Oahu | 4 days aloha vibes
Aloha! A dream came true when I finally arrived in Honolulu after a 10 hours flight from Melbourne! I did it. Not for my honeymoon or a wedding shoot. Nope. Just a short stopover before my trip to California. It’s on the way, so why not stopping?
And those four days were worth it! Of course, every additional day would have been more beautiful. But even 96 hours can be fully exploited on Oahu including a relaxed Aloha feeling.
How to explore the island
There is so much to explore on Oahu. Four days were definitely too short to see everything from the island. But to get as much as possible of your time and, above all to be flexible, I recommend renting a car.
I rented a Jeep Wrangler for $200 for two days (including all insurance). Important: You don’t need a jeep for Oahu necessarily. The roads are very well developed and can be driven with any car. I just borrowed the jeep for the amazing feeling and it was worth it! $200 sounds really expensive at first, but I shared the cost with two girls I met on Couchsurfing.
Another advantage: the fuel in the States is very cheap compared to the gasoline costs in Germany! A dream 🙂
Yup. I became an Uber fan since Australia. However, I was a bit shocked about the prices in America first. For example, from the airport to my accommodation in Waikiki, I paid $ 40 dollars. Ciao money. So I think only if you really want to cover a few short distances and want to spend most of your time in one place, Uber is an option.
The network of the bus service THE BUS through the cities is very extensive and you can get a day pass for only $5.50. Attention, luggage is not always allowed! I tried to take the bus from Waikiki back to the airport, but was not allowed to get in with my backpack and had to call an Uber.
To get to the most famous tourist attractions, I recommend the Trolley! There are six different lines in different colors, each going to different attractions and sightseeing points. For adults, the daily rate is $25.
Good to know | Accommodations
There are basically four areas where you can find an accommodation. In the west (Leeward Coast), Waikiki/Honolulu, in the east (Windward Coast) or on the North Shore.
I chose Waikiki because it was the easiest way to find a Couchsurfing host. Personally, I don’t really like Waikiki. The beaches are crowded and you definitely won’t experience the typical, local Hawaii feeling. But Waikiki is very central to most activities and places and there are plenty of accommodations.
Warning: Hawaii is really expensive, especially for backpackers. If you just come from Southeast Asia, the hostel prices will kill you. I spent the last night in a hostel and got a place in an 8 bed room for $47. Bye bye dear hard-earned vacation cash.
If you want to stay longer on Oahu, you should definitely look for an Airbnb. However, in many areas the rents are only legal if you stay at least minimum 30 days.
Day 1 | Arrival, Waikiki &. Surroundings
Don’t plan a big program on your first day!
The arrival in the United States can take a long time at some airports. Especially if you are traveling alone you will be asked a lot of questions why you are traveling solo. If you are traveling with a backpack, you lost completely and have to watch how the airport staff empties your entire backpack.
Coooool. Of course it wasn’t a big deal to squeeze the clothes into the backpack before the flight. #ironieoff #thanksfornothing
Don’t forget to relax!
It took me almost three hours to step out of the airport and finally arrived at my Couchsurfing host Albert. First thought: Damn it. Half of the first day is almost over. Next thought: Relax! You are on holiday! I think you shouldn’t forget this in general, even if you only spend a very short time on vacation. Nobody wants to go home completely unrelaxed and frustrated after the stay on Hawaii. So you should be aware that you can see and do a lot in your time, but it’s also okay to work on your tan on the beach for two hours and do nothing.
With this new Aloha mindset, I dropped of my backpack at Alberts home at first, then showered, organized a SIM card for the upcoming month, had a coffee and called to my dad just to talk.
Go with the Locals!
As always, I recommend: You will get the best tips for your stay from the locals! Thanks to Albert, I was able to enjoy the first Hawaiian food experiences on the first day, was flashed by the look-out points and was able to go on a wedding shooting hunt. If you have no contacts on Oahu, ask the dear ladies in Waikiki at the tourist information points for recommendations. Or write to the Couchsurfing community! (A detailed blogpost to the Couchsurfing app will follow soon.) Everyone will be happy to help you. (:
Poke Bowl | Ono Seafood
First things first: food! My first Hawaiian dish was one of the famous poke bowls at Ono Seafood. This fish salad is one of the national dishes from Hawaii and is also a trend food in different variations in Germany. Traditionally, poke is usually served on warm sushi rice with ingredients such as spring onions, sesame oil, soy sauce and various toppings such as Avocado and ginger. And of course the raw fish (often tuna or salmon) shouldn’t be missing at the top! #Yummie!
Here you can find my Oahu food guide.
Many viewpoints are located directly on the main road on the coast and are well signposted. There is always enough parking space on the street. If you are traveling by car, you can therefore stop flexibly wherever it’s beautiful!
I can already tell you: You will not be able to get out of amazement! On one side you can see the wide ocean, steep cliffs and huge waves. And as soon as you turn around, you will see the gigantic Jurassic Park scenery on the mainland. I still get goosebumps when I think of the first little tour with Albert in his car!
Friday fireworks Hilton Waikiki
There is a big firework show every Friday at 7:45 pm at the Hilton Waikiki Village! If you’re on Oahu for a weekend, be sure to spend the Friday evening in Waikiki. I was sitting next to many locals and tourists at the Hilton Lagoon and had a wonderful view of the fireworks. (See map)
After the fireworks, you can sip a cocktail nearby or have dinner.
Organize your car
After the fireworks, I went straight to my car rental and picked up my jeep. It’s definitely good to pick up your car late in the evening. So you can start the next day flexibly in the early morning when it’s not too hot. I rented the jeep for 48 hours, so I had to return it accordingly on Sunday evening and was able to use the car the entire Saturday and Sunday.
Day 2 | Hikes &. Nature
I know … Sunrise hikes are supposed to be a great experience. But I’m really not an early bird and I was still on vacation despite a full daily program. So I started at 8.00am — and yes it was enough time. (:
Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail
After a small breakfast at home, I started with the first point on my Bucket List: Off to the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trailhead. This very pleasant and easy climb is perfect for getting slowly a feeling for the hikes on Oahu and at the same time will be rewarded with a wonderful view.
Here you can find my top 3 beginner hikes on Oahu.
Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden is one of the most popular tourist highlights. Especially after some bloggers and photographers on social media took the picture of the entrance road, everyone wants to get this picture. But beware! It’s now forbidden to stop in the middle of the street and take this picture. After all, it’s still a public road and there should be no accidents.
At the beginning of the street there is a security guard who makes sure that all cars continue to drive in accordance with the rules. Please just respect this prohibition and don’t try to outsmart the security. There are so many other great photo spots and empty streets in the botanical garden where you can stop and get your memory in front of this gigantic Jurassic Park backdrop!
The garden is open every day from 9 am to 4 pm and is free of charge. Of course it’s advisable to start early to avoid the big tour bus.
Kono’s Northshore | Kailua
Time for some boosting — time for Kono’s Northshore! The Hawaiian restaurant has three locations on Oahu. You should definitely stop here on your day tours and happily fall into the food coma after one of the famous breakfast bombers. All breakfast bombers consist of eggs, potatoes and a mixture of shredded Jack and Cheddar cheese in a warm tortilla. And you can choose more toppings! Even if the menu is really huge and varied, I definitely recommend you to try a breakfast bomber.
Fun fact: In the logo of Kono’s there is a pig on a surfboard. The pig Kama! Kai Holt has trained Kama and his offspring for surfing over several generations and has become famous every summer in an annual competition at the Duke’s OceanFest in Waikiki.
Here you can find my Oahu food guide.
Lanikai Pillbox Trail
Well strengthened, we continue to the next lookout point: The Lanikai Pillbox Trail. The way up is a bit steep but it’s quite short. In my opinion, at the end you can see one of the most beautiful views over Oahu. Here is the blogpost about the beginner hikes on Oahu.
After the way down from the Pillbox Trail you definitely deserve some relaxation. You could already admire Lanikai Beach from the viewpoint and now it’s time to simply enjoy the time in the soft sand. Lanikai means heavenly sea — you can swim and snorkel perfectly.
Sunset | China Walls, Splitting Cave
Don’t stay at Lanikai Beach for too long, because it’s worth watching the sunset on the way back to Waikiki. Stopover at the China Walls or the Splitting Cave! Albert showed me the place on my first evening and I can really recommend this sunset hotspot. During the whale season you can also spot some whales. The place is particularly popular for adventurous cliff jumpers. However, it’s super dangerous because the waves are unpredictable, and hit the rock walls with enormous force and unfortunately some accidents have already happened. So just enjoy the beautiful view!
Day 3 | Jurassic Park &. North Shore
Next sightseeing day! On the go from 7.00 am. Not.
I think it was around 10.00 am until we three girls finally met in the jeep. But hey, who cares? We are still on vacation (:
Tropical Farms Macadamia Nuts
First stop: Tropical Farm! You can find them all over Oahu: Macadamia nuts! As a flavor in coffee, in cakes and biscuits, sweet or salted, roasted or natural. The popular nuts are available in all varieties and that’s why you should definitely take a short stop at the Macadamia Nuts Farm. And don’t worry — no souvenirs are imposed on you. There is free coffee to try and macadamia nuts in different flavors until you drop.
Kualoa Rock Beach
Kualoa is a private nature reserve on Oahu and was mainly used by Hollywood films such as Jumanji, Jurassic World/Park, Pearl Harbor, Godzilla, and much more, known all over the world. Unfortunately, you cannot simply explore this beautiful location by yourself, because you have to book a tour in advance. From the Hollywood Movie Tour to a Jungle Jeep Expedition or a trip on mountain bikes, quads or horses, all activities are possible here. However, the prices were too expensive for me and since I was only a short time on the island, there were enough other free exploration options. If you are interested in a tour, just visit www.kualoa.com.
The beautiful Kualoa Rock Beach right next door is free and not crowded. There is a great campsite between the trees right on the beach. As a non-user, you are not allowed to relax in those hammocks, but the beach is open to the public. We were unfortunately surprised by the rain but otherwise would have definitely spent more time there!
Late breakfast at Sunrise Shack
We continue towards the North Shore! Once you’re here, be sure to treat yourself to a coffee or one of the popular bowls in The Sunrise Shack. Perfect for the right Aloha vibe and a healthy strengthening (vegan!).
Here you can find my Oahu food guide.
Turtle Spot | Chuns Reef Beach
Only a few minutes drive will take you to Chuns Reef Beach and to the surfers and turtles! In the surfing season, the beaches on the North Shore are generally very busy with tourists and surfers. But with a little luck you will spot some turtles on the rocks on the beach. Please respect the rules of not getting too close to the turtles and especially not touching them! It’s sad to point this out, but unfortunately a lot of tourists still don’t abide by the rules.
Surf Spots | North Shore
We spent the rest of the afternoon lying in the sun and watching the well-built surfers in the waves. Top surf spots on the North Shore include: Haleiwa, Waimea, Off the Wall, Pipeline, Backdoor, Rocky Point and Sunset. Attention! If you are a beginner, find out which other spots are more suitable for you. In the spots above there are massive, huge waves for the professionals! Gigantic to watch.
Sunset | Wai’anae
If you continue west from the North Shore, you can stop at any beach and watch the sunset. We stopped in Wai’anae and sat down on the beach there.
Cocktail Time | Waikiki
There are many places where you can enjoy your cocktail in Waikiki. Well-known, very popular and right on Waikiki Beach you will find Duke’s Waikiki, for example. Ocean view, great live music, delicious food and especially delicious cocktails. You definitely can’t be wrong if you spend your evening here.
Day 4 | Helicopter flight over the island
On my last day on Oahu, I experienced one of the greatest highlights of my entire trip! A 60 minute helicopter flight without doors over the entire island. Just wow! I can really recommend you to invest in this slightly more expensive adventure. Click here to read the blogpost about my flight with Novictor Helicopters.
I spent the rest of the last day in the sun on the beach in Waikiki, working on my tan and enjoying a goodbye cocktail with great music in the evening with Yvi! (:
How expensive are 4 days on Oahu?
I spent on Oahu four whole days. I arrived on a Friday morning and left on a Tuesday morning. What’s about the budget?
If you are traveling with a small budget and you want to meet new people/locals, I recommend Couchsurfing. I was allowed to use the guest room at Alberts apartment for the first nights, I only had to spend one night in the hostel.
Waikiki Beachside Hostel: $48
Generally, I’m a fan of cooking and buying snacks in the supermarket while traveling. So you can save a lot of money. On Oahu it was more like a mix of home Oats & Fruits for breakfast ($ 12 for four days) and for lunchtime and evening dining I tried restaurants and cafes.
Supermarket & eating outside: $100
Cocktails were absolute luxury on my trip around the world. They are expensive everywhere (yes, including in Southeast Asia). On Oahu I was looking forward to a cocktail every evening. For me this is simply part of a Hawaii vacation!
I paid $200 for the jeep including all insurance (always get all insurance if your credit card doesn’t include any special conditions). I shared the cost with the lovely Alfia (who I met on the Couchsurfing App), so we spent only $100 per person. The lovely Yvi (I also got to know her through Couchsurfing) paid for the gasoline of around $40!
Jeep for 2 days (half price): $100
Definitely not a normal vacation expense. But I don’t regret a single dollar of this investment full of adrenaline and pure joy!
Helicopter flight online at Get your Guide: $280
UBER / TAXI RIDES
I could have saved the two expensive trips from the airport to Waikiki and back through proper research in advance.
Tip: Search for informations about the airport shuttle or a transfer to your hotel. Unfortunately the public buses don’t pick you up with luggage!
All Uber rides: $60
Attention! You can spend a lot of money on souvenirs on Hawaii. I never bought a real souvenir in any country on my trip around the world. After all, every kilo counts in a backpack. But on Hawaii I bought my dad for Christmas a cigar and flower hair accessories for my little cousin.
Souvenirs: $ 25
You do not need a local SIM card. There is WiFi almost everywhere and when you are on the go it’s enough if you download the offline map from Google Maps or ask the locals for directions.
I still bought a SIM card that was valid for one month in America, because after Oahu I flew to California and New York.
SIM card Telekom, 30 days unlimited internet & calls: $ 50
My total expenses without flights four days on Oahu: $673 (+ SIM card: $723)!
Oops. Very expensive four days vacation … But hey you don’t come to Hawaii every long weekend. At this point, I would like to boast with my outward flight: direct flight from Melbourne to Honolulu including luggage for €250. #proud (:
My days on Oahu were unforgettable. At this point: a huge thank you to my Couchsurfing host Albert! You saved me from the expensive hostel prices and enabled me to relax completely in your guest room. I saw wonderful places and drank delicious cocktails with you. And: When I see a wedding shoot now, I have to think of you. On the first day on Oahu we saw seven shootings on the beach. Or eight? No idea. But super funny and really great moments. Thank you so much!
YOU ARE A LONGER TIME ON OAHU AND INTERESTED IN THE ULTIMATE INSIDER TIPS?
I recommend with all my heart the Oahu Nightlife & Travel Guide by Albert aka The Traveling Bachelor!
“What I can promise you is one of the most unique collections of secrets for how to spend your time on Oahu, written by yours truly, an insider who has lived, breathed, worked, hiked, partied, dated, and surfed this island for the last 8 years.”
Oahu Nightlife & Travel Guide | The Traveling Bachelor | Kindle-Version
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