Oh, the enchanting island of Oahu, Hawaii! A haven for sun-seekers, adventure lovers, and cultural explorers alike. Surrounded by the glittering Pacific Ocean, Oahu boasts of the quintessential “Aloha” spirit, where pristine beaches coalesce with verdant mountain trails and historic sites whisper tales from the bygone era. An intoxicating blend of natural allure and vibrant culture, this Hawaiian gem offers countless experiences for the curious traveler.
Where To Stay In Oahu
In Oahu, finding the perfect place to hang your hat, or better still, your beach sandals, isn’t a Herculean task. Depending on your preference, you can choose from luxury resorts with panoramic sea views, such as The Royal Hawaiian at Waikiki Beach, or quaint beachfront cottages in North Shore, like Ke Iki Beach Bungalows. For a slice of local life, consider an Airbnb in the heart of Honolulu.
Oahu Hawaii: Areas Explained
Oahu is a tapestry of intriguing locales, each offering a unique slice of the island experience.
- Waikiki: World-renowned for its stunning beaches and vibrant nightlife, this is where you’ll find the pulsating heartbeat of Oahu.
- North Shore: A surfer’s paradise! Picture gigantic waves, laid-back vibes, and sea turtles lounging on the sand.
- Kailua: Famous for its turquoise waters, this side of Oahu houses Lanikai Beach and Kailua Beach, often regarded as two of the world’s best beaches.
- Honolulu: The capital city is the cultural and commercial hub, teeming with museums, shopping centers, and diverse culinary delights.
Best Things To Do In Oahu Hawaii
1. Hike The Trails
Oahu’s trails are a hiker’s utopia, taking you through verdant rainforests, rolling hills, and volcanic craters. One moment you’re basking in panoramic views atop the Diamond Head Crater trail, the next you’re lost amidst the otherworldly greenery of Manoa Falls Trail.
2. Visit The Pillboxes
The Lanikai Pillbox Hike, also known as Kaiwa Ridge Trail, offers breathtaking views of the Mokulua Islands and Kailua Bay. At the summit, you’re greeted by WWII-era pillboxes, which serve as both historical relics and perfect spots for a well-deserved break.
3. See The Waterfalls
No trip to Oahu is complete without beholding the mesmerizing cascade of waterfalls like Manoa, Waimea, and Lulumahu. Imagine the tranquil sound of water gushing down amidst lush greenery – nature’s symphony at its best!
4. Climb The Stairway To Heaven
Also known as the Haiku Stairs, the Stairway to Heaven is an awe-inspiring journey through steep stairs leading up to the top of the Ko’olau Mountain Range. Although officially closed to the public, thrill-seekers often make their way up for an adrenaline-pumping adventure
5. Climb A Volcano Crater
Whether it’s the world-famous Diamond Head Crater or the less-known Koko Crater, these remnants of Oahu’s volcanic past provide hiking opportunities as well as captivating historical insights.
6. Visit The North Shore
For surfers and sea turtles, the North Shore is home. Here you can marvel at the gargantuan waves at Waimea Bay, enjoy a leisurely stroll in Haleiwa Town, or simply watch the sunset paint the sky at Sunset Beach.
7. Relax On The Beaches
Surrender to the hypnotic allure of Oahu’s beaches, from the iconic Waikiki Beach to the pristine sands of Lanikai Beach. Feel the sun on your skin, sand beneath your toes, and the gentle whisper of the waves.
8. Stroll A Botanical Garden
Oahu’s botanical gardens are a riot of color and diversity. Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden, Waimea Valley, and Foster Botanical Garden showcase the island’s rich flora and make for a tranquil escape from the beach scene.
9. Try Shave Ice
Oahu is the birthplace of shave ice, a delightful concoction that is nothing short of a frozen rainbow. Matsumoto’s in Haleiwa is a local favorite, known for its towering shave ice treats laden with sweet syrups.
10. See The Lighthouses
For the best views and a dose of history, visit the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse or the Diamond Head Lighthouse. They are beaconing reminders of Oahu’s maritime past and present.
11. See The Wildlife
At Hanauma Bay, vibrant tropical fish offer a spectacle for snorkelers, while at Laniakea Beach, you can witness Hawaiian green sea turtles basking in the sun.
12. Take A Scenic Drive
Take a drive along the scenic Kamehameha Highway, which wraps around Oahu’s coastline, offering stunning ocean views, charming pit stops, and an intimate look at the island’s diversity.
13. Tour The Film Sites
Oahu has starred in many blockbusters. Embark on a guided tour at Kualoa Ranch, where films like Jurassic Park and series like LOST have been shot, making the stunning landscape a familiar sight for movie buffs.
14. Visit The Dole Plantation
A visit to the Dole Plantation is a delightful excursion into the world of pineapples, offering a tour of the plantation, a ride on the Pineapple Express, and a labyrinthine Pineapple Garden Maze to navigate.
15. See The Rainbows
One of the perks of the tropical weather in Oahu is the frequent appearance of rainbows. From your hotel balcony or during a hike, you’re bound to spot one of these colorful arcs painting the sky.
16. Go Island Hopping
Don’t limit your Hawaiian experience to Oahu alone. Embark on a day trip to neighboring islands like Maui, Kauai, or the Big Island, each with its unique charm and offerings.
17. See The Landmarks
From the iconic statue of Duke Kahanamoku on Waikiki Beach to the historic Iolani Palace, Oahu is dotted with landmarks that are testament to its rich history and vibrant culture.
18. Visit Pearl Harbor Memorial
Pay your respects at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, a solemn reminder of the tragic event that pushed the US into World War II. The USS Arizona Memorial is a particularly poignant site to visit.
19. Enjoy The Viewpoints
Whether it’s the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout offering panoramic views of the windward coast, or the Halona Blowhole Lookout showcasing the raw power of the sea, Oahu’s viewpoints are a feast for the eyes.
20. See A Temple
Oahu houses some spectacular temples, with the Byodo-In Temple being a standout. This replica of a 900-year-old Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan, set against the backdrop of the Ko’olau Mountains, is a sight to behold.
21. Go Snorkeling
Hanauma Bay, a marine life conservation area, is a snorkeler’s paradise. Swim alongside vibrant tropical fish, perhaps even spotting the elusive state fish, the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a!
22. Take A Helicopter Tour
Get a bird’s eye view of Oahu’s spellbinding beauty with a helicopter tour. From verdant valleys and cascading waterfalls to the sheer cliffs of the Na Pali Coast, this is an experience that will leave you breathless.
23. Go Whale Watching
If you’re visiting between December and April, don’t miss the chance to witness humpback whales in their natural habitat. Whale watching tours offer an unforgettable experience of these majestic creatures breaching and tail slapping.
24. Take A Gyroplane Flight
For an exhilarating adventure, take a gyroplane flight over Oahu. It’s an open-cockpit, wind-in-your-hair kind of experience that offers unparalleled views of the island.
25. Try Watersports
Whether it’s surfing, paddleboarding, or kayaking, Oahu’s warm waters are perfect for a plethora of watersports. First-time surfer? No problem! Plenty of surf schools dot the coastline ready to get you up on that board.
26. Skydive In Paradise
For an adrenaline rush like no other, leap from a plane and skydive over Oahu. With the azure Pacific Ocean beneath and the expansive blue sky above, this is thrill-seeking in paradise.
27. Swim With Sharks
Feeling courageous? Embark on a cage-diving expedition in Haleiwa to come face-to-face with the fascinating yet misunderstood creatures of the deep – sharks.
28. Go Cliff Jumping
Oahu’s rugged coastline is home to several cliff-jumping spots, such as Waimea Bay and Laie Point. Please ensure you always prioritize safety and check local regulations before indulging in this activity.
29. Visit Tropical Farms
A visit to a tropical farm like the Kahuku Farms offers insights into the island’s agricultural practices, and you get to sample fresh, tropical produce straight from the source.
30. Watch The Sunrise
Welcome a new day by watching the sunrise from the east-facing Lanikai Beach or Makapu’u Point Lighthouse. As the sky turns from inky blue to golden, you’ll understand why this is a must-do in Oahu.
31. Watch The Sunset
The magic continues as the day ends. Watch the sun dip below the horizon from Sunset Beach on North Shore, as the sky is painted in hues of orange and pink.
32. Visit The Museums
Enrich your understanding of Hawaiian culture and history by visiting museums like Bishop Museum and . It’s an experience that adds depth to the sun, sea, and sand narrative of Oahu.
33. Experience Hawaiian Culture
Whether it’s attending a traditional luau, taking a ukulele lesson, or learning about ancient Polynesian navigation techniques at the Polynesian Cultural Center, immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture for a complete Oahu experience.
34. Eat Poké Bowls
Enjoy the local cuisine by devouring a Poké bowl, a scrumptious concoction of raw, marinated fish, rice, and a variety of toppings. Try it at Ono Seafood or Ahi Assassins in Honolulu for a delectable treat.
35. Shop For Souvenirs
Pick up mementos of your unforgettable Oahu trip from the Ala Moana Center, or for a more local experience, visit the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet. From Hawaiian shirts to Koa wood products, there’s something for everyone.
36. See The Rest Of Hawaii
Oahu is just one jewel in the Hawaiian crown. Consider exploring the awe-inspiring volcanoes of the Big Island, the stunning cliffs of Kauai, or the luxurious beach resorts of Maui for a comprehensive Hawaiian experience.
How To Get Around Oahu Hawaii
Getting around Oahu is a breeze, thanks to its well-established transportation network. TheBus, Oahu’s public transport system, covers most areas. Alternatively, you can rent a car, bicycle, or even a moped. And for those short distances – why not take a leisurely stroll?
Things to do in Oaho, Hawaii – Summary
As we draw this virtual journey to a close, remember that Oahu, like any destination, is more than just its popular attractions. It’s in the warmth of the locals, the rhythm of the hula, and the vibrant spirit of “Aloha” that the true essence of this Hawaiian paradise is discovered. Now that you have this comprehensive guide, get ready to explore the delightful cornucopia of experiences Oahu offers. The island awaits!
Frequently Asked Questions for Things to do in Oahu
Oahu is a year-round destination with a tropical climate. However, for the best combination of pleasant weather and smaller crowds, consider visiting in the shoulder seasons: April to June and September to December.
While the official languages of Hawaii are English and Hawaiian, English is predominantly spoken throughout Oahu.
The cost of your trip to Oahu can vary greatly depending on your travel style and preferences. While it’s possible to enjoy the island on a budget, be prepared for higher-than-average prices for food, accommodation, and activities compared to the mainland US.
Bring light, breathable clothing for the beach and hiking, a good sunscreen, a hat for protection from the sun, water shoes for rocky beach areas, and a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated.
Oahu is generally a safe destination. However, as with any place, it’s important to take common-sense precautions. Always heed safety warnings at beaches, trails, and while participating in adventurous activities.
While public transportation is available, renting a car gives you the most flexibility to explore at your own pace and reach less accessible parts of the island.
Local specialties include poke, a raw fish salad; loco moco, a rice dish topped with a hamburger patty, egg, and gravy; and shave ice, a sweet, refreshing dessert. Also, don’t miss the opportunity to try the local fruit, including pineapple and lilikoi (passion fruit).
While you can get a taste of Oahu in a few days, a week allows a more relaxed pace to explore the island’s diverse attractions and experiences.
There are many ways to see Oahu’s attractions, from guided tours and helicopter rides to self-guided hikes and scenic drives. Choose the one that aligns best with your travel style and comfort level.
Yes, inter-island flights are frequent and make it easy to explore the other islands in the Hawaiian archipelago. Island hopping can offer a broader perspective of the diverse experiences Hawaii has to offer.