Hawaii is an incredibly popular destination for Australian’s. A relatively short 10-hour flight to reach a family-friendly destination, filled with restaurants, beaches, and activities. For some people, the draw of Hawaii falls outside of Waikiki, where you’ll find that Hawaii has so much more to offer. There are tons of things to do on Oahu that will get you outside of Waikiki Beach.
Hawaii truly is one of my favourite beach holiday destinations outside of Australia. Waikiki is basically a pimped up version of the Gold Coast (but way better! 😂). The destination offers calm, white sandy beaches, tons of retail shops, and dozen of restaurants and bars. It’s a busy and vibrant place!
It really is a great place. One where you can easily wile away your 7-day holiday. However, if you’re like me, at some point the crowds and over-stimulation will grow tiresome. Luckily for us, there are tons of things to do on Oahu, outside of busy Waikiki 🙌🏼.
Side Note: You may need to hire a car to reach some of these activities. Hiring a car is easy over there, however, to avoid having to hire the most expensive one, book ahead! 👍🏼
#1 – Shop Your Heart Out at Waikele Premium Outlets
If you’re big on shopping, and you’ve exhausted your options in Waikiki Beach and the Ala Moana Centre, head to the Waikele Premium Outlets.
They are about a 40-minute drive or bus ride from Waikiki Beach. At the outlets, you’ll find discounted items from brands such as Levi’s, Michael Kors, Vans, Gucci, Armani, Adidas, Calvin Klein… the list goes on!
Because Waikele Premium Outlets is a discount outlet centre, you won’t find any of the current seasons merchandise to be on sale here. But, you will find some amazing deals from the previous seasons’ range.
To get there, it’s an easy drive along Interstate H-1. If you don’t have a car, bus companies such as Roberts Hawaii will transport you in an air-conditioned coach to the outlets for around $18 USD return.
#2 – Explore the Beautiful North Shore
Hawaii’s ‘North Shore’ is famous for its monster winter swell – no doubt you’ve heard of it! However, there is much more to this part of the island than just surf!
The North Shore is home to the cute old town of Haleiwa, Turtle Bay Resort, and the Dole plantation. Not to mention the giant succulent shrimp and incredible smoothie bowls. Oh and let’s not forget the incredibly stunning beaches like Waimea Bay 😍🙌🏼.
If you’re visiting during Winter, you might be lucky enough to see the world-famous humongous swells they see up there. But if you’re visiting during Spring or Summer, you’ll get to enjoy the beautifully calm Waimea Bay for a swim. I’d say that’s a win either way.
Check out my blog post ‘The Best Way to Explore Oahu’ to read a bit more about Waimea Bay and another cool way to explore the island!
# 3 – Take on the Koko Crater Railway Trail
Alright guys, I’ll be straight with you – you’re going to need some fitness for this one 😂. Hiking Koko Crater Trail is one of my favourite active things to do on Oahu… hear me out.
Yes, it’s tough. There are over 1,000 ‘stairs’ the reach the top 🥵. I spent most of the way up huffing and cursing 🙋🏼♀️. But dang, the views from the top are worth it.
The Koko Crater Trail is also known as Koko Head Stairs. Basically, the trail is made up of old railroad ties that are mounted to the hillside. The railway reaches pillbox bunkers created by the military in WW2, and was used to haul cargo and supplies to the top of the crater.
Hot Tip: Aim to do the hike at the crack of dawn. Anytime after 10am in Hawaii is way too hot and humid. Especially to be climbing 1,000 stairs vertically to the top of a freaking mountain 🙃.
Koko Crater is an easy 30-minute drive from Waikiki Beach, and there is plenty of parking available at the base of the hike.
#4 – Have an Adventure with EO Waianae Tours
If you’re interested in snorkelling, seeing wild sea life such as dolphins and turtles, stand up paddle boarding or kayaking, or even just seeing the beautiful Oahu coastline from the ocean, EO Waianae Tours have got you covered!
They are Hawaiian family-owned and operated, and it is very obvious from the get go they are all about protecting the animals and the environment. They guarantee that you will see some dolphins in their natural habitat. And if you don’t, they’ll rebook you for free!.
I can highly recommend their Catamaran Adventure! It includes all activities mentioned above. As well as return transfers from Waikiki beach, a delicious lunch, and a quick lesson on how to do the hula!
An option like this is definitely more pricey than other snorkelling and sea life interaction tours available. However, I personally believe it is worth it. Your money is well spent by contributing to a locally owned and operated business, who care about their local sea life.
While we did get to see some dolphins, the waters they were swimming in were deep and they were pretty far down. To the naked eye, it was fine, but the GoPro footage unfortunately did not turn out. But we did get to get up close and personal (without touching!) this little guy.
#5 – Visit Kualoa Ranch
Located about an hours drive from Waikiki, Kualoa Ranch is a 4000-acre private nature reserve where Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, Godzilla, Skull Island, and more have been filmed.
There is a huge array of activities on offer at Kualoa Ranch. You can go horseriding, quad biking, kayaking, jungle jeep touring… the list goes on!
When we visited Kualoa Ranch, we took their 2-hour ATV Tour. We each had our own quad bikes to cruise around the beautiful ranch and surrounding valley on. It was so much fun! You can expect to get super dirty and dusty though 😬.
This particular tour is a mix of touring around Kualoa Ranch’s beautiful valley and remote areas, and visiting the sites where particular movies or TV shows have been filmed. The views the entire way, of the valley and of the ocean, are spectacular!
#6 – Visit Lanikai Beach
Lanikai Beach is located on Oahu’s East Coast. Lanikai means ‘heavenly sea’, and that sure is what it feels like. The water here is slightly cooler, the beach less crowded, and the beautiful white sand is real!
There are also two small islands off the shore called the Mokulua Islands, which you can apparently kayak or stand-up paddle board to. Lanikai is the perfect place to visit on your way to Kualoa Ranch, or even just to escape Waikiki for the day.
Alright guys, that’s a wrap! Of course, you could easily spend your entire time in Hawaii living it up in Waikiki. But would you really want to?
Next time you’re headed to Waikiki, why not get out and explore all the amazing things Oahu has to offer! No matter what you’re into, I have no doubt that Oahu has something for you ☺️