Oahu. Stunning, Welcoming. The perfect place for a much-needed vacation.
We all know what to expect for a tourist-dominated location such as the Hawaiian Islands, but there are some places that only the locals know.
Locals know the best areas, after all, this is their island. If you see yourself as someone who prefers the roads less traveled some of these may be for you.
So, let’s go and see what we can find that may be less crowded and more akin to the peace and gentle Hawaiian nature that will have you coming back again and again.
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2023 Oahu Visitor Guides
If you're visiting Oahu soon, be sure to download your copy of one of our updated 2023 Oahu Visitor Guides. We've updated both travel guides with a lot of new great information for potential visitors (and those who've been a time or two as well).
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While not technically a beach, this location is in fact a stretch of lava rock cliffs and edges extending high above sea level. A place popular with surfers and jumpers, these cliffs will partner with a beautiful sunset to greet everyone at the end of the day.
Strong swimmers only, please. This can be a dangerous spot for those not familiar with the ocean and her mighty strength. The surf here gets a reputation for toying with even the most experienced riders.
This is a residential area as well, so people need to be aware that extreme noise will cause disruption for local people.
Located: Koko Kai Beach Mini Park
Where: Hanapepe Pl, Honolulu, HI 96825, United States
A beach park uncrowded and unusual is how this part of Oahu is described.
Primarily primitive lava rock, this is perfect for those who like a bit more peace and quiet. The water here entices you in where you will catch a glimpse of the varied sea life.
Choose from snorkeling, a picnic or simply just take in the surroundings that make you appreciate the history of this rock formation, and of all of Oahu’s natural beauty.
While there will be people, it’s not overcrowded, and somewhere that locals will take their younger children for an outing.
One for the day-out planner.
Where: Shark’s Cove, Haleiwa, HI 96712, United States
Oahu has some of the finest food on the islands, but when the noise and nightlife gets a bit much, the time has come to look for a more local-driven, quieter experience.
Veer off the main streets and head for Monsarrat or Kapahulu Avenues. There you will find the places where the locals eat. Go for a walk to see where your next dining experience will take you
Try some of the other local favorites eating spots.
Maguro Brothers Hawaii
Located in the Kekaulike Market, 1039 Kekaulike St #113, Honolulu for the most delicious poke bowls.
Uncle Bo’s Pupu Bar
Located at 559 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu. The food here is really good.
Who knows, you may just find your own secret restaurant.
If you happen to venture out of the inner city, don’t forget to try locally grown and made traditional foods. You won’t regret it.
Where: Anywhere off the main strip. Ask a local.
Naked Cow Dairy Farm and Creamery
Not many tourists hit this spot. Maybe it’s because most don’t find the dairy industry interesting, but for all of us cheese lovers out there this is one not to miss.
Locally produced means the finest in all dairy products, which is exactly what this dairy farm offers.
Say hello to Pickles the cow and her friends while basking in the lush environment, certainly conducive to happy animals and resulting in a better product.
This is the only remaining real dairy farm business in Hawaii, and long shall it remain so.
Support of local industry allows Hawaii and its business owners to remain viable and self-sustaining.
Get Naked and buy local! Not necessarily in that order.
Where: An hour northwest of Honolulu on the leeward coast, In the municipality of Waianae, Oahu.
Oahu’s famous farm-to-glass distillery never gets the applause it deserves.
A traditional, magnificent example of Hawaiian self-sufficiency where rums are made from heirloom sugar cane.
Overseen by looming mountains, the fields of cane stand almost proudly while being housed in red dirt and sheltered by banana trees, and dense guinea grass.
So inspirational is the history and the people responsible for this agri-success (new word!) story that you don’t even have to be a huge fan of rum to appreciate what has been accomplished here.
If you are, that’s a bonus.
A trip well worth it, and a secret, hidden gem you won’t be able to keep to yourself.
Where: Kō Hana Distillers. 92-1770 Kunia Rd #227, Kunia Camp, Oahu
Ka'ena Point State Park
Places located off the beaten track can be the very thing that keeps a multitude of tourists milling about.
Maybe it’s because they think twice about the location, or maybe because the call from the Cocktail lounge was far too strong on that day.
All the better for you.
Ka'ena Point State Park wraps its far-reaching and rugged arms around the coast of one of the most photogenic places on Oahu.
The sheer stature of the coastline is intriguing, almost daring visitors to follow it.
The road to heaven is said to be one of the scariest in Oahu, so if you’re driving here, take care. The view makes it spectacular. Once on the path, you will begin to feel the spray from the ocean.
The entire sweeping coastline is stuff vacation fantasies are made of.
Maybe not so much hidden but a gem to be experienced, nonetheless.
Where: Ka'ena Point State Park, Waialua, Oahu.
Things to Consider
- Remember, the land and properties are people’s homes, and in many instances, their livelihood is generated from everyday communities, not from those of tourist dollars.. It is important wherever you are granted an invitation to local secrets that mindfulness and respect are extended.
- Can’t decide? Take a tour instead. If you just want someone to show you, the best option is to take a professional with you. Guided tours are a great way to learn about those little places, activities and off-the-beaten-path gems.
Once you’ve done a tour, you’ll know exactly which places are your favorites. You’ll be back on your next trip, guaranteed.
- As much as locals rely on the tourist trade, there are always going to be a few places they’d like to keep for themselves, or at least, not be as well known.
Primarily because the places may be sacred to the locals or carry a cultural reverence that should not be as exposed on a grand level.
There is more to this amazing island than meets the eye with many locally owned and secret places hiding in plain sight among the bright lights, Mai-Tais, and flip-flops.
If you are lucky enough to explore even a few of them, your stay and the memories created in Oahu can only ever be enhanced.
Tread lightly. Some things are happy to remain in the shadows.