What We Do When Friends and Family Visit or What to Do While on Vacation in Oahu

I honestly did not even know how to start this post because there is such an abundance of things to do here on Oahu. In this blog entry I am going to write about the places I usually take and send my friends and family to when they visit me here.

First of all, it is always the most amazing thing for me when people come to Hawai’i all the way from Germany. I love having my friends and family here and it is really special to me to share my life in Hawai’i with them. So far one of my sisters and a couple of my friends have made it out here and by the end of this month another one of my close friends from Germany will visit Hawai’i. Unfortunately, my parents and youngest sister have not made it out here yet. However, it is one of my biggest wishes that they will be able to visit us as long as we still live in Hawai’i.

So where to begin? There are so many beautiful beaches, waterfalls, and hikes here on Oahu that it is sometimes hard to choose where to go first. Honolulu as a city has also a lot to see and offer. Since we live in town, our apartment is in Makiki, we live really close to all kinds of town things to do. Honolulu has a cute little Chinatown, which is definitely worth a visit. Don’t mind the homeless and crazy people and focus on all the great food and produce you can find there. The architecture is also interesting, since it is more dense and historic than other parts of Honolulu. Which brings me to the historic sites I like to visit downtown. There is Iolani Palace, the old home of the former royal family of Hawai’i. Then, there is also the famous King Kamehameha Statue, the State Capitol, and the Hawai’i State Art Museum (free admission). All of those things can be visited easily in half a day. Of course there is Ala Moana shopping center, the biggest outdoor mall in the US, as well as Ala Moana Beach Park, which is also pretty close to our house. I like to take people there for some shopping and a quick beach visit. Last, but not least there is Waikiki, which is probably the most famous vacation spot here in Hawai’i. While I don’t recommend the beach to my friends, I do like to take them there to have a nice dinner or drink at a fancy bar. Even though it is totally overcrowded with tourists from all over the world Waikiki is worth a visit.

When people think of Hawai’i they usually think of beautiful beaches. And trust me, they are not wrong. I recommend Kailua Beach, Lanikai Beach, and Waimanolo Beach (my personal favorite). All of those beaches are on the Windward (east) side of the island and have beautiful fine white sand and clear blue water. Whereas Lanikai is great for snorkeling with some reef, Kailua is great for swimming and relaxing, and Waimanolo is great for boogie boarding and relaxing as well. Hanauma Bay is also a great option for snorkeling, but it is generally really overrun with tourists and non-locals have to pay a fee to get in.

Of course there are some must-do hikes, such as Diamond Head, which is probably the most famous hike on the island. I generally tell people to visit Diamond Head without me. Not because I don’t like it, but because I have seen it about five or six times already. It is also easily accessible by bus. Diamond Head is a short hike to the top of a volcano crater with a great view of Waikiki and other parts of Honolulu. Another great and also short hike is Manoa Falls. This hike is so close to our apartment and also a popular field trip at my school that I have done this hike about twelve times already. I would go right now though if somebody asked me to go – I absolutely love this hike. When going on weekdays it is not too crowded and after some rainfall the waterfall is huge and beautiful. I also like to take my friends or family to the Makapu’u Lighthouse trail. This hike is also quite short, but it leads to a gorgeous view of a lighthouse and Waimanolo Beach. This sounds like I am really into short hikes, which is actually quite the opposite – I like going on longer hikes and exploring hikes less popular. However, when people visit me, I like to take them to places where they can get the most out of their time and effort, since they are only visiting for a short time.

Another great trip I like to take people on is a road trip to Oahu’s north shore (if going across the island counts as a road trip). There are two ways to get there: One way leads across the middle of the island straight to Haleiwa, the heart of the north shore. This is great if you have plans to do something specific up there, such as a hike, stand up paddle boarding, or going to a beach. The other way takes you on Pali Highway to Kailua Town and from there through Kaneohe onto Kamehameha Highway all along the Windward Coast of the island through all the little towns and places like Kualoa Ranch, Laie, Kahuku, Laniakea beach, and finally to Haleiwa. This route is great if you want to do a road trip kind of day. We have done this trip with friends and family several times and even though you get to see a lot, you spend most of your time in the car with several stops to merely look at beaches, farms, and small towns. When my friends visit me this month, I am planning on taking them to the North Shore to hike Kaena Point, then visit Mokuleia Beach for a while, and to check out Haleiwa for some local grindz.

Finally though, it is important to remember that you are on vacation and not on a sightseeing marathon. There is so much to see and do here on Oahu, but there should also be some time to just put your feet up and relax.




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