Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Back to Blog

Vacation like the Locals in Oahu


Maybe you’ve been to Hawaii many times before and want something more than the been-there-done-that experience. Or maybe you’re one of those people who hate tourist traps and just want to see the island through the eyes of someone who lives here. Check out these tips to travel Hawaii like a local in Oahu.

Head to Waimea Bay Beach

Go early and stay late to enjoy this popular-yet-still-peaceful beach. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy a family outing while swimming in the waves and even – wait for it – go cliff diving if you have the guts. While the beach is expansive and you’ll have plenty of room to move about, the parking area is small and gets filled up quickly. This is why you should go as early as possible.

Eat at the Kalapawai Market

This quaint coffee shop and deli is located at the entrance to Kailua Beach Park on your way to Lanikai, selling everything from Kailua-style java to a variety of gourmet sandwiches for the lunch crowd. The coffee is unique, with so many tempting flavors such as Kona blend, Hawaiian hazelnut, Sumatra and vanilla macadamia.

Go Snorkeling on the North Shore

Best known for its breath-taking beaches and awesome surfing opportunities, the North Shore of Oahu is also great for snorkeling. For the best views under the sea, check out Turtle Bay and Sharks Cove where you’ll be treated to a variety of rainbow-colored fish as well as sea turtles.

Check out the Windward Side

This is where you’ll be better able to relax without so many tourists, if peace and quiet is what you’re after. Not only are the beaches great, the food is tasty and the people are super friendly. Don’t miss Lanikai Beach adjacent to Kailua Beach Park – the ideal place to do some kayaking and paddle boarding if you’re up for it. Grab some breakfast at Cinnamon’s in Kailua, where you’ll find some pretty peculiar items on the menu, like carrot pancakes and coconut syrup.

Grab Some Shrimp

You’ll see them all over the island at one point or another: shrimp trucks. From hot and spicy shrimp to shrimp scampi, you’ll enjoy a scrumptious, filling lunch when you stop at trucks like Giovanni’s (you’ll know it as the white truck with graffiti all over it!). You’ll find shrimp trucks all along Kamehameha Highway.

Take a Long Drive

Speaking of the Kamehameha Highway, take in the island’s natural beauty during this 1.5 hour trip from the North Shore to the windward side—that’s without stopping. You can make this a day trip if you want to make stops along the way, as well you should. There are stunning photo ops at the lookouts at Sandy’s and Waimanalo.

Hike to Makapu’u Lighthouse

Year-round, you’ll see locals taking hikes all over the island to get their exercise. Join in and take a hike to this oft-photographed lighthouse, and at a mile each way, you don’t have to commit to a long day of back-breaking hiking. The trail to the lighthouse gives you the best views, and in the right season you may also spot migrating whales.

For more beautiful destinations in Oahu, take a Circle Island Tours with us here at Hoku Hawaii Tours.

Here’s a short video on our Circle Island + Pearl Harbor Tour: Epic Day Tour!