The most urban and bustling of the Hawaiian Islands, Oahu is ever progressive while remaining steeped in its rich history and traditions. One can enjoy poi, a Hawaiian staple that has been around for centuries, then round a corner and order the ever trendy avocado toast. The dichotomy between old and new melds into the perfect marriage of cultural pride and economic progress. For those wanting a taste of what the Hawaiian Islands have to offer, Oahu acts as the perfect introduction.
When to Go
While it might be the busiest season, winter offers the best surfing and prime whale-watching opportunities. For more sun and calmer waters, book your trip in the summer.
If the stars align, you might be lucky enough to plan your trip at the same time as The Eddie. Named after beloved surfing legend Eddie Aikau, the big-wave surfing competition only happens when Waimea Bay produces consistent waves of at least 30 feet. While it officially started in 1984, the competition has only happened nine times. That being said, it’s one of the biggest and best events to attend on Oahu during the winter months.
What to Eat
To get a true taste of Oahu, be sure to order yourself a traditional plate lunch. Your main dish (be it kalua pork, chicken katsu, or lau lau) is typically accompanied with a serving of rice and side of macaroni salad. Originally enjoyed by the pineapple and sugar plantation workers, plate lunches are both affordable and filling.
Souvenir to Take Home
Finding the perfect souvenir is half the fun at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet. More than 400 vendors circle the stadium, hawking everything from handcrafted ukuleles to locally made art. Bartering is encouraged. Just make sure to leave enough room in your suitcase for your newfound treasures.
Sustainable Travel Tip
Protect your skin and the environment by donning nontoxic, reef-safe sunscreen that won’t harm coral or local sea life. Oxybenzone-free sunscreen helps prevent coral bleaching and you’ll be able to enjoy the tropical waters knowing you’re doing your part for conservation.
Lanikai Beach, located on the windward side of the island, is one of Oahu’s most magazine-worthy beaches. Lanikai literally translates to “heavenly sea,” and the powdery white sand and turquoise-hued water will make you feel as if you have died and gone to heaven.