25 Best Things to Do in Oahu, Hawaii

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Discover the best things to do in Oahu for the perfect getaway in one of Hawaii’s most beautiful islands.

Oahu is a stunning island in Hawaii and one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited. The lush mountains, beautiful beaches, and surfers everywhere make it a place I think everyone needs to visit once in their life.

Keep reading to discover the 25 best things to do in Oahu during your stay!

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25 Best Things to Do in Oahu, Hawaii

These are the TWO best hotels in Oahu:
HONOLULU: The Royal Hawaiian
NORTH SHORE: Turtle Bay Resort

THIS is the top-rated helicopter tour – a BUCKET LIST experience.

Take a Helicopter Tour

A helicopter tour is one of the best things to do in Oahu which offers unparalleled views of the island’s breathtaking landscapes. From cascading waterfalls to lush valleys and pristine beaches, the aerial perspective unveils Oahu’s natural beauty in all its glory.

Witnessing iconic landmarks like Diamond Head and Pearl Harbor from above adds a thrilling dimension to exploring the island, leaving indelible memories of its awe-inspiring vistas. This adventure is an essential part of any Hawaiian itinerary.

THIS is the top-rated helicopter tour – a BUCKET LIST experience.

Explore Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Gardens

Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Gardens is my absolute favourite place in Oahu. These lush botanical gardens captivate you with its serene ambiance and diverse flora.

Driving through the mountains and walking through its scenic trails you will encounter a variety of tropical plants from around the world.

The gardens hours are from 9 AM – 4 PM and are FREE!

Visit Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor is one of Hawaii’s most noteworthy memorial – made for the events of December 7, 1941, and a symbol of resilience and remembrance. Here you can explore the USS Arizona Memorial, where the sunken battleship serves as a somber reminder of the lives lost during the attack.

The accompanying museums and exhibits offer insightful glimpses into the history of World War II and its enduring impact on the nation.

A visit to Pearl Harbor is one of the best things to do in Oahu that provides an opportunity for reflection and honors the bravery of those who served and sacrificed.

Explore Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach is the most popular beach in Oahu with its golden sands, turquoise waters, and vibrant atmosphere. Whether you’re soaking up the sun, catching waves on a surfboard, or strolling along the iconic shoreline, Waikiki offers endless opportunities for relaxation and recreation.

Explore the bustling promenade lined with shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues, or simply unwind and enjoy the breathtaking views of Diamond Head and the Pacific Ocean.

With its iconic beauty and lively ambiance, Waikiki Beach is a must-visit destination for travelers seeking the quintessential Hawaiian experience.

Hike Diamond Head

Hiking Diamond Head offers a memorable adventure and panoramic views of Honolulu and the Pacific Ocean. Ascend to the summit through a scenic trail, passing through tunnels and bunkers from World War II.

At the top, marvel at the breathtaking vistas of Waikiki Beach and the Honolulu skyline, making this hike one of Oahu’s most iconic and rewarding experiences.

Snorkel at Hanauma Bay

Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay is an unforgettable experience, offering the chance to explore a pristine marine ecosystem teeming with colorful fish and vibrant coral reefs. Dive into crystal-clear waters and encounter an array of marine life, from tropical fish to sea turtles.

With its calm and protected bay, Hanauma Bay provides an ideal environment for snorkeling enthusiasts of all levels, making it a must-do activity for visitors to Oahu.

Drive the North Shore

Driving along the North Shore of Oahu is a scenic adventure, renowned for its breathtaking coastline, world-class surf spots, and charming seaside towns. From the iconic Banzai Pipeline to the laid-back vibes of Haleiwa, this coastal drive offers endless opportunities for exploration and relaxation.

Along the way, you’ll encounter stunning beaches, lush landscapes, and iconic landmarks, providing a true taste of Hawaiian paradise. Whether you’re chasing waves, sampling local cuisine, or simply enjoying the stunning views, a drive along the North Shore promises unforgettable memories and endless photo opportunities.

Visit the Polynesian Cultural Center

The Polynesian Cultural Center offers an immersive experience into the diverse cultures of the Pacific Islands. Visitors can explore authentic villages representing Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti, Tonga, and more, witnessing traditional arts, crafts, dances, and music.

Interactive exhibits, entertaining performances, and delicious island cuisine provide a comprehensive understanding of Polynesian heritage and customs.

Swim at Lanikai Beach

Lanikai Beach, renowned for its powdery white sand and turquoise waters, offers an idyllic setting for swimming and relaxation. The calm, clear waters make it perfect for snorkeling, paddleboarding, or simply wading in the gentle surf.

With its picturesque backdrop of the Mokulua Islands and lush tropical vegetation, Lanikai Beach provides a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Lanikai Beach promises a tranquil and rejuvenating experience in the heart of Oahu’s Windward Coast.

Enjoy Sunset at Sunset Beach

Watching the sunset at Sunset Beach is a must-do experience on Oahu’s North Shore. As the sun dips below the horizon, the sky bursts into vibrant hues of orange, pink, and purple, casting a mesmerizing glow over the ocean.

The beauty of the sunset at Sunset Beach is truly captivating. It’s the perfect way to unwind after a day of exploring the island and easily one of the best things to do in Oahu.

Visit the Dole Plantation

Explore the Dole Plantation, a tropical paradise nestled in the heart of Oahu. Wander through vibrant pineapple fields, learn about the history of pineapple cultivation in Hawaii, and take a scenic train ride around the plantation.

Don’t miss the chance to sample fresh pineapple treats, including pineapple ice cream and Dole Whip. With its lush surroundings and delicious offerings, the Dole Plantation offers a fun and memorable experience for visitors of all ages.

Snorkel at Shark’s Cove

Snorkel at Shark’s Cove, a renowned marine sanctuary on Oahu’s North Shore. Dive into crystal-clear waters teeming with vibrant marine life, including colorful fish, sea turtles, and coral formations.

With its shallow reefs and calm conditions, Shark’s Cove offers an ideal snorkeling experience for beginners and experienced snorkelers alike. Explore the underwater world, marvel at the beauty of the coral gardens, and encounter fascinating creatures in their natural habitat.

Explore Waimea Valley

Explore Waimea Valley, a lush botanical garden and cultural site nestled on Oahu’s North Shore. Wander along scenic trails flanked by tropical flora, including native Hawaiian plants and exotic flowers.

Discover cultural landmarks, such as ancient Hawaiian temples and archaeological sites, offering insights into the island’s rich history and heritage. Take a refreshing dip in the valley’s natural pool beneath a picturesque waterfall, or simply unwind in the serene surroundings.

With its breathtaking beauty and cultural significance, visiting Waimea Valley is one of the top things to do in Oahu.

Visit Kualoa Ranch

Embark on an unforgettable adventure at Kualoa Ranch, a sprawling nature reserve on Oahu’s windward coast. Delve into the lush landscapes of Jurassic Valley, where iconic movie scenes were filmed.

Choose from a variety of guided tours, including ATV rides, horseback excursions, and jungle expeditions. Explore hidden valleys, sacred Hawaiian sites, and verdant forests teeming with native wildlife.

Learn about the ranch’s rich history and conservation efforts while soaking in panoramic views of the island’s stunning scenery.

Take a Surf Lesson

Catch some waves and embrace the laid-back spirit of Hawaii with a surf lesson on Oahu’s iconic beaches. Learn the art of riding the waves from expert instructors who will guide you through the basics of paddling, standing up, and navigating the surf.

Whether you’re a beginner or looking to sharpen your skills, the warm waters and gentle swells of Waikiki or the North Shore provide the perfect setting for a memorable surfing experience. This is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the vibrant surf culture of Oahu.

Hike Moana Falls

Embark on a lush and scenic adventure through the heart of Oahu’s tropical rainforest by hiking to Moana Falls. This moderate trail winds its way through verdant vegetation, towering bamboo groves, and bubbling streams, offering a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

As you trek deeper into the forest, the trail leads to the majestic Moana Falls, where you can cool off with a refreshing dip in the natural pool below. With its serene ambiance and breathtaking natural beauty, hiking Moana Falls is a must-do activity for outdoor enthusiasts visiting Oahu.

Go Whale Watching

Hop aboard a thrilling whale-watching excursion off the coast of Oahu for an unforgettable encounter with these majestic marine giants. Set sail into the sparkling waters of the Pacific Ocean, where you’ll have the chance to witness humpback whales breaching, spouting, and playing in their natural habitat.

Led by knowledgeable guides, you’ll learn fascinating facts about these incredible creatures while marveling at their awe-inspiring acrobatics.

Eat Amazing Acai Bowls

Indulge in the delectable flavors of Hawaii with a taste of the island’s famous acai bowls. Bursting with freshness and vitality, these nutritious treats feature a base of creamy acai blended with an assortment of fruits, granola, and toppings like coconut flakes and honey.

Whether you’re starting your day with a wholesome breakfast or enjoying a refreshing snack between adventures, sampling an acai bowl is a must-do in Oahu.

Head to local favorites like Haleiwa Bowls or Banan for mouthwatering varieties that capture the essence of tropical paradise in every spoonful.

Explore Chinatown

Immerse yourself in the vibrant tapestry of culture and cuisine in Honolulu’s Chinatown. Wander through bustling streets lined with colorful shops, exotic markets, and traditional temples, where the sights, sounds, and aromas transport you to the heart of Asia.

Discover hidden gems offering authentic dim sum, freshly prepared seafood, and a tantalizing array of spices and ingredients.

With its rich history and dynamic energy, Chinatown is a captivating destination for foodies, culture enthusiasts, and adventurers alike, promising an unforgettable experience in the heart of Hawaii’s capital city.

Rent a Car and Explore the Island

Embark on a journey of discovery as you rent a car and explore the enchanting island of Oahu. Drive along scenic coastal roads, winding mountain passes, and lush valleys, soaking in breathtaking vistas at every turn.

Stop at hidden beaches, charming towns, and iconic landmarks, immersing yourself in the island’s natural beauty and rich culture. With the freedom to chart your own course, you’ll uncover hidden gems and create unforgettable memories as you traverse this paradise on wheels.

Take a Boat Tour

Experience the beauty of Oahu from a different perspective with a captivating boat tour. Cruise along the island’s stunning coastline, taking in panoramic views of turquoise waters, rugged cliffs, and lush landscapes.

Marvel at majestic marine life, from playful dolphins to graceful sea turtles, as you navigate the crystal-clear waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Explore hidden coves, pristine beaches, and remote islands accessible only by boat, immersing yourself in the natural wonders of Hawaii’s tropical paradise.

Hike Pali Notches

Embark on an exhilarating adventure as you hike the legendary Pali Notches. Ascend the rugged cliffs of the Ko’olau Range, traversing narrow ridges and rocky terrain with breathtaking views of Oahu’s lush landscapes and sweeping coastline.

Challenge yourself with exhilarating scrambles and thrilling climbs, rewarded by awe-inspiring vistas at the summit. Feel a sense of accomplishment as you conquer this iconic trail, immersing yourself in the beauty and serenity of Hawaii’s natural wonders along the way.

Explore the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail

Embark on an unforgettable journey along the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail, a captivating adventure that promises stunning vistas and natural wonders. As you hike this scenic path, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, framed by rugged cliffs and vibrant vegetation.

Keep an eye out for native wildlife, including seabirds soaring overhead and perhaps even the majestic humpback whales during the winter months. Reach the historic Makapuu Lighthouse, perched atop the cliffs, and marvel at its iconic red-and-white beacon guiding ships to safety.

Attend a Luau

Experience the magic of Hawaii at a traditional luau, where captivating cultural performances, tantalizing cuisine, and aloha spirit converge for an unforgettable evening.

Immerse yourself in Polynesian culture as dancers sway to the rhythm of mesmerizing music, telling tales of ancient legends through graceful movements.

Indulge in a sumptuous feast featuring island favorites like kalua pig, poi, and fresh seafood, all while surrounded by the enchanting ambiance of torch-lit gardens or beachside settings.

Go on a Food Tour

Embark on a culinary adventure through the vibrant flavors of Oahu with a captivating food tour. Delight your taste buds as you sample a diverse array of local delicacies, from succulent seafood to savory street food favorites.

Follow knowledgeable guides through bustling markets, hidden gems, and beloved eateries, gaining insights into Hawaiian cuisine and culture along the way.

Savor the unique fusion of influences that shape Oahu’s culinary landscape, from traditional Polynesian fare to contemporary creations infused with global inspirations.

Where to Stay in Oahu

These are the TWO best hotels in Oahu:
HONOLULU: The Royal Hawaiian
NORTH SHORE: Turtle Bay Resort

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