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3 Days in Oahu

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Oahu

Oahu is the busiest of the Hawaiian Islands. After over 10 visits to Hawaii, I recommend 3-4 days for a visit to Oahu combined with a visit to one of the other islands. While Oahu is busy and exhibits many skyscrapers and high rise hotels; other islands have a more serene feel to them.

I highly recommend a rental car when arriving in Honolulu.

As I have mentioned in other blogs, I am a frugal but definitely not cheap. Oahu is expensive; so even the least expensive hotels are pricey on this island.

In order to save money, if you are trying to do that; stay somewhere like the Aston Waikiki and for the last night splurge on the Hilton Hawaiian Village (where you leave the Aston early in the morning and spend all day at the Hilton Hawaiian Village; experience the night activities and the next morning until departure. There are shows, luaus, fireworks, private beach, private lagoon, swim areas, etc. It is worth the cost for at least a night.

My recommendations:

Hilton Hawaiian Village.       The Hilton Hawaiian Village has a mall area and parking lots; self park or valet. The shopping area is extremely nice and the shops give away samples. Check out the times of Luaus and Fireworks (even if you decide not to stay here). Highly Recommended.

Aston Waikiki Beach

Is about a mile down the road; on Waikiki Beach. It is conveniently located to a lot of shops and restaurants. Highly Recommended.

Day 1:

When you first arrive, you will be a bit tired (especially if this is your first stop in the Hawaiian islands), but if staying at either the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel or Hilton Hawaiian Village; park your car and walk Waikiki Beach and grab lunch or dinner watching the surfers, there are a lot of shops on the strip, check them out, and go for a swim at the beach or back at the hotel.

Day 2:

Get up early and be at Pearl Harbor by 7:15 AM. From Waikiki it around a 45 minute drive and can be longer if it is during the work week. Grab breakfast on the way. Pearl Harbor tickets are handed out first come, first serve. If you get there early, you will be in the first or second tour groups and it is well worth it to get in within 45 minutes of arrival. If you arrive later in the day, you may not get a ticket or you may get a ticket for mid-afternoon and will have to time your day accordingly.

Pearl Harbor (just dress appropriately) You can wear shorts and t-shirt, but halter tops and short shorts will be turned away. There is 40 minute video when you arrive about what happened at Pearl Harbor (Bring some tissues), followed by a boat ride out to the USS Arizona and a return trip. The whole experience will take until about 10:30 AM if you arrive at 7:15 AM.

The afternoon is really up for grabs. I suggest going to the Dole Plantation for an afternoon snack! The drive is beautiful and if you go to the Dole Plantation; there is a fun train ride and Dole Whip when you finish!

 

Day 3:

Take a trip around the Island. Start early in the morning with the intention of driving all the way around. It will be filled with many spots and picture taking opportunities. Check out the links below as they may help you decide your stopping points.

Hanauma Bay State Park is a conservation park with a $7.50 charge. There are package deals to this park and also to the Banzai Pipeline on a tour or shuttles from Waikiki. Just remember that the park is always closed on Tuesdays.

 

Banzai Pipeline

North Shore

Waimanalo Beach

Waimea Beach

Sunset Beach

Haleiwa Town

Shark’s Cove

Diamond Head

 

End of Day 3 or Day 4: Departure

Spend the morning at the pool, eat breakfast on the beach, go for a stroll, or some morning shopping…before heading off to the airport.

Things You Should Know:

  • If you are going to do a helicopter tour; do it over the Big Island or Kauai, but not Oahu (or Maui)
  • Snorkeling is great at Hanamuau Bay (depending on the time of the year; you can see whales breach)
  • Remember to rent a car for the entire trip
  • Driving around the island is beautiful; stop often and take pictures
  • Make sure to get Dole Whip at the Dole Plantation
  • Stay on Waikiki Beach – save money on other islands with hotel accommodations
  • Stay here a few days, but make sure to visit another island
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7 Reasons To Visit Kauai

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Kauai is the oldest of the Hawaiian Islands and has various environments such as rainforest, swamps, mountains, desert, and beaches. Kauai is temperate all year and ranges from the 60’s to 80’s Fahrenheit. The hottest months are August- September where the temperature is 85 degrees Fahrenheit and January is the coolest month with an average of 78 degrees Fahrenheit. I have been to Hawaii over ten times. The rooster is commonplace especially in Lihue.

Kauai is less commercialized than Maui and offers serenity, beauty, and provides a piece of paradise!

 

What You Should Know About Kauai

  • You should rent a car
  • You should be aware of where to stay depending on the time of the year.
    • Poipu is best in the summer and the North Shore is best in the winter
  • From the North Shore to the Poipu can take around an hour to an hour and a half depending on traffic
  • You cannot get lost; there are only a few roads
  • The cheapest souvenirs are at Wal-Mart near the airport

What We Do:

  • Rent a car
  • Almost always stay near the middle of the island (Lihue)
  • My favorite hotel is the Marriott Kauai Beach Club
  • My favorite place to eat is Duke’s on the beach of Marriott Kauai Beach Club
  • Go all over the island
  • I have spent as little as 3 days on Kauai to 3 weeks at a time (writing my dissertation).
  • It is one of the best places on earth.

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The North Shore

Things You Should Know:

On the drive up to the North Shore. It is a spectacular drive; passing many beaches, valleys, jungles, and flowers! If you see an area you would like to spend an hour or so, stop! Get out, take pictures, and capture the moment; then load back up and continue on your path.

Princeville, Hanalei, and Kilauea are a few of the cities on the way; Tunnels Beach is a wonderful place to spend a few hours; there are lifeguards and the drive to this location is beautiful. There is a lighthouse and other sights that are of interest. Again, stop when you see something of interest.

There is a cave across the street from Tunnels Beach. Stay out of there; there are bats and bats can carry rabies.

What We Do:

  • Drive all the way up to the end of the road; stopping along the town of Hanalei and shopping and getting some ice cream or quick bite to eat.
  • Stopping at Tunnels Beach is one of my favorites; I am not a beach person, but there are huge trees that provide sun protection and allow for reading a book or walking the beach.

Around Lihue

What You Should Know:

This is the area right around the airport. The Kauai Marriott Beach Club and Ritz Carlton Villas back up to the airport. Again, you should rent a car from the airport.

Kalapaki Beach is a wonderful place to spend a day or half day. There is a surf school, you can watch cruise ships come in, and there is a mini mall on the grounds and across the street with Shave Ice. Duke’s has wonderful Banana Smoothies.

Staying in this area is the half way point to the North Shore and to Poipu or even Polihole Beach.

From Lihue, you may want to stock up on a few groceries before going to your hotel. there is a Walmart close by.

Kauai has a lot of golf courses and wonderful resorts.

Around this area, there is the Kilohana Plantation, and Wailua Falls; there is also a Costco and Shopping Area.

One of my favorite activities is kayaking up the Kayak Wailua

This kayak experience is about 45 minutes paddling upstream and a 15 minute hike to Secret Falls and the returning. Just remember to pack a bag for water and a snack or two. The sun is really intense; sunscreen, hats, and the trail is extremely muddy so do not wear “new shoes” The estimated trip will take 3.5-4 hours depending on how long you spend at the waterfall.

What We Do:

  m5

Poipu

What You Should Know:

The drive from Lihue allows you to go through the Tree Tunnel and make your way to Poipu. There is a resort zone in this area.

On Poipu Beach – Tombola (Nukumoi Point) is sand that separates two bays. On this beach, there are places to surf, body boarders, and has been voted as the #1 Beach in America. The endangered monk seal is frequently a visitor on this sand; please- please be respectful of the monk seal and do not touch and give him/ her space. Talk with your children about this as well. Respect nature!

Shipwreck Beach is behind the Hyatt Hotel- there is a large surf here and be careful not to turn your back to a wave as you could be pulled into the water. This beach is better for walking and watching surfers.

A good hotdog can be picked up at Puka Dog

There is also a glass beach; 20 years ago there was a glass company and many of the remnants of the glass went out to sea and have come in. It is quite beautiful (15 min. from Poipu but worth the drive)

What We Do:

  • Take our own snorkeling gear to Hawaii
  • Spend time on Poipu Beach; usually spending time at the Marriott or Hilton in Poipu
  • Walk around
  • Spouting Horn

Polihole Beach

What You Should Know:

This is the closest beach to the Napali Coast. Rental Car Companies will let you know that issues with the car are not covered if you go here. Just avoid the potholes and go slow. It is off road for about 30 minutes. When you get on the sand; just make sure to stay near other cars and not to go too close to the water unless you have a 4×4.

This is one of the most remote and beautiful beaches in the world. Remember when you get in the water that there are no lifeguards and there are intense waves, currents, and rip tides.

What We do:

We go to Polihole Beach in the morning; we pack water, Subway, snacks, and additional drinks in case we end up with a flat tire. (this has not happened, but we are prepared just in case). After a half day, we go to Waimea Canyon; driving and getting out to take pictures; it is incredible! The colors of the canyons and rock are just spectacular.

Waimea Canyon

What You Should Know:

Waimea Canyon is on the west side of Kauai. Waimea is the largest canyon in the Pacific- “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” and has 10 miles and is 3500 feet deep. Waimea Canyon is in the Kokee State Park which covers 4345 acres.

What We do:

Usually stop at Waimea Canyon after a morning visit to Polihole Beach. Do not miss seeing Waimea Canyon!

 

Napali Coast

What You Should Know:

This is one of the most beautiful locations in the world! You can see it by helicopter or boat. I have taken 3 helicopter rides over the Napali Coast seeing the scenes from Jurassic Park and other movies; the size and magnitude of the coast, mountains, and beaches is gorgeous!

Kauai Sea Tours

Captain Andy’s

Both of these companies do an amazing job!

 

What We Do:

  • Have taken trips from Kauai Sea Tours and Captain Andy’s.
  • Have taken Catamaran Rides around the Napali Coast at sunset
  • Have taken Snorkeling Trips around the Napali Coast
  • Have taken the raft tour into the Sea Caves; just know that the Sea Caves are incredible, but it is a long, uncomfortable trip of 4-6 hours of ocean beating in the rubberized raft. This is only available in the summer based on the water levels with the sea caves. Highly recommended but just book a massage for later that day. You will thank me!
  • Helicopter Rides: I have taken 3 here without doors each time and I am scared of heights. Just know that the helicopter will “pick up” when you go over Waimea Canyon and that you get fairly close to the mountains. It is spectacular to see the tunnels in the ocean (Tunnels Beach) from above. You will not regret the adventure, but just know it can be a bit scary!