Explore Like a Local: Insider Tips for Discovering Oahu

What would a local do? Take a cue from Hawaii residents, known as kamaaina, who know where to find the most breathtaking scenery, delicious eats, and genuine cultural activities. Our staff here at Coconut Waikiki loves sharing tips for unique and immersive experiences to connect you with authentic Hawaii. Read on for a round-up of our personal favorites.

Tip 1: Kaimana Beach
After you have enjoyed famous Waikiki Beach, venture down the coastline a little further to a lesser-known local-favorite, Kaimana Beach. Here you’ll encounter families enjoying the calm water, kamaaina swimming for exercise, and may even spot a Hawaiian monk seal, who regularly sunbathe on the sand here.  

Photo credit: Rainbow Drive-In

Tip 2: Rainbow Drive-In
Discover hearty local dishes at this casual diner located just outside of Waikiki in the Kapahulu neighborhood. Load-up on loco moco, saimin, macaroni salad, and the famous slush float, a refreshing strawberry-flavored drink, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

Tip 3: Koko Crater Botanical Garden Hike
If you have already checked the Diamond Head and Manoa Falls hikes off your list, head to Koko Crater Botanical Garden next. On the easy 2-mile loop through the desert-like garden, you’ll spot plumeria trees bursting with blooms, cactus & succulents, and dryland palms. Heads-up: it’s best to visit in the early morning before it gets too hot. 

Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Ben Ono

Tip 4: Kakaako Farmers Market
This market in a bustling, trendy neighborhood is smaller than the well-known Kapiolani Community College Farmers’ Market, but equally as satisfying. Browse bold tropical flower arrangements, sip on coconut water straight from the nut, snack on Kona abalone served on the half-shell, and find artisanal crafts, like sea glass necklaces, to take home as souvenirs.

Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

Tip 5: Waiola Shave Ice
When kamaaina crave shave ice, we don’t have the patience to wait in line at the iconic Matsumoto Shave Ice on the North Shore. With an equally rich history, try Waiola Shave Ice offering 40 different syrup flavors and unique homemade toppings, like azuki beans and custard, with two locations just outside of Waikiki. 

Tip 6: Spring Festivals
Mingle with locals and learn about Hawaii’s rich cultures at these upcoming community events. 

Waikiki SPAM JAM Festival – April 29
Try creative dishes highlighting the canned meat at food booths, enjoy live music, and buy SPAM t-shirts and accessories at this block party in the heart of Waikiki along Kalakaua Avenue. 

Lei Day Celebration – May 1
May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii. Admire exquisitely crafted lei in a variety of vibrant colors in the lei contest, experience live Hawaiian music and hula on the bandstand, and learn about this traditional craft through demonstrations at Kapiolani Park. 

Shinnyo Lantern Floating Hawaii Ceremony – May 29
On Memorial Day, commemorate a loved one in this Buddhist tradition of reconnection and healing. Release a customized twinkling lantern on the calm waters of Ala Moana Beach Park as part of this solemn, but beautiful event.  

King Kamehameha Floral Parade and Celebration – June 10  
Watch the marching bands, dignitaries and pau horse riders, all decked-out in native Hawaiian flora and fauna, as they make their way through Waikiki down Kalakaua Avenue. Then, join in the fun at the ho‘olaule‘a (festival) with live music and food at Kapiolani Park. 


Surf Image (Header): Hawaii Tourism Authority / Daeja Fallas