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When temperatures are dropping and snow begins to fall, keep those dreams of sunshine and beach days alive by planning a winter escape to a tropical paradise. With warm sunny days that remain throughout the winter, the Islands of Hawaii are the perfect antidote to the winter blues. Leave the coats and boots behind in favor of bikinis and board shorts and make your way to the Hawaiian Island of Oahu this winter!

With warm sunny days and cool, pleasant evenings, winter is an ideal time to visit the Hawaiian Islands. Winter also coincides with big surf tournaments, whale watching season, and holiday festivities that are only made better when celebrated island style! Winter is a special time in Hawaii, where cold, gray days are left behind and sunshiny days and warm ocean waters are at the forefront. Make your way to Oahu, Hawaii this winter, and be sure to add some of these sights and activities from our Oahu travel guide to your winter itinerary!

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Winter Accommodations in Oahu

Location is key, and if you’re escaping to Hawaii this winter, you’ll want to be sure and book accommodations that allow for premium beach access. Our Makaha vacation rentals are situated right on the beachfront, so the sights and sounds of the ocean are just steps from your door. Spend long days soaking up the sun from these beachfront accommodations on Oahu, which boast one or two bedrooms and fully equipped kitchens. Our Oahu vacation rentals in the community of Ko Olina are also situated on an exclusive waterfront property, where you’ll find four beach lagoons with beautiful crescent-shaped white sand beaches. The calm waters here are ideal for swimming and stand up paddle boarding, and you’ll also find additional amenities onsite such as a golf course, shopping, dining, swimming pools, spas, and a marina. With onsite amenities and the option of selecting a condo, beach villa, or private home, Ko Olina is a highly desirable community for a stay on Oahu, whether you’re seeking a romantic getaway or a family-friendly destination. From your location in sunny West Oahu, it’s easy to visit some of Oahu’s top sights without compromising your island vacation with the sights and sounds of the city.  When you’re ready to explore, Oahu’s best things to see are just a short drive away!

Top Oahu Sights

During winter months, Oahu’s North Shore brings big wave surfers from around the world; it is one of the most popular winter activities in Oahu. While surfing beaches such as Waimea Bay, Ehukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline) and Sunset Beach are best left for highly experienced surfers during this season, it is well worth the trip to simply observe from a distance on the shoreline. November through February are the best months to catch big wave surfers in action, though it leaves North Shore beaches largely unsafe for swimming. However, heading to the North Shore is a great opportunity to savor Oahu’s beautiful scenery. On the way, stop at the Dole Plantation, where you can lose yourself in a pineapple garden maze, take a plantation garden tour, take a ride on the Pineapple Express, and sample a variety of pineapple products. Once you’ve reached the North Shore, the rainbow bridge will welcome you to the town of Haleiwa, a small, charming surf town filled with boutiques and quaint eateries. Browse the shops at Haleiwa Town Center and grab a bite to eat at Haleiwa Beach House. If you continue past the famed beaches of Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach, be sure to also stop at Laniakea Beach. Laniakea is the best location on Oahu to spot green see turtles lazing along the sand, giving it the nickname Turtle Beach. Be sure to keep your distance, as these once endangered creatures are protected by law. After getting your fill of turtle sightings, stroll down to the area near the lifeguard stand, which is also known as Chun’s Reef. This is another great place to catch big wave surfers in action on a winter day!

No matter which months you travel, there are always plenty of beaches to explore. Winter days have no effect on Hawaii as a top beach destination. In fact, the main difference between a summer and winter beach day in Hawaii is where you’ll find the tranquil waters. While winter months bring larger swells to the north and east shores, the south and west shores see calmer seas. That means that if you’re in search of the perfect beach for a leisurely swim or glassy waters over which to catch a magnificent sunset, the west coast is the place to be. Consider lazing along the shores of the tranquil Ko Olina lagoons, or heading further up the west coast to catch the sunset from the picturesque Makaha Beach or Yokohama Bay. There are few sights more magical that watching the golden winter sun sink directly into the ocean with the final golden rays of light left glimmering across the water’s surface!

If you find yourself needing a break from beach days, consider setting out for a hike along the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail. Located along the southeasternmost tip of the island, this can be a great spot to catch the sunrise if you’re ambitious enough to tackle it early. Even if you prefer a more leisurely start to the day, this trail offers stunning views over the ocean. At the culmination of the trail, enjoy sights of the historic red-roofed Makapu‘u Lighthouse, built in 1909. Round trip, the trail is just two miles with approximately 500 feet of elevation gain. However, come prepared with plenty of water because much of the journey is exposed to sun and wind. In fact, the final portion of the trail is carved directly into the sea cliff, with just a railing separating you from the panoramic views all around. This trail is particularly great to explore during winter months, as whale spouts can often be spotted offshore along the way.

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Things to Do on Oahu

If your getaway to Oahu falls during winter months, this is the perfect opportunity to go whale watching. The whale watching season begins in mid-December and usually lasts through April, when migrating whales make their way back to Alaskan waters. Though it’s often possible to spot whale spouts from the shoreline, a boat excursion will get you up close and personal with these sizeable creatures. Most outfitters have equipment to listen to the whales’ songs and detect their location, practically guaranteeing a sighting. As an added bonus, pods of dolphins are usually spotted along the way! Ko Olina Ocean Adventures is a good place to start when it comes to booking a highly rated whale watching tour on Oahu.

Aside from whale watching and snorkeling tours, a wide variety of other water winter activities in Oahu are available to add excitement to beach days. Boogie boarding, surfing, kayaking, and stand up paddle boarding are all popular with residents and visitors alike, and the proper gear can be easily obtained. Whether you’re an experienced waterman and simply need to rent gear for the day or you’re a complete beginner and would prefer to begin your activity of choice with a lesson, water activities can be enjoyed by travelers of all ages and ability levels.

For an adrenaline rush away from the waterfront, consider embarking on one of the many adventure activities that make the most of the island’s diverse terrain. From hiking to lush waterfalls to horseback riding along the base of a picturesque mountain, there’s so much more to Hawaii than it’s beautiful beaches. Parasail over Waikiki, take in hidden sights that can only be spotted from a helicopter tour, zipline through the tropical forest, or ATV along meandering off-road trails. There are so many ways to enjoy the island beyond its coastline!

Must-Try Foods on Oahu

If there’s one thing that’s always present at gatherings in Hawaii, it’s large portions of finger-licking good food. From fresh seafood to Pan-Asian and Native Hawaiian cuisines, there is no shortage of options when it comes to good eats in Hawaii. Be sure to try some of these well-loved dishes on your winter getaway to Oahu!

If you haven’t already heard of poke, you’ll likely encounter this dish soon after your arrival in the islands. Poke, a dish consisting of diced raw ahi tuna and pronounced poh-keh, is a Hawaii favorite. This Native Hawaiian dish is traditionally prepared with sea salt, seaweed, and limu. However, nowadays you’ll find a whole range of options such as spicy tuna and wasabi mayo. At most gatherings you’ll find poke used as a side dish, although many restaurants are now serving up poke bowls that turn it into a main meal atop scoops of white rice. It may seem anticlimactic, but some of the best places to try poke are from supermarkets you’ll find around the island, such as Foodland. The restaurant Fresh Catch also has several locations around the island and offers over 20 varieties made fresh daily. Grab a few varieties to go and head to the nearest beach to enjoy your poke with a view!

It may go against the natural inclination while in a tropical location, but another must-try dish in Hawaii is a bowl of steaming saimin, Hawaii’s favorite way to eat noodles. Along with broth and noodles, you’ll typically find ingredients such as char siu, green onions, wonton, Spam, Portuguese sausage, choy sum, kamaboko, and fried eggs in your bowl of saimin. If you can’t bring yourself to eat a bowl of steaming soup on a hot Hawaii day, wait until the sun begins to dip toward the horizon and you’re reaching for your sweatshirt before heading out to one of Oahu’s best saimin restaurants. Palace Saimin and Shige’s Saimin Stand are a couple of the top saimin eateries on Oahu, but part of the fun is trying multiple locations and discovering your personal favorite!

You can’t end a trip to Oahu without noshing your way through at least one serving of shave ice for dessert. Different from the snow cones you’ll find in other locations, shave ice is Hawaii’s version of snow, created with thinly shaved ice that results in a much smoother texture. From rainbow-colored flavors to sweeter concoctions that include a scoop of ice cream at the bottom, the choices of shave ice are many. Matsumoto’s is a mainstay on the North Shore, serving up shave ice for nearly 70 years. Island Snow is another favorite – be sure to include a scoop of macadamia nut ice cream on the bottom of your flavor of choice!

Oahu Travel Guide to Shopping

Of all the Hawaiian Islands, Oahu by far offers the widest variety of shopping options. Whether you want to pick up some new beachwear for your day along the oceanfront or you simply want to fulfill that shopping urge, the shopping venues on Oahu more than meet expectations. In fact, Oahu is home to the largest outdoor shopping mall in the world – Ala Moana Center. With beautiful landscaping and swaying palms throughout, you can continue to enjoy the island vibe as you shop at Ala Moana. This mall boasts over 300 stores, with everything from well-known brands to local boutiques, as well as a hearty share of onsite restaurants to keep fueled along the way.

To bargain hunt top brands, consider heading to Waikele Premium Outlets, or find local items at great deals at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet. Waikiki Beach Walk offers a pleasant vibe with a good mix of known brands, local boutiques, and specialty shops. The Waikiki Christmas Store located on the Beach Walk is a must-see if your winter getaway to Hawaii coincides with the holiday season! And if you’re staying on the west coast, browse the Shops at Ko Olina for resort wear, beach wear, and gift items.

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Contact Us

At Ola Properties, we specialize in offering top-notch Oahu vacation rentals, particularly along the island’s desirable sunny west coast. Contact us today to learn more about where to stay, what to do, and how to save more on your winter getaway to Oahu!

Taking a solo adventure is a great way to connect with your travel destination, and to connect with yourself too. Experiencing the wonders of the Hawaiian Islands on your own can be a truly magical experience. Here are some Oahu activities you can do as a solo traveler:

Learning to Surf is One of the Best Oahu Activities

This is the absolute perfect activity for the solo traveler. If you’ve never surfed, or if you have surfed but you’d like to level up, now is the time to do it. We recommend Kai Sallas’ Pro Surf School, owned and operated by a pro surfer, where they offer both beginner and intermediate surfing lessons. Schedule a private lesson for exclusive 1-on-1 instruction! Lessons are two hours long, and private lessons are $199. As a bonus, you can even take a surf tour of the north and south shores through this surf school. After you’ve learned how to surf, this is a solo activity you can enjoy on our beaches for the rest of your stay, so try to get this in at the beginning of your trip!

Hike to Manoa Falls

This is a short hike, which makes it great for a small outing, and great for those with less hiking experience too. The incline is gradual and not too extreme. Round trip, the hike is just over 1.5 miles. Take this hike and you’ll find yourself walking in the Hawaiian rainforest on a well-maintained trail, through towering stalks of bamboo, over a babbling brook, through a gorgeous grove of eucalyptus trees, and finally emerging at a sparkling, 100-foot waterfall that will take your breath away.

Explore Iolani Palace

This palace of the Hawaiian monarchy is the only royal residence in the entire United States, built by King Kalākaua in the 1800s. As non-natives to Hawaii, this is one of the most important places we can visit to understand and respect Hawaiian culture and history. Plus, it’s just beautiful! It can sometimes be hard to visit historical places or educational attractions in groups, so this is the ideal kind of activity to do on your own. You’ll have more time to explore at your own pace and really soak everything in.

More Fun Things to Do!

Spend Your Stay with Ola Properties

However you fill your days here on Oahu, you’ll always be looking forward to the comfort of your rental when you get home in the evenings as the sun sets over the sea. Take a look at the 1-bedroom vacation rentals in our catalog today to get started and prepare to enjoy the best Oahu activities.

Hawaii is known for its beautiful beaches, stunning sunsets, and rich cultural traditions. This includes the famous Hawaiian luau, an exciting event consisting of a traditional feast, music, and dancing. Thanks to their immense popularity, luaus are easy to find throughout the island of Oahu. However, three specific luaus on Oahu best illustrate the culture and spirit of the Hawaiian islands.

#1: Paradise Cove Luau

The Paradise Cove Luau is known across Oahu for being one of the best in the state. The luau’s beachfront location in the Ko Olina area makes it extremely convenient for resort guests. Great for all ages, this luau allows participants to partake in demonstrations of traditional Hawaiian crafts prior to dinner and entertainment. A few lucky visitors will even participate in Hawaiian dancing during the show! Paradise Cove offers the convenience and ease of a resort stay with the excitement of island traditions.

#2: Germaine’s Luau

Germaine’s Luau is another convenient option for visitors to West Oahu, located near Barber’s Point. While it is slightly off the beaten path, visitors can drive or opt to take free transportation from Ko Olina (Saturday and Sunday only). Set in a beautiful beachfront locale, Germaine’s “backyard-style luau” boasts a low-key and highly relaxed vibe. Visitors will not be disappointed as they enjoy a multitude of island traditions before, during, and after dinner. Germaine’s fun luau on Oahu allows its guests to enjoy the traditional luau in a laid-back and comfortable setting.

#3: Ali’i Luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center

Often touted as the most authentic luau, the Ali’i Luau is just a small part of the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) experience. Guests receive admission to the Center with their luau ticket purchase, allowing them to delve into a variety of exhibits on the history and culture of the Polynesian islands. After they are complete with their exploration, the luau takes them on an exciting journey through Polynesian culture through food and entertainment. While it is located a one-hour drive from West Oahu, those who choose to make the trek will thoroughly enjoy their immersive experience!

All three luaus have great attributes that will give you an amazing opportunity to become fully immersed in the culture of Hawaii. Each luau website listed above provides specific details on various price packages and amenities that are tailored specifically to your desired experience. No matter which luau you choose, you will undoubtedly leave filled with the spirit of Aloha!

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and love is in the air on Oahu. Whether you and your significant other are looking for a low-key romantic night or an exciting, thrill-filled day to spice up the relationship, Oahu has ideal date spots for Valentine’s Day and all year round! Here is a list of places to go for a perfect date night on Oahu:

For a Nice Romantic Dinner

Roy’s Ko Olina

Enjoy a delicious Hawaiian fusion style dinner surrounded by luxury at this upscale restaurant located within Ko Olina Resort. Choose to eat inside for a fantastic view of the Ko Olina golf course from the 18th hole or dine outside on the patio while engaging in conversation and taking in the fresh Hawaiian air. Check out Roy’s Ko Olina’s website to browse its extensive menu and make sure to call ahead for a reservation as seats at this popular restaurant go fast.

Coquito’s Latin Cuisine Restaurant 

If a casual, laid back setting is more of you and your partner’s style, try a dinner or lunch date at Coquito’s Latin Cuisine Restaurant. This restaurant is just a short 20-minute drive Ko Olina and offers meals and desserts native to a variety of Latin American countries for a range of tastes and flavors that will have you coming back to try more. Coquito’s is also a “BYOB” so you can you own beverages, thereby saving on costs. For dates beyond Valentine’s Day, consider going back for one of their weekend specials.

For an Active Day of Fun

Ice Palace Hawaii

Perhaps you haven’t skated since you were a child, or even at all, or maybe you’re thinking that you came to Hawaii to get away from the cold. All of this and more is why ice skating would be a perfect spontaneous date for you and your partner. Ice Palace Hawaii holds public skating throughout the week, including Valentine’s Day. You and your partner will feel youthful and excited while laughing with each other as you glide along the ice holding hands and trying to keep balanced.


Rent a bike at Bikeadelic for as little as $7 an hour for a casual, romantic trip around town, or follow a designated biking trail around sites in Honolulu such as Diamond Head and Hanauma Bay. Bikeadelic offers a range of bikes including basic bikes, sports bikes, and tandem bikes to make for a great date for nature-loving couples.

Get out for a fun, romantic night this Valentine’s Day on Oahu and continue to check our blog for more great things to do for Date Night on Oahu.

For information on beautiful places to stay while vacationing in West Oahu, visit our vacation rental page or call us at (888) 737-4188 or (808) 726-2878

Travel guidebooks are excellent ways to learn about the vacation areas we are traveling to, as they explain where to find the hottest restaurants, the most popular tourist sites, and even the best stores for souvenirs. Everything you want to know about your planned vacation destination is listed within the pages of these very informative tomes, leading the way to a trip that is jam packed with adventures.

But what if you want to visit a site that is less crowded or want to find out where the best place for a family night on the island is located? Sometimes it’s the smaller adventures and the lesser-known sights that can create the most memorable vacations, and when you stay in one of our Ola Properties tropical escapes, our staff can help with the Oahu hidden gems that make a vacation shine but just can’t be found in the guidebooks.

Best Place to Try the Local Favorites

When you want to eat like a local, the more popular restaurants found in the guidebooks may not be the answer, and My Café, located at 563 Farrington Highway is a perfect example! Open until 2 PM, it’s the best place to try Loco Moco, a Hawaiian specialty, and although it may be crowded, the low prices are just one sign that your fellow diners are residents of Kapolei.

Take a Ride on a Train

Yes, there is a train on Oahu, operated by The Hawaiian Railway Society and the 90-minute tours offers a glimpse into the fascinating history of the island. Plus, if you take the 3 o’clock train, it includes a stop at 2 Scoops, one of our favorite ice cream shops! Located at 91-1001 Renton Road in Ewa, this open-air train will be a fun way to kill a couple of hours on a lazy island day!

That Kiss on That Beach

One of the most famous Hollywood kisses, that sandy embrace in From Here to Eternity, took place below the Halona Blowhole right here on the island of Oahu. You can recreate that magical moment yourself if you don’t mind a little sand in places that aren’t normally sandy!

The Best Place for Family Night

Not every minute of every day has to be filled with island explorations of Oahu’s hidden gems; your Ola Properties cozy island digs offers the best place for a night of family fun! Pop some popcorn, pour the kids some juice “Mai Tais” (save the real stuff for you!), and spend an evening playing board games in our comfortably appointed living rooms, watching the sunset from the porch, or simply enjoying a night of movies on television! Reserve yours today and start preparing for the family adventure of a lifetime!


Hawaii is known for more than its majestic scenery and abundant beauty. Every bit of Hawaii is rich in history, culture, and a sense of community. The Iolani Palace is a Hawaiian landmark that not only symbolizes Hawaii’s past but the heritage that Hawaiians are so proud of still today. Read on to understand why the luxurious, opulent, and spectacular Iolani Palace is one of Hawaii’s most-visited attractions.

The History of Iolani Palace

It all began on December 31st, 1879, when the cornerstone for Iolani Palace was first laid. It was designed to house the Hawaiian monarchs, the royal family, and other important officials. Completed in 1882, the palace was home first to King Kalakaua and then nation’s last-reigning monarch, Queen Liliuokalani. As a beacon of Hawaiian strength still today, she inspired her people after her brother, King Kalakaua died in 1981 by taking her rightful place.

In just a short time, the Iolani Palace served as more than the official, royal residency. It became Hawaii’s epicenter for political, social, and cultural life. It stood tall, in grandeur, until the monarchy was overthrown in 1893. After the monarchy fell, the palace went through a myriad of changes but was finally restored to its current glory in the 1970s, after being established as an American National Historic Landmark in 1962.

All of the Fine Details

Iolani Palace was a truly magnificent sight to behold. It sits on the southern shores of Oahu and was designed to be the grandest piece of property Hawaii had ever seen, housing the royal family and government officials, and hosting official functions and dignitaries from all over the globe. As the center of Hawaiian culture, parties, dances, and important matters all occurred under the palace’s roof.

When completed, the massive palace had all of the up-to-date amenities you would expect and many that people didn’t expect in Hawaii at the time, like the nation’s first electric lights, indoor plumbing, and an advanced communications system. And aside from the building itself, the Palace Grounds matched Iolani’s spectacular opulence.

The Significance of Iolani Palace

Iolani Palace was ahead of its time, impressed people from all walks of life, and put Hawaii on the international map. It still stands today as a symbol of Hawaii’s rich history, culture, and strength. Even today, Iolani Palace is considered the “spiritual and physical multicultural epicenter of Hawaii.

There is extraordinary historical significance to the palace as well. Even the ground it was built on dates back to antiquity and is still believed today to be an ancient site of worship. The grounds were also home to King Kamehameha III and the first 5 Hawaiian Kings before the property was demolished to make way for the Iolani Palace.

Visiting Iolani Palace and Other Interesting Facts

Iolani Palace was restored to its original beauty and today houses artifacts, furniture, and pieces of Hawaiian culture that are visited by thousands of people each year. In addition to the Iolani Palace itself, visitors can enjoy the splendor of the grounds, which includes Keliiponi Hale, The Sacred Mound, and Hale Koa.

Hale Koa is also known as the Iolani Barracks and was originally designed to house the Royal Guard. The Sacred Mound is a mysterious and alluring area, marked off by fences to respect those who may be resting there. This site once served as a royal tomb for kings, queens, and other important Hawaiian chiefs. Keliiponi Hale, also known as the Coronation Pavilion, was used for the coronation of King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani and is still used today as the location for the inauguration of Hawaii’s Governor.

Visitors can explore historical archives, browse the extensive collections within the palace, and even enjoy on-site concerts by the Royal Hawaiian Band at Iolani Palace.


As a symbol of Hawaii’s past, rich culture, and the strength of their people, Iolani Palace continues to inspire Hawaiian life today.


Hawaii is a multicultural state, and it attracts people who want to share aspects of cultures that they love. One of those people was Doris Duke, the daughter of a New York tobacco and hydroelectric tycoon who used her inheritance to fund a wide range of interests, charitable giving, and traveling through the Middle East, South Asia, and North Africa. In 1937, she had a home built in Honolulu where she could share one of her major interests, Islamic art, with the world.

Doris Duke

She was born November 22, 1912 to Nanaline Holt Inman and James Buchanan Duke. She grew up in New York and New Jersey, and she became famous for her colorful personal life and interests in horticulture, philanthropy, and art. Part of her charitable work included working in a canteen for sailors in Egypt during WWII, giving money to medical research and child welfare groups, and creating a charity to preserve historic colonial homes. She died in 1993 from a pulmonary edema following a severe stroke.

Shangri La: The Museum

Doris Duke traveled extensively. In 1935, she visited the Taj Mahal and was inspired to build something similar. She and her then husband, James Cromwell, bought land at Diamond Head in 1936, and had an airy, spacious home built there in 1937. The home consists of multiple open-air courtyards teaming with fountains and foliage, themed rooms such as the Mihrab room and the Syrian room, and a separate peristyle building at one end of a pool called ‘the playhouse.’ They called this home Shangri La.

She decorated Shangri La with furniture, colored-glass windows, and screens from Moroccan workshops, but she did not stop there. She spent years collecting Iznik tiles, a type of pottery from Turkey that has a clear lead glaze, and used it in her home decor. She reconstructed the Mughal Garden (she loved horticulture and had a whole farm dedicated to it) and brought an 18th-century Syrian interior home with her.

During WWII, she couldn’t go to her Shangri-La, so she let soldiers stationed in Honolulu use it for recreation. Afterwards, she created the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art to encourage the study of the sort of art she had filled her Hawaiian home with. The foundation still owns the house and uses it as a museum, sponsoring cultural programs and residency programs for artists who promote the understanding and appreciation of Islamic art. They also preserve the 2,500 pieces of art she had collected. The museum itself is a piece of art, with many of the exhibited collections, such as her Iznik tiles, being part of the structure. There are pieces from many countries including Spain, Iran, Egypt, and Morocco, and the art spans multiple time periods. If you go there, you will see everything from silk carpets to pottery made throughout the world.

The foundation gives guided tours of the grounds in partnership with the Honolulu Museum of Art. In fact, the tours start and end at the Honolulu Museum of Art, so you can get a two-for-one art experience if you want to. Tours are available Wednesday through Saturday, at 9 am, 10:30 am, and 1:30 pm. Guests will have to reserve tickets in advance, but they get a shuttle ride to the museum and a knowledgeable tour guide.

If you would like to preview what you might see at this lovely museum, check out their temporary homepage at https://www.shangrilahawaii.org/. You’ll find events, artists, and information about joining tours.

When to Go

Hawaii may seem like the land of eternal sunshine, white sand beaches, and gently waving palms, but there are a few factors to consider when planning your paradise getaway.

Temperature itself isn’t a primary concern. Most beaches, including Waianae, stay warm throughout the year, with cooler temperatures hitting their low from November through January. If you’re hoping to avoid the rainy season, stick to late spring and summer. The surf is also highest during the winter, which may be a plus or a minus depending on how adventurous you’re feeling. Not feeling brave enough to conquer the surf head on? Viewing the mountainous waves from the safety of the sand is an awe-inspiring experience and well worth a winter visit.

Winter is also prime whale-watching time. The return of the kohola — or humpback whale — is a time of renewal. A guided tour boat is the best option for viewing whales, though during the winter months, many humpbacks migrate close to beaches.

But be warned; flights during the holiday season are often the most expensive. Late spring and fall are considered off season and may be more budget-friendly for the frugal adventure seeker. If traveling during the winter or summer, book early to save yourself some Mai Tai money.

Where to Go

The beautiful coast of Waianae offers so many opportunities for sand and surf that choosing the right beach can be difficult. Consider a stop to these Top 3 Beaches before heading out.

Papaoneone Beach

Commonly known as Turtle Beach, this hidden gem along Oahu’s west shore is home to waves of green sea turtles. The turtles feed on seaweed along the reef and often rest near the shoreline. The water of Turtle Beach also takes on an emerald hue. A fantastic snorkeling spot, water is clearest in the summer months.

Nanakuli Beach Park

Catch some waves at one of Waianae’s best surfing beaches. Nanakuli’s soft, white sand is the postcard beach of your Hawaiian dreams. Warm year round, this beach offers a wide sandbar, calm swimming conditions, and lifeguards on duty. Showers and bathrooms available. Nanakuli is the perfect spot for families and beginner surfers looking to challenge the waves.

Aki’s Beach

No luck finding turtles at Papaoneone? Aki’s Beach is a lesser known spot for viewing Waianae’s sea turtles. The beach itself is smaller than most, but well worth a drive to get up close and personal with some curious sea turtles. This beach can be tricky to find — make sure you map the location beforehand.


Enjoy a night out on Oahu — out on the open ocean that is! A dinner cruise is the perfect way to explore the island’s wonder and beauty while wining, dining, and dancing the night away. It’s easy for first time visitors to be overwhelmed by the wide array of cruises offered. We’ve compiled a list of the Top 3 Best Dinner Cruises on Oahu to make island living a bit simpler.

1.) Honolulu Lights Sunset Dinner Cruise

This is the cruise you’ll want to put on a postcard and send home to friends. A classic Hawaiian atmosphere sets the mood of the voyage, complete with a complimentary beverage. Although the Makani Catamaran is the smallest on our list, the route — and outstanding views — more than makes up for the smaller quarters. Guests will experience luxury dining options alongside a “fishing boat” vibe. Enjoy frequent sightings of turtles and dolphins from the comfort the trampoline net hammocks located at the back of the ship.

Traditional island style buffet awaits, with main courses offering a variety of options from BBQ chicken to curry tofu veggie wraps. All dining ware is eco-friendly and biodegradable. The ship tours Honolulu, Waikiki, and ends with a sunset view of Oahu’s famous Diamond Head. Depending on the season, guests may even spot a humpback whale!

Makani Catamaran sets sail from 5:30 to 7:30 on most days. Be sure to reserve a spot well in advance as seating fills up quickly!

2.) Star Sunset Dinner Cruise and Show

From the smallest to the largest, the Star Sunset Dinner Cruise and Show offers an extravagant experience for a reasonable price. Start the night off right with a free Mai Tai and head over to the show. “60 Years of Aloha” is a theatrical event for the whole family. This 232-foot luxury liner features 4 panoramic decks and tours Oahu’s Diamond Head. 6 dining rooms, featuring the option to upgrade to a 5-star menu, make The Star of Honolulu the largest dinner cruise on the island. All-you-can-eat crab and delicious beef tenderloin will keep you coming back for seconds.

Book cruises on a Friday to take in the weekly fireworks show over the water.

3.) Island Style Buffet Cruise

A wide selection of exotic wines sets this cruise above the rest. The Majestic is ideal for parties, anniversaries, birthdays, and any occasion to celebrate! A great cruise for guests who prefer indoor dining options. Live music sets the soundtrack to a magical journey across the waters of Waikiki and Oahu. Sunset colors paint the waters an ethereal orange while you take it all in from the comfort of the 3 main decks.

Reserve a spot early! Cruises depart at 5:30 each day.

It’s a beautiful Saturday morning in West Oahu, (like most of them are) and it’s time to get out and go for a drive.  A great trip for such a Saturday is the drive up the Leeward Coast to the Waianae Farmer’s Market.  It’s a beautiful drive of less than 12 miles from Kapolei, with the ocean on your left and the Waianae Mountains on your right, that only takes 20 minutes or so.

The Farmer’s Market is an open-air affair that is held every Saturday from 8:00 AM to Noon.  There are a whole host of different types of vendors selling their products and wares. There are all kinds of fresh, locally grown, fruits and vegetables as well as several types of prepared foods ranging from plate lunches to, Thai food and Southwestern chili.  If you’re in need of additional caffeine to get you through the morning, Starbucks is right there in the same parking lot where the market is held.  One can also find fresh flowers, handmade arts and crafts, jellies and jams and perhaps a few items you’ve never seen or heard of before.

All the vendors I’ve met at the market are friendly and happy to answer any questions you may have and will also offer samples of their foods if you ask.  I particularly like buying the fresh fruits and vegetables for use during the week rather than going to the grocery stores for produce.  My last trip up the coast, I stopped on my way to Makaha and bought some really nice Roma tomatoes, fersh sweet corn and broccoli right off the farm.  I couldn’t resist and on my way back to Kapolei, I stopped again and had a bowl of chili from one of the vendors.  Onolicious!

Give it a try next Saturday; I think you’ll enjoy it!