If you follow us on Instagram, then you know that I recently got back from a trip to HAWAII!!! I had such an amazing week exploring Oahu and found some of the most breathtaking sites. I did A LOT of research before heading to Hawaii, so I could find the best & cheapest things to do on the island. I loved every single thing I ended up doing, so I wanted to share everything with my chic beaches so you guys don't have to do the hours of research I did if you are planning a trip to Oahu in the future!
I also wanted to mention that I did rent a car while staying in Hawaii and I would for sure recommend it because it offers a lot more freedom when exploring the island!
Koko Head -$0
One of the best ways to explore the island is to go on hikes! You get your exercise in while enjoying some of the most incredible views. If you love a challenge and don't mind getting a little sweaty (or dripping sweat the entire time), than Koko Head is a must. I planned on seeing the sunrise from the top of the mountain so I woke up at 4am, which was really 10am New Jersey time. Unfortunately, I did not do enough research and I did not know that the park and parking lot doesn't open til 6am, which is right when the sun was supposed to rise. However, there was still dozens of people entering the park, we just had to park on the street down the road from the entrance. If you do not want to add an extra mile and a half walk to your hike than I would suggest waiting to get there at 6am! Walking towards the mountain we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. After finally getting to the bottom of the mountain, the sun was already starting to rise, which was fine because we got to see the island light up as we climbed our way to the top. And when I say climb I mean we freaking climbed! The trail is made up of an old tram track that at some points is almost completely vertical. This was no easy climb and I will admit I wanted to turn around multiple times, but I am so happy I decided to push myself and keep going because the views at the top were truly amazing and it felt like I could see the entire island. This hike for sure is not for everyone, but if you are up to the challenge I would highly recommend it, especially early in the morning because it is less crowded and much cooler before the sun comes out completely.
Lanikai Pillbox - $0
The Lanikai Pillbox hike was actually super fun! It was not as hard as the Koko Head hike, but it was still a difficult climb. First off, there is no parking for this hike, so you do have to park down the road. However, it is not a mile walk to the trail entrance, which is a dirt path marked by a little sign. The first few minutes of this hike are for sure the most difficult. The ground is super dusty, making it slippery, and you are climbing up a good part of the mountain right from the start. They do have ropes along the trail to help you pull yourself up, which really did come in handy. Once you get to the top of the first hill it is pretty easy from there. You just follow the path, head up and over a few rocks and enjoy some gorgeous views along the way. At the top there is one pillbox, which is the one I took pictures on, and there is another one a little farther up the trail. The view from the pillboxes offers a great look out onto Lanikai beach and the Moku Nui islands. This hike is pretty much for anyone and it is a great one to take your time on so you can enjoy all the views along the way. Also you are right by the beach so it is super convenient to hop right into the ocean to cool off!
Manoa falls - $5
This hike is probably the easiest one that I am going to share. It is pretty much a steady trail besides one flight of stairs towards the end. The trail is also through the rainforest so you are mostly in the shade the whole time. The parking for this trail is $5 per carload, however, you can park on the street before the entrance of the park and walk in for free. Throughout the hike there are breathtaking views of the rainforest, which reminded me of Jurassic Park or Lost. I actually later found out that both filmed scenes right from this trail. After only a mile hike, you end up at the 150 foot tall waterfall. This is a gorgeous view and a great place to take a break before heading back. This hike is more like a walk through the rainforest, so I would recommend it for people who like to hike and for people who don't.
Diamond head - $5
Diamond Head is by far the most popular hiking trail on Oahu. It is right outside of Wakiki, which makes it an easy places for tourists to get to. Diamond Head is actually a crater that the US military used to use as a post. The hike is not very long and it is mostly on a paved path, but once you get towards the top there are about 100 steep steps you need to climb up in order to get into the post and to the top of Diamond Head. I would highly suggest getting there at 6am, when the park opens, because we came a half hour later and the parking lot was already full. Getting into the park is $5 per carload or $1 per person on foot, however, walking into the park will add an extra mile or two to your hike. The only negative thing about this hike is that since it is so popular, it is extremely crowded. You will almost always be stuck behind someone and there are always people heading down the mountain while you're heading up. Once again, the only way to help with this is to try and be one of the first people in the park. The hike was super easy until I got to the stairs and the I was for sure out of breath. The views from the top of the mountain are incredible and offer a great overlook of Waikiki and the ocean. This hike is mostly for every one, there is even a way to skip the steep stairs if you wanted to. It is also super easy to get to even if you do not have a car!
Lanikai - $0
Instead of laying out on Waikiki Beach, which is always busy, crowded and super small, we decided to spend the day at Lanikai Beach instead. Like I mentioned before, this beach is walking distance from the Lanikai Pillbox hike, so it is perfect for relaxing after a tough hike. Although the beach is pretty small, there were not many people on the sand. We had just enough room to lay out right by the edge of the water. The view on the beach of the near by islands is amazing and the water is beyond perfect. This beach was perfect for a relaxing day full of tanning in the sun and cooling off in the water. I would for sure suggest this beach over Waikiki if you want a more relaxed day!
Blowhole lookout - $0
This spot is for sure not something you are gonna easily come across when you are googling things to do in Oahu. To be honest I don't even remember how I came across it but I am so happy I did because this hidden gem was probably the highlight of my entire trip! To find this little hidden beach just go to the Blow Hole Lookout and park in the parking lot. If you are facing the ocean head all the way to the right of the parking lot and you will see a sign that says do not enter. Break the rules a little and walk right past that sign down a steep rocky path and you'll find yourself in paradise. Although there are signs that tell you not to go on the beach there were plenty of people on the beach and nobody seemed to care that we were there. Even though there were people there it was not overwhelmingly crowded. The cove is a pretty small beach but everyone seemed to have their own little spot in the sun. Not only was the beach gorgeous but the water was too. The crystal clear water was the perfect temperature and the perfect spot to take cool off. Nothing was more relaxing and breathtaking as the time I spent here. It was super fun being able to explore the little cove, walk through a cave in the rocks and doing some rock jumping. This will always be a must do on my list so I highly suggest making it a priority for your next Oahu trip.
Spitting caves - $0
Hoomaluhia botanical garden - $0
I actually heard about the Hoomaluahia Botanical Gardens from looking at other people's Instagram pictures from Oahu. I mean this place is gorgeous and obviously Instaworthy! The gardens are free to get into and you can either do a quick drive through them or get out and one or more of the many parking lots and explore deeper into them. I did not spend too much time exploring the gardens but I did get out a few times, mostly looking for the best view I could find. I took some of my favorite pictures from the trip here and it was worth driving and walking around searching for the perfect location. If you want to take a picture where I did, then drive to about the middle of the road that runs through the gardens and park in the small parking lot on the left. After you park walk a little farther down the road and you will come across a skinny road that is blocked off. I simply walked around the sign and took a few quick shots right in the middle of the road. It was perfect because I did not have to worry about any cars coming by. Even if you are not into getting the best Instagram picture, this is still an amazing place to visit, with gorgeous sights!
Kayaking to Moku Nui - $60-$80
Catamaran & snorkel with sea turtles
I hope this post helped you plan your next vacation or I hope you enjoyed reading about how I spent mine. Oahu was gorgeous and there are so many ways to explore the island, but doing it for little to no cost is even better!
xx Chic Beaches