Before we get too far into this, let’s be real – Mr. Lovely and I went to Hawaii to chill out on the beach together. And that’s mostly what we did.
But we did have a rental car and got around quite a bit as well, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite stuff to do on Oahu in the summer. It’s such a cool spot because there’s plenty of city life and also lots of tucked away places that make you feel like you’re a million miles from civilization.
This post gets a little long but I wanted to give you all of our favorite tips! xoxo
Be sure to also check out our other favorite Hawaii recommendations and ideas!
- Travel Oahu // Where to Eat
- Travel Oahu // Planes, Hotels, and Cars
- Things to Do in Kauai
- Things to Do in Kaua‘i with Kids (and a Packing List!)
- Kaua‘i Restaurant and Shopping Guide (with Kid Friendly Ideas!)
North Shore. Hands down, my favorite area of the island. It’s away from crazy Waikiki and makes you feel like a local. Go into Haleiwa and check out some local shops, then head further up the highway to the beaches. One of our favorite beach days was spent on Waimea Bay, reading and swimming and watching kids do flips off of the cliffs into the water. (Parking tip for Waimea! If there aren’t any spots, hang out in your car near where people are leaving the beach and ask if you can have their place.) In the winter, the North Shore water is actually crazy with huge waves but in the summer it’s calm enough for paddleboarding and snorkeling in lots of spots.
Snorkeling. You guys! I was so proud I conquered my snorkel fear. (Also, can we talk about what a terrible word snorkel is?) One of my highest recs is to head to Snorkel Bob’s to rent gear – so much nicer than the rental shacks on the beaches. The equipment is cleaner, cheaper, and they fit you for size. So we rented from Snorkel Bob’s in Honolulu and took our gear to Three Tables on the North Shore. It’s a good option if you want to avoid the crowds at Hanauma Bay. Just be sure to enter the water where it’s sandy rather than rocky.
Hiking. We ended up just doing one hike during our stay – the Diamondhead crater. But there are tons of beautiful hiking spots, and lots I would love to still try! Diamondhead was just right. Challenging enough to feel like a little workout, easy enough that I could haul the baby tummy up the side of that hill, and with a crazy view at the top as a reward. You definitely want to go in the morning before the heat and the crowds arrive. We started hiking at about 6:15, just after the trail opened.
Central Oahu. If you’ve got a rental car, drive up the center of the island and hit the Dole Plantation. I was loving running around taking photos of pink pineapples and tasting pineapple everything. Pineapple tip! If you don’t want to pay for the tours, just keep driving a little past the tourist center. You’ll be able to see a zillion pineapple fields right on the road. Seriously, pineapples as far as the eye can see. On the way back, try to stop at the Kukaniloko Birthing Stones. Starting in the 12th century, Hawaiian royalty would come to this spot to have their babies. We actually stumbled on it by accident but were totally in awe. I don’t really get into this sort of thing, but there was definitely a surreal feel about the area. The surroundings are creepily beautiful and isolated. Pretty cool.
Ko Olina. Tossing this one in there if you’re traveling with kiddos! On the west side of the island (near the Disney Aulani resort, which is so beautiful it’ll make your eyes sick), there are a few man-made lagoons where you can go and chill out. They’re blocked from the waves so it’s nice and safe for little ones to play on the beaches or in the water. Lagoon tip! If you go to Lagoon 3 you can probably snag a free beach chair. Or if shade is more your thing, try the umbrellas at Lagoon 2.
Waikiki. And duh you can’t go to Oahu and not hang out on Waikiki! It’s jam-packed with tourists but also lots of fun stuff – free hula shows, upscale shopping, and Waikiki beach. You can rent all kinds of equipment or just hang out in the waves and people watch, which was my fave. We loved it best in the early morning or the couple of hours before sunset when it wasn’t totally packed.