The first time I went to Hawaii was about two years ago. I was on my last spring break of college and wanted to do something “epic”. Now, for those of you wondering this was not a beach and binge drink sort of trip. I’m actually alcohol-free, so needless to say my trip to Hawaii was just to get a fixing of waterfalls before I headed into adult life.
Now I work as a full-time photographer, blogger, Instagrammer and overall content creator. Sometimes work doesn’t feel like work, which is fine with me. Traveling has become my whole world. I use every excuse I can to jump on a plane. This trip to Oahu was no different. I had the opportunity to capture some product images for a client, and with quite a few leftover miles, I thought to myself “Why not do these in Hawaii?”. Off I went! Within one week, I bought my last minute plane ticket, hitched a stay at a friend’s house and left Arizona with no plans. I mean it when I say “no plans” too. I didn’t bother looking anything up or making an itinerary, I just went. This was a first for me. I’m usually a big planner.
I’m hoping this blog will give you honeymooners, Oahu first timers or dreamers some ideas as to how to spend a weekend on Oahu. Why two days? Well, for about $150 a ticket, you can hop on over to the other Hawaiian Islands. If I had more time for this trip, I definitely would have jumped to Maui, Kauai or the Big Island too. There’s plenty to see on Oahu, and unless you live there, you’ll never have time for it all. Here’s how I’d spend the perfect two days on the island.
Where to Stay
There is no shortage of options on Oahu. It’s one of the more densely populated Hawaiian Islands and is home to the famous Waikiki. In my opinion, stay as far away from Waikiki as possible. It’s full our tourists and ABC Stores (aka tourists traps where you can purchase cheesy magnets and snowglobes to commemorate your time there). There are nice hotel options on this part of the island, but driving around can be a bit of a nightmare.
If you have the option to, I suggest finding an Airbnb in Mililani (more central) or Kailua (east side). Both are nice areas with safe, affordable sleeping options for tourists. Please note that in the two times I’ve been to Oahu, I’ve stayed in these cities. They are familiar to me and I can vouch for them!
What To Do
Sunrise at Lanikai Pillboxes
Pillbox hikes are extremely popular on the island. If you choose to do this hike, you’ll likely be surrounded by tourists, but for good reason! The views are amazing and on a clear day, you can see the Twin Islands (The Mokes). The hike itself has a bit of an elevation gain, but doesn’t require much skill to complete!
Kayak To The Mokes
The Nā Mokulua are two islands located off the coast of Oahu. While the smaller of the islands are off limits to visitors, getting to the larger one takes about twenty minutes via kayak. Not a bad paddle trip for a quiet beach trip!
Head to the Botanical Gardens
In the mood for some sunset shots? Head on over to Kaneohe for some ridge views and sun rays. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll find this magical road 😉.
Hike the Stairway to Heaven
Before you ask, yes, you can still hike to the stairs. The catch is that you will have to take a long way. Moanalua Valley Trail is about ten miles round trip with about three thousand feet of elevation gain. All I can say about this trail is to be prepared to go uphill and never stop. You will encounter ropes. The wind will knock you off your feet. There will even be crowds. On a clear day, though, this hike is well worth the effort. There are not many points on the island where you can see all sides on Oahu. Please stay away from this trail if you’re going to encounter rain, though. It’s extremely muddy and the cliffs are no joke!
If you’re like me, hiking ten plus miles and climbing ropes all day will really kick you in the behind. Below are some options I suggest for after your hike.
Oahu has so much to offer as an island in general. While I don’t think spending two days there is enough, if you’re looking to island hop or need some ideas for your trip, then the activities on this list are a great start! Have you been to the Hawaii Islands, let me know which one in the comments below!
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Dani is the Founder of Mountain Chicks and the primary author of the Mtn Chicks Blog. Here you'll find outdoor tips, travel experiences, gear reviews and more.