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When I visited Oahu last month, I knew I had to do a day trip to see as much of the island as possible. As I was travelling solo and renting a car just wasn’t on the agenda, I turned to Oahu tours. Thanks to Tinggly, I was able to do an all-day Oahu Grand Circle Island Tour and see most of the island’s top sights. My list of places to visit on my next trip is now quite extensive.
What is Tinggly?
Okay, brief-rundown-on-Tinggly time. Tinggly is the ultimate present for travel addicts, like myself. “One gift, hundreds of experiences, anywhere in the world and two years to decide.” As this description says, someone buys you a certain “experience collection” and you can use it on one of a variety of experiences around the world.
My experience was called the Grand Circle Island Tour. I was gifted a GO Oahu Card, which I could have used on different experiences around Oahu, such as snorkelling, a visit to Wet ‘n Wild, a catamaran tour, a kayak rental and so much more. I chose the “All of Oahu in One Day” tour with Roberts Hawaii. These guys are everywhere in Hawaii, doing airport shuttles and guided tours across the islands.
The All of Oahu tour
My Hawaii tour went smoothly from start to finish, which I always appreciate. Firstly, I was emailed the GO Oahu Card, which listed all activities and whether a reservation was required. I booked my tour prior to leaving Canada and was emailed a confirmation as soon as I hung up the phone.
On the day, I was picked up at a hotel a block from my hostel just before 8 a.m. Although we were on a large bus, there were only 20 of us. Our driver, Wes was fantastic. He was a local who had plenty of interesting information to share throughout the day. I was able to sit at the front of the bus, which I always prefer. That way you can look out the front windscreen and see all the beauty in front of you.
Stops 1 and 2 – coastline
The first stop of the day was to check out Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. This is undoubtedly the most popular snorkelling spot on the island. You can get a public bus here from Honolulu, but it is $ 7.50 USD to enter the bay. Although we didn’t snorkel, we did get the opportunity to take photos. The bay did look pretty, and there were plenty of reefs to swim around; I just don’t know how I feel about paying to snorkel. Wes told us later that there’s better snorkelling up the coast, around Kahana Bay.
Halona Blowhole was the next stop, which is close to the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. Although it wasn’t blowing when we visited, the stop was worth it to check out Eternity Beach. Its name is from the movie, From Here to Eternity, which was filmed here back in the day. It looked beautiful, but I heard a guide telling another group that people drown here every year. So enjoy the turquoise beauty from the lookout, guys.
Stop 3 – lookout time
After a restroom break near Waimanalo, you’re back on the bus until Nu’uanu Pali Lookout. This lookout is just off the highway and is an important spot in Hawaiian history. In 1795, this is where King Kamehameha I won the battle to unite Oahu under his rule. From the lookout, you can see the botanic gardens, the Kaneohe township and Chinaman’s Hat Island. It’s also very windy, so maybe take off the hat before exiting the bus. It’s kind of the ultimate panoramic vista.
Stop 4 – lunch and a snack
Next on the agenda was an early lunch at the Coral Kingdom. It’s a store and a small restaurant, but the plate lunches were great. I had the house special: Huli Huli Chicken. We then drove less than five minutes down the road to a macadamia nut farm. I learned on this trip that macadamia nuts are actually native to Australia.
Anyway, they had some interesting flavoured nuts, plus caramel macadamia popcorn! I went back for extra samples of that. I was disappointed they didn’t have macadamia nut ice cream though. This was my favourite growing up.
Stop 5 – the coast and Oahu North Shore tour
For the next hour or so we stayed on the bus as we drove up the coast and Wes spoke about the different towns and areas we drove through. He told us stories about Hawaii’s history, passed on tips for the Polynesian Cultural Centre and told us where to go snorkelling. We then arrived on the North Shore, Oahu’s surfing hotspot. We got out at Sunset Beach and I was amazed at the size of the waves there. I mean, I’m Australian but I’ve never seen waves that big anywhere back home.
I might have also been mesmerised by the colour of the water. And the fact a guy walked past me with a surfboard literally snapped in two. No big deal. Apparently, the waves retreat in summer, so it’s open to all swimmers then. After seeing it in February, I now NEED to go back in summer.
Stop 6 – Dole Plantation
The final stop on our tour of east Oahu (as we completed our circle) was Dole Plantation. They sell pineapple everything, including a very popular pineapple soft-serve ice cream. I opted for some fresh pineapple juice, which was so sweet and delicious. The number of pineapple souvenirs inside was impressive. You can also take a train around the grounds. Wes told us all about pineapple harvesting before we arrived too.
Then we drove back to Honolulu city and I arrived back at my hostel about eight hours after the trip began. Can I just mention Honolulu traffic though? There were already kilometres of slow-moving traffic going in the opposite direction at about 3 p.m. Seeing this made me even more appreciative of the tour and its ease.
As you can see from these tour highlights, I’d recommend this all-day Oahu Tour. It’s the best way to explore Oahu in a short amount of time. It allowed me to see some of the best Oahu attractions and I now know the places I want to return to when I eventually get back to Hawaii.
Thanks to Tinggly for this complimentary Oahu circle island tour. This is an honest review, and I honestly thought Wes was the bomb!