Let’s face it, not everything in Hawaii is super dreamy and fabulous. Some experiences and things to do get over-hyped or played up in guidebooks and tourism brochures. And there’s just not time to do everything, so how are you supposed to know what’s worth doing and what you should skip? Here are 5 things to do on Oahu that I think you can skip (and what you should do instead):
1.Dole Plantation. I’m going to start this list off with a bang, because the Dole Plantation is sooo popular with tourists. But I’m calling it like I see it. The Dole Plantation is a cheesy tourist trap with almost no cultural value. Sorry. If you loved it, I’m so glad, but it’s just not something I recommend. Yes, pineapple has been a huge part of Hawaii’s history (the history of its overthrow by America, really), but the modern day Dole Plantation is really nothing but a gift shop. There’s a train tour through a pineapple field, but it all feels very staged. In the past, I would’ve recommended just stopping in for a Dole Whip (that famous pineapple ice cream) and photo in the giant pineapple (hey, that’s what I did!), but I recently noticed Dole Whips available at a couple of ABC Stores on the island, so you don’t even need to do that. This may not be a popular opinion, but I say skip the “amusement park” vibe of the Dole Plantation and instead visit the Bishop Museum or Polynesian Cultural Center if you want to experience some authentic Hawaiian culture.
2.Sea Life Park. Basically Hawaii’s version of Sea World, this small aquatic park on the east side of Oahu just seems a little sad to me. It features almost no species native to Hawaii. Skip swimming with the captive dolphins here and swim with wild dolphins instead. Book an excursion with Wild Side Hawaii.
3.A Resort Luau. As a general rule of thumb, I always think that independent luaus are much better than resort luaus. I mean, think about it. Resort luaus have a captive audience and a big pool of people to funnel to their luau so they don’t have to be as good as other luaus. Skip the luaus on Waikiki and go to the Paradise Cove Luau or the one at the Polynesian Cultural Center.