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Dreaming of Hawaii? Here’s why a trip to Oahu should be top of your list

If you’re thinking of taking a trip to Hawaii, one of the biggest challenges is deciding which island to choose. But I can help with this – I’m Rachel (or RachelOffDuty), I’m from beautiful Oahu and I urge you to visit as soon as you can! It’s true that this island has had more visitors than ever as of late, and that we as travelers need to be respectful so that we don’t ruin places for others. But popular places shouldn’t be synonymous with the word ‘overrated,’ just because people like them.

Oahu is an incredible island with so much to explore. If you look beyond the surface and beyond the crowds, you’ll see why. This list is just a slice of all the things a trip to Oahu has to offer…

1. The fusion food scene is delectable

A trip to Oahu is so much more than Zippy’s, Leonard’s Bakery, and Rainbow Drive-In (though, these iconic eateries certainly have their place). Look no further than Honolulu for some of the most vibrant farm-to-table, fusion cuisine handcrafted by Hawaii’s best home-grown chefs. Alan Wong’s, The Pig and The Lady, Helena’s Hawaiian Food, Side Street Inn, Maguro Brothers and Mitsu-Ken are all worthwhile stops and will take you on a culinary world tour without leaving the city.

On the Windward side of the island, spots like Cinammon’s, Ted’s Bakery, Papa Ole’s, and Keneke’s will show you how Hawaii does breakfast and plate lunch. This is a quintessential local dish of rice, macaroni salad and an entree, like chicken katsu or kalbi beef. 

2. There's stunning surf and beaches 

Waikiki Beach is not the be-all, end-all of Oahu. Rent a car, or take the bus – Oahu’s bus system is one of the best in the world – and cruise around the island. You’ll come across some of the most beautiful beaches around. The island’s South Shore, home to Sandy Beach, Hanauma Bay, and the Makapu’u Lighthouse, is a jaw-dropping drive. Crashing waves, blowholes, steep cliffs and tide pools dot the coastline everywhere you look.

On the flip side, Oahu’s North Shore is world-famous. Banzai Pipeline, Sunset Beach and Ali’i Beach are iconic surf spots, home to international competitions. Waimea Bay is known for its wide sandy shores and waterfall that feeds into the ocean. You could always try the local pastime of ‘jumping rock’ (cliff-jumping from a nearby rocky ledge protruding from the shallow end of the bay). Lanikai Beach in Kailua tops the charts annually as one of the most beautiful beaches in the entire world. This is where you’ll often see kayakers, windsurfers and paddle boarders dancing in the waves just offshore. Take your pick!

3. The hikes are breathtaking 

Oahu is home to countless hikes from beginner to advanced. Highly trafficked trails like the Koko Head Stairs and Diamond Head offer a relatively safe and easy way to get up to a high vantage point quickly. Longer treks like Maunawili Falls and more challenging hikes like Ka’au Crater reward seasoned hikers with waterfalls and lush greenery along the way. 

 

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4. There are plenty of active adventures to try

Out of all the Hawaiian islands, you’ll find the greatest selection of tours, activities and landmarks to visit on Oahu. So, when you’ve had your fill of lounging on the beach, you won’t be lacking in other ways to spend your days. Touring the Polynesian Cultural Center, ziplining in Keana Farms and horseback riding on Kualoa Ranch are just some of the many activities you can try on the island. To learn more about the island’s history, pay a visit to Iolani Palace, Queen Emma’s Summer Palace or the USS Arizona Memorial Park. 

5. Plus, so much tangible history and culture

Hawaii’s native and local culture is truly special for travelers to witness firsthand. There are the more obvious displays like the hula and the unique lull of a ukulele. And then there are the more subtle examples of what makes these islands unique: taking your shoes off before entering someone’s house, giving people leis, and sharing large, multicultural meals together with friends and family.

You’ll also notice the unique fusion of language. English, Hawaiian, and Pidgin (a Sreole of phrases and sayings unique to Hawaii, caused by the merging of international immigrants and local Hawaiians who needed a way to communicate). Switching back and forth between these three languages isn’t uncommon. You’ll see it on street signs, listed on menus at restaurants and in the ways people greet each other in everyday settings. 

 

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6. The pace of life is so different

Oahu is more metropolitan than other islands as it’s home to the state’s central business district, Honolulu. But the island spirit and laidback lifestyle here is alive and well. People who live on Oahu typically choose not to prescribe to the idea of feeling rushed or stressed. Because how could you, when you’re surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery and weather in the world?  

For those with eyes wide enough to look beyond the crowds, past the tourist shops and outside of the stereotypes, Oahu awaits. This gorgeous island is ready to show its true colors and that’s why a trip to Oahu is a no-brainer!

 

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