Travel tips for Hawaii
Top 3 Things to Do on Oahu
Want a fantastic vacation to Hawaii? One that is unique and memorable, beautiful and inspiring? Then here are three things you definitely want todo on your next trip to Oahu:
Take a Hike
Most people don’t realize the island of Oahu has a wonderful trail system
with hikes in the mountains, rain forest, and along the ocean. There are
many to choose from, but one I strongly suggest is the trek to Ka’ena
Point from the North Shore near Mokuleia. Ka’ena Point is a bird sanctuary
for nesting seabirds, particularly the albatross. According to Hawaiian
legend it is also said to be the jumping off point for spirits departing
this earth. Visitors venturing out in this direction can expect stunning
scenes of raw beauty untouched by crowds, accessible only by foot and ATV.
The 5-mile round trip hike is considered easy to moderate and is basically
flat, paralleling the ocean.
Hiking along the edge of the island, mountains rising on one side,
cerulean ocean extending into the horizon on the other, waves crashing
into the rocky shore, and albatross flying over head is truly an
astonishing experience. If you plan to be there in January and February
you will likely see whales frolicking not too far off shore. But that’s
not the biggest bonus for going in January or February. The beginning of
the year is nesting time for the albatross and hikers are permitted to
walk through the sanctuary within the roped paths. Nests are marked with
flags and birds are very easy to spot. We were fortunate to watch in
breathless silence as a baby bird, only two feet from us, actually started
hatching from its egg, supervised by its mother.
Standing at the Point, on the very edge of Oahu, the deep blue ocean is
breathtaking. Rare monk seals come to sunbathe here in the soft sand on
occasion. Tide pools down a hill at the bottom of the sand dunes can
provide a refreshing respite before heading back on the trail. Be sure to
see my book, Off-the-Beaten-Track in Oahu for more tips on taking
the Ka’ena Point hike.
Travel Tips for Hawaii
Visit a Botanical Garden
Hawaii itself can seem like a botanical garden, but one garden in
particular you won’t want to miss. Ho’omaluhia, which interpreted means
“to make a place of peace and tranquility” is very aptly named. Set right
up next to the fluted Ko’olau mountains in Kaneohe, the location takes
visitors away from the hustle and bustle of the city to the calmness and
beauty of nature. Ho’omaluhia is well laid out with areas representing the
geographical regions of the Pacific, highlighting plants specific to those
There are trails to wander, picnic and barbecue areas, and historic sites.
There is a nature center, an art gallery displaying works by local
artists, and a lake which doubles as a catch basin in times of excess
water. Down at the lake visitors can try their hand at catch and release
fishing on the weekends (poles can be checked out from the nature center),
and there are always plenty of hungry ducks waiting for a hand out.
Mongoose dart around on the expansive lawns and colorful tropical birds
hop around on the ground or flutter in the trees. Many plants are labeled
for easy identification as you wander through the various trails and
pathways. Since the garden is quite large, a road guides visitors to the
different geographical sections where people can then park and explore.
Find an Out-of-the-Way Beach
People go to Hawaii to go to the beach, and there are many terrific
beaches on Oahu. One beach I highly recommend is a bit
off-the-beaten-track, but worth it, Kailua beach. Located in the quaint
beach town of Kailua, this beach has an entire half mile stretch of
gorgeous white sand with some of the most amazingly clear, turquoise
waters splashing up onto it. This is a very visitor friendly beach with
plenty of free parking either in scattered small lots or all along the
streets. There are several public restroom facilities with changing rooms
and outdoor shower heads for rinsing off. Just beyond the sand there are
trees paralleling the entire beach, so those who want to watch the water
and be with their group but stay out of the sun, can be comfortable.
Not too far off shore is a large flat rock called Flat Island popular with
kayakers. Kayaks are available for rent at locations near the shore.
Sometimes waves can make paddling a bit rough, but with two in a kayak and
a bit of experience, it’s a great time. Wind surfers love it here, but
there is no surf boarding and very little snorkeling here, although sea
turtles do make an appearance occasionally. The scenery is so picturesque,
the sand is so soft and white, and the azure deep is such the perfect
temperature, a day slips quickly away in this tropical paradise.
There is so much to experience on a trip to Hawaii you have to make
choices on what to see and what to cut out. Everyone wants to have the
best trip possible and come home with wonderful memories and fabulous
stories. Taking three days to do these suggested outings will give you a
unique look at the island of Oahu, experiences most people haven’t had on
a Hawaiian trip, and some really terrific adventures. You’ll be glad you
Leslee Haralson is a travel blogger and first-time author of the ebook
travel guide, Off-the-Beaten-Track in Oahu: 8 Must-Do Adventures! She
lives in California, is a mother of two teenagers, and is always planning
her next adventure.