Exploring O’ahu

O’ahu // The Gathering Place

Exploring the island of O’ahu is a must for anyone visiting Honolulu. We rented a car for two days and set off on the road trip of a lifetime. The journey treated us to amazing ocean views, long golden beaches, and lush mountain landscapes. We submerged ourselves into Hawaiian culture, ate delicious food, and made memories that will last forever.

Hanauma Bay

An amazing nature reserve & beach where many people come to snorkel. Upon entry, there is a $1 fee. You can park your car and get access to the lookout point. If you choose, you can pay an additional fee to get onto the beach. As we weren’t going snorkeling, and we had many other beaches on our road trip itinerary, we opted not to go to the beach. Instead, we took several moments to soak in the scenery and headed to our next location.

Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden

The road entering the botanical garden is one of the most photographed roads in the world. This is probably due to the unique tropical scenery it boasts. However, you are no longer permitted to take photos here. Instead, I had to take a sneaky photo out of the car window.  You can drive around the entire Botanical Gardens and there are many different parking lots where you can stop to get out and explore. The best place to park is at the visitor center. From there, there is a short trail that leads you to a stunning lake with mountain views.

Kualoa Ranch

Kualoa Ranch was the absolute highlight of my trip. The ranch is an iconic filming location which was used for famous movies such as Jumanji, King Kong, 50 First Dates, and Jurrasic Park. We decided to get a two-hour UTV tour through Jurrasic Valley. Everything about the tour was amazing. The scenery was breathtaking, driving the UTV was fun & exciting, and the guide was super informative.

Polynesian Cultural Center

The Polynesian Cultural Center was not on our road trip itinerary but I am so glad we found this gem. The center was filled with unique shops and food stalls that celebrated Polynesian culture. We didn’t spend much time here but we made sure to indulge in a shaved ice before hitting the road again.

The Sunrise Shack

The Sunrise Shack was an unexpected find on the side of the road. This adorable cafe sold coffee, smoothies, acai bowls, and much more. I ordered a tropical smoothie which was delicious, especially in the Hawaiian sunshine.

Laniakea Beach

Laniakea Beach is also known as Turtle Beach as lots of turtles come here every day to bask in the sunshine. You’ll often find volunteers here who stop you from getting too close to the sea turtles as they are an endangered species. During our visit, we were lucky enough to see a sea turtle basking on the beach and lots of other turtles swimming in the sea. It was truly a magical experience.

Historic Haleiwa Town

Haleiwa is an adorable seaside town with surf shops, unique clothing stores and lots of restaurants, too. It’s also home to the famous Matsumoto’s Hawaiin Shaved Ice. The shaved ice store is famous due to the abundance of different flavours that are available to add to your frozen dessert. My boyfriend is a Type 1 diabetic, so we were excited to see that they even had 3 sugar-free options!

The Dole Plantation

You’ve probably heard of Dole’s pineapple products before. This is where they grow their pineapples. My favourite part about the Dole Plantation was trying their pineapple flavour soft serve ice cream. It was absolutely delicious.

Roadtripping around O’ahu was magical. The island is so small and you could drive from one end to the other in approximately an hour. However, it took us much longer as we stopped so many times to take in the breathtaking scenery. I can’t recommend exploring O’ahu enough.