Updated: Aug 14, 2021
Back in October 2015, we took a short 5 day trip to Hawaii. It was a spur of the moment thing and very little planning went into it, but I think the trip turned out extremely memorable! Here is how we spent our time on the island.
We stayed at Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort located in downtown Honolulu. Our go-to's for vacation bookings are booking.com, Kayak, Expedia, Priceline, or Travelocity. I'm a bargain shopper always so just check them all to compare and find the best deal. We chose an ocean view room and ended up staying around the 13th floor of the hotel. Each of the ocean view rooms has a private balcony which we enjoyed sitting and listening to the ocean every night. I really loved the location of this hotel because it was on the main strip on Honolulu, it was walking distance to tons of restaurants, and it was across the street from Waikiki Beach. There was a beautiful rooftop bar and pool at the hotel too. Since we did rent a Jeep throughout our stay in Hawaii, it was important that the Waikiki Beach Resort had a parking garage.
One experience you cannot miss out on in Hawaii is snorkeling/scuba diving. We have been snorkeling throughout the Caribbean and Mexico, but Hawaii was hands down our favorite location with the best views of ocean life that we've seen so far. We chose to take a short island hop plane ride over to Maui which only cost around $30/pp. I highly recommend you take advantage of these flights if you have enough time to explore more of the island. We booked through https://mauisnorkeling.com/ and really enjoyed the tour. It was a few hours with a boat ride out to the snorkel location, scuba equipment if you chose to do that, lunch, and an open bar.
After an afternoon of snorkeling, we stopped at Beach Bums Bar & Grill Maui for a quick lunch. The food and drinks were delicious and the restaurant was right on the water so the views were gorgeous. We had gotten engaged the night before, thus the congrats note :)
Another can't miss sight in Hawaii is Laniakea Beach - Turtle Beach in Oahu. The sea turtles make their way up to the sandy beaches and just hang out! We saw three giant sea turtles when we went. The water was a little rough and the area was like a rocky cove, so we went more to see the turtles than to swim or sunbathe that day.
There is no shortage of opportunities for surfing or water sports in Hawaii! Whether it's beginners surf lessons, or paddleboarding, or snorkeling, you'll find every option that you need or could ever want on the island. There were rentals on Waikiki beach right across from the Marriott where we stayed. It's hard to go too far into Hawaii without finding a reason to get out into the beautiful water.
My last recommendation for activities to do in Hawaii during your stay is hiking! It wasn't something that I necessarily envisioned when we decided to go to Hawaii; I think I was pretty beach focused. We did two hikes while we were there - Diamond Head State Monument and Lalumha Falls or Manoa Falls. The hike at Diamond Head is a climb up a dormant volcano crater. It's a moderate hike, but once you get to the top, you can see panoramic views of the ocean which are just beautiful. Guided tours with pineapple smoothies are also an option to sign up for :). The hike at Manoa Falls is a 1.5 mile moderate hike through the rainforest with stunning waterfall and beach views. The hike was a bit rough and muddy in some places so make sure to wear something with some tread.
Although we didn't have a whole lot of time to explore the island, we did get to see a range of the beautiful landscape. You don't need weeks to enjoy Hawaii (although that would be amazing); just a few days will make you fall in love with this destination and go back for another visit.