What to Know Before Traveling to Oahu, Hawaii

Hawaii is a stunning place. It is full of adventure, hiking, electric blue water, and premier authentic cuisine. However, going to Oahu, Hawaii without being prepared could leave you spending most of your time trying to understand the island. Hawaii’s unique island culture and extreme terrain is part of what makes it so different. These two things shape the culture and lifestyle in Hawaii.

In this blog, I will be addressing the top 8 things to know before visiting Oahu, Hawaii. These are the tips I gathered from locals and my experience.

1. You will need a car to see the island.

I can not stress this enough though Oahu is only 44 miles long and 30 miles wide. From North Shore to West Side the island has so much to see. The best way to do this is by having a car. Also, some of the best hiking and camping is on private property. So it is essential you have a way to get there. There are buses you can take to get around Waikiki which great. However, if you want to see the whole island I would rent a car. Ubers are very pricey and a couple of mile rides can add up quickly.

2. Grocery stores are expensive.

Whether you pop into a Foodland or local grocery be ready to spend. A basic bag of chips can easily cost you 7 dollars. Since you are on an island all of the food has to be imported in. The options are more limited and come at a pretty price. Anytime I would stop by the store to pick up a few things it would easily be 25 to 50 dollars at least. A pound of hamburger is 7 dollars, a pound of pasta is almost 2 and that’s just basic stuff. All my local friends recommend buying food from Costco. It is the most budget-friendly option.

3. There are cockroaches all over, but there are no snakes.

If you are renting a house or apartment on the ground floor expect cockroaches. They are pretty normal in Oahu, Hawaii. All of my local friends have to treat them constantly. There are especially in the city of Honolulu. This came as quite a shock to me, but the people of Hawaii are us to living with them.

Though the roaches suck there are no snakes. Even in the jungle, creeks, and brush, there are no snakes. I am not exactly sure why this is, but it’s relief while hiking.

4. Eating food trucks is a daily routine.

All throughout the island you will see tons of food trucks. The ones on North Shore are the most famous and for yummy reasons. I honestly had some of the best food coming from food trucks. Since you are outside so much, many places have a truck or a small pick-up spot for food. There are countless lookouts and beaches, so people bring their meals with them. It’s something about a good view and Thai food that makes my heart so happy. Though there are nice restaurants you will see more hole in the wall places. A usual meal will cost you around $15 USD from something like this.

Food Truck North Shore
My Thai food from the Elephant Food Truck in North Shore, Hawaii

5. Getting up for sun rise is normal.

Never have I been anywhere that there are so many early risers. It is so standard for people to wake up at crack of dawn to hike, surf, or skin dive. The people of Hawaii live for their nature and have no problem waking up early for it. Whether it be for a better view or the gnarly waves, get ready to set your alarms. To keep up with the locals you are gonna have to.

6. Camping on the beach is free pretty much everywhere.

This is one of my favorite things about Hawaii. At almost every beach other than where it is stated you can camp for free. Bring your tent and hammock, then feel free to set up. Without having to pay or get a reservation it gives you more freedom to camp on a whim. It also makes for a huge camping culture. You can find tons of people camping on the beach regardless of the day. My favorite camping spot is at Waimanalo. The water is electric blue and features a sandy beach surrounded by the forest. It is the perfect mix of both worlds.

7. Car break ins are typical and can happen in daylight.

While hiking or parked at a beach unfortunately it is common to have your car broken into. Whether is be hot-wired and stolen, it happens often. Even one night at a popular beach my friend’s car was stolen just after sunset.

I have other friends who have had their car smash their windows smashed in than stolen from. The car theft is the one thing I did not like about the island. I couldn’t believe how normal it was. Regardless of where you are make sure to not bring valuables in your car. If you have to bring them put them in the trunk. Also, try to park under lights or on busy streets to prevent this.

8. Come ready for adventure and try everything once.

Maunawili Trail, Oahu, Hawaii
Views from a hike through the jungle trail of Maunawili Trail, Oahu, Hawaii

The terrain of Oahu, Hawaii is a place that pushed me outside of my comfort zone. When it comes to outdoor activities they can be intense. From adrenaline sports to some of the most premier beaches in the world. I would try all activities if you are healthy to. You may find you actually like hiking through the jungle or skin diving with dolphins.

Try all of the food too. Many places have a great way of mixing Hawaiian food with an Asian twist. I even found myself eating pork belly and liver. Two things I would never usually eat. However, prepared correctly I found them delicious in Hawaii.

In conclusion, Hawaii has a lot to offer and countless free things to do. Just remember to save your money for food, bring bug spray, and pack your hiking shoes. This island is a paradise just don’t forget to lock your car.

Best Resources for Traveling Hawaii During COVID

Write your favorite hikes, beaches, and restaurants in the comments below. More guides on Oahu, Hawaii coming very soon!

“I must be a mermaid, I have no fear of depths, and a great fear of shallow living

Anais Nin

xoxo Mickelle

More Travel Guides from Me

About Mickelle

Hi, I am the creator of InspiredbyInfluence. I left my corporate 9 to 5, to pursue my dreams of roaming the world on my schedule. I have been to 15 countries, so far and am just getting started. Let this voyage of wandering began.

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