When coming to Hawaii, almost everyone starts out on the island of Oahu. Think of it as the central hub of Hawaii. The capital city of Honolulu is located here. Most of the imports come to Oahu before being disbursed to other islands. And Honolulu International Airport is here, serving as a connection point to the other islands.
The Island Name
Oahu is given the name of “The Gathering Place.” It is in fact where most of the population of the state of Hawaii gather and live. About two-thirds of the state population is found on Oahu. It’s also where most travelers seem to start their Hawaiian vacation before exploring other islands.
Waikiki is probably the most popular place on Oahu. It is part of Honolulu and is considered to be the touristy part of the island. It includes the iconic Waikiki beach that everyone flocks to. The beach is lined with high-rise hotels, restaurants, bars, and plenty of shopping for everyone’s taste. There’s lots of activity going on too, anywhere from musical performances, hula shows, luaus, block parties, dances, and a huge nightlife.
There’s plenty to do in the Waikiki area. Go surfing. Learn the ukulele. Take a hike at nearby Diamond Head. Snorkel at Hanauma Bay. Go into downtown Honolulu and visit Iolani Palace, Bishop Museum, and the many other museums in the area. Check out Pearl Harbor. The list goes on and on.
Take a day trip outside of Waikiki and explore a different part of the island. You can take the bus over to the East Side. Or if you want more flexibility, you might look into renting a car.
The East Side offers a smaller town vibe but still has popular places among visitors. Kailua is probably the main city of the East Side. And Kailua Beach and Lanikai Beach are two popular beaches you can hang out at and catch some sun. If you’re into hiking, check out the Lanikai Pillbox hike not too far away.
For an even more laid-back lifestyle, take a trip up to the North Shore. It is more of a country type atmosphere and gives that traditional old Hawaiian vibe.
Haleiwa is the main little surf town here. You’ll find a number of food trucks serving Hawaiian plate lunches, shrimp trucks, shave ice stands, fruit stands, and the Macadamia Nut Farm. This place is hopping during the winter time with the many surf competitions. Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach are the places to catch some of the best surfers. Pupukea is great for snorkeling. And the Dole Plantation is nearby too.
For the budget traveler, you can still make Oahu affordable by taking advantage of the hostels on the island. Most of the hostels are either located in Waikiki or on the North Shore. There are no hostels on the east side of the island.
Aside from our own hostel, there are about four other hostels located in Waikiki. And if you’re going to North Shore, we recommend staying at Backpacker’s Vacation Inn.
Next in the Series:
Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe
Image By: Hawaii Guide