Enjoy beautiful Oahu activities, with our favorite things to do in Oahu. Our guide will give you fun in the sun, cultural activities, as well as yummy foods you should try during your Oahu vacation.
Below we share exciting adventure activities in Oahu as well as the prettiest beaches and where to see the best sunset on the island. Keep reading to learn about the best places to visit in Oahu including day trips, gorgeous waterfalls, hikes and so much more!
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52 Perfect Things to do in Oahu
Oahu may be a small island, but there is a tremendous variety of things to do. It is truly a beautiful place to visit, so let’s jump into our favorite things to do in Oahu.
Classic Oahu Things to do
Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head State Monument are the most popular tourist attractions on Oahu. But, there is a huge list of things you can only experience in Oahu as well as our top things to do in Oahu for a first visit.
1. Go to a Luau.
2. Get a massage. Preferably in a private beachside cabana.
3. Have a drink at Duke’s: the most famous bar on Waikiki Beach.
4. Have your picture taken with the Bird Man at Parrot’ Dise Photo on Waikiki Beach (near Outrigger Reef Hotel).
5. Visit the Honolulu Zoo.
6. Tour the Iolani Royal Palace. Built in 1882 by King Kalakaua, Iolani Palace is the only restored royal palace in the United States.
7. Visit Pearl Harbor National Memorial and the USS Arizona Memorial and Visitor Center. The memorial shares personal histories of World War II in the Pacific and of course the events leading to December 7, 1941.
8. Take a guided tour of the Hawaii State Capital. The capital is open from 7am to 5pm, Monday – Friday. It’s a 2-minute walk from Iolani Palace making the two convenient to do in the same outing.
9. Visit the Dole Plantation.
10. Spend a day driving the loop around the island for beautiful sightseeing. Oahu’s Kamehameha Loop is a perfect day trip!
11. Take the Atlantis Submarine Ride. Head underwater on a submarine tour and see the world beneath the waves in Honolulu. Admire rock formations, shipwrecks, and marine life, including green sea turtles, sharks, yellow tangs, and eels.
If you love spending time outdoors, Oahu could be your dream location! The average year-round temperature in Oahu is 77 degrees F and there are 238 days of sunshine each year. Since it’s an island surrounded by the Pacific Ocean there is endless list of beach activities as well as outdoor fun like hiking, biking and so much more!
12. Take a surfing lesson on Waikiki Beach. There are many surf schools on Waikiki Beach because it really is the perfect place to learn. The waves are mellow making it the best place for beginner surf lessons in Honolulu!
13. Know how to surf? Take a paddleboard lesson on Lanikai beach in Kailua. It is one of the “most beautiful” of all Oahu’s beaches, and Lanikai Beach has consistently ranked as one of the best beaches in the world. It is also one of the most famous beaches on Oahu.
14. Hike a volcanic crater at Diamond Head and find the best view of Honolulu.
15. Take a sunset catamaran cruise.
16. Ride a horse on the beach on the beautiful white-sand beaches.
17. Spend a day at Kailua Beach where you can try surfing, kayaking, windsurfing or just some time in the sand and surf. Kailua Beach Park is a beautiful spot on Oahu’s eastern (windward) shoreline.
18. Visit Maunawili Falls near Kailua. A one-and-a-half-mile hike to this picture-perfect waterfall and a swimming hole through the jungle. Once you arrive, there is also a great view of Kailua.
19. Visit the largest wetlands in the Hawaiian Islands; Kawai Nui Marsh. It is the largest remaining wetland and the largest ancient freshwater fishpond in Hawaiʻi, and a designated Ramsar Convention wetland.
Adventurous Things to do in Oahu
20. Get up close and personal with a Shark Cage Tour on the North shore. On this tour you can choose between watching the action from the boat’s deck or enter the shark cage and get up close to these magnificent sea creatures.
21. Take a downhill bike ride from the Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve in the Puu Ohia rainforest
22. Swim with dolphins in the ocean.
23. Spot a whale during the winter whale-watching migration. December to May is the best time to see the majestic koholā, or humpback whale in Oʻahu. The whales come to the warm Hawaiian waters every year to breed and give birth to new calves.
24. See Oahu from a helicopter. Hop aboard a helicopter and admire Oahu’s most beautiful landmarks such as Diamond Head, the volcanic cliffs to Makapu’u Lighthouse, breathtaking views of the Ko’olau Mountains, Kaneohe Bay, lush rainforests, the North Shore’s Banzai Pipeline and Waimea Bay as well as the iconic Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial.
25. Arrange for a scuba dive in some of the clearest waters in the world.
26. Kayak to the famous Mokulua Islands.
27. Hike to Makapuu Lighthouse on the South Shore.
28. Hike to Makapu’u Point (2.5-mile round trip) on the most eastern point of O’ahu.
29. Visit Kualoa Ranch. This is one of the most popular Oahu attractions. It’s home to some of the best Oahu tours and adventures, including horseback riding, ATV tours, movie site visits, and ziplining. The ranch is a popular movie site location and is where many portions of Jurassic Park were filmed. Besides Jurassic Park, other movies and television shows like The Hunger Games, 50 First Dates, Lost, and Hawaii 5-0 were also filmed here.
30. Golf. With almost 30 courses, there is sure to be one to fit your style and game.
31. Visit Kualoa Regional Beach Park to get a peak at the island Mokoli’I also known as Chinaman’s Hat because of its shape.
Best Things to Eat & Drink in Oahu
During your Oahu vacation, there are certain dishes, drinks, and sweets you must try in Oahu! In fact, trying the different Hawaiian foods is a great way to learn about Hawaiian Culture.
Venture beyond the delicious tropical fruits and try a few of these Oahu favorites.
32. Try shaved ice. This sweet treat is comparable to a snow cone, but Shaved ice is very fine, light, and fluffy whereas Snow Cones have larger pieces of ice. It is then topped with condensed milk and flavored syrups.
33. Have a plate lunch (a traditional Hawaiian lunch with such items as kalua pork or chicken, rice or taro, macaroni salad and lomi salmon).
34. Enjoy a Mai Tai. Preferably at the Pink Palace!
35. Eat at one of the many shrimp food trucks on the North Shore.
36. Eat haupia pie at Ted’s Bakery on the North Shore.
37. Enjoy high tea at the Moana Surfrider in Waikiki.
Things to do on the North Shore of Oahu
38. Snorkel at Sharks Cove on the North Shore or Hanauma Bay on the southeastern shore.
39. Visit Pipeline on the North Shore. If you are an experienced surfer head into the water (carefully) and catch a wave. For most, it’s an adventurous experience just to watch the waves and surfers in action.
Sunset Beach is another great option to watch big-wave surfers in action during the wintertime. It’s located just past the famous Banzai Pipeline.
40. Visit the Polynesian Cultural Center to see Ha-Breath of Life. The center is Hawaii’s #1 visitor attraction. It has 6 island villages representing the unique island cultures of Hawaii, Fiji, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Samoa, Tahiti, and Tonga. Set on 42 acres along Oahu’s North Shore, the Polynesian Cultural Center has a lagoon that hosts daily canoe tours.
41. Find a turtle at Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore.
42. Take a ride in a glider and soar over the North Shore.
43. Visit the Haleiwa Surf Museum on the North Shore.
More Fun Things to do in Oahu
44. Visit the International Market in Waikiki. A great place to explore for some of the best retail and dining options on the island of Oahu.
45. Shop till you drop at the Royal Hawaiian Center.
46. Spend a day visiting local museums; Bishop Museum, Pacific Aviation Museum, Mission Houses Museum, and Honolulu Academy of Arts.
47. Visit a botanical garden. And there are many to choose from! Try Foster Botanical Garden, Moanalua Gardens or Lili uokalani Botanical Garden near downtown Honolulu, Lyon Arboretum in the upper Manoa Valley.
Other choices are the Ho omaluhia Botanical Gardens, Haiku Gardens or Senator Fong’s Plantation and Gardens in Kaneohe, or the Wahiawa Botanical Garden in Wahiawa.
48. Watch the sunset from Kakaako Waterfront Park. Down the street from Ala Moana, it is a great waterfront park with a perfect view of the sunset.
49. Visit Kapahulu Avenue and discover specialty shops that sell everything from vintage aloha shirts to antique furniture.
50. Seek tranquility at Byodo-In Temple a meticulous replica of a 900-year-old Japanese Temple.
51. Check out local art in Chinatown during the monthly “First Friday” art walk.
52. Visit a local farmers market in Manoa, Diamond Head, Kailua, or Mililan.
Where to stay in Oahu
Most travelers stay in or near Honolulu, where you’ll find plenty of options, no matter what you’re looking for.
- The Modern Honolulu: A beautiful Waikiki waterfront hotel designed by George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg. A great option for those who prefer a more modern stay. Rooms are whitewashed with many overlooking the Ala Wai Boat Harbor. There’s a nightclub and several restaurants on site. Check reviews on Tripadvisor and best prices on Hotels.com
- The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort: This Historic Honolulu Hotel is spectacularly located on the famed Waikiki Beach. This oceanfront hotel has stunning views of Waikiki Bay and Diamond Head and the best Mai Tai in Oahu. Check reviews on Tripadvisor and best prices on Hotels.com
- Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa: Disney fans and families will be in heaven at this massive property on O‘ahu’s remote Ko Olina. The property is located on a gorgeous coved-in beach, perfect for swimming. There are three pools, waterslides, a 900-foot-long lazy river, and plenty of visits from Mickey and Minnie. Check reviews on Tripadvisor and best prices on Hotels.com