If you only have two full days to spend on Oahu, here are some sights you won’t want to miss. On a recent trip to Hawaii I rented a car and had some great adventures.
Day 1: Drive to the North Shore. On the way to the North Shore, you will pass the Dole Plantation. They have a great train-guided tour of the fields of pineapple and other foods they grow. There are educational exhibits, gardens and a Dole shop where you can find just about everything Pineapple you ever wanted. I was tipped off to the Dole Whip, a soft-serve pineapple ice-cream that was so light and divine. A nice mid-morning treat, especially if it’s warm outside.
After the Dole Plantation, head up to the North Shore where you can explore the surf culture and if you’re lucky, catch some amazing waves. From the iconic Banzai Pipeline to the beautiful beaches at Sunset Beach, there a plenty of options. Parking can be a challenge, so if you see a space (sometimes on the side of the road, take it.) It happened that while I was in Hawaii there were spectacular waves on all the islands ranging from 20-35 feet. Many of the beaches were closed due to the high surf and dangerous rip-currents, but the beaches were packed with sunbathers and some hard-core surfers.
After soaking up the sun and catching some surf, grab some lunch at one of the North Shore’s dozens of food trucks. You’ll find food trucks parked along Kamehameha Highway. I would suggest trying Macky’s Sweet Shrimp Truck, Aloha Lobster and VJs North Shore Dogs (and burgers.) Seriously, the sausage was outrageous at VJs and you’ll find Giovanni’s, Hono’s, or Macky’s shrimp trucks in the same grassy area with lots of picnic tables. The place was packed when I visited.
There are loads of dinner options in Honolulu and on Waikiki beach dozens of options within walking distance of most hotels. Two of the top restaurants in Oahu are Nobu, specializing in Sushi and Pacific Fusion and Roy’s, a Hawaiian Fusion restaurant known for their fish. Both restaurants are higher priced but worth the treat and great for special occasions. Reservations are recommended but both accept walk-ins and seating at both bars is first-come, first-served. In addition to well knowns like Nobu, Roy’s, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Morimoto, try Alan Wong’s a local known for Hawaiian fusion and surprisingly, Mariposa at Neiman Marcus in the Ala Moana center (try the Lobster Club, it’s a great lunch option.)
Take a trip to Pearl Harbor to learn about Hawaii’s military past and pay tribute to the fallen. The USS Arizona and 1,177 crew were among the first casualties of the Pacific War. The USS Arizona Memorial stands above the sunken vessel and fallen sailors, serving as a reminder of their sacrifice and commitment. The USS Missouri Battleship and the Pacific Aviation Museum are located on Ford Island and available for tour as well. After September 11th, increased security was put into place on Ford Island. Be prepared to present IDs and have any cargo storage areas searched. No bags are permitted into Pearl Harbor attractions. You can store them in the visitors center or leave them in a secured location (locked in your car’s trunk.) You can bring cameras/camcorders, but you can not bring your camera bags, so leave those behind as well.
Visit Diamond Head, one of the most iconic sights on Oahu, it was formed about 300,000 years ago after a volcanic eruption. The trail to the summit was built in 1908 and used by the military to defend Oahu from invaders. Today, visitors can explore and even climb to the summit. There are spectacular views from Diamond Head even if you don’t go to the top.
Explore Chinatown and you never know what you’ll come across. I stumbled upon a film crew shooting a yet to be named Cameron Crowe film and saw movie star Bradley Cooper. There are shops filled with antiques, souvenirs and local crafts. Chinatown provides a great option for authentic Chinese and Asian food. If you’re in the mood for dim sum try Mei Sum Dim Sum, it’s delicious.
There are so many things to do on Oahu that 48 hours just isn’t enough. But these ideas will get you started and hopefully inspire your trip.
What do you like to do on Oahu?
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