Oahu is such a beautiful island and there is so much to do! The North Shore is known for its amazing waves and fun surf vibes, the West side is a little more dry but has beautiful place for swimming and snorkeling, the South side is known for Honolulu and Waikiki where you can shop and do touristy things, and the East side is an amazing coastline with tons of beautiful beaches and scenery.
Below is a list of things that I love to do and would tell a friend to do if they were visiting the island.
Crouching lion (Northern East Side of Island): if you are at Kahana beach park looking towards the ocean, this hike is going the be the ridge on your right. It is a pretty steep incline and probably take about 30 to 45 minutes to get to the first ridge lookout points. The view is gorgeous! Be careful though because the cliff are high, windy, and people have died before. If you are careful and cautious of the strong wind you should be ok. If you want to do a lot of hiking you can do the full Crouching Lion hike which I’ve heard takes about 7 hours to do and is dangerous.
Maunawili falls: (East Side of Island Near Kailua): This is a fun jungle hike that ends up at a beautiful waterfall with a 30ish foot jump on the left of smaller jumps on the far side of the pool. If I remember correctly, it takes about an hour and a half to get to the waterfall. Super fun hike.
Sunset pillbox (North Shore): This shorter hike starts at Sunset Elementary and vears to the left through the trees. After hiking up the side of mountain you come to a beautiful lookout with an old World War II bunker overlooking the North Shore with it’s beautiful surfing breaks. It takes about 30 to 45 minutes to get to the top:)
Castles (Beach in between Laie and Kahuku): This is a great beach for beginners to catch some small waves and/ro play on the beach. This little surf is a “wind break” meaning the waves are created by the wind which makes this a windier beach but still a really fun learning spot. When we’ve gone there usually isn’t board for rent so bring your own.
Puaena Point (Beach Park right off the highway before Surf N Sea): This is a fun beginner and intermediate spot. The surf starts breaking on the outside of the bay and then ripples in making it a great spot for beginners and more experienced surfers. There are usually board rentals and lessons near the parking lot.
Turtle bay: (North East tip of the Island): This is a fun surf spot. Depending on the day, you will find beginner and/or intermediate surfers here. Lessons and rentals can be found at the entrance of the Hotel. If your just starting out be sure to be careful of other surfers. This spot can get crowded and boards sometimes start flying, making a little dangerous, when a lot of newer surfers are out:)
STAND UP PADDLE BOARDING
Haleiwa River (North Shore, Right on the side of the Haleiwa Bridge): This is a great place if you want to paddle board up the river a little and even paddle out into the bay. For people that have never paddle boarded before it can sometimes be a little tricky to balance so these calm waters are a great place to start learning and enjoy the water.
Kawela Bay (North East tip of the Island, On left side of Turtle Bay Resort): This fun bay is a popular spot for big box office movies such as The Hunger Games and George of the Junger to film their movies. Most people park on the side of the road near the fruit stand and then follow the path at the end of the fence. This is a great place if you are looking for a beautiful and relaxing spot where the water is calmer. I believe you can book surf lessons through Turtle Bay Resort and sometimes they will take people here to surf the small waves on the right side of the bay. Note: If you go out of the bay sometimes there is a strong current that can be dangerous if aren’t careful.
Waimea Bay (North Shore): During the summers this beach is fun and calm but during the winter season the waves here can become deadline. If there isn’t too much current in the water, this can be a fun spot to jump off the rock (about a 20 foot jump) and swim though the little water caves. Parking can be difficult to find. Sometimes we park near the Foodland Supermarket and then walk to the beach.
Lanikai (East Side, Kailua): The sand on this beach looks like flower and looks out towards the Moke Islands. These two islands can be reached by kayaks or surfboards. Parking can be tricky and sometimes it’s a good to have one person drop people off near the beach and then park further away and walk.
Sunset (North Shore): This is one of the worlds best surfing waves and contests are held here during the winter months. This is an advance surfing spot with sometimes strong currents and big waves. If you love relaxing on the beach this place is a beautiful spot to see the North Shore.
Keikis (North Shore): This is one of my favorite beaches to relax on. During the winter months the waves can get bigger and be scary for swimming but during the summer this a really fun place to swim and hang out with friends and family.
For Burgers and Fries:
Seven Brothers (Laie and Kahuku, North East Side): You can't go wrong with any of their burgers (our personal favorite is their pesto burger and Shem burger) their fries are a must 👍🏽 and you don't want to miss out on their homemade banana bread and ice cream for dessert 😍
Elephant Thai (Haleiwa, North Shore): located in Haleiwa Must try: Panang Curry or the Pad Thai or Yum Gai Yang! We just rotate between these dishes everytime we go. Their Panang Curry is a warm bowl of put heaven with rice on the side. The Pad Thai is some of the best I’ve ever had (even counting the pad thai I tried in Thailand). The Yum Gai Yang is a fresh tasting dish that comes with meat (or tofu) and has lettuce and mint with rice and a super good sweet sauce that brings everything together.
Rajanee Thai Cuisine (Haleiwa, North Shore): You’ve gotta try the Pineapple Curry with a side of Coconut Rice. We always call ahead and see if it’s an option because it’s not always offered on the menu but it’s seriously what dreams are made of! This place usually has a long wait and a lot of times we’ve had to wait another hour to get our food once we’ve ordered. If you aren’t in a rush it is totally worth it but if you are, they also have a takeout window on the side of the restaurant which is a lot faster! Now, we usually just order from the window and eat outside on a nearby table.
North Shore Tacos (Haula, North East Side and North Shore, by Sharks Cove): This place is kinda like Cafe Rio (if you’ve ever been there) but it’s a little bit more expensive and slightly less food. Still a good option if you’ve gotta get that mexican food.
Surf N Salsa (Haleiwa, North Shore): This is a food truck that serves some good mexican food. Near the end of Haleiwa town, you order from the front and there is some seating in the back. Last time we were there the guys were authentic Mexicans so you know that’s a good combo.
Sandwiches and Smoothies:
Wailua Bakery (North Shore, Haleiwa): This is a cute little eatery with a fun vibe. Some of their must tries are: turkey avocado sandwich, nutty Hawaiian smoothie or the piña colada smoothie, ice cream cookie sandwiches for dessert.
Kahuku Farms (North East Side, Kahuku): This is a great place for all those healthy people! This is a vegetarian eatery with some really good farm panini sandwiches, farm
Pizza and lilikoi smoothies. Make sure you check to see when they are open because sometimes they have weird hours.
Sandy's Sandwiches (North Shore): This is a little turquoise shed that is usually parked between Bonzai Pipeline and Sharks Cove. Last time we were there they only accept cash so be prepared. The sandwiches are works of art! Seriously, the guy makes them super good with high quality ingredients that are making my mouth water even as I write this. Definitely a good option.
I really hope this helps! These are just some of my top locations but there are a ton of other fun things to do if you do a little searching. Whether your visiting or planning to move here for a while, I hope this island brings you as many smiles as it has brought me!