The Beginner’s Guide to Exploring Oahu

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  • Hiking

  • History

  • Island

Advisor - The Beginner’s Guide to Exploring Oahu
Fora’s Take

Oahu is the perfect destination for every type of traveler. Whether you’re looking for shopping, fine dining, relaxing, diving into every water sport imaginable or hiking the width of the island – there’s truly something for everyone. You'll instantly fall in love with the people, the culture and the aloha spirit.

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Where to stay in Oahu

The Modern Honolulu

Overlooking Waikiki Beach, this 310-room stay has a contemporary style and dreamy outdoor restaurant.

Waikiki Beachcomber

Not on the beach but with a buzzing central location and spacious, modern rooms.

Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club

From the handcrafted, mid-century-inspired coffee tables to the carefully curated artwork sourced from local artists to the historical nods woven into each room, the heritage of Waikiki comes to life in every room at the Surfjack.

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Things to do in Oahu

The Beginner’s Guide to Exploring Oahu - Things to do

Nature and Hiking

Check out the Lanikai Pillbox Trail. This is a famous, heavily-trafficked three mile moderate hike in Kailua. The trailhead has ample parking, easy to find, and simple to follow the whole way up. Our biggest tip is to do it right before sunrise. There’s something magical about waiting and watching the sun come up over the mountain.

Eternity Beach is another Oahu gem. A little bit off-the-beaten-path, this area is technically a secret beach near Halona Blowhole. The blowhole itself is also worth visiting, especially during winter time. The water tends to be rough, so be careful if you decide to take a dip. If you don’t feel like traversing down to the beach, you can still enjoy the views from the highway, which overlook the ocean and include every brightly colored shade of blue imaginable.

History and Culture

The Pearl Harbor National Memorial is a must for anyone that's interested in seeing the original site of the Pearl Harbor Attack and in experiencing one of the most pivotal moments in US History. You can tailor this experience however you'd like. There are multiple rooms that you can visit on your own, you can sign up for a guided tour or you can buy tickets to see the USS Arizona (highly recommended). This is a great stop for solo travelers or the whole family!

Luau's are an essential way to experience the aloha spirit, so try to attend one during your stay. Luau's typically take place at night and include a buffet dinner, cocktail or two and a show complete with the history of Hawaii and fire dancers. Paradise Cove Luau and Chief's Luau are highly rated in Honolulu!

Eat & drink in Oahu

The Beginner’s Guide to Exploring Oahu - Eat & drink

Marugame Udon: If you know anyone that’s a foodie and has gone to Oahu recently, odds are you’ve probably seen photos of people slurping down this famous bowl of $7 udon. Again, one of the greatest things about Oahu is that you can find restaurants and food options catered to all budgets. This place is an absolute must-try. Don’t be surprised when you see a long line outside the restaurant, but it moves quickly! People are very respectful and always try to eat quickly and leave. Order the Curry Nikutama – the broth is to die for.

Kapa Hale: A little bit off the main strip of Waikiki, Kapa Hale is newer to the restaurant scene. Their chef is local to the island and the food is elevated Hawaiian cuisine, inspired by Hawaiian, American, Asian and European flavors. We ordered corny bread with lilikoi & honey butter, tako appetizer, Hawaiian beef tartare, and the NY strip steak as the main. Everything was extremely fresh and the cocktails were well-made. Definitely recommend it if you have the chance to break away from the main Waikiki strip.

Restaurant Suntory: This is the restaurant to the award winning Suntory Japanese whisky. Considered fine dining, Restaurant Suntory offers a traditional Japanese menu or the Chef's tasting menu. Both offer luxury Japanese cuisine focused on teppanyaki. Eating here will provide you with the culinary experience of a lifetime and leave you thoroughly impressed (and full)! 

Haleiwa Bowls: No trip to Oahu would be complete without a visit to the North Shore. Haleiwa Bowls serves high-quality fresh, tropical smoothies and acai bowls. Here you'll find a wide selection of toppings to choose from such as fresh honey, bee pollen and cacao nibs – all served in their signature coconut bowl! This is where you're guaranteed to find aloha in a bowl!

SKY Waikiki: Located in the heart of Waikiki, this rooftop bar provides a breathtaking panoramic view of the island from the 19th floor. With plenty of bar and lounge seating, SKY Waikiki is the perfect place to grab a glass of bubbly and watch the sunset over the ocean. Make sure to order their signature Blue Hawaii cocktail which is crafted with light rum, vodka, blue curacao, pineapple, lemon and lime juice.

Need to Know

Looking for more inspiration on adventures in Hawai'i? Find more guides about traveling to Hawai'i written by your favorite travel experts (aka Fora Advisors).

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