“Hawaii is not a state of mind, but a state of grace.” – Paul Theroux
I booked my trip to Oahu a week and a half before I planned on leaving. I didn’t even get my shifts covered for work before I bought the tickets. There was a temporary discount, and I was moving across the country the next month, so I just decided to go for it. I hit “buy” and the rest figured itself out (like it always does). What came next was some of the best days on one of the best vacations I’ve ever been on. With just 4 days to explore Oahu, I can honestly say I enjoyed every minute of it. If you’re reading this and are considering booking your vacation in Oahu, do it, and use this blog to plan out your next adventure!
When we got off the plane, we ordered an Uber to pick us up and take us to Wakiki where we were staying. We considered renting a car but the price to keep it at the garages in Waikiki was crazy expensive and wasn’t worth the cost to us (though we did end up renting a car for one day). The Uber took less than 15 minutes to get to us and it was a great way to talk to someone from the area. We used Uber for most of our trip, and it was a great decision. Many of our drivers had lived there for years and gave us restaurant recommendations and tips for where and where not to go.
I had a week to find a hotel for us after I booked the flights to Oahu, and I quickly learned that the pickings were slim. It was almost like everyone had planned out their trip months in advance. Anywhoooo, after searching and searching I finally decided on the Aqua Ohai Wakiki, and it ended up being pretty great.
It was clean, had a balcony, and was the cheapest option I could find. For reference, our three nights and four days here came to around $115 a night which isn’t that bad for the area. It’s a good thing to know beforehand that almost every hotel has resort fees and taxes that hike up the daily price. This hotel was in a great central location, right next to tons of restaurants and bars, and only two blocks from the beach.
If I were to go back and wanted to be in the hustle and bustle, I would definitely go back to that hotel or another one in the area. But for a more quiet vacation I’d probably get an airbnb on the North Shore. There are way less tourists walking around and a much different vibe over there.
Though we were only there for a few days, we tried to pack as much in as we could. It’s hard, considering the beach is so close and so clear and so peaceful, but still, the things we did were worth the breaks from the beach.
- Diamond Head National Monument – This was one of our favorite things we did in Hawaii. We took an Uber from the hotel and only had to pay $1 for this hike. We got to walk through beautiful landscapes and had great ocean and city views from the top. It was difficult at times, but children passed me so it’s doable for all ages. I just struggled.
- International Market Place – This is a cool, open-air mall that is a nice place to shop but also just visually pleasing to be in. A ginormous tree is right in the center of it, there are lots of food options, and they offer free workout classes through some of the shops. It’s a neat place and definitely worth stopping at.
- Snorkeling – There are tons of excursions that will take you out into the middle of the ocean to snorkel, but there are also a few places that rent out snorkeling gear right on the beach. Waikiki beach was a little void of fish, but Royal Moana beach about a mile down had tons of crabs and fish just a few yards away from the shore.
Rent a Car
The best advice I cold give to someone going to Oahu is to rent a car for the day. Taking an Uber was great for things within a few miles, but the entire island is out there, waiting to be seen. There are bus options, but the best way to see the island is by renting a car. We rented a car early one morning (got a way better deal doing it the day of and the rental car place was a block away), threw on a local radio station, and spent the rest of the day just driving around the island. Lanikai Beach was our favorite beach by far, with almost no one around and the most beautiful views. Also, some of the best food we had wouldn’t have been an option without a car. We saw turtles and surfers and ate a lot. We eat a lot. You should too.
Some activities we were too broke to do, but plan on doing next time. There are ATV tours where Jurassic Park was filmed and kayaking right off the beaches. A surf lesson would have been fun too. Next time!
We ate good in Oahu and didn’t break the bank doing it. We opted mostly for places with counter service, and took advice from friends and locals on where to eat. We weren’t disappointed with a single dish, which is a feat in itself. These were a few of my favorites.
- Leonards Bakery – When you go here, you order malasadas. THESE ARE NOT DONUTS! They’re better. They come out hot and fresh. They’re doughy and sugary and delicious. Eat them right away, and your life will improve.
- Steak Shack – This little shack is right on the beach in Waikiki and has huge portions for a super affordable price! It was one of the highlights of the trip.
- Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck – The garlic shrimp at Giovanni’s will blow your mind. They are simple but FULL of flavor. There are a bunch of shrimp trucks around to choose from, but I was told to go here. Now I’m telling you to go.
- Sunrise Shack – When the Hawaiian sun is beating down, there is no better way to cool off (well I guess the beach would be the best way) than by having a smoothie bowl. Sunrise shack is such a cool little place, serving up healthy, refreshing food in the most awesome coconut bowls I’ve ever seen.
I’m lame and don’t eat raw fish, but if you do, it’d be a crime (that I know I committed) to leave Hawaii without trying some poke.
My 4 days in Oahu, Hawaii were amazing. Our flight left in the mid afternoon on our fourth day so we woke up early and relaxed on the beach for hours. Though I wish it was longer, there’s not a thing I’d do differently about our trip. But next time, I’ll plan my trip to be wayyy longer. Maybe permanent?