Oahu, Hawaii – Travel Guide

ALOHA!!! You guys, Oahu is the bomb. Remember my post on how to score a free Hawaiian getaway? What an incredible trip. Nothing gets me going like a GREAT deal. I’m so glad I hoarded all my Marriott points to redeem that amazing promotion!

I went to Oahu one other time with my family when I was in high school. We did all the touristy activities – hiked up Diamond Head, went to the Dole Plantation, saw Pearl Harbor, etc. I remember liking Hawaii, but otherwise I couldn’t remember much else. This trip I was really focused on breaking away from typical touristy attractions. I was actually shocked at how much there was to do there!

We booked a seven day stay. I would almost recommend a 10 day stay here considering Hawaii is kind of a bia to get to. We lost two full days due to traveling. Blah.

Where to (and not to) Stay

Waikiki Marriott Resort & Spa

I wouldn’t recommend staying here. I originally booked our redemption stay at this hotel. Upon arrival, I decided that I didn’t think this hotel was worth the amount of points I had used. I was really disappointed as the resort is severely outdated. The rooms are small, dingy, and only have two full sized beds. Our room was also in the back tower putting us about two blocks away from the beach.

The Laylow Hotel

I do not have enough great things to say about this hotel. It opened about 9 days before we checked in and let me just say – it saved our vacation! 🙂 This hotel is a part of the Marriott Autograph Collection. It is designed to be more of a boutique hotel and is much smaller than the Waikiki Marriott.

As soon as we arrived, we INSTANTLY felt much better vibes. They had a live band playing in Hideout, the hotel bar. The decor has modern, yet retro Hawaiian look. Picture a 1960’s style motel + the future having a baby = this hotel. The pool is quaint and tucked in to what feels like a jungle-like courtyard and they provide you with the cutest hotel towels ever. I’m telling you, everything about this hotel is so instagrammable. It’s a blogger’s dream.

Laylow Hotel Hideout Lobby Bar.JPG
Hideout, the hotel’s lobby bar
Laylow Hotel Lobby Desk Decor
Hula Girls greet you behind the lobby check-in desk!
Laylow Hotel Pool
Cute pool area! Outfit details: romper | shoes (similar) | bracelet
Laylow Hotel Shaved Ice
The hotel gives complimentary shaved ice in the afternoon! Yum!!

The rooms had two KING sized beds, fun palm leaf wallpaper, tons of storage space, and a cute balcony. There are fun Hawaiian reads and a ukulele to play with on the shelves. There was even a basket stocked with Hawaiian snacks, drinks, and postcards all compliments of the manager! Such a friendly touch. They are definitely all about hospitality at this hotel. If you are a Marriott Gold or Platinum Member, you get access to the Executive Floors. These floors have snack bars in the hallway that have complimentary coffee, tea, water, morning donuts, and afternoon snacks.


Laylow Hotel Room Decor

Laylow Hotel Wallpaper

Laylow Hotel Welcome Basket
Peep this welcome basket! So cute, right?!

The location of this hotel was a short 5 minute walk to the beach, but very centrally located in terms of everything else to do in Waikiki. I would 1,000% stay there again and again and again. Autograph Collection Hotels are where it’s at.

What to Do

Take a Customized Private Tour of Oahu

We used Nau Wale No Tours of Oahu and they were FANTASTIC. I’ll be writing a separate post on our experience, but here is their Trip Advisor page in the mean time. I highly recommend this tour and they are offering my readers 20% off on 8 or 10 hour tours! (Must mention Sips & Sequins to get the discount.)

Go Cage Diving with Sharks

This experience is not nearly as scary as you would think. The sharks were so peaceful! I was able to convince my mom to YOLO and do it with my sister and me! I will also be writing a separate blog post on this excursion.

Hawaiian Shark Encounter View from Boat.JPG
Yes, we got into the water with these guys + about 20 more (not pictured). GoPro footage to be posted in future blog post.

Eat at a Shrimp Truck

We heard a lot about Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck and wanted to try it, but the line was SO long. Several locals said Honos Shrimp Truck was actually their fav, so we opted to eat there. FYI – the spicy shrimp is SOOOOO spicy and (if you can tolerate extreme spice) is really good.

Honos Shrimp Truck
It looks sketchy, but promise it was good!

Try Unique Coffee Shops

Olive & Olivers (also a little boutique!), Honolulu Coffee, or even Starbucks is super cute in Hawaii!

Olive and Olivers Coffee Cups

Honolulu Coffee Company
Outfit details: dress (sold out, similar here)| necklace | shoes (similar here for less than $30!)

Go Hiking

EASYWaimea Falls 

Waimea Falls
A nice nature walk that ends with a waterfall that you can swim in! Wear your suit!

MEDIUM: Manoa Falls

Manoa Falls
A picturesque rainforest trail that can be slick and muddy. It ends in a waterfall, but you cannot go in.

HARD: Pill Box Hike

Pill Box Hike 1
This hike is pretty steep with no shade. Make sure to wear sunscreen and be careful coming down.
Pill Box Hike Bunker
Old World War II Bunkers are on the top of this hiking trail!

Check Out the Aquarium

It’s the second oldest in the country!

Have a Picnic

Grab food from Tucker & Bevvy’s and eat on the beach or in a nearby park. This is perfect to do before or after the Aquarium.

Attend a Luau

I recommend Fia Fia Luau at the Marriott in Ko Olina. Call the hotel to purchase tickets.  I recommend upgrading your ticket to have the best view of the show. And you get to eat first… heyyyyyy. 🙂

Fia Fia Luau Party

Fia Fia Luau Group Pic

Fia Fia Luau Host

Fia Fia Luau Show

Tour a Macadamia Nut Farm

FYI – the last tour is at 1 pm. I recommend going here earlier in the day. We arrived at 4:15 pm (they technically close at 5 pm) and they were already closing up! Make sure to purchase the honey macadamia nut butter from the gift shop.

Shop Til You Drop

The amount of shopping available in Waikiki is insane and will not disappoint. It was like Michigan Avenue on steroids.

Hang at the Pool/Beach

Every vacation needs some R&R time. 🙂 Waikiki Beach gets super packed. You might consider Lanikai Beach or somewhere else instead.

Eternity Beach
Eternity Beach

 Mahalo (thank you) for reading my friends! If you’ve been to Oahu, I’d love to know your favorite things to do, see, and eat! Drop me a comment below.

XO, Lauren

P.S. Check out my Best Places to Eat & Drink on Oahu post for tons of recommendations!

Oahu Hawaii Travel Guide

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