Oahu's Outer Reaches

oahu outer reaches[trip style = beach + sun]

A few weeks ago I jetted to Honolulu with Trip Styler Sis, aka Ms. Fashion Friday. Clearly, two months of summer wasn't enough, so we extended it! Seriously though, we did not take it easy and settle into island time, but rather researched and explored like we were on The Amazing Race, only pausing for sunsets. Our mission was two-fold: hone in on Honolulu and wander outside Waikiki.

For six days we drove leeward and windward to Oahu's outer reaches. Our conclusion: Oahu's outlying areas are overlooked, and while day-tripping is well worth it, it does not do the postcard-perfect landscape justice. Secluded beaches, small towns and a tortoise-slow pace of life abound.

Trip Styler Tip :: Back-to-school is a great time to visit Oahu. Flight fares are low---between $350 and $450 return out of SEA or YVR---and crowds are sparse.

Here's where we'd suggest lingering on Oahu's outer reaches:

North Shore Distance from Waikiki: 30 minutes The North Shore is another world---a world I wish I could teleport into daily. Tropical jungles and pastures kiss the beach. Acai bowl stands line the road. Surfers ride bikes barefoot. Locals masterfully and casually change from beachwear to workwear on the roadside {a skill I want to learn}. Humble abodes sit beside surf mansions. Sudden and quick downpours provide a quick break from the heat.

beach path oahu Trip Styler Tip :: Skip the beach parking lots and park {respectfully} on the roadside. Paths like this are everywhere.

beach + north shore Candid shot while beachcombing on the North Shore.

pipeline on a calm day Banzai Pipeline on a calm day.

ted's north shore Chocolate haupia {coconut} pie at Ted's Bakery, a local staple for 50+ years.

turle bay beach resort beach Turtle Bay Beach, a protected bay where turtles wander as if we humans aren't around.

surf beach beside turtle bay Surf scene beside Turtle Bay Resort, the only major hotel on the North Shore aside from Keiki Beach Bungalows, a small inn oriented around sunset and ocean views.

Kailua Distance from Waikiki: half an hour I first came across Kailua by way of a restaurant. While there, I found modern muumuus, ridiculously good shave ice and a gorgeous beach. Oh, it's also where Obama stays when he spends Christmas in Hawaii.

drive to kailua The drive to Kailua from Honolulu; I literally pulled over to take this photo.

red velvet pancakes at cinnamon's Cinnamon's: an Oahu breakfast institution since the mid-80's. Pl-ease order the red velvet pancakes {and then swim a mile at the beach}.

island snow shave ice Island Snow: Obama's favorite shave ice served in the back of a surf shop. It's my fave too. Do yourself a favor and order one with the $0.50 cream on top {one block from Kailua Beach}.

kailua beach Kailua Beach. Calm waters make it ideal for swimming.

Stay: Paradise Bay Resort, a big B&B perched on Kaneohe Bay offering one- to four-bedroom units.

Ko Olina Distance from Waikiki: one hour Ko Olina is a 642-acre master-planned resort anchored by Disney's Aluani, two mega Marriotts and vacation villas. Beyond the gates, there are beaches, grocery stores and a growing local community.

surfing with hawaiian fire

My friend, an Oahu local, told me I had to surf with firemen. Obviously, yes! Not surprisingly, the off-duty firefighter team at Hawaiian Fire operate the safest surf school on the island. Safety first; they use foam boards and base their lessons outside the island's hustle and bustle on a near-deserted beach in Ko Olina with perfect beginner-height waves. I got up on my third try and caught every consecutive wave thereafter. Next stop: Mavericks! Just kidding. After a safety and dry-land surf lesson, we took to the waves.

surfing with hawaiian fire Surf's up.

breakfast sammie island vintage ko Olina I was famished after my surf lesson, so the Hawaiian Fire staff suggested I fuel up at Island Vintage Coffee, where they have macadamia nut-flavored coffee and giant breakfast sandwiches.

Hawaii Kai Distance from Waikiki: 20 minutes Hawaii Kai is a residential community south-west of Honolulu. Many tourists pass it en route to Hanauma Bay. I'm obsessed with it for three reasons: 1} Lt. Commander Steve McGarrett's house from Hawaii Five-O is there, 2} you can buy natural shave ice, and 3} you can hike up a railroad.

koko head hike hawaii kai Must-do: the Koko Head Crater trail, a black diamond-level vertical climb on an abandoned railway track. I gleaned this travel tip from Hawaii Five-O, my favorite way to armchair travel on Oahu. Note: it’s quite the climb, so wear the right gear and go early to avoid the heat.

uncle clay's pure shave ice Healthiest {and friendliest} shave ice on Oahu: Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha, the perfect accompaniment to a heart-pounding assent. The frosty flavors pictured above were an all-natural concoction of kale-spinach-apple, guava and lilikoi. I'm 99% certain I burned off the treat's calories just lifting my spoon from the cup to my mouth.

Don't Miss 11 Honolulu Hints Spotlight: Oahu's North Shore

[photos by @tripstyler + @heatherlovesit]