Since we moved to Oahu two-and-a-half years ago, we’ve had several visitors. We probably have a friend come visit every month or so, at least, so we’ve had a lot of practice playing host.
When entertaining guests, I think the best plan is to create a schedule so that we don’t have to waste any precious time sitting around saying, “What should we do?” or “Where should we eat?” When you are the host, you are the expert and the local, so it’s up to you to show your guest the best possible time. Therefore, before guests arrive, I create a “Best Vacation Ever" schedule.
In creating these schedules, many Insiders threads have been helpful for me in the past, including https://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/blogs/travelKS77/2014/10/20/oahu-and-maui, and pretty much everything @Kharada46 (the real local) writes, including: https://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/people/kharada46/blog/2013/02/03/practical-information--oahu and many, others.
The “Best Vacation Ever” schedules varies depending on length of trip, but it goes a little something like this:
What would you other Oahu locals recommend?
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What a wonderful host you are! I am surprised you can get anybody to leave after visiting you. My wife and I will be spending Oct 4th and Oct 5th in Honolulu (10 PM Depart) after a week in Kauai. Any suggestions for a 1 day visit? It looks like we will be staying at the Royal Hawaiian since neither of the Marriott properties seem very inviting.
Oh yes, curiousone - one day visits to Oahu are great! The Royal Hawaiian has some amazing cocktails. Since it's the middle of the week, you can't go to my favorite beach, Bellows (only open to the public on the weekends). So I would recommend going out to Kailua beach and renting some kayaks. Then maybe go out on a sunset cruse on the Holokai Catamaran in Waikiki that evening (boat leaves around 5PM). For dinner, my favorite places are Agu for Ramen or Pig and the Lady for other amazing deliciousness.
kharada46 - What else would you recommend for 24 hours in Honolulu?
melissaerb, man it's hard to beat Pig and the Lady, but reservations gotta be made ASAP since they fill up FAST!
curiousone, I agree with Melissa, the Lanikai Pillbox Hike is an excellent suggestion time permitting.
If something a little less strenuous is desired, the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail is another winner at sunrise or any time of day really.
For a less crowded day at the beach, get away from Waikiki, North Shore, Lanikai, and Ko Olina, and instead head to Waimanalo Beach or Sherwoods. Lot's of open space and white sand to long about one. Great views and clear, clean water too.
My favorite shave ice place is Country Shave Ice just outside of Waikiki in the community of Kaimuki. They specialize in organic, homemade syrups. Lilikoi is my favorite, sweet potato haupia is the wife's.
For something closer to your hotel, you could check out Island Vintage Shave Ice (kiosk) right in front of the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, a short walk from your hotel. Theirs is all natural too, but it's much sweeter than Country. Cash only.
For a uniquely local meal, I'd check out Mission Social Hall & Cafe at the Mission House Museum. My favorite here is the luau stew, which is stewed luau over brown rice with pork shoulder (or sweet potato) on top... but their menu changes daily based upon availability, so it may not be there. Best to call ahead to check.
For true, old school Hawaiian food, though, you have to go to Ono Hawaiian Food on Kapahulu, right outside of Waikiki. Parking is street only and it looks a little divey, but it's one of the last remaining old school Hawaiian food places and is actually VERY delicious! Portions are pretty big too. Cash only. Sorry, not picture.
If you like breakfast, we've got a lot of that too. You can get food from celebrity chef Lee Ann Wong with her unique spin on local brunch with boozy milkshakes too Koko Head Cafe
I do also love the Lilikoi Pancakes at Moke's Breakfast in Kailua. Moke's Bread and Breakfast Kailua
You could also have a dolphin encounter by going on a cruise and swim out in Waianae to swim with wild Hawaiian spinner dolphins, or you can have an interaction in a controlled environment at Dolphin Quest at the Kahala Hotel or at Sea Life Park.
Of course there are many other things you could do, like visit the only royal palace in the US (`Iolani Palace - Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii), an aviation museum (Pacific Aviation Museum), the historic sites of Pearl Harbor, etc.
Much to do in a single day depending on what your preferences are, how much time you have, etc. I can even recommend some amazing sushi near the airport, Hawaii's best Hawaii Regional Cuisine, additional activities, etc. Let me know!
You always have the best food photography, kharada46. It all looks so gooood!
Wow, all I can say it, I'm bummed I won't have made it out to visit before you leave because that agenda is amazing, comprehensive, & activity / fitness filled! You are definitely the hostess with the mostess! The photos you have are so awesome, and the views in Hawaii look incredible! It's probably better off that I didn't come, because that schedule would have to be extended to at least a week....
kharada46 - I was going to make the official announcement in February, but sadly yes! It is bittersweet. My husband got a new job a few months ago, and they have a Portland office that wants him. Plus - My brother and sister-in-law are expecting their first baby in April and we really want to be closer to help them, and be around friends and family. I will miss Oahu so much but Portland is calling me...
This is a wonderful post! It really makes me excited about Oahu! I just posted about our upcoming trip. It sure sounds like there is plenty to do in Oahu. I am just not sure about accommodations. I won't add anymore here(maybe you can give me some advice on my thread?!), but I thank you for your fantastic information!
These are all great suggestions. I was surprised that a Pearl Harbor visit wasn't on your list, but I assume that most of your visitors have already been there. Pearl Harbor was one of my top five lifetime vacation experiences, and I have been in every state as well as many other countries.