I feel like I’m betraying Australia by even thinking about a beach holiday in the US. But Hawaii – with its iconic beaches, volcanoes and distinctive place in history, is extremely enticing.
And after just four and a bit days on the main island of Oahu – I see why everyone raves about the place. It really is special.
And a word of warning – the traffic around Waikiki and Honolulu is truly terrible in peak hours. Avoid it if you can.
I’ve listed five fab things to do on Oahu (in no particular order). It’s definitely not an exhaustive list. Feel free to add your favourites in the comment section!
- Paddle boarding on Waikiki at sunset
Everyone wants to catch a wave at Hawaii’s most famous beach. And anyone can – pretty much. The gentle surf and massive boards at the rental kiosks make sure of that. The downside – it’s packed out there on the beach breaks. All I manage to do is catch a surfboard on my back! For me, paddle boarding is the way to go. I’m pretty useless at catching waves but striking out towards Diamond Head at sunset is unforgettable.
- Visiting the aviation museum at Pearl Harbor
I imagined Pearl Harbor to be something like a theme park. But it’s not like that at all. It’s an immaculately maintained and beautiful cemetery – a memorial to those who lost their lives when the US base came under attack in 1941. The boat trip to the wreck of the USS Arizona is a moving experience. (It can be pre-booked online at the National Parks site). But for me, the highlight is the aviation museum. Here, the hangers, planes, control tower and runway remain in their original condition. The area was used in the filming of ‘Pearl Harbor’. It’s so surreal that I’m half expecting a clean-shaven Ben Affleck to stroll out of a hanger in his flying jacket. Waiting … waiting. No. OK, moving on.
- Watching the real surfers on the North Shore
The North Shore of Oahu is the home of big waves and pro surfers. Hanging out on the beach watching the pros take on the waves is a great way to soak up some atmosphere. We spend the afternoon at Waimea Bay, where the surf is so treacherous the lifeguards won’t even let the tourists get a toe in the water. Fine by me. I’m very happy enjoying the spectacle from the sand. For a post-surfing snack, try the tacos at the North Shore Tacos truck at Sunset Beach – delicious. The view is amazing, too.
Strapping on a harness, getting clipped onto a 200 metre cable and flying between the trees is another way to enjoy the North Shore scenery, have some fun and work your abs along the way. We do a three hour session at CLIMB Works zipline and love it. The course is spectacular and there are plenty of thrills to keep my teens amused. Great guides, too – with just the right combination of banter and professionalism.
- Cruising along the Windward Coast
Highway 83 follows the stunning east coast, hugging picturesque bays and quiet beach-side neighbourhoods. It provides the perfect antidote to the crowds of Waikiki.