I’m always receiving emails about traveling to Oahu so I thought I would write up this post to answer some FAQ’s.
Should I Rent a Car?
It really depends on what you want to do during your vacation. I know some people are completely content with staying and playing in Waikiki. If that’s the case, you don’t need a car. Restaurants and shops are in walking distance. If you’re in need of a ride, Uber is available and active on the Island.
If you’re planning on exploring the Island specifically on the other side of the island then I recommend renting a car. There are several rental services in Waikiki to choose from. My husband and I usually plan out our days and rent accordingly. **I definitely recommend reserving your car before you go on vacation because vehicle supplies are limited.
When is the best time to travel to Oahu?
Anytime! We’ve gone in December, January, March, July and September. It’s Hawaii, the weather is beautiful no matter what. If you’re worried about rain– we’ve been rained on in December, March and September. That’s the island life, meaning it’ll rain for a few minutes and then be sunny afterwards OR it’ll rain on one side of the island and be sunny on the other side.
Summer and major holidays are the most expensive time to fly. According to google the cheapest time to travel is after the Christmas holiday in January and after spring break in May.
Where Should I Stay?
In terms of locations– we’ve only stayed in Waikiki. I find that it’s the easiest for us to dine and shop with everything being so close. There are plenty of hotels to choose from in Waikiki / Honolulu. I’ve never stayed in a rental or airbnb so I don’t have anything to recommend. Here are my posts on Disney Aulani, Moana Surfrider, Laylow Waikiki and Sheraton Waikiki. My personal favorite hotels are Hyatt Regency in Waikiki and Disney Aulani.
Family Friendly Activities
For beaches I recommend Lanakai or Kailua and Ko’Olina Lagoons. If you’re sick of the beach, here are a few ideas: Honolulu Zoo, Waikiki Aquarium, Dole Plantation and Wet n Wild Water Park.
Is It Expensive?
Vacationing in Oahu is NOT cheap. A majority of our spending money goes into snacks and dining. Over the years i’ve found that we spend less money when we’re prepared. Here are a few things we do to save money.
- BYOB– Bring Your Own Breakfast! I pack granola bars and packaged muffins for our entire trip. Instead of going out to eat breakfast every morning, we eat a bag of muffins or granola bars. This goes for snacks too– half of our luggage is dedicated to food! I bring candy bars, fun size chips, fruit snacks… Click here for exact muffins and snacks.
- Eat Like The Locals – Stay away from touristy dining, especially in Waikiki. We don’t eat at fancy restaurants or popular chains while in Oahu due to inflated prices– instead we ask hotel staff where they like to go to eat and get recommendations through them. Also, check online for local farmers market– they have the freshest fruits and it’s pretty cheap too! It’s all about the experience!
- Buy, Don’t Rent! – One thing we ALWAYS do upon arrival is buy a beach umbrella. Most convenient stores have beach umbrellas for less than $20! Renting an umbrella on the beach will cost you about $20/hour. At the end of our trip we usually donate the umbrella to the hotel we’re staying at.
- Ask Your Hotel! – Before you purchase sand/water toys and floats, ask your hotel valet if they have any for your kids to borrow. A lot of the hotels we’ve stayed at had these available so we didn’t need to buy.
- Souvenirs – Both Eric and I are big on buying authentic items made by locals on the island– but if you’re really strapped for cash, I would recommend buying your souvenirs at Target. It’s much cheaper and if you change your mind, you can always return the item to your own Target store when you return home.
I hope this was helpful– I think the biggest tip I can give is to PLAN AHEAD! If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to email me and ask!