While I don’t have a ton of experience in tropical areas (Mexico, the Bahamas, and Florida are pretty much the extent of it), after this weekend I can say with confidence that Oahu, Hawaii is so far my favorite tropical locale. I have a lovely friend who showed me around for the short period of time I was on the island, and we packed a lot into the day and a half I was there. After my experience in Oahu, I compiled some tips on how to make the most out of a short (or long) period of time on this beautiful island.
Be Adventurous with Beach Activities
The beach is usually the first thing that comes to mind when most people think of Hawaii, myself included. My favorite thing to do at the beach is relax and admire the view (which is exactly what I did in Kailua at Lanikai Beach). However, there are numerous more audacious activities at the countless beaches in Oahu. Snorkeling, surfing, kite-surfing, and paddle boarding are just a few exciting beach endeavors you can partake in whilst in Hawaii.
Lanikai Beach, Kailua, 2017. c. Leah Putz
Explore the Waikiki Strip
Waikiki is the main area in Honolulu that tourists tend to gravitate to, and understandably so. I decided to check out the International Marketplace- which turned out to be more like a mall filled with high-end shops such as Saks Fifth Avenue. What struck me about this ‘mall’ though was that it had pavilions and trees in the middle of it and everything was open air. A lot of the shopping centers and buildings in Hawaii are built like this, winding around nature rather than building right on top of it. Complete with a large beach, copious shops and malls, restaurants, and tourist shops, there isn’t much to be missed in the main strip next to the beach in Waikiki.
Inside the International Marketplace on the Waikiki Strip, 2017. c. Leah Putz
It’s difficult to choose which hike to go on in Oahu, considering there are a mulitude of them and they all have something unique to offer. If I had had more time in Hawaii, I would have done a different hike every day. Some of the most common hikes on the island are the Lanikai Pillboxes hike, the Diamond Head hike, and the Koko Crater Arch hike. My friend and I did the Waimano Trail hike, which I loved because it felt like I was in ‘Lost’ or something on a trek through the jungle. We didn’t have enough time to complete the hike (I had to start heading to the airport), but what we saw was strikingly beautiful and it made me want to go back to finish that hike and try some of the many others that the island has to offer.
On the Waimano Trail, 2017. c. Leah Putz
Rent a Car
I was lucky enough to have a friend that was able (and willing) to drive me around the island, but I you don’t know anybody who lives in Oahu I would highly recommend renting a car. Simply driving around the island and admiring the scenery is a wonderful experience. We drove from the Leeward (west) side of the island to the Windward (east) side to visit Kailua and the drive through the mountains was nothing short of incredible. From the lowest valley to the highest peak, everything was covered in the riches of green, creating a landscape that felt like it came right out of a movie. Renting a car would allow you to travel through the mountains and see what I’m talking about, as well as making it a lot easier to access the many beaches and hikes I mentioned earlier. Overall, it will allow you to see and experience the most of what Oahu has to offer.
Entering the Mountains on the Highway, 2017. c. Leah Putz