If you follow me on Instagram (@travelwithmint), then you know that I recently returned from Hawaii. I spent 6 days on the island of O’ahu. I had never been to O’ahu before this trip and really hadn’t put the island high on my bucket list. When clients are heading to Hawaii, I typically send them to Maui and Kauai. As a New Yorker, my idea of an ideal beach escape is a peaceful and serene resort on a perfect white sand beach. Waikiki is the opposite of that! Honolulu and Waikiki lived up to the hype as a crowded bustling metropolis. What I learned on this trip is: O’ahu has so much more to offer than Pearl Harbor and Waikiki.
1) Waikiki is an experience.
If you’re interested in doing some major shopping, then you shouldn’t miss Waikiki. I’ve never seen so many high-end stores and I live three blocks from Fifth Avenue. Waikiki has more than shoppping. It has some really beautiful historic hotels such as the Moana Surfrider and Royal Hawaiian. These hotels have hosted celebrities and dignitaries for decades and bring you back to the Hawaii of yester-year. I recommend heading to Waikiki beach early in the morning (which won’t be difficult due to jet lag) and watching the surf lessons that begin bright and early on Waikiki.
2) Pearl Harbor is a worthwhile experience.
Visiting Pearl Harbor is a very moving and emotional experience. If you’re going to fly all the way from New York City to Hawaii, it is worth seeing and experiencing.
1) You MUST get out of Honolulu.
Best part of my trip to O'ahu was leaving Honolulu. The North Shore is beautiful and has some adorable small towns like Haleiwa. I highly recommend spending part of your trip outside of Honolulu at some of the beautiful hotels spread out across the island. Head to the Kahala or the Four Seasons O’ahu at Ko Olina for upscale beach resots. If you want to spend some time on the North Shore, Turtle Bay is perfect for you.
4) There is something for everyone on O’ahu.
During my trip, I spent a night at Aulani, the Disney resort. I, honesty, would never choose to stay at a Disney Resort, but I was pleasantly surprised. If you are thinking of traveling to O’ahu with kids, this resort is perfect for you. It has an amazing series of pools and water features, a beautiful beach, story time with Moana and for the adults: really good food. Disney put a lot of time and effort into building a resort that was culturally accurate and truly represented Hawaiian culture and history and it definitely shows (in a good way).
5) Hawaii has a fascinating history.
During my trip, my group took a tour of the 'Iolani Palace and the original Hawaiian Mission Houses. Hawaii was a kingdom until the monarchy was overthrown in 1893 by descendants of the original Protestant missionaries who arrived in Hawaii in 1820. One of these missionaries was Hiram Bingham I, whose grandson, Hiram Bingham III, would go on to “rediscover” Machu Picchu. Hawaii has an amazing history that is completely distinct from the history of the continental United States. If you’re interested in spicing up your beach vacation with a little history, Hawaii should be your next vacation!