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 I was really disappointed as the resort is severely outdated.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.
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.
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.
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.
Try Unique Coffee Shops
Olive & Olivers (also a little boutique!), Honolulu Coffee, or even Starbucks is super cute in Hawaii!
EASY: Waimea Falls
MEDIUM: Manoa Falls
HARD: Pill Box Hike
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. 🙂
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.
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.
P.S. Check out my Best Places to Eat & Drink on Oahu post for tons of recommendations!
Another amazing and fun-to-read blog.
Thanks for reading, Fred! 🙂 I haven’t forgotten about your reviews. I will get to it hopefully this week!!
What a great guide! I love your pictures too! 🙂
Thanks for reading! 🙂