When you book a trip to Oahu you will probably find yourself booking a hotel in Waikiki. All the major hotel chains are present and there is easy access to the beach, surf lessons, high end shopping and familiar restaurants. My husband and I stayed there because of our love of Hyatt hotels; both the Hyatt Regency and Hyatt Place hotels are within blocks of each other. However if you really want to experience Oahu you need to GET OUT of Waikiki. The best fit things to do are away from the over crowded and artificially created beach front. Here’s my list of the must not miss things for your active Hawaiian adventure on Oahu.

  • The waters on Waikiki are calm because of the breaks (think of it as the kiddie pool of the ocean) but there other beautiful and family friendly beaches to be found. My favorite? Lanikai Beach. While the Lanikai neighborhood is exclusive the beach is not. ALL beaches in Hawaii have public access points. As long as you are considerate of the neighbors you can park on the street and enter at any of the small trails leading down to this beach. It’s the perfect place to spend a day at the beach swimming, sunning and watching the locals walk their dogs. It would be great for a beach run too if you don’t mind the short distance.
  • Water sports are great exercise but the best outdoor workouts on Oahu are hikes. Before hitting the beach in Lanikai you can take the trail to see pillbox lookouts from World War II. Another favorite is the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail. It’s paved, making it a great place for morning run. My favorite trail was the one we attacked on the last day of our trip – the Kuli’ou’ou Ridge Trail. The stairs at the top are a leg burner but the view is totally worth it. Plus most of the trail is shaded making it a great option if you need a little relief from the sun.
  • If hiking isn’t your thing and perhaps you don’t have the means to venture too far away from Waikiki, try the Fort DeRussy Armed Forces Recreational Center. Start with a morning run from your hotel then do the exercise stations in the park or take your run onto this less crowded beach area.

What about food? Of course you want to enjoy some treats on (like the malasadas from Leonard’s) but you’ll need quality fuel for hiking, stand up paddle boarding, surging or swimming. Here are my favorite places to eat clean with perhaps a treat or two.

  • I believe you can learn a lot about a city by its farmers markets. There are several to choose from on Oahu but my favorite is the KCC Farmers Market at Kapiolani Community College. It’s open on Saturday mornings till 11 with an amazing selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, some of which you might not find at your local farmers market. Food vendors of all kinds flock to this market as well, making it a tasty place to get breakfast. I also loved the farmers market held in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Waikiki on Tuesdays and Thursdays. My life was changed by the coconut peanut butter. You can pick up diced fresh pineapple or some apple bananas to snack on in your room.
  • If you need a healthy vegetarian meal try Ruffage or The Peace Café. Ruffage is within walking distance of Waikiki beach and serves food that is easy to take to the beach for a picnic. Our favorite is the tempeh burger avocado. The Peace Café is  an all vegan restaurant with daily miso specials. The sandwiches are huge, so share. That will leave you plenty of room for a scoop of chai ice cream.
  • Aloha Harmony Tea House is the perfect place to get your morning tea before hitting the road for a hike or an iced tea to cool off after your beach run. Any teas from the wall of tea can be prepared for you. I loved the coconut vanilla for my morning of farmers market shopping. I brought home the chocolate chai and uji genmaicha for a try.
  • ABC stores are everywhere on Waikiki. They are your best bet for bottled water at a reasonable price as well as restocking your protein bar stash.

Oahu was fun but I think I like Maui better. Are you an island lover? Which Hawaiian island is your favorite?

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