Hawaii (Oahu)

Oahu is one of the few destinations in the world that blends a big city atmosphere along with an exotic and wild landscape. Plus, with a plethora of famous sites like Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head Crater, and Pearl Harbor, among countless others, it's no wonder then that Hawaii's most famous and visited island ranks as one of the world's go-to honeymoon spots.

Thanks to its location in the Pacific Ocean, the island generally enjoys amazing weather and thus is a year-round destination. But keep in mind that depending on your location, the climate and weather can vary drastically. Hawaii is one of the few places in the world that features great diversity in its ecosystems and landscapes -- all within a relatively small area. As you can imagine, this certainly makes for some pretty extraordinary day trips and adventures.

The windward side (north and east) of Oahu typically experiences more rain, wind, and changing weather patterns than the leeward side (south and west), which is generally hot and dry for most of the year. Though, expect high temperatures year-round to range from the mid-to-upper 70s to the mid-80s in the lowlands and resort areas. Usually, the winter season experiences high temperatures just a few degrees below the normal highs in the summer. If you plan on making any journeys into mountainous terrain, prepare for cooler temperatures, wet weather, and variable conditions.

April-May and September-October are generally the best times to visit with consideration to climate, crowds, and prices. Mid-December to the end of March is considered the high season and rates are generally higher. Also, visitors are likely to find the island busiest when schools are out of session (think holidays, spring break, and summer).

What to Do

Oahu USS Missouri Memorial

  • Sunset Cocktails — Especially with unforgettable venues like Halekulani's House Without a Key. Grab a table under the giant Kiawe tree, order two signature Mai Tais, and enjoy traditional Hawaiian music and dancing as the sun dips below the horizon. Truly an ultimate Oahu experience.

  • Honolulu's Attractions — There's plenty to see and do in and around downtown Honolulu. Chinatown stands out with its bustling markets and jazz clubs. New boutiques like Quince are popping up left and right. All the while, frequent farmers markets showcase the island's diverse and delicious agricultural offerings.

    Don't forget about visiting the island's many historic sites, too. For instance, there's the Pearl Harbor sites honoring the 1941 attack, plus many more incredible museums and buildings like Iolani Palace and Byodo-In Temple.

  • Beaches and Water Pursuits — There's no other stretch of beachfront in America quite like Waikiki. Soak in views of the glimmering Pacific Ocean, famous Diamond Head crater, breezy palm trees, and inviting grounds of towering luxury hotels. Whether swimming, sailing, snorkeling, or via kayak, catamaran, or outrigger canoe, there's also a lot to explore once you leave dry land. The view of Honolulu and the Waikiki skyline from the water will remain etched in your mind.

  • Shave Ice and Local Dining Institutions — It's always a thrill to head off the beaten tourist path and pursue out-of-this-world foodie spots like Giovanni's Shrimp Truck, Heeia Pier General Store & Deli, and Leonard's Bakery (the malasadas are heavenly). As for shave ice, this refreshing treat is a must for any visitor to Hawaii. Up on the North Shore, Matsumoto's Grocery Store is arguably the most famous, while Waiola Store is a best bet when in Honolulu.

  • The North Shore — With the laid-back vibe, gorgeous terrain, legendary beaches, and monster waves during the winter months, it's hard to ever leave this part of paradise. Make the most of it by renting a car and exploring the local parks, beaches, towns, and stores. Whether you want to shop in the small villages, go hiking in Waimea Valley, tour a sugar cane or pineapple facility, or just grab some famous shaved ice, the North Shore certainly has you covered.

Where to Stay

Oahu hotel view

  • Moana Surfrider The Moana Surfrider is located in the heart of Waikiki and also one of our top “bang for your buck” properties on Oahu, especially considering its location, history, and overall features. The plantation-style property is elegant, modern, and clean, and actually the oldest hotel on Waikiki Beach. Amenities include a giant fitness center, an excellent spa, several on-site restaurants, nightly entertainment, pool, and full access to its famous yet crowded beach. The rooms are smaller in size, but very clean and sleek.

  • Lotus Honolulu This sophisticated and serene boutique property is situated in one of Waikiki’s most appealing neighborhoods. Away from the fast-paced environment of Waikiki yet still conveniently located near dozens of top sites and attractions, the Aqua Lotus is a most ideal property for newlyweds. Couples will find a number of accommodations options at the 51-room property, each one surrounded by lush Oahu landscapes. In addition to overall spacious rooms, each space comes equipped with a private lanai and views of either Diamond Head or the Pacific Ocean, plus TV, Wi-Fi and an iPod dock.

  • The Kahala Hotel & Resort Located just outside of Waikiki, this peaceful resort features beautiful modern rooms, four excellent restaurants, a private beachfront, ample water sports options, plus the only swimming-with-dolphins experience on the island. From the moment you step onto the property, you'll see why this is easily one of Hawaii's best overall hotels.

Where to Eat

Oahu upscale Hawaiian restaurant

  • Alan Wong’s Honolulu - Chef Alan Wong’s Honolulu flagship is Hawaiian regional cuisine at its finest. Menu items like macadamia nut-coconut crusted lamb chops and twice cooked short rib are heavenly, which the chef’s tasting menu stands out with an all-star lineup of delicious offerings.

  • Roy’s - Truly a honeymoon treat. This popular Waikiki restaurant is known as a pioneer of Hawaii regional cuisine and remains fabulous today with its top-notch wine list, decadent desserts, and signature fusion entree items.

  • Hoku’s at the Kahala Resort - Hoku’s is a great choice for creative fusion food, merging Asian, Hawaiian, and European flavors to perfection. Expect a twist on contemporary island classics, such as salt crusted rack of lamb or Kurobuta pork chop with Maui gold pineapple and shishito peppers.

  • Sushi Sasabune - Sushi fans flock to this South King St. favorite from all over the world. The main attraction is no doubt the restaurant’s unforgettable omakase sushi experience. Be sure to sit at the counter for an up-close glimpse at chef Seiji Kumagawa’s methodical preparation. You can go for the omakase or a la carte at the restaurant’s regular tables too.

Getting There

Honolulu International Airport (HNL) is Oahu's main airport and by far the most visited airport in Hawaii. The facility is located about six miles northwest of Honolulu's central business district. HNL is accessible via car, bus, taxi, and shuttle.