A hiker looks over the Ko'olau Range in Oahu, Hawaii.
The third largest of the Hawaiian Islands, Oahu is known as “the Gathering Place.” Its population is as diverse as its landscapes—hike up the lush mountains of the Windward Coast, snorkel with turtles at the North Shore, and ride the gentle waves of Waikiki. Whether you’re looking for an active adventure or a relaxing drink on the beach, Oahu has a piece of paradise for every traveler.
When to Go
The North Shore’s famous waves are at their most towering and powerful during the winter, when important surfing competitions are held. From May through September, the water is calmer for swimming and snorkeling.
Where to Stay
Turtle Bay Resort: The main—and only—resort on the North Shore fosters a low-key vibe throughout its 850 acres, which include pools, restaurants, a spa, and about five miles of coastline. Activities include kayaking in protected Kawela Bay, home to green sea turtles.
Where to Eat
Waialua Bakery and Juice Bar: On the main drag in Haleiwa, this laid-back beach shack of a bakery serves deli sandwiches, baked goods, and juices and smoothies made from fruits grown on the bakery’s own organic farm. Try the tangy-sweet soursop smoothie.
Haleiwa Beach House: This airy, modern dining room features “garage door” walls that slide up to let in the trade winds and a view of the ocean. Stop here for craft beers, cocktails, pupus (appetizers), or fresh, local fish dishes.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Kahuku Farms: You can find more than fresh fruit and vegetables at this farm stand. Take a wagon-ride tour, eat at the outdoor café, and buy prepared foods, such as the farm’s liliko‘i (passion fruit) balsamic dressing.
Red Barn Café: This farm stand features the produce of local growers. The café offers breakfast burritos, wraps, and other lunch fare; it also sells prepared foods and periodically offers cooking classes, farm tours, workshops, meet-the-farmer meals, and live music.