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Oahu Hawaii Travel Guide
In March of 2019, my husband and I took off to Hawaii for 10 days. We traveled to the island of Oahu and Maui. It was hands down one of our favorite vacations. We fell in love with the island, mountains, food, and people. Not only were we able to go on a dream vacation, but we were also able to do it on a small budget. In this Oahu travel guide, you will find everything we did, prices, and how to get the most bang for your buck.
We flew into Oahu on American Airlines and found cheap tickets using Google flights.
If you don’t know about Google flights you are missing out. You can type in where you are flying out of and where you want to travel. It will show you the majority of airline ticket prices so you are guaranteed to find an affordable ticket. You can also search by the calendar to find the most affordable time to travel.
***Southwest Airlines is not on google flights. You will need to visit southwest.com to view their prices.
Southwest now flies to Hawaii, you can find tickets as low as $230. If you are a couple of hours away from an airport that flies southwest, I highly recommend flying out from there. It could save you up to $500.
Other ways to save on flights to Hawaii.
- Use the Hopper app and get notifications when flights reach all-time lows.
- Unless you are on the west coast, you will have a connecting flight on the west coast, most likely LA. Fly Spirit or Allegiant to LA and then take a direct flight to Hawaii.
- Travel Insurance. We purchased Travel Insurance just in case an emergency happened. It cost us a little over $100. Make sure to read what it covers before purchasing.
We rented the cheapest car available and it was perfect for driving around the island. There are not a lot of public transportation options so I recommend a rental car. I believe the cost was $30 per day.
Obviously there is rideshare, but having the convenience to leave without waiting is a perk.
Also, there are so many interesting places that you can stop and look at if you rent a car vs.paying for an Uber every time you want to go somewhere.
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We stayed in only Airbnb. The reason why is because they are cheaper than a hotel, they get you out of the “touristy” parts of the island, and you get a more authentic experience. Some of the Airbnbs are equal to a hotel or more expensive, but their locations are amazing! Pick whatever suits your preferences.
There is nothing wrong with Hotels, we have Hilton and Marriot rewards, and want to get those points. However, the hotels and resorts and very expensive compared to the hotels on the mainland. If you have the money and would prefer a hotel experience than go for it.
At the beginning of our trip, we stayed in Honolulu. We stayed in THIS Airbnb. It’s up in the mountains right outside the city. There are stunning views on the drive and you are tucked away in a small oasis. The place was clean, had everything we needed, and the beds were comfortable. You are about 20 minutes from the airport, Waikiki beach, Diamond Head, and 30 minutes from Pearl Harbor. The drive is worth the views and price. This was our favorite place we stayed in.
At the end of our trip, we stayed on the North Shore of Oahu. THIS is the Airbnb we stayed in Laie. Laie is near the Polynesian Cultural Center, Laie Point (The jump-off spot in Forgetting Sarah Marshall), great shopping, delicious food trucks, and much more. The place was very clean and the host communicated well. Even though the place is labeled, “Private room” it feels separate from the rest of the house. You have a ton of privacy.
Things to Do in Oahu
In Honolulu, there is a ton to do! Below is a list of everything we did and some of the things we wish we would’ve done.
- Pearl Harbor Museum – The Pearl Harbor Museum is FREE to enter. There are a few things inside that cost money. You can pay to watch a special documentary and then get on a boat and visit the memorial that is on the water, or go into the submarine. There are gift shops and a cafe. We went twice during our trip. ***Please Note: They DO NOT allow purses or backpacks inside. Leave them in the car or you can pay for a locker. The parking lot is not in the greatest location so make sure you lock your car.
- Aloha Stadium Swap Meet – This is Hawaii’s largest flea market. There are over 400 local merchants. It’s $1 to attend and parking is a couple of dollars. They are open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from8:00 AM-3:00 PM, and Sundays from 6:30 AM- 3:00 PM. You will find unique local crafts, food, and decor. Make sure you bring cash.
- Waikiki Shopping Plaza – Waikiki shopping plaza has amazing shops, restaurants, and entertainment. The place is clean and safe. We went to this area almost every evening. It’s right next to Waikiki Beach too.
- Dole Plantation – The Dole Pineapple Plantation is where Dole grows their pineapples. It’s free admission but you do pay for tours that they have. You can enjoy a train express tour that gives you the history of the plantation and takes you through the pineapple fields. They have a gorgeous garden and a pineapple maze. For all three activities, it’s $25 per adult and $21 for a child. You can pay for only one activity. There is a HUGE gift shop with a pineapple cafe. The cafe includes many dishes with fresh pineapple and a Dole Whip. GET THE DOLE WHIP! We went a few times during our stay just to get Dole Whip.
Outdoor Things to Do in Oahu
- Diamond Head Trail – Diamond Head trail is a beautiful hike. The hike from the parking lot is .8 miles. This trail is paved but becomes a little uneven and then you have to climb a lot of stairs. It’s easy overall. However, you will have to pay for parking, I think it’s $5-$10.
- Kualoa Ranch – This was our favorite place in Honolulu. It’s where a ton of movies/TV shows are filmed. They have movie tours, horseback riding, food tours, ATV tours, ziplining, and much more! We paid for the ultimate kualoa tour which included a jeep tour, food tour, movie tour, and lunch. We spent the whole day there and loved every second of it. I would go back in a heartbeat.
- North Shore Waves – Drive to the North Shores to see giant waves. As you drive you will find multiple spots to pull over on the side of the road and walk onto the beach. We did this and watch surfers hit the waves.
- Scuba Diving – We love to go scuba diving. During our stay, we dived with Reed Pirates Diving on their 2 shallow reef dives for $135 per person. During our dive, we saw coral reefs, a baby shark, starfish, touched an octopus, and swam with sea turtles. If you are a beginner they have lessons, or you can snorkel.
Food in Oahu
I did a poor job of recording the places that we ate. But the main places I remember that are a must is the following:
- Waioli Kitchen & Bake Shop – We stumbled upon this place for breakfast. It’s tucked away right outside the city. It’s farm to table food. We enjoy fresh coffee, acai bowls, and pancakes made from scratch. It was the freshest meal we had. Next time we visit, I plan on going almost every day for breakfast. It was that good!
- Fumi’s Shrimp Truck– You will find this on the north shore. It’s on the side of the road with a long line of people. Wait in line and enjoy the best shrimp you will ever eat.
- Turtle Bay Resort – If you are a fan of the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall you know this place. My husband is obsessed with the movie. So of course, we had to go there at least once. The resort is beautiful to walk around and they have a few restaurants to choose from.
- Coffee Farms – Coffee farms are everywhere that you can tour.
- Honolulu Zoo – The Honolulu Zoo is family-friendly and one of the nicest zoos I’ve ever visited. The admissions are $11 for children and $19 for adults.
What we Wish we Did
- Polynesian Cultural Center – All the locals told us this was a MUST. We tried to go on Sunday and realized that it closes on Sunday. They have museums, gift shops, shows, luaus, history, and dining. There are multiple packages to choose from with various price ranges.
- Random Hiking Trails – As you drive through the mountains of Hawaii you will see random hiking trails that you can hike. We want to spend a day or two hiking those.
I hope this travel guide is helpful! If you’ve been to Oahu tell me your favorite places below!