Digital Nomad's Guide to Oahu, Hawaii
The best cafes, restaurants, hikes, surf spots, and more for digital nomads in Oahu, Hawaii.
Welcome to the island of Oahu – home to the North Shore which boasts some of the best waves in the world, and the cultural hub of Honolulu. Check out how to navigate the island if you're considering working remotely from Oahu.
Where to stay in Oahu, Hawaii
Oahu is one of the major islands in Hawaii, famous for the big waves on the North Shore.
This neighborhood is best known for its professional surfing contests at Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach, and local pineapple farms. There are a handful of cafes, restaurants, yoga studios and shops. This is where Outsite Sunset Beach is located.
Honolulu is the capital city of Oahu, located on the south east shore. You'll make your way through this area as you fly in. Many startups and companies may choose to base here, as there are plenty of coworking spaces. Just a 15 minute drive, you'll find Outsite Honolulu - Wailupe.
The west side of Oahu is just as popular as the North Shore, and there are more opportunities for snorkelling and swimming due to the calmer waters.
Getting Around Oahu
Renting a car is the simplest way to explore Oahu, especially because there is so much to see and do all around the whole island. You’ll likely want to venture out of the North Shore area and check out other spots on the island. However, if you can’t drive or don’t want to rent a car, there are certainly other ways to get around.
The major cities in Oahu are relatively walkable. If you’re staying at Outsite North Shore – Sunset Beach you’ll be a five minute walk from the food trucks and and an eight minute walk to surf beach.
Outsite Honolulu – Wailupe is just a five minute walk from the beach and about a ten minute walk to ‘Āina Haina Community Park. There are a couple restaurants within walking distance, but you'll be better off going by bike or car to grab a bite to eat.
Biking is a great way to get around locally. There are bike paths that you can safely ride on, and any route you take is likely to be super scenic! Google Maps is a great resource for finding your way around on bikes. They will recommend the best routes to travel somewhere by bike, as well as tell you if the terrain is mostly flat or hilly. Bikes are available at Outsite North Shore – Sunset Beach.
Uber or Lyft in Oahu
Ride shares are available on the island of Oahu, but more so nearby Honolulu than the North Shore. You can take an Uber or Lyft to or from the airport if you aren’t renting a car. Rides from Outsite North Shore- Sunset Beach to the airport (or vice versa) will be around $60-$90. If you're staying at Outsite Honolulu-Wailupe, you can expect about a $30 ride.
Public Transportation in Oahu
Public transport in Oahu is limited to their bus system, which is aptly called The Bus. The Bus will take you pretty much all around the island. You can even go from Haleiwa on the North Shore to Honolulu on the North Shore (and vice versa) on The Bus. Again, Google Maps is a great resource for figuring out your route with public transportation. Just put in your start and end point and it will tell you what bus stops you’ll need to go to and when the bus departs.
Digital Nomad and Startup Communities in Hawaii
There are plenty of remote workers on Hawaii, most of them located in Honolulu. To network while you are on the island, try joining a coworking space, or joining the Outsite Community. Our Space in Sunset Beach has local WhatsApp Groups, perfect for meeting other locals.
Coworking Spaces in Hawaii
Most coworking spaces are located in Honolulu.
Coworking Spaces in Honolulu:
- Hub Coworking Hawaii
- Sandbox Honolulu
Coworking Spaces elsewhere in Oahu:
- WORKSHOP North Shore
- Treehouse Kailua
Cafes with Wifi on the North Shore of Oahu
Coffee Gallery is a homey cafe where you can enjoy small batch coffee from Hawaii as well as other parts of the world. You can also have plenty of delicious baked goods made from scratch. There’s both indoor and outdoor seating – take your pick for where you’d rather buckle down with your laptop.
Brew & Foam
For a quaint coffee shop with top notch baristas, head to Brew & Foam. The reasonable prices are a pleasant surprise for such great coffee – think $2 for a small drip coffee or single espresso shot. There are also some fun specialty drinks, like the Iced Haupia Mocha, which is espresso, cacao, milk, coconut whipped cream, and ice. If you’d prefer a smoothie over caffeine, they’ve got you covered for that too.
Island Vintage Coffee
This spot is a favorite amongst both tourists and locals alike. There’s a good amount of seating (outdoors, too!) so you won’t have trouble finding a spot to park yourself for a couple hours. Plus, their drinks are made with 100% Kona coffee, meaning the coffee was cultivated on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Green World Coffee Farms
This is more of an excursion than a spot to work, but there is wifi. Head to this 7-acre coffee farm to see how Hawaiian coffee is grown and to have samples of the different types, then buy a cup of your favorite at their espresso bar. You can also purchase coffee from the farm to take the taste of Hawaii home with you.
Cafes with Wifi in Honolulu
Blue Tree Cafe
With two locations within Honolulu, Blue Tree Cafe is a popular spot to get some work done. You'll find a health-focused menu featuring acai bowls, fresh pressed juices, custom made coffee blends, and more. The wifi is reliable and there are plenty of outlets available.
Brew & Foam
In addition to their North Shore location, you can also find Brew & Foam in Honolulu serving specialty coffee in house. You'll find nitro cold brew and Kona Coffee Purveyors special roast in espresso, drip coffee, and single origins as well as great pastries and food items.
Glazer's is an artsy and cozy Seattle-style coffeehouse offering specialty coffee. Located close to the university, it's not uncommon to see students working here. If you're able to find a table, it's a very conducive spot to work.
Island Vintage Coffee
Open all day from 6am to 10pm, Island Vintage Coffee is very popular among tourists and locals alike, making it common to see a long line out front in the mornings. To avoid this, try visiting in the afternoons and don't miss their acai bowls!
Shopping and groceries on Oahu, Hawaii
Be warned, groceries here are expensive as much of Hawaii's food is imported. Safeway is the most widely recognized supermarket and can be found in Honolulu. Foodland is another grocery store chain on Oahu, offering local produce, snacks and alcohol. There are plenty of smaller produce shops and farmers markets around the island, too. If you're staying at Outsite Honolulu-Wailupe, Foodland is just a 10 minute walk.
Hiking Trails in Oahu
Ehukai Pillbox Hike
Want to see the Banzai Pipeline from above? Hike up to the Ehukai Pillboxes, which will only take you about 30 minutes from bottom to top. This trail is never too crowded, since it’s a bit of a local secret. You’ll be rewarded with beautiful ocean views at the top that’ll make you never want to hike back down.
Kaiwa Ridge Trail
Kaiwa Ridge AKA the Lanikai Pillbox Hike is one of the best on the Windward side of Oahu, and arguably one of the most popular hikes in Oahu. This 1.8 mile short and steep hike has one of the most beautiful views in Oahu, overlooking Lanikai Beach and Kailua, as well as Nā Mokulua, two unmistakable islets off the coast.
Kaʻena Point Trail
This 3.5 mile trail is more of a strenuous walk than a hike, since it doesn’t have too much elevation. Still, you’ll see beautiful coastal views of the west side of Oahu. When you get to the westernmost tip, you’ll get to experience a bird and nature sanctuary. Bonus: in the winter, you can see whales off the shore!
Waimea Valley Trail
If you’re looking to take a swim during your hike, try the Waimea Valley Trail, which features a large waterfall and swimming area. The park will provide you with a free – and mandatory – life vest for safety if you decide to swim. You’ll see plenty of unique nature along the way.
Ka'au Crater Trail
This Oahu hike is a long and challenging one, but well worth the trek. It’s not recommended for beginners, since at points it can be a bit dangerous. You’ll see multiple waterfalls along the way, greenery galore, and beautiful ocean views. Plus, how often can you say you’ve visited a crater?!
Best Surf Spots on the North Shore of Oahu
Haleiwa Beach Park
This is one of the only beginner surf spots on the whole island of Oahu. Many surf schools operate out of Haleiwa Beach Park since the waves tend to be smaller and more manageable than the others on the North Shore.
This break is another beginner/intermediate friendly spot. Even in the winter, waves are a bit more manageable, and certainly less dangerous than the surf spots to follow on this list! There’s some good shallow “white water” which makes for good learning-to-surf conditions.
This is NOT a spot for beginners, and probably not even a spot for intermediate surfers. The waves here are giant barrels, especially in the winter, when waves can regularly be about 10 feet! However, there are times when the swell can cause the waves to be even bigger. Surfers from all around the world come to the North Shore to surf the pipe, but be careful – the giant waves and shallow sharp reef can be very dangerous. This is also where the Billabong Pipe Masters competition is every December.
One of the best places to watch the sunset on the North Shore of Oahu also happens to be one of the best places to surf. Again, this isn’t a spot for beginners. The waves here are also big, around 10 feet in the winter, as well, but always can be bigger depending on the swell. Our coliving location Outsite Oahu – Sunset Beach is just an 8 minute walk away from the surf breaks.
Don’t let the word “bay” in the name fool you – the water here is anything but calm. This spot is near the Banzai Pipeline, so you can expect some massive waves here. It’s common for waves to be well over 10 feet here, and this spot attracts world class surfers, too.
To check the conditions at these surf spots (and any others on the island) head to Surfline.com. This site allows you to check out live streams of the waves and see how tall they currently are.