Island life is the life for me! <3 After visiting Oahu for 2 weeks, I can honestly say I’d move there in a heartbeat. Hawaii was heaven on earth!
I’ve received countless questions about Hawaii, so I’ve put together a guide to the island based on our 14 day experience! We’re talking food, beaches, places to stay, activities, flights, what to pack, etc! ENJOY FOLKS! (Also anything with a “**” by it is a MUST in our book!)
This was both Chase & my first time on the island, and for newbies I’d say we fooping ROCKED Hawaii’s world! We looked into EVERYTHING before heading out to the island which made our trip a total breeze! Since we’ve done all the googling and “testing out”, all you have to do to is take our word for it! xx
We’re BIG into food, (eating is basically our favorite part of everyday life..) so obviously we’re starting here!
The places we recommend to you are:
**Roy’s Beach House (American cuisine)
Seven Brothers (burgers + salads)
Crispy Grindz (Açaí bowls)
Kahuku Farms (Vegan + local + organic)
**Waialua Bakery (bread & desserts made fresh in house)
Elephant truck (Thai + vegan)
Ai Love Nalo (vegan)
Norios (steak + sushi)
Hi BBQ (real bbq)
**Uncle Woodys Truck (bbq corn)
Kua Aina (sandwich + burger + salads)
Banzai Sushi Bar (seafood + sushi)
We loved most everything we ate on the island except for one place, Kualoa Ranch. It was awful and extremely overpriced! Don’t eat here!
GLUTEN FREE** Our list is a bit limited. I’m allergic to shrimp, and I’m also a celiac! (A GLUTARD!) In Utah there are tons of gluten free alternatives, but in Hawaii we didn’t find many unless it was a chain restaurant! All of these places listed above had meat for Chase, and gluten free options for me! (Not necessarily bread or buns, but enough of an option where I felt full!)
As far as grocery shopping goes, you’re going to want to hit Costco or Safeway in the city! They have the most options and the cheapest prices! If your shopping at Food Land (aka not in the city,) snag a locals phone number or ask if you can enter your own phone number for a discount! (It actually helps quite a bit!)
Finding a place to stay took us some time! You can either stay in the city, (Honolulu/Waikiki) or the country! (Literally everywhere else.) After deciding where you’d like to be your options are 1. book a hotel (if it’s nice it’ll be pricey) or 2. use Airbnb, VRBO, or Home Away!
We wanted to stay at Turtle Bay, (country side, NORTH SHORE) but didn’t want to pay $400.00 a night + resort fees! We found a condo at Turtle Bay through VRBO that was only $90.00 a night and really cute! (I’ll link it HERE! If you can find it on VRBO, it’s cheaper than this linked price!) We love staying at nice resorts, but we also love saving money! Staying at this condo at Turtle Bay was the perfect option for us! We really did love this place and definitely will book it again!
TIP: when booking anything through Airbnb, VRBO, or Home Away, make sure you’ve read through all the details. Sometimes they don’t have air-conditioning, they might require you to bring your own toiletries/towels, & you might need to pre arrange a time to get the key if they have one. I know this sounds like a lot, but it’s not! TRUST ME!!!! If I can handle this, anyone can!
Side note: we were extremely glad we stayed on the North Shore! It was by far our favorite part of the whole island! We visited the entire island while there, and wouldn’t of had it any other way!
We did so much while we were in Hawaii! Our days were jam packed for the most part! My absolute favorite days though we’re the ones where we did nothing. Just eat, lay on the beach, and play in the water! If you're wanting a chill vacation, give yourself a few days where nothing is planned! In my opinion, they always end up being the best days!
Aside from chillin, we recommend THESE:
**Helicopter Ride at Paradise Helicopters
**Hikes (Crouching Lion, Lulumahu falls, Waimea falls, Kuliouou ridge trail, and sunset pillbox!)
Shopping (local shops at Haleiwa or the Ala Moana mall)
Paddle boarding (we rented ours in Haleiwa)
**Snorkeling (We liked Hanauma Bay & Turtle Bay! They had the prettiest fish! You can rent gear at both of these places or get your own on amazon for super cheap!)
Luau + Night show at PCC! (we don’t recommend a full day there. However, the Luau & night show were incredible!)
A few activities we didn’t do but would love to try next time are Shark diving, horse back riding, swimming with wild dolphins (west side) and Zip lining! They have tons of places that offer these!
The only activity we don’t recommend is visiting Kualoa Ranch! (Aka Jurassic Park!) The views are insanely beautiful, but it’s expensive! (We’d rather book a helicopter tour over it than a tour through it!) If you drive up to Kualoa Ranch, you can honestly see it’s gorgeous view without paying their hefty fees.
Simply put, some beaches are better than others! Here were our favorites!
**Kawela bay (beautiful, somewhat private feeling beach! Pirates of the Caribbean, hunger games, and soul surfer were filmed there!)
Waimea (incredibly big waves and the best beach to watch surfers!)
**Lanikai (softest sand ever)
Sunset (chill & somewhat touristy)
Castles (calm waves for beginning surfers, also has sea turtles swimming around)
Waikiki (firework show on Friday nights)
Banzai pipeline (great to spot surfers)
This is going to sound crazy but the only beach we didn’t love was Turtle Bay! Great for snorkeling, but if you want a beach day, it’s not the prettiest view!
The most cost efficient way to rent a car is through Turo! (It’s like Airbnb but for a car!) You can get a car for $20.00 a day! A STEAL! If your staying in the city, Uber is wonderful and cost efficient as well! The north shore doesn’t really have Uber, so if you’re staying there (or anywhere other than the city) we recommend renting a car!
If you rent a car through a company like Budget, Hertz, etc. try booking it online before arriving! It will be cheaper and a much quicker process!
This can be one of the cheapest or most expensive parts of your trip depending on how you do it! If you’re flexible on dates, you can always find cheap(er) flights! Also, if you can handle a red eye, that’s also going to give you a cheaper flight as well!
I got our flights for $265.00 round trip! SO AFFORDABLE! I follow a few people on Instagram who find cheap flights and watch the deals they post! (I feel like every big city in the world has an Instagram for this! The one I follow for Utah is @FlightsFromHome!)
After finding a cheap flight, I look it up on google flights, and then get on Hopper to see when I should purchase it! Flight prices can move up an down on a day to day basis, and Hopper tells you when to purchase at the best price!
Allssoo, I recently discovered one other way to fly for cheap and it’s kind of amazing! You need good credit to do it, and will need to apply for & use certain credit cards, but if done right, you can virtually get free flights! (Or international flights under $100.00!)
Packing for Hawaii is a piece of cake! It’s the complete opposite of New York where you bring your entire closet! You can get away with bringing just a carry on to Hawaii, you really don’t need much!
Here are our essentials:
Sun screen (30+, the sun is strong in Hawaii!)
Good sandals or flip flops
A light jacket for the evening
More swim suits
Aside from the basics (tooth brush, tooth paste, etc.) this is literally all you need! We didn’t wash our hair much, didn’t get dressed often, and didn’t need everything we though we would! These were the essentials!
Ladies, if you like to air dry your hair, it was a little hard to get it air dried all the way! (It’s pretty humid there!) I was very grateful I packed my hairdryer! It’s not necessary, but I’m glad I had it!
Chase & I packed some “nicer” outfits for dates/nice dinners and we only busted them out one time. Everything gets wet, everything gets sandy.. keep your nice clothes at home!
TIPS + ADVICE
I have some local friends who have grown up on the island, and they kindly shared this knowledge with me prior to coming. It was useful to me, and I hope it can be useful to you as well!
Support local everything if possible (ex: farmers market over a grocery store)
Be respectful to locals (this might be your vacation destination, but it is someone else’s HOME)
Pick up after yourself (don’t you dare litter)
Note, there are homeless people (do what you will. Be kind, help if you have a good feeling. Go with your gut.)
There are “locals only” spots, be respectful to these areas
There are hitch hikers (once again, go with your gut!)
Aight.. I think that’s everything! If you made it to the end of this post, CON FREAKIN GRATS! That was a LOONNGG ONE! I hope you reward yourself by booking a trip to Hawaii!!!! (Seriously, Nike that shiz & just do it!!!!)
Obviously I’m not from the island and have so much to learn about it still.. BUT, if you have any questions for me about anything leave a comment below!
Thank you so much for reading guys! Love you all so so much! xx
P.s. for more of our Hawaii pictures, check out this post HERE! (And this little one here!)