral and fish.
My family and I found a spot under some palm trees and laid down our towels. My cousin, mother, and I immediately applied a thick layer of sunscreen and put on our snorkels and fins.
If you have room in your luggage, I highly recommend bringing your own set. Not only will it save you lots of money in the long run, but it is reassuring knowing that your snorkel set is clean and has not been used by hundreds of tourists.
Get the snorkel set I used here:
The snorkeling fins were easy to put on, stylish, and extremely comfortable.
The snorkel mask was adjustable and almost never fogged up during my snorkel adventures. I highly recommend both and promise you won’t regret it.
I had such a blast snorkeling in Hanauma Bay. Not only did I see Parrotfish, Triggerfish, and the Hawaiian state fish aka Humu Humu Nuku Nuku Apua, but it was very easy to snorkel in Haunama Bay.
What I mean by “easy to snorkel” is:
1) The salty ocean water was super dense, which meant that I automatically floated without exerting much energy.
2) The ocean was shallow so I could literally stand anywhere I went…except on the coral, of course! Thus, even if you have never snorkeled in your life, I can assure you that snorkeling in Hanauma Bay will be an enjoyable experience.
By the time I got out of the water, several hours had already gone by.
There is a myth from the 19th century that says “if you put a frog in cool water and very gradually heat it up, the frog will ‘be stuck in the comfort of its surroundings,’ and stay complacent until it is too hot, and too late.”
In my case, I too, like the frog, gradually got burnt by the sun until it was too late…aka, I got burnt!
To prevent making the same mistake as I did, make sure to frequently get out of the water every 45 minutes or so, and reapply sunscreen because the sun rays are strong and damaging. It is easy to forget that you can tan in the water.
Pro Tip: Use oxybenzone free sunscreen so you do not damage the coral reefs and fish inhabitants.
Overall, I had a wonderful experience and hope that everyone gets to experience this stupendous bay. Even if you do not swim or snorkel, make sure to walk around Hanauma Bay because the views are memorable and definitely one for the books.
Mahalo for reading my article on the best fun things to do in Honolulu.
Let me know your thoughts or feedback regarding this blog post.
What did you like best? What did you not like? What kind of topics do you want me to write about in the future?
I truly hope you enjoyed reading this! Stay tuned for my next blog post: What to do in Kualoa and Kaneohe.
Until Next Time!