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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Lara

7 days in Honolulu

Dreaming of a vacation in paradise? Oahu is calling your name. I have lived here going on SIX years now and I have become a sort of foodie that everyone calls and asks, “Hey Sammie, got any recommendations?” Yes, yes I do. And I am sharing them with you!

Okay, firstly, seven days. You need seven days on the ground. Not traveling, not recalibrating. On the ground. And this is AT LEAST. Ten days is better, but we are gonna talk about a seven day trip to Oahu.

After stepping off the plane, what do you need to know? Well, the airport is currently building out rental car storefronts on site so that is helpful. There are shuttle buses that will take you to the rental car companies off airport property. No turo operations can be done on airport land. There is a bus that will take you to Waikiki.

Now, will you need a car to get around Oahu? Well, it depends. Some of the things I will encourage you to do will require a car, so maybe plan to have one for a couple of days of your trip.

Let’s talk fun stuff: what do you absolutely-cannot-miss-must-do when on Oahu.

Food: Here is a list of my favorite restaurants that you would totally be sad to miss out on.

  • Merriman’s: locally owned and locally grown!

  • Livestock Tavern: honestly, I think this is the best restaurant on island.

  • 1938 Indochine: happy hour is fantastic, and the interior of this place is sure to impress.

  • Doraku: another great spot for happy hour! Get the Doraku Salmon roll, you won’t be disappointed. Oh and the wagyu beef rice!

  • Haleiwa Bowls: best acai on island!

  • Mahina and Suns: locally owned and locally sourced, this place is a VIBE.

  • Island Vintage Wine: every single thing on the menu is delicious.

  • Moku: sister to Merriman's, this place is a lil more casual but just as high quality.

Yes, you should go to the beach, that’s a given, but let me give you the suggestions for the perfect beach day.

Grab some food from Tucker and Bevy in Waikiki and head to Kaimana beach. After enjoying the beach and a light lunch, rinse off at the showers and pop into Hau Tree at the Kaimana Hotel for a cocktail. It is such a gorgeous space with an epic view.

Another beach, another day: pick up poke from Foodland at the Ala Moana mall, walk across the street to Ala Moana Beach Park, find a good spot and set up shop. The gentle waves and blue water will keep you smiling all day.

If you want to make the trek to Lanikai, which I totally recommend, I advise you to take the bus. Honestly, finding parking is a NIGHTMARE up there, so let someone else drive. It will take you RIGHT to it.

If you are coming in the summer, you will want a beach day on the north shore. Just imagine a massive saltwater pool. So gorgeous. Again, parking is limited so consider taking the bus. Snorkeling at shark’s cove is amazing! While you are up there, hit up Beach House or Banzai Sushi.

Now, here is a reason to rent a car: driving around the island is absolutely amazing. All sides of the island are different. Put on a great playlist and expect this to take the entire day.

If you are a hotel lover, consider getting a couple resort passes to check out hotels other than the one you booked. This is a great way to see the other hotels amenities and start planning your next vacation to Oahu!

If you are a hiker, be sure to use AllTrails (app) to help you plan your hikes. I am not much of a hiker, but I will say Manoa falls is one to not miss. The pillbox hikes are also really great. I am a fan of trails in the Tantalus area; they are very shady.

Some fun things to do from a local that does them often: schedule a sail with SV Honu or SV Te Fiti. Both great experiences! I also love coffee with Vida Mia. If you want to fish, you will wanna go with Ray from Ruckus Fishing and Diving. If you love farmers markets, there is one on Wednesdays at the Blaisdell and one on Saturday’s at Kakkakko. Honolulu Magazine does a great job providing information on weekly events to check out so give them a follow on instagram!

Okay, so that’s my first jab at recommending how to fill a seven day itinerary on Oahu. Just to give you a skeleton of an itinerary, this is how I would do it:

Stay at the Alohilani

  • Day 1: Waikiki-- walk Waikiki, take the bus to Kakkako, do the mural walk, be an urbanite!

  • Day 2: Waikiki-- beach day at Kaimana beach with food in tow from Tucker and Bevy. Dinner at Mahina and Suns!

  • Day 3: Manoa falls hike day-- breakfast at Waioli Bakery or Morning Glass. Beach recoup at Waikiki beach. Dinner at Doraku!

  • Day 4: Drive the island-- head to the NS the long way around. Rest at Waimea beach, or Sunset beach, Keiki beach. Dinner at Beach House!

  • Day 5: Give me all the boats! Coffee in the morning with Vida Mia, urban exploring in Waikiki, Ala Moana area, set sail with SV Te Fiti or SV Honu, depending on what type of experience you want. Dinner at Merriman’s!

  • Day 6: Kailua day! Take the bus. Hike the pillbox hike. After the hike, head down to Lanikai beach for a refreshing swim. Spend the day at the most beautiful beach in the world! Head back to townside and have dinner at Livestock Tavern.

  • Day 7: Souvenir day! Check out the farmers markets, hit up South Shore Market, peruse the shops at SALT. Lunch at Moku, catch sunset at Ala Moana beach park. Dinner at Islan Vintage Wine.

That’s how I would do it.

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