The Hawaiian Island chain actually consists of hundreds of minor islands extending northwest into the Pacific. However, there are only eight major islands, as they are the biggest and oldest islands. From youngest to oldest the islands are: Hawai’i Island (a.k.a. The Big Island – the first island of the chain), Maui, Kaho’olawe, Moloka’i, Lana’i, O’ahu (Where we live, has the biggest population of all the islands, and the one we will be focusing on.), Kaua’i, and Ni’ihau.
As the 27th busiest airport in The United States, Honolulu International Airport (HNL) is Hawaii’s major airport serving as the major entry point for most visitors. All major domestic and many international carriers serve Oahu, so you can get here from just about anywhere.
WHERE TO STAY
On Oahu, the major spot to stay is in Waikiki. This is where most attractions and many services are readily available along the lines of entertainment and necessities. Hotels can range from $150 to $1,000 a night depending on location. If you prefer the more “country” stay, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, then resorts out in Ko’olina would be perfect for you.
- Hilton Hotel in Waikiki
- Shoreline Hotel Waikiki
- Ilikai Hotel in Waikiki
- Aulani Disney Resort in Ko’olina
- Ko’olina/Accommodations – Ko’olina has multiple hotels along the coast and is a little self-sustaining neighborhood.
- Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Hotel
IF YOU’RE ON A SHOESTRING BUDGET: CHECK OUT OUR BEST HOSTELS IN HAWAII POST.
Where to go? Must See Tourist Attractions
Oahu offers countless tourist attractions and activities; from beaches and sightseeing to historic grounds of World War II and ancient Hawaiian war zones. Here are a few activities that are reasonable/free and well worth every minute:
- North Shore – Waimea Beach and Sunset Beach are our favorites.
- Lanikai Beach – if you feel ambitious, do a sunrise hike up Lanikai Pillboxes before going to the beach.
- Ko’olina – man-made lagoons with white sand beaches; great for families.
- Lanikai Pillboxes Trail – our favorite hike. Great for families!
- Diamond Head – hike up one of Hawaii’s most iconic landmark!
- Koko Head – for the advanced hiker looking for that perfect burn!
- Makapuu Lighthouse Trail
- Pearl Harbor – do it for free! & USS Arizona Memorial Tour – book your tour here
- Kualoa Ranch Activities & Tours – check the latest deals here.
- Luau – Paradise Cove and Germaine’s Luau.
- Skydiving – if you’re a thrill seeker like us, skydiving in Hawaii is a must!
- Parasailing – check out our parasailing experience.
- Snorkeling – Hanauma Bay and Shark’s Cove
WHAT TO EAT
Of all the places we have visited, nothing compares to the variety and fusion food Hawaii has to offer. Influenced by many Asian cultures, Hawaii has dishes that are truly unique. Some local favorites:
- Shrimp Trucks – Giovanni’s, Macky’s, Fumi’s, and many more.
- Musubi – for an ‘on the go’ snack, this is a popular item in Hawaii. It contains one slice of spam on rice and wrapped with nori (dried seaweed).
- Hawaiian Food – go to a Luau. You will have all Hawaiian food entrees you can think of.
- Acai Bowl – our favorite: Haleiwa Bowls. This is a thick-blended smoothie (acai berries) with your own fruit toppings.
- Shave Ice – similar to snow cones but better. Definitely check out Waiola Shave Ice or Matsumoto Shave Ice.
- Poke Bowl – Poke is another Hawaii favorite which consists of marinated (in multiple flavors) Ahi tuna over rice. Check out one of our favorite poke places here.
Check out our other post: other foods you must try in Hawaii.
WHAT TO WEAR?
Pack those board shorts and that cute bikini you’ve been dying to wear! It’s summer temperature year round. For those familiar to cold weather, bring shorts and a good pair of walking shoes/slippers (ie: flip-flops) as it can be too hot for those not acclimated. The only time one would need warmer clothes is if you plan on visiting higher elevations like Haleakala National Park on Maui or Mauna Kea on the Big Island. At least bring a windbreaker/pullover sweater as it can get chilly due to trade-winds.
Suits and ties are rarely worn here; “business attire” stands for a tucked in aloha shirt, dress pants, and decent enough looking shoes.
Although not necessary but recommended is to bring some casual dress clothes if you plan on experiencing the Honolulu nightlife. Some places actually do have a strict dress code so for guys a long sleeve collar shirt, firm pressed jeans, and clean sneakers are permitted. For girls a casual dress, romper, or skirt and blouse will do. If you’re coming here during the winter, check out my tropical winter outfits for the week.
Hawaii’s currency is the US dollar. Traveler’s checks aren’t necessary since credit cards are widely accepted and ATM’s are plentiful. Don’t worry if you forget something: Hawaii’s retail stores and malls have everything you need, including snorkels, fins, swimwear, and plenty of sunscreen!
WHERE TO PARTY?
Of all the islands in the State of Hawaii, Oahu is known for its city life. There are a few places in Honolulu where you can find the best places for a good night out and great tasting drinks. Listed below are top 5 spots to go to:
- Sky Waikiki
- The M
- District Nightclub
- Mai Tai Bar
- Ala Moana Shopping Center
- Waikele Premium Outlets
- Aloha Stadium Swap Meet
- KCC Farmers MarketIf you haven’t already and you’re excited to shop till you drop you can read our ultimate guide to shopping here. But, if you’re curious as to what’s better then shopping for material things, maybe you should read “why to choose experience over things” before committing to spending on materialistic things!
Let’s be real, paradise is expensive.
- Food average $10 to $15 per meal. Per person, I would say about $50/day on food alone.
- Tours/Activities: $70 to $120
*This isn’t including shopping, transportation services, and accommodation. Best tip to save money is to stay with friends or family.
- BEST HOSTELS IN HAWAII
This is AMAZING you guys! So thorough and great suggestions/tips!
Thanks Christina! Really appreciate it 🙂
You did such a great job with this!!
Thank you so much!