1. All day trip to the North Shore
From cliff jumping at Waimea Bay to shopping the quaint little town of Haleiwa; the north shore is the #1 must do for both first timers and return visitors. It's the surfing capital of the world and known for their shrimp as well! There are many shrimp trucks to choose from; Giovanni's (most popular), Romy's (my favorite!), Macky's, Famous Kahuku Shrimp, Kahuku Shrimp truck, and a few other lesser known ones.
2. Hike the infamous Stairway to Heaven
One of the most iconic hikes in the world. A stairway on the edge of a cliff when (a clear day) you can see all sides of Oahu as well as neighbor islands such as Molokai & Maui. Warning: this hike is ILLEGAL. That's half the fun and half the battle. Most people are too scared of the consequences that they never suck it up and just do what could be the best (and scariest) hike of their life. There are a couple ways to do this hike. One: sneaking through the neighborhood and encountering the guard that is posted at the base of the stairs 24/7. Your future lies in his hands. Goodluck! Or, Two: hiking all the way across the entire Ko'olau mountains via the Moanalua Middle (or for the experienced hiker, Moanalua Saddle) and starting your journey down the stairs from the top. You'll still encounter the guard if you plan to go all the way down, but less of a chance to be on his 'bad list' since you didn't go up when they told you not to.
3. Eat Açai Bowls
There's something so fresh and satisfying about eating an ice cold açai bowl in Hawaii. Bogarts is a local town fav; close to home, traditional toppings (only one kind of bowl), affordable price (cash only btw), and HUGE! I really like Bogart's Acai bowls because their granola is amazing! It has has a sweet vanilla taste and doesn't get overly soggy in the acai. YUM! Another popular one is Haleiwa Bowls in Haleiwa, HI. It's served from a coconut tree shack from local girls. Different topping selections, fresh island fruits, but the bowl isn't nearly as big as Bogart's. My personal favorite is a lesser known spot; where açai bowls aren't even their specialty. It's actually a coffee shop! Surfer's Coffee Bar in Wahiawa, HI. Their açai bowl has the perfect texture with a rich flavor and the deepest truest purpley-pink pigment that is undeniably exactly what an açai bowl should look like, taste like, feel like. Yelp has made this place more popular for their açai than their coffee!
4. Soak in the sun at Lanikai Beach
Rated #5 of the top 10 best beaches in the world by National Geographic. Although most beaches in Hawaii have that paradise blue tone, Lanikai is something else. The fine white sand keeps the sea water so clear and so blue. That you won't believe it's real life #NOFILTER. When you think Hawaii postcard, there is a 99% chance that postcard is of Lanikai Beach. There is tons of free street parking at this beach. Bring a poke bowl and a fresh bottle of Watermelon juice, and you're set! If you're feeling up for an adventure, you can kayak out to the mok islands directly offshore from Lanikai Beach. There are some pretty sweet cliff jumps on the back of left mok (approach from the left side). FYI: right mok is off limits to humans (it's a bird sanctuary).
5. Touch a waterfall
You can go to the super popular (and by popular, I mean touristy) one mile hike through Manoa Valley to The 150' Manoa Falls. Or skip the crowd and go to the less popular (and by less, I mean not as much as Manoa Falls but still chances of seeing a handful of people) one mile hike through the Nuuanu valley to Lulumahu Falls. This one has a shallow swimming pool that you can swim in if you'd like.
6. Float in a tide pool
The Makapu'u tide pools is one of my favorite spots on island. There are rocks on the edge of the coast that turn into personal swimming pools during low tide. Bring lots of sunscreen, water, and snacks; it's a bit of a hike to get to the pools. And be careful, you do NOT want to be anywhere near this when the tide is up and the waves are crashing, you never know when the sea will decide to pull you in. And when that happens, it's almost impossible to get back on shore.
Plain and simple, Oahu has some pretty sweet coral reefs to have some epic snorkeling adventures. One of the most popular places is Haunama Bay (and by popular, well, you know what I mean by now). This place is gorgeous, but I have other favorites. One of my favorite places to snorkel is Shark's Cove (no there are no sharks). This place has an enclosed area for the beginner snorkeler; and a bigger, deeper area for the sea wanderer looking for more. There are tons of fish, caves, tunnels, and sea turtles. There's always something new to see in this underwater playground.
8. Swing on a rope swing
There are tons of rope swings around the island. Go on a drive around the island a count how many you see (then message me and tell me!). Take your pick and swing like you just turned seven again. One of my favorites? Waimano Falls! This is a 1.5 mile hike to a three tier waterfall complete with rope swings, cliff jumps, and (if you're lucky) fresh guava along the trail! Lots of neighborhood parking. Bring snacks, water, and your swim suit. You'll want to jump in right away. If you start late, expect a crowd. I'd recommend to start at 7am so you get there before all the people who drank the night before.
9. Drive on the H3
I'm a huge fan of the Ko'olau mountains; I can stare at them all day. One of the best places to gaze at their massive beauty is on the H3 (in either direction). You get so close that you can feel them, hear them breathing. The most amazing view is just after (and during) a huge rainfall. Every single nook and cranny has a waterfall gushing down its face; it's truly a spectacular sight to see. So the next time you're in Hawaii and it's raining, please know, it's not a bad thing!
10. Watch sunset every night
Some of my favorite places to watch sunset is Spitting Caves, China Walls, and Yokohama Beach (AKA Yoks). There is absolutely no excuse to ever miss a sunset in Hawaii. If the sun is setting, you should be outside.