• Kali Ah Yuen

Your Guide To Experiencing Oahu, Hawaii Like A Local



Oahu, Hawaii. You call it paradise, I call it home. And for those who don’t know which island that is, it’s the one with Waikiki that some call Honolulu, too.


Trips back to the motherland always come with a series of surprising events. When I come down I never come with a strict itinerary, but I do go with things that I want to do in mind. Even after living here for the first nine years of my life, I still haven’t explored every area of the island. I find that every trip back home brings new lessons and perspectives into my life from the experiences I gain, so I wanted to share a guide for those who are interested in taking a trip themselves.


Keep reading for some tips and ways to experience the island of Oahu, Hawaii as a local instead of opting for the tourist things that you could do on any other island vacation.

Enjoy the scenery. I don’t mean the cliche sunset on the beaches, I mean the way the mountains are surrounded by clouds in the morning or the structure of the houses throughout each neighborhood. Every little piece is a part of the bigger picture. You may notice clotheslines outside and think is this the medieval times? No, it’s just the way the locals live. Every corner in Hawaii is a photo opportunity, so don’t miss out by overlooking it. Take in what the island's ancestors created and current locals are creating. There's so much rich history to absorb.


Be prepared for celebrity sightings. Hawaii is a vacation spot, so don’t be surprised if you run into A-list celebrities or social media sensations. On a casual day a few years back, one of my friends and I decided to go to the mall, and Bretman Rock happened to be shopping as well - yes we did take a picture. Just be mindful as many are on vacation to get away from the craze of the industry.


Sneak into hidden spots. If you’re a risk-taker, then you won’t have a problem trespassing some residential property to get a view. There are secret saltwater pools, jacuzzis, and other water-related areas all throughout the island. Black point infinity saltwater pool is one of the most popular sights. The only thing is that they’re neighborhood amenities, which is where the sneaking in comes to play. The trip is worth it, as long as you don’t get caught! There are also secret waterfalls and hikes you can explore if you're looking for more adventure.


View from the top of Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail.


Hike as much as you can. There are many trails and mountains open to the public. Here are a few: Lanikai Pillboxes, Waimano Falls, Lanipo Trail, Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail, Koko Head. Personally, I have hiked Lanikai and Makapu’u many times and would suggest them to any beginner. Be prepared. Some hikes are more intense than others, so bring water and a lot of energy. The best time to go is before sunrise because it's not as likely to cause a heat stroke and the sunrise is breathtaking. The view from the top will make the trip up all worth it.


Taste the local delicacies of Hawaii. The island thrives off of its service industry, which means you are going to find at least five local restaurants at every corner. Try them! If you’re looking for true Hawaiian food, try Highway Inn, Zippy’s, or Helena’s. For local desserts, try Leonard’s Bakery, Liliha Bakery, or Kamehameha Bakery (the poi doughnut is to die for). Other favorites around the island include Lanikai Juice, Aiea Bowl, and Rainbow Drive-In. In other words, be prepared for a lot of ono (“delicious” in Hawaiian) food.


Ma'ili beach located on the west coast of Oahu.


Hit the beach every day. If you don’t have time during the day, make time during the night. You won’t find beaches like Hawaii anywhere in the world and a little saltwater therapy can be healing for the body and soul. Be careful going around the wintertime because the waves tend to be a lot bigger, which could easily wipe out any inexperienced local.


Here’s a list of well-known beach spots:

  • Waikiki Beach – A beautiful view and where a lot of tourists go.

  • Waimea Bay – A nice beach on the North Shore, plus it has a huge rock that everyone jumps off.

  • Kailua Beach – A bit more low-key than other beaches if you like privacy.

  • Lanikai Beach – Known for its calm waters and houses two mini islands that can be reached via kayak.

  • Ma'ili Beach – A beautiful beach spanning 40 acres and is perfect for surfing or relaxing.

  • Sandy's Beach – The beach that you probably WANT to stay away from because of its roughness.

Leave the real world. Put down your phone, take out those headphones, and take a look around. Don’t let electronics ruin the experience. Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places on Earth from its sparkling, clear blue waters to its green, lush mountains. Leave all your worries behind and discover the comfort of paradise to ease your mind. After all, you don’t always come here often.

We hope you get to make the most of this guide and even check everything off when you visit the beautiful island of Oahu. If you have a favorite spot or thing to do when visiting, comment below so we can make the experience even more memorable!

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