No matter where you're staying on the island, whether in the heart of Honolulu or out on the North Shore, you can take a continuous loop around this slice of paradise. Oahu doesn't have a superior side of the island - each part has unique qualities that shouldn't be missed, in terms of both nature and cuisine. So, if you've been beach bumming it on the North Shore or enjoying tropical city life in Honolulu, branch out for a while and explore the best of the island on a day trip.
So close, yet so safe — Photo courtesy of Shark Tours Hawaii
Start your day at Bogart's Cafe in Honolulu, with their famous breakfast bagel sandwich, before hitting the road. It's best to leave after 9 am so that most of rush hour is over. From there, head out to Haleiwa on the North Shore and choose between two water activities - cage diving with sharks or surf lessons.
If the former appeals to you, contact North Shore Shark Adventures and go under the ocean with a swarm of sharks. If riding waves sounds good, venture into Surf & Sea to book surfing lessons; they'll take you to a safe surf spot.
After your adventure, it's time for lunch at Haleiwa Joe's, a restaurant on the water where you can enjoy a meal of fresh fish and chart house-style cuisine. Once you've had your fill, stop in the heart of the North Shore for a view of the famous Sunset Beach. Take some photos, get your feet in the water, and if it's wintertime, make sure to watch surfers ride the huge waves.
Live Entertainment at PCC — Photo courtesy of Polynesian Cultural Center
From there, continue east, and if you're in the mood for history and culture, stop at the Polynesian Cultural Center for a tour around their grounds, You'll be treated to a reenactment of Polynesian traditions and lifestyles. Take a brief tour of the place (it's possible to spend a couple of hours here) before moving further down the coast.
The beauty of the eastern coast is that the road weaves along just a few feet from the white sand beaches that stretch for miles. Jungles and landscapes become lush and green, and the environment changes drastically from the rest of the island. Once you're deep on the east side in Kailua, spend some time taking a stroll along Lanikai Beach. The picturesque beach has several tiny islands not far offshore, which are unique to the rest of Oahu.
Heeia Pier fresh catch — Photo courtesy of Heeia Pier and General Store
If you're so inclined, drop by the waterside Heeia Pier General Store and Deli for a gourmet, yet simple meal of fresh fish and local foods. This revamped classic eatery on the pier has brought a modern twist to the traditional local plate. Or continue south, which will complete your loop around the island and end the day at whichever restaurant you're in the mood for, either the Kona Brewing Company or Roy's nearby.