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This summer, we spent over a week with local family friends exploring the beautiful island, Oahu. Let me tell ya, our times with them were the most exciting of our two-week trip. And a little dangerous (so do all of this at your own risk if you plan to!) Here’s an Oahu guide of a few must-see places according to Oahu natives. All of these experiences were out-of-this-world fun, and this island is beautiful- you can’t go wrong whatever you do!
Locals Guide To Oahu:
Waimea Bay is one of the most famous beaches on the island, but what we did there was definitely off the beaten path. Most people go to this beach, and if they are brave enough, jump off the large, roughly 20-foot rock into the ocean below.
Little did we know, there are also caves that you can dive under below that giant rock. If you swim out about three-fourths of the way from the end of the rock, you’ll see a big hole. And if you use a snorkel mask, you’ll view a hole that stretches the width of the stone, and ends on the other side. It took some guts (and some peer pressure) before we actually went through those caves, but we did it! And lived to tell the tale. Once we did it once, it wasn’t so bad. We were able to swim back and forth through the cave like it was nothing.
Jumping Off Cliffs At Night
Since we got the hang of the caves, our next challenge we faced jumping off the rock at night. One of the locals went into the water from the beach to make sure the water was deep enough to jump off of. But, he never told us that he felt something big in the water, twice, while he was out there waiting on us. He just said to us that it was safe to jump! So we plunged into pitch-black darkness.
More Cave Diving!?
Another beach, called sharks cove, also has some epic caves to dive. Me and Ryan weren’t in the mood to risk our lives that day, so we wimped out. I really wanted to go back and conquer it, but we never got to! The cave was about a 20-second swim underwater and was super beautiful, but you can’t come up for air that whole time. While most people can hold their breath that long with no problem if you freak out, you’re screwed. So it’s definitely not for the faint of heart, but it is an impressive view down there underwater, even if you decide not to swim the whole way through (aka what Ryan and I did)
An Epic Hike
The Ice Ponds
We also went to this hike called the ice ponds. It does have a fence saying keep out…. But there’s a hole in the fence, so basically we took that as an invitation. After you pass that, it’s a paved hike most of the way. At the very end, it becomes quite challenging for a bit, and you have to hold on to ropes to make it to the waterfall. Once you make it down there, though, it’s so worth it! There’s a huge waterfall, and you can climb up that waterfall to see another. The water is cold (hence the name), but this hidden gem is worth cooling off a bit to experience. (And that’s coming from someone who loathes the cold)
Swimming With Dolphins
Another highlight was definitely swimming with the dolphins. We actually used a tour for this part of the trip… but I have heard people swim to the dolphins from the shore as well. They are pretty far out there, though, so I’d say the tour was worth it. Seeing so many dolphins in the wild was magical. You could hear them underwater, and see entire pods of them swimming towards you. After we got back on the boat, the pod followed the ship, which gave us some fantastic video footage. As part of the tour, we had the chance to snorkel after. Ryan didn’t enjoy snorkeling much because we had to stick as a group, which is much different than other tours we are used to in the Caribbean.
The tour guide had me go to get Ryan because he was drifting far, far away, and the COOLEST thing happened. There was a sea turtle a foot away from me. It was one of the most exhilarating moments of my life because that remarkable animal was just chilling there with me at the surface of the water. It would look at me, look straight ahead, and look at me again. I was a little nervous it was going to bite me since it was opening its mouth and within bitting distance, but it was friendly and peaceful. What an awesome experience.
The Polynesian Cultural Center
The PCC is a really cool experience! It’s actually ranked in the top 10 experiences to do in the US. It kinda reminded me of Epcot at Disney World, but without the rides. It’s a really cool cultural experience, you can see a luau there and have dinner, and there’s lots of shows! During the day you go country to country, learning about different Polynesian cultures and practices. You taste local foods, get “tattoos”, and learn how to Hula! (pictured above)
One aspect about the Polynesian Cultural Center that is really unique is everyone in the country that they work at is actually from that country. It’s a little pricey, but I’d definitely say it’s a must-do at least once when you go to Oahu.
Surfs Up, Dude
Another experience you’ve gotta try when you are in Oahu is surfing. Hawaii is fantastic because there are great waves and ultra-clear water. While surfing is difficult and TIRING, it’s something you’ve gotta try. The locals took us to Castles Beach, which is Castle in between Laie and Kahuku. It was an excellent surf spot for beginners, at least in August, that is. During the winter, I hear the waves turn into GIANTS. And even many experienced surfers are intimidated- so be careful out there.
An Awesome Outlook Point/Photo Spot
If you are looking for a great photo-op spot- Leia is the perfect place to check out. It has the beach, cliffs, mountains in the background. So much natural beauty. What else could you ask for?
Oahu: A Magical Place
All in all, Oahu is a beautiful place with blue water, wonderful people, and the ahola spirit. There’s just a little bit of magic there. Let me know what you think of this Oahu guide. I’d love to hear if you’ve been to any of these spots or want to visit them in the future! Also, the FOOD there is to die for- so my next post will be about just that.