Going to Hawaii? Not without these suggestions.

So, you're headed to Oahu and you want the scoop on what you should see. Not the tourist scoop, but the local places to check out, right? We just returned from our two week trip to Oahu for my grandma's 90th birthday. I was born and raised there, so it was great to be home again. Here are just some of our Hawaiian travel tips. There is so much to do. Don't forget to relax and enjoy yourself. And don't get caught up in *doing* too much.


  1. Pack a carry-on. This is Hawaii, you won't be wearing much: a bathing suit, a nice outfit or two, and a couple of shirts/shorts. In Hawaii, people don't dress up. Jeans are fancy. Save your baggage fees.

  2. Bring snorkeling gear from home. If you have gear at home, even just a mask or goggles, bring it. Save some money; throw it in your carry-on.

  3. Try all the food! Go into a grocery store and be adventurous. Try the different snacks you see: li hing mui, poi, shrimp chips, poke, taco poke, mochi, manapua, etc. Try it. You'll be glad you did. Even if you don't like it, you'll be experiencing Hawaii through your taste buds.

  4. Respect the neighborhoods. A lot of the entrances to beaches and hikes are entered through smaller neighborhood areas. Be careful where you park and be sure to read parking signs. It's easy to get towed when visiting these locations.

  5. Be considerate of the sea animals you meet. I met a woman who was enthusiastic about showing her daughter the sea creatures in the tide pools. She was catching animals like sea cucumbers and sea urchins and dumping them onto hot rocks and leaving them there. Enjoy the wild life, but be courteous and return them to where you found them.

  • Visit these beaches:

Lanikai or Waimanalo -- beautiful swimming

Pupukea or Hanauma -- great snorkeling

Ko'olina or Ala Moana -- calm for small children

Sunset or Sandy's -- for watching surfers, not for swimming

  • Visit these food places (mostly on the Windward-side):

Boots and Kimos -- macadamia nut pancakes; go at 7am or right when it opens; line gets LONG

Buzz's Steakhouse -- across the street from Kailua beach

Island Snow -- yummy shave ice, add the sno-cap and ice cream

Boston's Pizza -- if you have to eat pizza, this is the best place

Leonards -- malasadas

Zippys -- coconut turnovers and custard pie

Fumi's Shrimp Truck -- Kahuku is the spot for shrimp trucks

  • Touristy spots that are worth seeing:

Kualoa Ranch -- various activities including zip line, ATV, and movie tours

Polynesian Cultural Center -- spend the day and do it all, including the dinner

Waikiki -- walk around in the early afternoon; music and demonstrations occur around 1-2pm and 5-6pm

Arizona Memorial -- it's an amazing history lesson; free admission

Turtle Beach -- on the North shore, swim with wild turtles

Hilton Hawaiian Village -- free fireworks on the beach every Friday night

  • Great hikes:

Lanikai Pill Box

Koko Head

Diamond Head

Kaiwi Shoreline Trail


Here's my final, bonus tip: Starbucks serves Hawaiian Oatcake at their stores in Oahu. It can't be found anywhere else, but locally in Oahu. Buy two. Eat one and bring the other back for me :) 

Happy Traveling! 



Helpful tips when visiting Hawaii

Helpful tips when visiting Hawaii