Oahu combines cosmopolitan luxury and breathtaking scenery more than any other Hawaiian island. Honolulu, the state capital, showcases the island’s urban appeal. From the ornate Iolani Palace at the Pearl Harbor National Monument to the austere USS Arizona Memorial, you’ll find plenty of cultural and historical landmarks nearby. In nearby Waikiki, high-rise skyscrapers and beach resorts contrast with white-sand beaches. For a taste of the Hawaiian countryside, visit the North Shore. Here you will find the most sparkling blue waters and winding hikes. But these three places are not the must-sees of Oahu. Its upscale restaurants, vibrant cultural events, and wild nightlife make the island a “gathering point” for Hawaiian culture.
The best months to travel
Mid-April to early June or between September and mid-December are the ideal times to explore Oahu. In these off-peak times, events and tourist sites are less crowded. more frequent, and airfares and room rates are at their lowest. Average temperatures are in the mid-60s to 80s, but since mid-June through August (Oahu’s summer season) is less rainy, tourists flock to the island to take advantage of the sunny weather. Another popular (and expensive) time to visit is between late December and early April when surfers flock to the North Shore to catch the waves or watch the pros compete in various surfing events.
How to save money in Honolulu – Oahu
Staying in a hotel in Waikiki might not seem as cheap as the quieter North Shore options, but there are affordable properties just off the coast. Plus, staying here will make your trip to must-sees like Waikiki Beach and the Diamond Head State Monument more manageable.
Limit Your Transportation Costs Oahu’s top attractions are spread across the island, but if you stay at a hotel with free parking or opt for a day car rental, you can get too many of the attractions quickly. Between them. For additional savings, rely on public transit or airport shuttle services rather than taxis to and from the airport.
Visiting in the spring or fall from mid-April to early June and September to mid-December may not be as hot (in summer) or ideal for surfing (in winter), but these off-peak months have thinner crowds and less than peak room rates. the season
Put the phone down, break the law by looking at a phone, tablet, or video game while walking down a crosswalk, and you’ll be fined at least $15. Be a repeat offender, and you could owe up to $99 per citation.
Culture and customs
Oahu is a center of Hawaii’s arts and culture scene. There are many music and dance festivals on the island, including the Honolulu Festival and the Aloha Festival. You will also find many expressions of native Polynesian and Hawaiian cultures across the island. Be sure to visit the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Kalihi for an in-depth look at the island’s indigenous heritage. Also, consider attending a luau, a traditional Hawaiian party, and a cultural performance. For a list of luaus offered on Oahu, see the Hawaii Tourism Authority website.
Although English is widely spoken throughout the island, you will also hear traditional Hawaiian words on your travels. Hawaiian Pidgin (or Hawaiian Creole English, a mixture of Hawaiian, Japanese, Filipino, Chinese, and Portuguese) is also used. Local words you should know include “aloha” (used to greet someone politely or end a conversation) and “mahalo” (thank you).
It is also important to treat Native Americans as American citizens rather than “Hawaiians” or “Native Islanders.” While the citizens of Oahu value their Native ancestry, they are also proud of their American heritage. Additionally, residents of the Hawaiian Islands generally have a laid-back attitude. Life on Oahu is slower than in most US cities, so keep in mind that customer service can be inefficient at times.
what to eat
While you’ll find plenty of familiar American chains on Oahu, you should sample some Hawaiian favorites while you’re on the island. Shaved ice (a cold treat flavored with tropical ingredients like coconut and passion fruit) and poke (or marinated raw seafood) are must-try specialties. Local dishes like black pork (which is traditionally wrapped in banana leaves and cooked underground) and loko moko (burger patty with white rice, a fried egg, and brown sauce), and a few bites of Asian-inspired – teriyaki beef and kalbi (or Korean barbecue short ribs) – the dish is available at many restaurants as part of lunch or on its own. A plated lunch often comes with a protein or two, rice, and a macaroni salad.
Two of the most popular places on the island to grab a plated lunch are Rainbow Drive-In (from Waikiki) and L&L Hawaiian Barbecue (which has several locations near downtown). For Hawaiian fare that isn’t served as a plated lunch, travelers recommend dining at Kono’s Restaurant, Ono Seafood, and Uncle Bo’s Pupu Bar & Grill. More upscale (and pricey) options include celebrity chef outposts like Roy’s Waikiki, run by Roy Yamaguchi.
Oahu is a relatively safe island, but robberies are common in tourist areas like Waikiki and Ala Moana. You should seriously consider keeping an eye on your belongings, and valuables should never be left unattended on the beach or in vehicles. Also, consider avoiding neighborhoods like Kalihi and downtown Chinatown when traveling alone or after dark. Remember that it is illegal to use electronic devices like phones, tablets, and video games while riding in a crosswalk in Honolulu, so store these items safely to avoid getting a citation.
If you’re planning on visiting Oahu, you’ll want to spend most of your time enjoying the island’s many outdoor activities. In order to avoid sunburn when hiking, swimming, surfing, etc., wear plenty of sunscreens. You will want to heed the swell and current warnings at local beaches, especially in winter when the tides are high. Better to stick to supervised beaches. Additionally, the Hawaii Tourism Authority advises against standing on coral reefs and suggests looking for dangerous box jellyfish before entering the ocean. For more information on how to stay safe on Oahu, visit the Hawaii Tourism Authority website.
How to navigate Honolulu and Oahu
Driving is the ideal means of transportation in Oahu.Fortunately, Hawaii offers some of the most reasonable car rental prices on the island, especially at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL). Located in the south shore of Oahu, the airport is approximately 5 miles from downtown Honolulu and attractions such as the Battleship Missouri Memorial and the World War II War Memorial of the Pacific National Monument. Walking to certain sites (think Waikiki Beach and Ala Moana Center) is another option when staying in Waikiki. You can choose the public bus system or the Waikiki Trolley to get to most parts of the island, but these options are slow and may not serve some areas. Taxis and ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are also available, but fees can add up quickly.
If you are looking for a means of transport from or to the airport, ask your hotel; Many resorts offer shuttle service for a fraction of the cost of a taxi.
If you don’t plan to hole up in Waikiki for your entire trip, you’ll find that car rental are a practical necessity. The plus side here is that car rental rates are among the most reasonable in the country. However, traffic on Oahu can be congested (especially during peak seasons and in tourist areas), and parking is often scarce and expensive. To save on your car rental, rent a car at the airport. Also, consider avoiding hotels that charge extra for on-site parking unless you plan to return your car before the end of the day. Another tip: try to stay off the roads during peak hours from 5 am to 8 am and 3 pm to 6:30 pm on weekdays.
On Foot Most of Oahu’s top attractions are too far from one another to reach on foot, but walking to the Ala Moana Center and Waikiki Beach is possible when staying in Waikiki. Some sights, such as the Honolulu Museum of Art and Iolani Palace, are also within walking distance. To get to more remote attractions and areas outside Honolulu, you’ll need to rely on your own wheels or public or private transportation services.
Bus Oahu’s public bus system – TheBus – is easy to use and covers most of the island thanks to its extensive routes. Hours vary by line, every 15 to 30 minutes, jog. On the Routes & Timetables page of the TheBus website, you can see the exact route hours. Shangri La, Kailua Beach Park, and the Koko Crater Trail are among the attractions that may be reached by bus.
One-way adult fares, payable upon boarding, cost $2.75 per person, while children 6 through 17 can ride for $1.25 each. Additionally, seniors 65 and older can travel at reduced prices. One-day passes, which bus drivers sell, are also offered for $2 to $5.50 per person.
Trolley Waikiki Trolley is a fun way to travel around Waikiki and downtown Honolulu, but not necessarily an efficient one. This hop-on, hop-off trolley and double-decker bus system have five lines that stop by the Ala Moana Center, Diamond Head State Monument, other key attractions, and some hotels. Trolley routes generally take 50 to 2 ½ hours to complete, and drivers point out landmarks along the way.
You can buy one-, four- and seven-day passes (valid on all lines) on board any trolley or bus for $45 to $70 per adult; reduced rates are available for seniors and children between 3 and 11. Passes that include admission to must-see sights like Iolani Palace and the Honolulu Museum of Art are also sold. But remember, discounted tickets must be booked at least five days before the first day of use. Also, remember that multiday passes do not need to be used on consecutive days; four-day passes are valid for any four days within seven days, while seven-day passes can be used on any seven days within 10 days.