Lei My Burdens Down on O'ahu
August 16, 2015 9:30 PM   Subscribe

Mr. 26.2 and I will be on O'ahu for a bike race in September and we'd like to extend it be a vacation. What can we do and where can we stay on O'ahu that will be incredibly relaxing?

We've been to that island and done the typical stuff: Waikiki, Diamond Head, Pearl Harbor. Plus, we live in San Diego so we have daily access to touristy stuff like Duke's if it strikes our fancy. There's nothing inherently evil about touristy locations, but it's not the relaxing vacation we're looking for this trip. We're hoping for a totally chill experience on Hawai'i's most touristy island.

My ideal would be a week some where on the island that has natural beauty, great food, and is both kama’aina and visitor friendly. We don't need to surf, but paddleboarding would be awesome. We don't like shopping, big resorts, the ubiquitous shortbread cookie shops, or getting on a tour.

Constraint -
- We can't island hop unless it's a day trip. We are traveling with two bikes and hops between the islands are going to be wildly expensive with those as cargo.
posted by 26.2 to Travel & Transportation around O‘ahu, HI (8 answers total)
Best answer: If there's a swell (the locals will know, everyone on the island will know) then head to the north shore and watch the surfers on Pipeline. It's truly an astonishing thing to watch.
While up on the north shore, the Turtle Island resort has a fine lunch, and is also where much of Lost was filmed. You can walk around and see familiar locations (the Banyan tree where Charlie was hanged etc).

The beach at Kailua is one of the loveliest beaches in the world. The sand feels like granulated sugar and the water is crystal clear.

Hanuama bay has a funny schedule, but if it's open when you're there then GO. Some of the best snorkeling EVER. One piece of advice: go early. Like 45 minutes before they open. Seriously it gets crazy crowded. It's been a no-fishing reef forever, the fish show no fear of you as you snorkel among them. You'll have to watch a short video about the rules, and you can rent everything you need while you're there. Buy a waterproof bag for your camera. It's an incomparable experience.

For a more elegant and "old Hawaii" type feel, walk the beach at Waikiki, and stop to have lunch at the amazing 5 star Halekulani hotel. Elegant. You'll feel like you're in a movie from the 70's. In a GOOD way. Fantastic food.

If you've never surfed before but want to try, the beach at Waikiki is perfect. There are many places that will have you surfing within minutes. They're practiced hands and it's genuinely fun. I did it a couple years back and had a blast, as did my 14 year-olds.

That ought to keep you occupied. I've been to Oahu many times, and somehow I manage do do some combination of the above nearly every time. Make sure you have a burger. For some reason burgers after you've been swimming in Hawaii are AMAZING.
posted by asavage at 11:32 PM on August 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Drive up to the Byodo-In Temple and take a little time to relax and meditate. It wasn't too busy when we were there, but there were some tourists.

We also walked through the botanic gardens on our way to see Waimea Falls. For us, the botanic gardens and archaeological sites sprinkled around really made the trip more than the falls. There were a lot of people swimming at the falls, but that was the shortest part of the visit for us! The nice thing is that you can meander about and take as long or as little time as you like.

I agree that just driving up to the North Shore and watching the surfers is a major treat! Just sit back, relax, and watch the waves :)
posted by Mouse Army at 3:36 AM on August 17, 2015

Best answer: I have really enjoyed staying in Waimanalo. As far as I know, you will have to stay in some kind of cottage or condo. My link will give you some ideas. It doesn't have to be expensive at all. I asked this question about food and cooking.
posted by BibiRose at 7:31 AM on August 17, 2015

Best answer: I feel like you should consider staying in Kailua? Maybe one of the Lanakai Beach Rentals or the B&B?

I also can imagine a world where you might enjoy the Turtle Bay Resort. (I know! You said no resorts! And it is quite pricey. But I wonder if it would tick your other boxes, and it's no Aulani.)
posted by purpleclover at 8:32 AM on August 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: In September the North Shore waves will not be firing, so it will not be overrun with surfers and a rental near up there could work out well, say near Sunset Beach. You should be able to find a place a bit inland with fantastic views of the shore. It's a short drive to great food in Haleiwa and you can cruise Waimea River on rental stand-up boards or grab a surf lesson at Chun's Reef.

If you really want to get away, find a place up around the north corner on the windward side near Punaluu or Kaaawa.
posted by ldenneau at 9:26 AM on August 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Here is another recent Oahu thread. It's going to be lovely there in September-- enjoy!
posted by BibiRose at 2:14 PM on August 17, 2015

Best answer: If you want to island hop, you're welcome to leave your bikes at my house in Honolulu— I also posted my Oahu suggestions in the recent thread BibiRose linked. MeMail me if that's something you're considering.
posted by a halcyon day at 1:12 AM on August 18, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks so much! These are all awesome suggestions. North Shore it is. (And huge thanks to a halcyon day for the offer to stash our bikes! If we decide to island hop, I'll take you up on it!)
posted by 26.2 at 5:53 PM on August 23, 2015

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