Author: Jolene Yee

A Local’s Guide to Day-Tripping Hawaii

Living in Hawaii doesn’t give much leeway for road trips or driving long distances. In truth, it doesn’t take long to get around any of the islands or to go from point A to point B. Thanks to this ease of access, the locals like to go day-riding around the island on the weekends to do a variety of different things.

As adults, we all get lost in daily life, even in Hawaii. However, we locals try to find different ways to appreciate the beautiful place we live in. Although we cannot take epic road trips to faraway places, we can appreciate the beauty in our compact area. In just one day we can explore waterfalls, beaches, little towns, and wonderful hiking areas full of lush rainforests. Here are some of the ways that local Hawaiians enjoy a good day trip around the island:

Tour the Beaches

Believe it or not, not all beaches are created equal. Some beaches are known for surfing, while others are known for swimming, fishing, or tide pools. So when on an island tour, we like to choose different beaches around the island to visit, based on personal preference. If prepared to leave early enough, you could visit as many as two to three different beaches in a one-day trip. In different parts of the island, the beaches are going to be considerably different.


For example, take a look at the southern parts of the island – downtown Honolulu, Ala Moana, & Waikiki. The hotels are primarily found in this district of the island, so the beaches are mostly man-made. There are concrete areas as well as man-made pool areas and it tends to be extremely crowded. These beaches are a little less crystal-blue than other beaches on the island, but are still beautiful.


On the north side of the island, the waves are a little rougher, but there are some areas, especially Haleiwa Beach Park, that have calm, beautiful waters. The water is deep blue, teal, and crystal clear. The sand is pearl white, and the sun is shining and beautiful. There is even a little harbor and pier for fishing. The best part of the North Shore area are the small towns close to the beaches there!


On the west and east sides of the island, the beaches are calm and the ocean is deep and blue. In Makaha, there is a nice shore-break for bodysurfing. On the east side, Sandy Beach also has a gentle shore-break, but the waves are a little rougher, making it a popular surf spot as well.

Visit local road stands

Some towns have little road stands (popular in the more rural areas) that sell fresh fruit, dried aku (fish), local foods – like Laulau, and my favorite Lilikoi Butter. The fresh fruit is always a good idea when day-tripping. There are fresh coconuts, complete with coconut water, bananas, mango, guava, and more! I like shopping at various road stands for a couple of reasons: I love the culture and the chance to meet new people in the communities.


My favorite are the street vendors who sell fresh fruit and plate lunches, which consist of laulau, pork, rice, and raw fish (poke). I do enjoy the aku bone and dried aku as well. Aku bone is hard to come by these days, so when you see a vendor selling this on the side of the road, don’t miss your chance. Stop. Buy the fish.

Stop by Haleiwa & other small towns

Some towns are created primarily for tourists and are quaint, beautiful, and extremely lovely to visit, even for locals. Haleiwa is one of those towns that I enjoy. It’s always a must-visit when going on a day-trip around the island. Haleiwa has different little shops aimed at pleasing visitors to the island. There are cafes, restaurants, surf shops, candle shops, and more! The possibilities are endless, and you can easily spend the day in Haleiwa and not realize it.

Tip: Eat at Spaghettini

I recently had lunch in Haleiwa at Spaghettini, and it was marvelous. Finding good Italian food is hard, especially on a small island like Oahu. The food was reasonably priced, which is also rare. Spaghettini is a small, window restaurant that offers great Italian food. The area is not large, and it is not a fancy restaurant at all, but the food is delicious, and the prices are reasonable. We started with appetizers of fried zucchini and bruschetta, and I was instantly impressed with both. The fried zucchini was crisp and well-seasoned. Not overly salty at all. The bruschetta was also tasty. I like a strong basil aroma and seasoning, so I liked that about their bruschetta.

Just Drive!

Sometimes just the drive itself is serene. The scenic routes and sights you see while driving around an island are magnificent! There are waterfalls, mountains, beautiful views of the beach, and other scenes that will take your breath away. Exploring the little towns and witnessing the Aloha Spirit all around you will make just driving completely worth it. Take my word for it, and simply go for a nice drive. Take the scenic route, avoid the freeways, and enjoy the sights around you. There are various views at which the city has made scenic stopping areas so that locals and tourists can stop safely, get out of their car, and enjoy the view.

The drive will be worth it, and you will come back home feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, and hopefully more focused.

The beauty of island living is the spontaneity and the glorious concept of living in the moment.

In short – come to Hawaii and Just Drive! You might surprise yourself in the absence of a real itinerary. The beauty of island living is the spontaneity and the glorious concept of living in the moment. Something as mundane as a day spent driving is made incredible by the sights around you!


The absence of a schedule does not mean that we are any less productive out here in the islands, just that we’re happier while we get our to-do lists checked off. We find the time here to balance our work schedules with what makes us happy. We look for different ways to have peace alongside the hustle and bustle of adult life, and driving around the island, refocusing our perspectives, and taking in some beautiful sights along the way is just one of the ways that we enjoy life here in the islands.