Updated: Mar 19, 2019
Oahu, Hawaii is truly a paradise. The view of the green bouldering mountains, the clean and clear turquoise color water and the crisp blue sky, were all very therapeutic. The island immediately put us in a relaxed spirit and also offered a lot to do. From the Hawaiian music to the cool soft breezes, time seemed to slow down for a while.
For transportation, we opted to rent a car and have the flexibility to travel around on our own time, whenever we were ready to head out. We had our week packed with events and did not want to take a chance missing any of our events. The rental was pretty affordable for the week, at $32.00 a day, and may have been cheaper, had we booked more in advance. As for parking, the hotel parking arrangement can be an issue, depending upon what resort /hotel you stay at. Each day parked at the Hilton Village, racked up $43.00 a day!!
But, if you are military, there is a potential out. The military hotel, Hale Koa, is right next door and offers a parking pass for the month for $90.00 or if you are only deciding to stay for a day or two, the price is $30.00 a day versus $43.00. When we first touched down, we initially decided to utilize Uber, but getting around to different parts of the island cost on average $25.00-$35.00 each way. As for navigating the island, getting around was pretty straight forward and easy. The island has three main interstates, H1, H2 and H3 that allowed us to get to main parts of the island easily. We primarily spent a good amount of time in North shore. North shore had a lot of events we wanted to experience.
Luckily, we were able to try a few spots that were recommended by friends who were previous Hawaiian residents and also stumble upon a few gems of our own. For the most part, everything was pretty tasty. Some of the places that we really enjoyed was Giovanni’s Shrimp truck, Matsumoso Shaved ice in North Shore, Rise and Shine Breakfast café, Maui Mikes, Leonard’s Bakery, and Papa Ole’s Kitchen. For a more comprehensive look at some of the restaurants we tried, please read ( 7 must eat places on Oahu, Hawaii).
We decided to keep it simple for this trip and only purchase a Hawaiian made pineapple shaped wooden candy dish, Hawaii Exclusive Hershey’s pineapple and coconut kisses blend, and matching family Hawaiian shirts. With the exception of what we decided to grab for souvenirs, the options were plentiful. Every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, the Aloha Stadium hosts a massive flea market. The market houses everything you can think of for souvenirs. We purchased our matching Hawaiian outfits while there. In addition, the market had typical souvenirs such as magnets, T-shirts and other novelty items, along with some more expensive items, such as pictures from local artist and beautiful handmade pottery. The list of options was endless. Also, this is a good place to brush off your negotiating skills and try to score a good bargain on some of the items there.
Hawaiian - hand crafted wooden products
Sightseeing in Oahu is beautiful and amazing. Everything in sight was clean and pristine. We decided to check out some of the main attractions on the island, to include Pearl Harbor, Kualoa Ranch, Waikiki Beach, Hale'iwa Ali'i beach park for green turtle viewing, Dole pineapple plantation and North Shore. To our surprise, one of our favorite destinations was Kualoa Ranch. Kualoa Ranch is a 400 acre private cattle ranch and private reserve location. The ranch is a huge tourist attraction with extensive history and also a popular location for movie filming. While there, we had to choose between two options - the jungle tour, in which tourist travel on a huge bus ATV vehicle through the jungle, or the movie tour, to the various locations on sight where movies were filmed. We opted to take the movie tour and had a blast. The tour is very informative and interactive.
Currently, more than 50+ movies and shows have been shot on-sight at Kuala Ranch, to include Jurassic Park, 50 first dates, and Jumanji - just to name a few.
Jurassic Park dinosaur stampede scene re-enactment
Entertainment on Oahu was very plentiful. We were able to pack our week with countless activities for 6 days and we still do not feel like we had enough time to do everything we wanted to do. For entertainment, we decided to purchase the Oahu Go City Pass. The pass comes with different options and allow you to enter many of the attractions of Oahu for one set price. We purchased the 3-Day ticket, regularly priced at $199.00, off of Groupon for $179.00 per person. Some of the attractions we were able to experience, via the pass, were Pearl Harbor, the Polynesian Cultural Center, Ali'i Luau, Moped riding around the city and Wet 'n Wild.
Cliff Jumping at Waimea Bay beach
Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort
We stayed in the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Waikiki Beach Resort. We were able to stay in the rainbow hotel, which is one of the modern upgraded hotels. Although very expensive (read our trip hacking on how we decreased the cost of Hawaii), the stay was enjoyable. The hotel offered a lot of amenities and activities. If you would like a hotel where you can stay in one location and not have to venture out, this is the place to be. The Village houses many shops and boutiques, an ABC convenience store and a few eateries, conveniently located right downstairs from the rooms. The Hotel also provided a free DVD rental stand station, similar to RedBox for nightly rentals, a host of pools around the property and many free classes, such as yoga and lei making. All in all, despite the expensive nature of the hotel, if you can bare it, it’s a nice resort with everything at your fingertips.