For those who have been dreaming of carefree vacationing and exciting travel, there’s one location that gets you further across the map without having to leave the country. Situated approximately 2,500 miles off the California coast, the Islands of Hawaii have long been topping the bucket list for travelers around the world. With reasonable ticket prices and outstanding accommodation options, this summer or fall is a great time to travel to the Aloha State. Pack your favorite beach clothes, leave the stress of everyday life behind, and embrace the laid-back lifestyle of island living on a Hawaii vacation!
While each Hawaiian Island has its own pace of life and personality, the Island of Oahu is where you’ll find the largest variety of activity options. From the cosmopolitan shopping streets of Waikiki to the surf vibe of the North Shore, there’s something for every traveler to discover on Oahu. Beautiful white sand beaches, lush waterfalls, shopping, dining, and a wealth of activities all await for your Oahu summer or fall getaway!
There’s no need to stay in an overcrowded hotel room when vacationing in the Islands. Situated along the island’s sunny west coast, you’ll find beautiful resort areas such as Ko Olina that offer an excellent getaway location. Offering a mix of condos, townhouses, villas, and private homes, the Ko Olina community offers a wide range of accommodation options within a highly desirable setting. This property is situated along four ocean lagoons, where you’ll find crescent shaped white sand beaches curled up against tranquil aqua blue waters perfect for cooling off on a warm summer day. Protected from larger ocean waves by rock outcroppings, the lagoons are ideal for swimming, stand up paddle boarding, and enjoying postcard perfect days at the beach. Most of the Oahu vacation rentals here range from one to four bedrooms, offering an upscale tropical stay whether you’re traveling as a couple, family, or group. With other amenities onsite such as a golf course, a paved oceanfront path, swimming pools, hot tubs, and shopping and dining options, it’s easy to see why the Ko Olina community has quickly become a favorite!
Further up Oahu’s western coast, more alluring beaches await. If you’re in search of accommodations a bit further from the hustle and bustle of Honolulu, the town of Makaha offers accommodations right on the oceanfront. Just steps from the sand, our Makaha vacation rentals offer easy access to the beach vacation you’ve been dreaming of! Whether you opt for the luxury and amenities of Ko Olina or the sweet stay with an ocean view in Makaha, you’ll find the majority of our Oahu vacation rentals boast features such as an open concept floorplan with a full kitchen, making daily living in the islands that much easier. And of course, easy beach access is also a given! Stay and play in Oahu, Hawaii, and be sure to add some of these sights and activities to the itinerary for a memorable vacation!
Get the lay of the land with a bird’s eye view from the peak of Diamond Head State Monument. Originally part of Oahu’s coastal defense system, this historic site is still home to a Fire Control Station, bunkers, and a navigational lighthouse that dates back to 1917. Aside from the historic aspect, Diamond Head is well-loved for its hike that leads to spectacular views. The hike covers just 0.8 of a mile but is relatively steep with 560 feet of elevation gain. Switchbacks and stairs lead you to the peak, where you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with stunning views of the shoreline from Koko Head to Wai‘anae.
Oahu is the Hawaiian Island which offers the most attractions for history buffs. Pearl Harbor National Memorial is a top Oahu attraction that commemorates the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the entry of the United States into World War II. Set in the waters of Pearl Harbor, visitors can reach the Memorial via a quick boat trip. The USS Arizona Memorial Program is 45 minutes long and includes the US Navy provided boat shuttle to the memorial, time on the memorial, and a return trip back to the Visitor Center. Tickets are free but be sure to book these in advance if you plan to visit this popular site! Those who want to delve deeper into the country’s history will want to also visit the Battleship Missouri Memorial, Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum, and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, all part of the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites.
Aside from its rich history, Oahu is also home to world class beaches that put it on the map as a beach destination, and are a must-see in any Oahu guide. From the bustling activity along Waikiki Beach to the remote shores of Yokohama Bay, you’ll find every stretch of sand has its own unique characteristics. Plan to do some beach hopping during your stay to discover some of the best Oahu beaches! North Shore beaches such as Waimea Bay Beach and Sunset Beach are known for their surf scene, while east coast beaches such as Kailua Beach Park and Lanikai Beach are known for their pristine aqua blue waters and postcard perfect views. When you want to relax alongside calm waters, the Ko Olina lagoons offer the perfect retreat. Whether you want to be in the midst of the oceanfront action or find a lone stretch of sand to enjoy in solitude, Oahu’s beaches offer it all!
Along with world-class beaches come the perfect opportunity to try a new water sport. While there are certainly plenty of beaches where you can happily laze along the shoreline, adding in some water activities will add to the fun of your Oahu vacation and is a perfect way to cool off on a sunny Oahu summer or fall day. It’s probably no surprise that Oahu is home to an abundance of water activities, including surfing, boogie boarding, stand up paddle boarding, snorkeling, swimming, and kayaking, among others. Whether you prefer the slower pace of a morning snorkeling among tropical fish or the exciting thrill of catching your first wave on a longboard, you’ll find opportunities to do so along the beaches of Hawaii. The Ko Olina lagoons are great for swimming, snorkeling, and stand up paddle boarding.
Another favorite locale for snorkeling is Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. This pristine bay located along the southeastern corner of the island boasts a sand entry into the water, making it easier even for beginners. Once submerged in the crystal-clear waters, the massive reef can be explored closer to shore for beginners or further out for advanced snorkelers. Glide alongside large schools of tropical fish in this well-preserved natural environment! For something faster paced, consider booking a surf lesson. If you’ve ever imagined yourself giving surfing a try, Oahu is definitely the place to finally make it happen. Joining the crowds along the beaches of Waikiki offers the thrill of being in the center of all the action, while booking a surf lesson outside of town in locations such as Ko Olina allow for a less crowded experience. With plenty of seasoned instructors to choose from, even first-time surfers are standing up riding waves in their very first lesson!
To further explore the waters surrounding the Island of Oahu, book a boat excursion that will whisk you away from the shoreline. From thrilling Zodiac rides to leisurely sunset sails, you’ll find a variety of ways to enjoy the waters surrounding Oahu by boat. Take in the sights of the shoreline and surrounding islands as you cruise along, often with pods of dolphins jumping and playing alongside the vessel. Many boat excursions include activities such as snorkeling at an offshore location, onboard dining, or sunset viewing, adding to the options for customizing your day out on the water. Excursions can easily be booked from the Ko Olina Marina!
Along with exploring beautiful beaches and waterways, a trip to the islands isn’t complete without experiencing the Hawaiian culture. One place to do so that will have an appeal for the entire family is the Polynesian Cultural Center. Situated along Oahu’s North Shore, the Polynesian Cultural Center combines hands-on activities, music, dancing, and dining into one sensory filled experience. Set among 42 acres of beautiful tropical land, visitors can explore six different villages representing the island nations of Hawaii, Fiji, Samoa, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Tahiti, and Tonga. Within each village, stay fully engaged by playing ancient games and completing daily life skills such as catching fish and paddling a canoe. The songs and dances of Pacific Islanders come alive and are a delight to visitors of all ages. End the evening by staying for a traditional luau, where you’ll feast on traditional foods of the islands. The Hā: Breath of Life show is also not to be missed. This show featuring Polynesian dance, music, and blazing fireknives tells a story, entertains, and gives an unparalleled window into the elements that make up the fascinating Polynesian culture.
From hidden local eateries to upscale restaurants on the oceanfront, Oahu offers a scope of options when it comes to dining. The Hawaiian Islands are known for their Pan-Asian and Asian Fusion cuisines, mixing and pairing tastes and dishes from many Asian cultures. Of course, you’ll also find bountiful fresh seafood options, sweet treats, and cuisines from around the world throughout Oahu’s dining scene! Be sure to try a couple of these Hawaii favorites during your stay.
For breakfast, try a fresh organic plate from Heavenly Island Lifestyle. This Waikiki restaurant prides themselves on serving up fresh plates made from locally grown produce, providing a true taste of the islands. Diners enjoy dishes that are not only a feast for the tastebuds but also for the eyes, with beautifully arranged fresh fruit platters garnished with flowers. For breakfast, try the fresh fruit bowl or a kalua pig eggs benedict, an early-morning spin on the Hawaii favorite, kalua pork.
Grab a late lunch at Tommy Bahama Restaurant, where you can snag a table on the rooftop. With dining tables and comfortable seating areas, the rooftop bar sports a tropical cosmopolitan vibe. A thick burger or an order of blackened fish tacos is just the thing to fuel the remainder of your beach or shopping day.
To celebrate a special occasion or simply enjoy a memorable evening out, book a table at Roy’s, a restaurant of the award-winning celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi. One of the founding members of the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement, the reputation of this restaurant precedes the experience. Feast on steak or fresh seafood and top it off with a chocolate souffle. The presentation and service at Roy’s are impeccable!
With temperatures remaining consistently warm throughout the summer and fall, both of these seasons are excellent times to plan your Hawaii getaway. While elsewhere the sunny days of summer fade away and the leaves begin to change colors as fall descends, bright days and swaying palms remain in the Hawaiian Islands!
The warm days of summer are perfect for participating in the many water activities that are so easily accessible in Hawaii. Long days by the pool or along the beachfront are a perfect way to spend a summer day, cooling off in the afternoon with Hawaii’s favorite treat – a refreshing scoop of shave ice. Watch fireworks over the ocean if you’re on the island during the 4th of July and enjoy an extra hour of daylight before catching a magnificent sunset over the ocean from the island’s west coast. Food, art, and wine festivals begin to pop up in the fall, in addition to harvest and Halloween festivities that can be found around the island in October. With temperatures at their warmest and plenty of sunny days, summer and fall are ideal seasons for visiting Hawaii!
Get started on making your Hawaii dreams come to fruition by booking your Oahu vacation rental today! Contact us for more information about how to get the most out of your summer or fall getaway to Hawaii.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
What does the Hawaiian Shaka sign mean? Anyone who has visited the islands has no doubt seen the famous hand gesture coupled with the “Shaka” greeting! A shaka sign – the unmistakable pinky and thumb salute – is the ultimate symbol of Aloha and local culture in Hawaii. Interpreted to mean “hang loose” or “right on,” the Hawaiian Shaka is a constant reminder that in Hawaii, it is not the norm to worry or rush. The shaka sign represents the embodiment of “island style.” It conveys friendship, understanding, compassion, and solidarity among the various ethnic cultures that reside within Hawaii. The shaka sign was adopted from local Hawaiian culture by visiting surfers in the 1960s, and its use has spread around the world.
According to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, prevailing local lore credited the gesture to Hamana Kalili of Laie, HI, who lost the three middle fingers of his right hand while working at the Kahuku Sugar Mill. Kalili was then shifted to guarding the sugar train, and his all-clear wave of thumb and pinkie is said to have evolved into the shaka as children imitated the gesture.
Another theory relates the origin of the shaka to the Spanish immigrants, who folded their middle fingers and took their thumbs to their lips as a friendly gesture to represent sharing a drink with the natives they met in Hawaii. Yet another theory relates the origin to visiting whalers who signaled a catch with a “tails up” shaka.
Shaka and its very positive associations may simply derive from the popular World War II “V for Victory” hand sign, in Hawaii often held up and rotated rapidly back and forth, “shaken”, hence shaka.
The late Lippy Espinda, a used car salesman and Oahu-based entertainer, has also been named as a possible creator of the shaka. Espinda, who frequently appeared as an extra in Hawaii Five-O as well as the The Brady Bunch episodes shot in Hawaii, used the term and the sign during his television ads in the ’60s. Though the claim that he is the originator of the shaka sign is debatable, he is credited with increasing its popularity and of Hawaiian Pidgin as well. The shaka has achieved great popularity in Australia, primarily amongst teenagers on social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook.
(Courtesy of Wikipedia)
Come experience the Hawaiian Shaka for yourself and start planning a West Oahu vacation! Browse our selection of West Oahu, Ko Olina, and Makaha vacation rentals today.