5 Ways to Holiday on Oahu | Go Hawaii

5 Ways to Holiday on Oahu

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The great thing about Oahu, the urban centre of the Hawaiian Islands, is that there is so much to see, do and experience on an island that's only 48 km wide by 71 km long. So, whether you're looking to take a holiday to spend quality time with loved ones, enjoy a break from work, seek new and exciting adventures, or want to explore unique foods and cultures, Oahu caters to absolutely every vacation style.
Couple tandem kayaks in Kaneohe Bay

Embrace Aloha (Love)

Hawaii is the perfect place for an aloha-filled escape. Oahu attracts couples wishing to elope, marry and honeymoon, along with families wanting to take it easy and hang loose. 


One of the best ways to bond with your travel party is by participating in watersports together. Keep it intimate by booking a private surfing, bodyboard or paddleboard lesson at Waikiki Beach with Ohana Su or opt for a thrilling parasail, jet ski or flyboard activity with X-treme Parasail. 


For duos, Honolulu has lots of sophisticated bars that are date-night approved. Make a reservation for two on the mezzanine level of Bar Maze or in a cozy booth at Podmore. These new venues offer creative cocktails and delectable small bites. For families, let Bubble Rentals Hawaii organize a dreamy sunset picnic inside a bubble tent. 


Voluntourism is a great way for travellers to show their love and appreciation for the destination they're visiting. If Oahu holds a special place in your heart, consider giving back on vacation. There are plenty of voluntourism opportunities, like restoring a Hawaiian fishpond, removing invasive plant species or planting a native tree. 


If a special occasion brings you to Oahu, connect with a local photographer to capture this time in your life. Create memories on a private photoshoot, along with a one-of-a-kind memento to hang in your home. If you prefer being on the other side of the camera, book Oahu Photography Tours and take your own amazing photographs in Hawaii.

Stand up paddleboard yoga class at Ala Moana Beach

Hoʻomaha (Relax) into wellness

Hawaii's tropical shores are known to welcome weary travellers in need of rest and relaxation. Home to an array of well-being activities, Oahu is well-suited for recharging your battery. 


Visitors of all ages can reap the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of yoga while on Oahu. Hawaii's great outdoors is the best place to relieve stress, especially by partaking in an open-air yoga class by the beach at sunset, next to a waterfall on a jungle yoga hike or while floating on a stand-up paddleboard. 


Tourists staying in Waikiki, Oahu's largest resort area, have access to world-class massage treatments. Unwind with a lomi hookipa at Moana Lani Spa, a Hawaiian massage that uses long kneading strokes. Alternatively, try a pohaku (hot stone) massage at Abhasa or a dream massage at Shiatsu & Massage Center with two, three or four therapists at once. 


Music soothes the soul, and Hawaiian music is no exception. Evenings in Waikiki can be spent listening to the pleasant tunes of Hawaiian melodies live at Kani Ka Pila Grille or House Without A Key restaurants or at venues like Blue Note Hawaii. Days can be spent diving deeper into the local music scene by learning how to play Hawaii's beloved ukulele at the Ukulele Store. 


Don't let the search for health and happiness end upon your Oahu departure; extend your self-care routine back home by stocking up on made in Hawaii beauty products created using healing island ingredients. Seek out popular local brands, including Honua Hawaiian Skincare, Hanalei, Leahlani and Mahalo Skin Care, to name a few. 

Volunteers wearing face masks at a beach cleanup for Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii

Seek Leʻaleʻa (Fun) Adventures

Hawaii's spectacular natural beauty can be witnessed from different vantage points - on land, out to sea or up in the air. Skip Oahus mainstream tours for a raft of fun and active island adventures. 


Steer away from the crowds on a small-group bike tour led by an expert rider/guide. Choose to pedal around the historical sights of Honolulu with Bike Tour Hawaii or coast downhill on a Honolulu rainforest ride with Bike Hawaii. If independent bike riding is more your style, rent a bicycle or e-bike from Hawaiian Style Rentals in Waikiki. 


The Pacific Ocean is a playground for adventurous activities. Experience the thrill of snorkelling with sharks (without a cage) with One Ocean Diving, take the first step in becoming a certified scuba diver on Dive Oahu's Open Water Diver course, or let the wind power you over the waves on a kiteboard with Kitesurfing Paradise Hawaii. 


If jumping out of a plane over the "World's Most Beautiful Drop Zone" sounds appealing, Skydive Hawaii offers daily tandem skydiving sessions. After careful instruction, you can experience a breathtaking descent with a skydive instructor, with fantastic views over Oahu's northern-most beaches and mountain ranges. 


Most people visit Hawaii's beautiful beaches to relax on the sand, but it doesn't have to be all lazy days in the sun. Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii runs hands-on beach cleanups across the island of Oahu. Residents and visitors can help Hawaii tackle plastic pollution by volunteering to remove it from Oahu's coastlines. 

Close-up of poke with rice

Eat ʻOno (Delicious)

Oahu's food scene is shaped by Hawaii's melting pot of cultures. Holidaymakers can taste everything from Native Hawaiian food to hybrid local food and Hawaii Regional Cuisine. 

 

Experience one aspect of native Hawaiian culture through food. Authentic Hawaiian food has been dished up at Helena's and Haili's since the mid-1900s. Try kalua pig (slow-cooked smoky-flavoured pork), laulau (salted pork wrapped in leaves and steamed), chicken long rice (similar to a chicken noodle soup) and poi (a purple starch made by pounding cooked taro root). 

 

Hawaii local food consists of classic meals derived from varying historical and cultural influences. The most popular eats include Loco Moco, Poke, Saimin, SPAM Musubi and the Plate Lunch. Taste them at Oahus iconic eateries, including Liliha Bakery, Hawaii's Favorite Kitchens, Zippy's, Musubi Cafe Iyasume, and Rainbow Drive-In (respectively). 

 

Hawaii Regional Cuisine (HRC) is a form of farm-to-table cuisine that blends ethnic flavours with fresh homegrown ingredients. Roy Yamaguchi and Peter Merriman were among the first champions of HRC. Savour this delicious genre of food at one of their esteemed Oahu restaurants, including Eating House 1849, Roy's Waikiki, Merriman's Honolulu and Moku Kitchen. 

 

After you've eaten your way around the island of Oahu, step it up by learning how to make some of Hawaii's beloved dishes. Hawaiian Style Cooking Classes offers a “Hawaii Local Favorites" cooking class. As a group, follow a set of family recipes to create fresh poke, gourmet SPAM musubi, Kahuku shrimp (coconut or garlic) or butter mochi. 

Man plays ukulele

Live Kamaʻāina (Local) Culture

One of the best ways to soak up Hawaii's local culture is through the arts. Oahu has the most opportunity for exploring painting, architecture, sculpture, literature, music and performance. 

 

Get to know Hawaii better by spending time in one of Oahu's stately museums. Start at the Bishop Museum. It houses important Polynesian natural history specimens, exhibitions on Hawaiian culture and is home to a planetarium. Follow up with a guided tour of Iolani Palace, this storied building was the official residence of Hawaiian royalty and is the only palace on U.S. soil. 

 

Hawaiian cultural experiences are an enriching activity to partake in during your Oahu vacation. Waikiki's major shopping centres offer free cultural programs led by friendly practitioners. For example, try a kui lei (lei making) lesson or a lauhala weaving lesson at the Royal Hawaiian Center or learn ka lei hula (the adorned dance) at Waikiki Beach Walk Plaza. 

 

In-person concerts are slowly returning to the city of Honolulu. To find out what's showing, check the event calendars of Oahu's performing arts venues, including the Honolulu Theatre, Diamond Head Theatre, Blaisdell Center and Waikiki Shell. Look out for the Ballet Hawaii and Hawaii Symphony Orchestra productions, they're a great night out on the town!  

 

Discover Oahu's vibrant arts community inside the island's premier art museums. The Hawaii State Art Museum features permanent displays of Hawaiian art and rotating exhibitions by Hawaii artists. Honolulu Museum of Art houses 50,000+ pieces of art from around the globe, showcasing Hawaiian artists alongside artists like Van Gogh, Monet and Picasso. 

 

No matter what type of holiday youre looking for, the island of Oahu has something for everyone. 


Ashlee Galea is an Aussie living in Hawaii who enjoys sharing Hawaii insider knowledge and travel advice on her blogs
The Hawaii Admirer and Waikiki Beach Stays.