Wanderlust: Around Oahu {By Land + Air}

We did two different tours of Oahu during our week long stay – one by land and one by air!

The East Oahu Shoreline Tour was booked through E Noa Tours.  We wanted to explore the island, but just didn’t know how easy that would be on our own.  This was a narrated bus tour that gave a great overview of Oahu and allowed time to get off the bus at each stop.  In hindsight, if you have a car, I would just do this on your own.  There was parking at every stop and we probably would have spent more time at a few and less time at a few.  If you do book through E Noa Tours directly, google savings codes.  We used the code ALOHA to save 10%.  Now, on to the tour itself…

First we drove through Oahu’s most exclusive neighborhood, Kahala, positioned at the base of Diamond Head.





Our next stop was Nu’uanu Pali Lookout.  This was such an incredible spot perched almost 1,200 feet above sea level and overlooking mountains, rainforests and a steep cliff that once ended the historic battle between warriors and an army of men led by King Kamehameha I.  What was even more memorable was just how crazy windy it was!!!  We LOVED it!!  It was almost hard to stand up and walk forward at times.  We’d never seen anything like it!




Next we went on to Makapu’u Beach where you can see the Rabbit Island bird sanctuary. It’s a dark lava rock mountain that juts out into the ocean!


The red-topped Makapu’u Point Lighthouse is also here, appearing to be precariously perched on the dark rocky cliffs.  These sorts of sights seemed to embody the power and beauty that is Hawaii.


One of our very favorite spots was Sandy Beach, known for bodyboarding and bodysurfing with its break being very close to the shore.  We also happened to find out its nickname is “break-neck” beach as more injuries occur here than at any other beach in Hawaii.  All danger aside, it’s such a gorgeous and unique place, with its fine sand and ominous lava rock.  It’s located right at the base of Koko Head Crater and we absolutely loved making our way out on the lava rock.  We saw HUGE crabs and crashing waves and it was all really just so unique.






Nearby Sandy Beach and just below the Halona Blowhole is Eternity Beach, one of Hawaii’s famous romantic spots that became popular after it was featured in the 1953 film “From Here to Eternity”.  It was such a beautiful spot.  I wished we had time to explore this one more!


Right next to Eternity Beach is one of Hawaii’s natural wonders, the Halona Blowhole.  And its show did not disappoint!!  We were mesmerized by the huge turbulent waves smashing into the rocky coast and then the water sent spewing into the air through a small, almost undetectable hole in the lava rock.



Our last stop of note was the famed Hanauma Bay.  Again, we would have spent a lot more time here had we been on our own.  This state protected marine life sanctuary is one of Hawaii’s prime snorkeling spots.   If I remember correctly, this is also the only beach in Hawaii in which you must pay admission to use!  (I want to say it was under $8 per person).  You could see straight to the corals on the bottom from up above!!



Moving right along, we spent a separate morning on a helicopter tour of the island, booked through Aulani.  If you didn’t already know, there aren’t many things that scare me.  Sharks? Nope.  Snakes? Nah.  Heights?  No way.  Spiders?  No.  Roaches?  YES I’M TERRIFIED.  So, at age 40, I now know that the mere thought of a helicopter ride is terrifying.  The day before I must have asked Honey a hundred times should we go? Is this a bad idea?  I think we should cancel.  You know, I’m actually not feeling well.  But the littles were super excited and I do suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out), so off we went.  And it wasn’t scary at all!!!  It was a wonderful perspective and quite exhilarating!!


Now, the baby was in a super pout the entire ride because he wanted to sit up front where John was.  He almost never acts like that so it killed me.  I tried to explain that they had to balance it out by weight and that we were assigned seats, which was also explained to us in the beginning.  Luckily we donned our headphones as soon as we got on the helicopter and I couldn’t hear his incessant complaints for the duration :-)


Leaving the Honolulu area was really  neat to see all of the huge buildings sandwiched between the mountains and ocean.  We flew over Keehi Lagoon, from Honolulu Harbor to Aloha Tower.


Note the docked cruise ship!


The water is so perfectly blue and clear.  The darker spots are hard coral bottoms, I believe.




We circled Koko Head Crater…


…and headed to the same gorgeous beaches we’d seen on the bus tour, including Sandy Beach, Eternity Beach, Hanauma Bay, Halona Blowhole and Makapu’u Point.


Rabbit Island again…



Next we headed through the mountains.  So this was a tad scary!!  The helicopter bumped a bit as we got close to them, which the pilot told us to expect.  But once we were in them, it was pretty amazing.


Sacred Falls…





Before our tour started, the pilot asked what we’d done so far on the island.  I mentioned Pearl Harbor and that we were sad we weren’t able to take the ferry across to the monument.  At the end of our island tour, the pilot said that he received clearance to fly us over Pearl Harbor.  It was so incredible to see from the air!!!!

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In addition to the USS Arizona, we all loved seeing the “real life” battleships and torpedoes docked at Pearl Harbor!!




Both of these were memorable excursions and wonderful ways to soak in all of Oahu!  This wraps up all of our “goings and doings” in Hawaii.  We made memories to last a lifetime and it was the most incredible way to celebrate turning 40!

aloha & xoxo

As an independent consultant with Glass Slipper Concierge, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, I offer concierge travel planning for Walt Disney World® Resort, Disney Cruise LineDisneyland® Resort, Adventures by Disney®, Aulani and other delightful destinations.
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Read all about our trip:
GoPro Review  |  Dixie Travels to Hawaii

Aulani Disney Hawaii Resort & Spa  |  Oahu by Land + Air
Snorkel Cruise  |  Pearl Harbor  |  Waikiki
The North Shore  |  Hawaii Ohana


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8 thoughts on “Wanderlust: Around Oahu {By Land + Air}

  1. We took a helicopter tour of Kauai on our honeymoon a few years ago. It was the highlight of the trip! Hawaii is so beautiful — I felt like I was in National Geographic. I have really enjoyed your recaps. Takes me right back :)

  2. Well, I feel like I’ve gotten to visit Oahu vicariously through your posts… at least a bit! I want to go so badly, but would you believe I’m the only one in my fam who is interested in going somewhere tropical?! They always vote for Colorado or Alaska or even Maine, but I may just have to overrule them!

    What a fantastic trip and glorious way to celebrate 40! ❤️

    1. Whit threw Antarctica out there for his 10th. We’re not going there, but something tells me it won’t be tropical wherever we end up :-)

  3. Oh! I also have a question – how did you decide on Oahu vs. the other islands? Was it solely because of Aulani? Or woul you have chosen Oahu regardless? Thanks! ?

    1. Solely because of Aulani :-) Oh, and the flight in to HNL helped too. We spent a week on Maui the last time and it seemed like there was a lot more to do in Oahu. Of course, I was 7 months pregnant in Maui so I wasn’t exactly looking for anything more than a lounge chair.

      1. Thanks, lady! And this led me to another question (sorry)!

        We are not particular fans of Disney (please don’t ban me! ?) – nothing against, just not our thing. With that being the case would you still suggest Aulani or would it be worth it for us non-fans?

        And if I come up with any more questions, I’ll save them for an email, promise!

        1. That’s it. You’re banned. :-) I think it would be a great place for anyone – Disney fan or not. If you appreciate the details and are looking for a super kid-friendly resort, then I don’t see how you could go wrong. There are a few characters, but outside of that you’d not necessarily even know it was a Disney resort. That being said, I didn’t research anywhere else to stay so I’m sure there are other wonderful options as well!

  4. So glad you got to see the very best of Oahu’s breathtaking beauty. Whit is precious! Perhaps he would enjoy an Alaskan cruise as a compromise. ;-) XOXO

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