Oahu is home to the largest population among all the Hawaiian Islands, as well as the state’s capital city of Honolulu. Its spectacular natural beauty along with tourist attractions such as Waikiki and Pearl Harbor make this a favorite destination for visitors, and the island’s north shore is a mecca for surfers from all over the world. And as any local will tell you, Oahu is also home to more than a few hidden treasures outside of these famed attractions.
There are great opportunities all over the island, and finding a great place to stay won’t be a problem as both individuals and real estate agencies rent Oahu villas for groups of all sizes. Once you’ve decided where you’ll sleep, it’s time to start exploring.
A Bamboo Rainforest
Just outside of Waikiki is a bamboo and rainforest hiking trail that leads to Manoa Falls. It’s a relatively easy 45-minute hike, with a stunning 150-foot waterfall waiting at the end.
Make sure you check the conditions before you go, keeping in mind that it often rains here. Good hiking shoes are recommended, as are mosquito repellent and plenty of drinking water.
Surf Like a Local
Though technically one of the many surf breaks on Oahu’s famed north shore, Alligator Rock sits in the shadow of more celebrated spots like Sunset Beach and the Banzal Pipeline. But lack of fame can be your gain, as Alligator Rock is a beautiful beach with something for everyone.
Named for a long, low rock formation that looks like a wading alligator near its shore, the beach features a large shallow area that is safe for children as well as a nearby coral reef that is perfect for some casual snorkeling. If the surf is up here it can get rather busy; otherwise, it makes for a perfect day at the beach, especially for families.
The Natural Beauty of Mokoli’i
For a more adventurous option that is a favorite among locals, head out to the island inlet of Mokoli’i. Just off Oahu’s windward coast near Kualoa Ranch, this small island is commonly known as Chinaman’s Hat for its distinct cone shape that resembles the headwear favored by rural Chinese peasants.
Just 1/3 mile offshore, it can be reached by boat, kayak, or even swimming. Many, though, simply wait until low tide and make the short walk through shallow water across the submerged reef.
Once there, you can hike up the steep volcanic cone for a breathtaking view of Oahu’s mainland coast; turn around and the endless Pacific Ocean spreads out to the north. The ascent takes about 20 minutes, and is relatively easy for most. After reaching the summit, you can head down and spend the afternoon at a gorgeous secluded beach on the outer side of the inlet.
These are just a few of the hidden gems to be found on Oahu; once you decide where you’ll be staying, a little digging will surely uncover a few more. Don’t be afraid to go exploring, and by all means ask a few locals to share their favorite secret treasures.