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Hawaii has been on my list forever, and now that I live in Southern California, I finally visited Oahu, Hawaii. This trip was our first vacation as a family and it was fun, tiring, and totally worth it. We spent a total of 8 days in Oahu, Hawaii, but keep in mind with a toddler, we had to do things at a slower pace.

8 Days in Oahu, Hawaii
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What is the difference between Oahu vs. Maui?

Prior to visiting Hawaii, I asked my followers on Instagram to see which island they recommend, and the most responses I received were hands down, Maui. My husband who has been to all the islands and who claims to know me so well said that I would find Maui boring and that we should do Oahu. He explained to me that Maui is all nature, there are tons of shacks and places to eat on the side of the road, whereas Oahu was a combination of the shacks as well as tons of restaurants in Waikiki.

With over 70% of my audience telling me to visit the island of Maui and my husband pushing for Oahu, you can imagine my confusion at this point. So what was the deciding factor? We based it on nonstop flights from Orange County to Hawaii, and those flights all went to Oahu, and thus, we visited Oahu.

After visiting both Waikiki and the North Shore in Oahu, I’m so glad we decided to visit Oahu instead of Maui.

Oahu Weather & City Life

I absolutely loved the weather in Hawaii – there was always a cool breeze in the air without it being too hot. Waikiki, especially, was lovely for the simple fact that I was able to walk everywhere and loved the city vibe. I can’t tell you how much I miss the city life. I felt as though I was walking on 5th Avenue, NYC, while passing by all the designer shops, not that I bought anything, but it’s always fun to window shop.

8 Days in Oahu, Hawaii

Oahu Food

The food in Oahu was INCREDIBLE. Although I did my research and chose good restaurants for us to dine at, we didn’t have one bad meal. All the food in Hawaii tasted so fresh and it was just amazing. Even though your city girl is all about restaurants, the trucks and shacks on the North Shore of Oahu were phenomenal. I literally ate some of the best banana bread at Kahuku Farms and the best coconut cake of my life at House Without A Key at The Halekulani Hotel. Seriously, it was so good I had to come home and make some Hawaiian-inspired Banana Bread with Pineapple, Coconut, and Macadamia Nuts.

8 Days in Oahu, Hawaii

Is Oahu Expensive?

Yes! The one thing I’ll say is Hawaii is by no means cheap. I found the restaurants and hotels to be as expensive as New York City, if not more. Since most of the food is imported from the mainland, it’s understandable why the food in Hawaii is expensive.

How many days do you need in Oahu?

Since this was a family trip with a toddler, we wanted a more slow-paced trip. We spent 5 nights in Waikiki and 3 nights at the North Shore. Since I love cities, I didn’t mind spending 5 nights in Waikiki. On the other hand, the North Shore can probably be covered in 2 full days, even with a child.

If you don’t have kids, you can easily cover Oahu in 5 nights, just don’t miss out on all the amazing food.

This post is broken down into 3 sections:

  1. Where to Stay on Oahu
  2. What to do in Oahu
  3. Where to eat in Oahu

Where to Stay on Oahu?

Waikiki: Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa

The Moana Surfrider hotel was an excellent stay and location. The hotel is situated on the beach and also within walking distance from all the sh0ps. The Westin Moana is a family-friendly resort, but just keep in mind that they only have 1 pool and it’s quite small.

We had breakfast at the Veranda Beachhouse each morning – the views were scenic. We had a tower oceanview room and at night I loved the sound of waves crashing. Additionally, they had a live singer every night – the music can be quite loud, but I had my fan running to block the noise.

Star: 4*
Style: Luxury
Pros: Prime Location | Beautiful Property | Beachfront | Close to Shopping/Restaurants | Banyan Tree | Historic Building – very beautiful | Free WiFi | Coffee Maker | Comfortable Beds | Housekeeping | Restaurants at Hotel | Family Friendly | Couple Friendly | Live Music every evening | Pleasant Stay
Cons: Rooms are a bit dated | Small Rooms | Small Pool | Crowded Beaches
Location: 2365 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

North Shore: Courtyard Oahu North Shore

The Courtyard Oahu North Shore was a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t expecting a Courtyard Marriott to be super nice, but rather decent. The rooms were brand new and this was one of the nicest 3-star hotels I have stayed at. The hotel had a more community feel where guests would meet up in the main area every night. I loved the hotel’s proximity to The Polynesian Cultural Center.

Star: 3*
Style: Classic
Pros: Very Good Location | Nice Rooms | Good Customer Service | Free WiFi | Comfortable Beds | Housekeeping | Laundry onsite | Coffee Maker | Family Friendly | Flatscreen TV | Comfortable Stay | Peaceful | Proximity to Polynesian Center
Cons: none
Location:55-400 Kamehameha Highway, Laie, Oahu, Hawaii

Courtyard Marriott North Shore Hawaii

What to do in Oahu

What to do in Waikiki

Walk on Kalakaua Ave. There are a bunch of shops and restaurants.

Hangout at the International Market Place. Great shopping and restaurants.

8 Days in Oahu, Hawaii

We drove around the island.

Enjoy a beach day at Waikiki Beach. It was super crowded. Sadly, the waves were rough for me, I could barely go in.

Waikiki Beach

You can also visit Diamond Head – unfortunately, we didn’t do this because of my 17-month-old son.

What to do in the North Shore

On the way to the North Shore, visit the Dole Plantation and definitely take that train ride. In terms of food, everyone raved about the Dole Whip, but I personally hated it. I loved that everything here from nuts to ice cream was flavored with pineapple so that was cool to see.

Dole Factory Oahu Hawaii

Visit the Hukilan Marketplace.

Visit the Polynesian Village and check out a show.

Take a hike on the Waimea Valley Trail and check out the Waimea Falls.

Waimea Valley Oahu Hawaii

Visit the Haleiwa Town.

Visit the Kualoa Regional Park. Also, the Kualoa Ranch is where Jurassic Park was filmed – we didn’t do this.

Kualoa Regional Park

Where to Eat in Oahu

Where to Eat in Waikiki

1. Noi ThaiBest meal on the trip. Everything was perfection!

Rating: 5 / 5
Cuisine: Thai
Address: Royal Hawaiian Center, Building C, Level 3 – C308, 2301 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu, HI 96815
What to Order: Thai Iced Tea, Pineapple Fried Rice, Shrimp Pad Thai, Salmon Yellow Curry

Noi Thai Waikiki Hawaii

2. House Without A Key at The Halekulani HotelMost romantic meal on the trip! Loved the outdoor vibe and live music. Outstanding Coconut Cake.

Rating: 4.5 / 5
Cuisine: American/Seafood
Address: 2199 Kalia Rd Halekulani Hotel, Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96815-1936
What to Order: Mai Tai, Halekulani Coconut Shrimp, Steamed Local Snapper, Halekulani Coconut Cake

 House without a Key at The Halekulani Hotel

3. Duke’s WaikikiThe perfect Hawaiian setting with good music, delicious food, and beach views. Prime location! Loved the ambience. Get the Hula Pie!

Rating: 4 / 5
Cuisine: Hawaiian
Address: 2335 Kalakaua Ave., Suite 116, Honolulu, HI 96815
What to Order: Hula Pie, Fish Tacos, Mai Tai

4. Paia Fish Market WaikikiFresh and delicious fish. A must-do if you love seafood. My husband loved this place and would give it a 5, for me it’s a 4. Reasonably priced for fresh fish.

Rating: 4 / 5
Cuisine: Seafood
Address: 2299 Kuhio Ave Honolulu, HI 96815
What to Order: Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos

5. EbiNomiThe best shrimp & rice on the trip – even better than Giovanni’s. 

Rating: 5 / 5
Cuisine: Seafood, Asian
Address: 2310 Kuhio Ave Courtyard 138 Honolulu, HI 96815
What to Order: Shrimp & Rice

6. Leonard’s BakeryThe best Portuguese malasadas I’ve ever had – they will melt in your mouth. Reasonable and out of this world!

Rating: 5 / 5
Cuisine: Bakery/Donuts
Address: 933 Kapahulu Ave Honolulu, HI 96816
What to Order: Original Donut, Custard (you really can’t go wrong with any of them)

Leonard's Bakery Honolulu

Where to Eat on the North Shore

1. Kahuku FarmsThe best meal on the North Shore. Everything was so fresh and delicious. The Grilled Banana Bread was INSANE!

Rating: 5 / 5
Cuisine: Cafes/Juice Bars
Address: 56-800 Kamehameha Hwy Kahuku, HI 96731
What to Order: Grilled Banana Bread, Grilled Veggie Panini, Farm Pizza

Kahuku Farms Oahu Hawaii

2. Surf n SalsaAuthentic and incredible Mexican Food. The Veggie Burrito was simply out of this world. 

Rating: 5 / 5
Cuisine: Mexican
Address: 66521 Kamehameha Hwy Haleiwa, HI 96712
What to Order: Veggie Burrito, Fish Tacos

3. Raised by the WavesOutstanding vegan food. The Whipped Coffee and Spicy Vegan Poke Bowl were phenomenal 

Rating: 5 / 5
Cuisine: Vegan/Cafes
Address: 56-565 Kamehameha Hwy Ste B9 Kahuku, HI 96731
What to Order: Whipped Coffee, Spicy Vegan Poke Bowl, Vitamin Sea Bowl

4. Aloha Shrimp TruckBetter than Giovanni’s Shrimp. My favorite Shrimp Truck on the North Shore. The shrimp here was more flavorful than Giovanni’s and the shrimp pieces were larger.

Rating: 4.5 / 5
Cuisine: Food Trucks/Hawaiian/Seafood
Address: 53-534 Kamehameha Hwy Hauula, HI 96717
What to Order: Garlic Shrimp & Rice

5. Giovanni’s Shrimp TruckGood shrimp & rice, but I found Aloha Shrimp Truck to be way better than Giovanni’s. FYI: The Spicy Shrimp is insanely spicy – I’m of Indian origin and I couldn’t handle it, stick with the regular Garlic Shrimp.

Rating: 4 / 5
Cuisine: Food Trucks/Hawaiian/Seafood
Address: 56-505 Kamehameha Hwy Kahuku, HI 96731
What to Order: Garlic Shrimp

Giovanni's Shrimp Truck Oahu Hawaii

And that’s it! Hope you guys enjoyed my Oahu Travels.

Hi, I'm Nisha!

I'm a foodie who is passionate about healthy-ish living and mindful eating. You'll find a bit of everything here. I use mostly organic real ingredients and incorporate seasonal produce in my cooking. I believe food is medicine. Join me on this soul-searching journey as I share my love for good food, and I hope I inspire you to eat better somewhere along the way.

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  1. Hi Nisha , I love your blog! Could you possibly write some day about how you lost weight post pregnancy ? Thank you..

    1. HI Lex. Sure, I get a lot of questions on that, but I always feel weird writing a blog post about it. I basically gave myself time and grace. I know it sounds so cliche, but it’s true. It took me 10 months to lose my baby weight. I started with very basic workouts at 10 weeks. I tried to eat clean – more whole foods, less processed foods. I saw results after 4-6 months, once I started to lift weights. It was a slow process because I wasn’t even able to do a stomach crunch 10 weeks postpartum. The key is eating as clean as possible, avoiding junk food, and lifting weights. 🙂