Oahu is one of the world’s most popular year-round destinations for so many reasons. Here at “The Gathering Place,” the weather is always perfect, the scenery is striking, and there are plenty of ways to spend quality time with loved ones. While there are countless easy-to-find, acclaimed attractions to enjoy, Oahu harbors a handful of hidden gems, too. Below, we’ve compiled just a few of the best off-the-beaten-path Oahu activities to discover during your trip. Include these in your itinerary and you’ll experience the true spirit of Aloha! For more of our favorite restaurants, shops, and outdoor adventures, be sure to request access to our complimentary Oahu Travel Guide.
Your Guide to Off-the-Beaten-Path Oahu
The Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail
The Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail in Waimanalo (on the East Shore) is one of the most popular Oahu lighthouse hikes. This short hike is just two miles round-trip! It’s also paved, making it more accessible for those with disabilities. The lighthouse, which was built in 1909, is still functional. Drinking water is not available on this hike and the trail is bathed in sun, so bring lots of water and sunscreen. A good time to visit the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail is at sunrise due to cooler temperatures and a beautiful sunrise view.
China Walls is a stretch of lava-rock ledges and cliffs that hang above the ocean and a true hidden gem for sunset chasers! Just off the beaten path of Koko Kai Mini Beach Park and nestled within a residential Hawaii Kai neighborhood, China Walls offers panoramic views of the surrounding ocean. Choose this short Oahu sunset hike and you might even see some cliff jumpers along the way! Enjoy the view, but don’t venture too close to the edge of the cliffs here. The footing can be slippery and the waves below can occasionally prove powerful!
Hidden Culinary Gems
Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck
For a truly local experience on Oahu’s North Shore, stop by Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck! The menu is not large and it is a rustic experience. However, this eatery’s ingredients are locally harvested on the North Shore. We think that the prawn is simply delicious!
A local favorite on the South Shore of Oahu is Malasadas, which translates to “fried dough” in Portuguese. This food truck is located in the Koko Marina Shopping Center and offers a menu full of gourmet breakfast donuts and other tasty treats. It’s a great place to grab a bite on your way over to Hanauma Bay!
Uncle Bobo’s Smoked BBQ
If Hawaiian comfort food is what you crave, you’ll love Uncle Bobo’s Smoked BBQ! This local spot offers traditional BBQ plates with a Hawaiian twist as well as Asian and Pacific foods such as stir fry with peanut sauce. Find this local favorite on the East Shore of Oahu!
Secret Spots for Shopping on Oahu
Global Village Hawaii
If you’re not in the mood to follow the crowds to bustling Ala Moana Shopping Center, there are plenty of unique boutiques to discover on Oahu. Global Village Hawaii is one of our favorites! This eclectic women’s boutique features coastal Hawaiian styles for the earth-conscious fashionista.
Manoa Chocolate Hawaii
Want to satisfy your sweet tooth on vacation? You can do exactly that without buying into the big-box stores by paying a visit to Manoa Chocolate Hawaii! This local, boutique chocolate shop sells high-end bars made from sustainably sourced cocoa beans.
Whether you’re in the market for some new furniture (to ship home, of course) or simply want a unique shopping experience on the East Shore of Oahu, a visit to Red Bamboo is a must. One-of-a-kind furniture finds inspired by the Hawaiian lifestyle live in this eclectic furniture store!
Don’t settle for a cold and impersonal hotel room during your stay on Oahu. After a full day of exploring off-the-beaten-path natural wonders, dining on local cuisine, and experiencing the true spirit of Aloha, come back to the comfort and luxury of one of our beachfront accommodations! Each one of our bright and airy rentals boasts ocean views and premium amenities found nowhere else on the island. Hawaii Beach Homes is dedicated to making you feel right at home during your trip. There’s no better place to experience Oahu as a local than on your very own private home on the beach! Choose between our North Shore, East Shore/Lanikai, and South Shore properties. No matter where you stay on Oahu, you’ll be just a short drive away from everything the island has to offer.