One Perfect Day on Oahu

[Oahu, HI, Nov 27, 2022]

Although this was my second visit to Oahu, I appreciated discovering new things when the friends I was staying with offered to take me on a tour of their favorite spots on the island. This tour is perfect for anyone who only has 1 day on the island or for someone who wants to get their bearings before they deep-dive into specific parts of Oahu. Here are the stops I recommend. They make a giant counter-clockwise loop around the island.

Liliha Bakery

Did someone say pastries? Start your day with this classic Hawaiian bakery. The location on Nimitz Highway is the one pictured here. The coco puffs are their specialty but there are plenty of other yummy pastries to try!

H3 Highway to the east side

Put Manoa Chocolate, the next stop, in your GPS and enjoy the ride on Interstate H3 to get there. It passes through the majestic Koolau mountains and the mile-long Tsetsuo Harano tunnel. It’s the most scenic interstate I’ve ever driven!

Manoa Chocolate

This bean-to-bar chocolate company hosts fantastic tastings in their factory store. I especially loved their partnership with another great local company, Kohana Rum distillery, which I had stumbled upon during my last visit in 2018. The chocolate tea at Manoa was also amazing.

Byodo-In Temple

The Byodo-In Temple is a non-denominational Buddhist temple in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. It was dedicated in August 1968 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaiʻi. Byodo-In Temple is a smaller-scale replica of the Byōdō-in, a World Heritage Site near Kyoto, Japan. It makes for a fantastic stop to stretch your legs and walk around. Bonus points if you get here early to avoid the crowds.

Tropical Farms – the Macadamia Nut Farm Outlet

This is definitely a more well-known tourist stop, so prepare for it to be busy. I loved the free samples of coffee and the many different flavors of macadamia nuts. You can also shell some macadamias yourself in the back.

North up the coast – Chinaman Hat and Kualoa Ranch

Continue north up the coast. This is a really scenic section of the road, so feel free to stop wherever you like. Just don’t miss Chinaman Hat, a basalt islet off the coast, and Kualoa Ranch. Kualoa is where Jurassic park was filmed. You can tour the ranch, of course, or book a number of other adventure activities like ATV tours and zip lines. I opted to just taking photos from the road.

Oahu North Shore

You will finish the tour with Oahu’s’ famous North Shore. You can make a number of stops here depending on how much daylight you have left in the day. My top three are Turtle Bay resort for a drink, Rajenee Thai for dinner and Haleiwa Beach Park for sunset watching.

Sunset at Haleiwa Beach Park

If you have more time on Oahu, consider these two not-to miss attractions as well as my list of short/WFH-friendly hikes.

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