Hawaii’s busiest and most developed island, Oahu is recognizably different from its laid-back sister islands. The main city, Honolulu, and neighboring Waikiki, are filled with skyscrapers, shopping centers and luxury hotels, similar to any other touristy American city…the sole but important difference being the beautiful backdrop of lush green mountains and white-sand beaches. Places I went to in the south include Hanauma bay (good for snorkeling), Pearl Harbor, Kailua and Lanikai beaches, and Diamond Head crater (easy hike and nice view of Waikiki from the top of the crater).
There are other cool things to do here too – shark cage diving, hikes to waterfalls, swimming with dolphins etc, but after the daily activity of Maui, I got lazy and wanted to enjoy doing the bare minimum in Oahu.
Most hostels are located in Waikiki and I stayed at a lovely, family-run one called Seaside Hostel. This time, I wasn’t looking for a crazy party hostel or one that organized lots of activities. This time, I just wanted to relax, and laidback Seaside hostel was perfect. The vibe was great and the people were very friendly. Here, I spent most of my days curled up on the hammock, reading books left by past travelers (Three Cups of Tea is a good read, FYI). I went for jogs around the zoo and the park, and watched sunsets at the beach with friends from the hostel. During the day, we tried surfing and stand-up paddle boarding. At night, if we weren’t going to one of the many bars in town, we gathered in the hostel courtyard to watch a movie or took a dip in the ocean. It was a good break for me.
Waikiki is a fun place to stay as a backpacker, but it is crowded, touristy and expensive. A great getaway is a trip up to the North Shore of the island – a must for any visit to Oahu , for the pristine beaches and monster waves. A group of us from the hostel rented a car and made stops at all the well-known beaches there – Waimea Bay, Sunset Beach, The Pipeline and Haleiwa, and we literally spent the whole day being awed by the size and power of the waves as well as by the surfers brave enough to tackle them. Lucky for us, the world famous Triple Crown surf competition was going on while we were up there, so we got to see some really good surfing. If you go, be sure to stay at the beach for sunset – the views are stunning.