Top 5 Tuesday – Sharon’s Oahu picks

Posted by Sharon Gundrum in Hawaii, Oahu, Top 5

Sunset on Waikiki Beach

Aloha. You might not know that it means more than hello. Of course it is also used for goodbye, and even I love you. But dig a bit deeper and you will find that Aloha is a way of life in Hawaii. It is a map of how to interact with the world, the natural world especially.
A, ala, watchful, alertness

L, lokahi, working with unity

O, oia’i’o, truthful honesty

H, ha’aha’a, humility

A, ahonui, patient perseverance
A visit to Hawaii is truly a gift, it is nature at its absolute finest and most beautiful, and it is to be treasured. If you are fortunate enough to travel to Hawaii, I am sure you will understand what I mean. Aloha is a feeling, a way of life, a song in the gentle breezes that blow across the islands. I challenge you to stand still long enough to hear it.

That said, when you have kids and you visit Hawaii, you can’t stand still for long. So here are my Top 5 things to do on the island of Oahu.

Waikiki Beach

Located on the south shore of Honolulu, in the neighborhood of Waikiki, Waikiki Beach is possibly the most famous beach in Hawaii. It is the main resort and hotel scene for Oahu, and for good reason. The gentle ocean waters make it a great spot to swim, boogie board and learn to surf. Once the playground of the Hawaiian royalty, this beach, with Diamond head in the background has become an iconic image of Honolulu. Ever hear of Duke Kahanamoku? This Olympian and favorite son of Oahu, considered “the father of modern surfing,” grew up on the waves of Waikiki Beach. There are too many restaurants to count, and also too many ABC stores. Like way too many, but they are great places to grab some quick souvenirs, a snack, or maybe some postcards. 

A view of Waikiki Beach from the top of Diamond Head

Diamond Head State Monument

More casually known as “Diamond Head,” my family and I decided we would hike to the top of the summit on our final day in Oahu. It was a great decision, offering us breathtaking vistas of Oahu that we wouldn’t find anywhere else. My kids, ages 8 and 10, had no problem hiking to the top, and to their credit, it was a warm day with lots of direct sun shining on us as we marched up increasingly steep steps and pathways. I stopped as often as I could to memorize the landscape to fend off impending rainy Virginia days. My advice should you decide to hike to the top: 1. wear good shoes, sneakers for example. 2. bring a bottle of water, or two. 3. wear sunblock, and maybe even a hat. 4. make sure you have had a snack, you don’t want a blood sugar drop as you are climbing the steps, it can get pretty steep. 5. don’t be a hero – pull over and take breaks when you need to. 6. stop and take in the glorious views.

  • The post-hike photo op


This is my favorite restaurant in Honolulu. I realize that is a bold statement, but Goofy offers something special. Perched on the second floor of an otherwise nondescript building, if you don’t know where to look you’ll likely miss it. I’ll set the scene – warm Hawaiian breezes blow through the open windows, the smell of strong coffee surrounds you, and fresh, locally sourced food – some of it so beautiful it almost feels wrong to eat it, awaits. Well it doesn’t feel that wrong. Because we ate there like every day. The kids loved the fresh smoothies at breakfast, and argued over the last pieces of fruit on the huge order of french toast.

North Shore Tacos

We didn’t get to the North Shore this time, but we came close. Close enough to get to North Shore Tacos. The tacos were amazing. If you are anywhere near Shark’s Cove Beach you should stop and chow down. Oh, I also recommend the nachos. The drive to get the tacos – that may be the best part. The water is soooooo blue. It is a blue that only happens in the movies kind of blue. It’s beautiful and amazing and the stuff dreams are made of blue. Boy do I love Hawaii. What am I doing in Virginia!?

Oh, p.s. The rumor is that Shark’s Cove is named due to the shape when it is seen from the air, not due to the actual shark population…but I am not sure if I really buy that. If so, quite a coinky-dink. 

Image source:

Polynesian Cultural Center

Pretty much all outside – minus the movie – this interactive living museum experience offers visitors a chance to learn {learn to dance, learn some language, laugh, explore, get temporary tattoo’s, go to a Luau, shop, see a show, etc} all about six different Polynesian Islands:
Aotearoa (new Zealand)

There is so much to absorb you could really be there all day, – or days, even. The people are so friendly and the facilities are beautiful. The attractions are full of information, they are interesting, and they are fun. Over the years the PCC has grown to become Hawaii’s number one paid attraction, with over one million visitors a year. There is definitely a commercial sheen to the place, but at the same time it is still approachable and worth discovering. I realize this could be seen as a departure from the standard Hawaii vacation activities, but it is a worthwhile experience! If you can manage the time, and the additional cost, the show is really exciting. Ha, the Breath of Life tells a story that enables you to journey alongside the native people of the Polynesian Islands. Fire, dance, song, all right at your fingertips. A word of caution – if you have little ones, it is a long day out in the sun. The show – well Holden fell asleep on my lap early into it…despite the fact that it is loud and very active!

So that’s my top five. Our most recent visit to Hawaii was just a few short weeks ago, and I already miss it terribly. If you have a chance to visit, don’t let it pass you by. Create your own top 5 list of Oahu, and send it our way, we just might feature it on our blog, or on facebook!

Oh, and by the way, Tripbound happens to have great resorts there!

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