Hikes and beaches you absolutely cannot miss in O’ahu

Hawaii has everything I love in one place. Beautiful scenery, amazing food, genuinely friendly people, adventure. So for my birthday last year, I treated myself to a solo getaway. I wrote about the food after, but I forgot to write about some of the outdoor activities I liked! If this is your first time there, here are some touristy things that you have to see/do (while being mindful of the locals).

Hikes

Diamond Head

This is one hike everyone talks about. It’s super easy- I did it in flip flops and was fine (well, I did it in flip flops by accident). The path can be a little slippery if you’re sensitive to these things, yes, but there’s a handrail. It is a gigantic crater, and supposedly if you wake up early enough, has some of the most beautiful sunrises on the island. I kept missing the early bus so I didn’t do this- the sun was already rising when I got there! If I ever go back, I will try harder. This was the very first thing I did on the island, so I was absolutely stunned at how blue the water was when I got to the top!

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Koko Crater Trail

Okay this one is not easy if you don’t like stairs, but it has a beautiful view and is another popular hike. On the flip side, in the time it took me to go up, a couple of people (including one with a dog and one over 60) did the hike multiple times. It’s basically a stair master along old railway tracks. Some parts get sketchy as you can see a drop below you in the middle of the hike, while you’re going up creaky, delicate pieces of wood, but it’s fine.

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Manoa Falls

This hike was filled with grade schoolers while I did it, so it’s also pretty accessible. But the waterfall wasn’t going! Noooooo!!!! The hike was really cool otherwise; it was my first one in tropical rainforest as compared to desert or PNW type trees.

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Beaches

Makapu’u

I died when I saw this beach for the first time. I was actually on the way to a different beach on the bus and passed through many things that were beautiful. I wanted to get off and explore them, but I was in one of those moods where you’re super determined to finish whatever you planned. Then, when we passed by here… I ran out of the bus because I couldn’t believe that such beauty existed!

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Waikiki

I don’t care what people say! I thought Waikiki was pretty and the sunrise was gorgeous. I woke up early one day because I hadn’t adjusted to the time and didn’t want to spend money on the bus, so I walked down Waikiki’s main road. It was your standard tourist area with lots of shops, but with tropical flair/architecture so it was pretty!

I also stopped by a 7-11 for breakfast- they’re so different from the ones in the mainland! They have Hawaiian and Asian food!!!!!! Like they sold thing I literally make when I’m feeling lazy and uncreative and poor (“pork and peas bowl” aka pork guisantes). I cannot believe you can buy that in a store.

Waikiki Beach sunrise in Hawaii

North beach

This area is extremely windy in February but because of that, there were some huge waves- the biggest I’ve ever seen in real life! It was unreal (and scary). I went as I was hanging out with my family, and we drove the perimeter of the island with many stops along the way. If you have more money to spend than me, renting a car for this drive would be so worth it.

Okay these waves look small but they were actually 10+ feet and sorry I don’t have a go pro, drone, or hours of time to take a cooler picture.

Kaka’ako 

My friend took me around one day and showed me some of her favorite places- including this park (okay it’s not a beach but you could still see water), which used to be a landfill. But, because Honolulu was being gentrified, it was full of people who had been kicked out, which was unfortunate. If you’re going somewhere, seriously be mindful of the people you may be pushing away. On the flip side, this place during sunset was hands down the most vibrant sunset I’ve ever seen. With the palm trees in the distance, it looked like a postcard! Apparently, February sunsets in Hawai’i are usually like this. It was unreal!

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Getting around

And last, you need a method of transportation, right? I uber’d once in a while (like when I had heat stroke), but I mostly took the bus because I’m poor. I also chose to stay in Waikiki because it was near a bunch of different bus lines.

And that was the outdoor activities part of my trip. I hope you all have a place that you find as magical as I find Hawaii.

6 thoughts on “Hikes and beaches you absolutely cannot miss in O’ahu

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