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Things to do in Oahu

Things to do in  Oahu

Welcome to Oahu

This island gem—the third largest of Hawaii’s eight—offers city entertainment to the south and outdoor adventure to the north, just an hour’s drive apart. History buffs can visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona or get a taste of the island at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Experience the outdoors, from snorkeling to sailing to jetskiing to just plain lounging on Waikiki Beach, or with a hike up Diamond Head. And be sure to plan a night at a traditional lu’au; visit to Haleiwa on the North Shore for garlic shrimp and shaved ice; and trip to the Halona Blowhole to snap photos.

Top 15 attractions in Oahu

Pearl Harbor National Memorial

Made up of several historic sites and memorials, Pearl Harbor honors and educates the public about the Japanese attack on the United States on December 7, 1941 that propelled the country into World War II. It’s one of Hawaii’s most-visited attractions, and one of the country’s most significant WWII memorial sites.More

Oahu North Shore

Surfing is king on Oahu’s North Shore, where summer’s placid snorkeling spots are transformed into pounding 40-foot (12-meter) waves come winter. On land you’ll find a peaceful respite from hectic Honolulu, with scenic waterfall hikes, sleepy farms selling tropical fruit, and food trucks doling out garlic shrimp.More

Halona Blowhole

Once visitors are aware that hālona means “lookout” in Hawaiian, it becomes quite clear what the Halona Blowhole is about: views, Pacific Ocean and blowhole! The Halona Blowhole is one of the most spectacular natural wonders on O’ahu Island; the more than 1,000-year-old geyser-like rock formation is characterized by a hole which propels incoming surf in a narrow, molten lava tube, shooting sea spray high into the air as a result - sometimes up to 30 feet. This is mostly a summery phenomenon but wintertime also has a big ticket item drawing visitors: humpback whales. The lookout point offers unobstructed views of the O’ahu shoreline as well as glimpses of Lanai and Moloka'I Islands on clear days.The coast is home to a special type of coral that requires very little light to live, the Sinularia Leather Coral, where it is possible to find various species like echinoderms, slugs, corals, and eels. And although the marine life is quite plentiful and fascinating, divers should proceed with caution because of the strong and sometimes erratic currents, including the colloquially named Moloka'i Express, which can drag divers out to sea without warning. Visitors should know that below the hālona is one of the most dangerous ocean currents in the world, and should always proceed with care.More

Diamond Head

Arguably Hawaii's most well-known sight, Diamond Head Crater is more than just a famous Waikiki backdrop but also an entire attraction unto itself, featuring one of Oahu's best hikes for a panoramic view. From atop the 760-foot (231-meter) summit, visitors can gaze out from Koko Head Crater to the Honolulu skyline and down on Waikiki Beach, where surfers, paddlers, sailboats, and canoes all splash through the tropical waters.More

Dole Plantation

What started out as a Wahiawa fruit stand in the middle of the pineapple fields in 1950 is now an extremely popular Hawaiian attraction. The sprawling Dole Plantation in central Oahu is a rural throwback to a time when the pineapple helped rule Oahu’s economy. Visitors can sample the sweet yellow fruit, ride on the famous Pineapple Express train and motor out through the fields, take a walk through a huge garden maze, learn how to find fresh pineapple when grocery shopping, and hear how pineapples are grown on plants—and not underground or on trees.More

Makapuu Lighthouse

Within Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline on Oahu’s Windward Coast, the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail is a popular hike ending at the historical red-roofed Makapu’u Lighthouse, built in 1909. Though the lighthouse is not open to the public, the moderately challenging hike attracts travelers and locals alike for its stunning coastal views.More

Mokolii Island

Located a short distance offshore of Kualoa Point, Mokolii Island is one of Oahu’s most famous landmarks. This small, cone-shaped island attracts adventurous visitors with its secluded coves, rugged hikes, and views of Oahu’s windward coast and the Koolau mountains; the same mountains featured in scenes of the movie Jurassic Park.More

Waikiki Beach

For decades, Waikiki Beach has been Oahu’s tourist mecca thanks to its palm-fringed white-sand beaches and high-rise luxury hotels that stretch from downtown Honolulu east toward the towering Diamond Head. Here all the spoils of Hawaiian beach life—from sunbathing and swimming to snorkeling and fruity-cocktail sipping—are within steps of world-class shopping and dining.More

Sandy Beach Park

When U.S. President Barack Obama shared that Sandy’s was his favorite Oahu beach early in his presidency, it went from a popular locals’ beach to just plain popular. This public stretch of white sand just north of the extinct Koko Head Crater is no languid oasis, however; it’s one of Oahu’s best—and most intense—spots for bodyboarding and bodysurfing. A fierce shore break best suited for experienced surfers sometimes wells into powerful barrels that can pummel riders trying to catch a wave.The spot is often coupled with a visit to the neighboring Halona Blowhole, a lookout point where waves regularly blow spray up through eroded crevices in the lava rock. And when the wind kicks up, it’s not uncommon to see families flying kites on the spacious lawn fronting the sand.More

USS Arizona Memorial

The USSArizona Memorial floats above the watery site where the eponymous battleship was bombed and sunk, taking 1,177 lives with it, in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The solemn, all-white memorial features a marble wall of names of those who served onboard and spans theArizona’s width, with openings to look down on the sunken hull.More

Battleship Missouri Memorial

Nicknamed the “Mighty Mo,” the USS Missouri—now known as the Battleship Missouri Memorial—is the site where the Japanese signed the surrender documents that ended World War II, on September 2, 1945. The ship is now a museum and a memorial to the war’s conclusion.More

Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay State Park is a protected marine-life-preservation area with clear water ideal for snorkeling and a vast array of tropical fish and coral reefs surrounded by volcanic rock. Once used by the Hawaiian royal family for fishing, it is now one of Oahu’s top tourist destinations with about 1 million visitors each year.More

Tropical Farms Macadamia Nut Farm

Located on the east coast of Oahu, 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Honolulu, Tropical Farms Macadamia Nuts is set in the shadow of the mountains of the Koolau Range and is a stop on many circle-island tours. It’s a great place to enjoy a Hawaiian treat and shop for gifts and souvenirs.More

Nu'uanu Pali Lookout

Oahu’s Nu‘uanu Pali Lookout offers panoramic views of the Ko‘olau Mountains. The windy perch, more than 1,000 feet (300 meters) above Oahu’s Windward (northeast) coastline, also overlooks Kaneohe, Kaneohe Bay, Kailua, and the island of Mokoli‘i. In the late 1700s, the viewpoint was the scene of a bloody battle won by King Kamehameha I.More

Byodo-In Temple

Surrounded by lush grounds, Oahu’s Byodo-In Temple is tucked away in the Kahaluʻu Valley at the foot of the Koʻolau mountain range. A replica of a temple in Japan’s Kyoto Prefecture, the landmark is a testament to the island’s strong Japanese community.More

Trip ideas

Must-Try Street Food on Oahu

Must-Try Street Food on Oahu

Top activities in Oahu

Dolphins & You Whales Spotted with lunch Included Turtle Swim & Ocean Activities
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Paradise Cove Luau
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Paradise Cove Luau

Star Casual Sunset and Show Cruise

Star Casual Sunset and Show Cruise

Chief's Luau Admission

Chief's Luau Admission

Oahu Circle Island - North Shore Snorkeling Tour (Dole & Temple)
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Oahu Submarine Scooter Adventure

Oahu Submarine Scooter Adventure

Pearl Harbor USS Arizona Memorial

Pearl Harbor USS Arizona Memorial

All Inclusive Ultimate Circle Island Day Tour with Lunch and Waimea Waterfall
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Oahu Shark Dive
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Oahu Shark Dive

Toa Luau at Waimea Valley
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Toa Luau at Waimea Valley

North Shore Circle Island Adventure Including Snorkeling with the Turtles
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Recent reviews from experiences in Oahu

North shore fun
Sheila_C, Mar 2023
Full-Day North Shore Activities Tour from Oahu
We did the waterfall and paddle boarding with a little shopping at the end.
Paul and Geoffrey were...
Khai_P, Mar 2023
All Inclusive Ultimate Circle Island Day Tour with Lunch and Waimea Waterfall
charming island and we really love the Waimea Waterfall hike.
A fun and informative day long tour
Michaelyn_P, Mar 2023
Full-Day North Shore Activities Tour from Oahu
Since I booked through third party Viator, be sure you contact the tour operator directly to get more detail on the days activities!
Quinton gave us an oral...
Randy_Y, Mar 2023
Airport Shuttle Round Trip Honolulu and Waikiki or Cruise Terminal
Quinton gave us an oral guide to activities on Oahu.
Great tour, helpful tour guide.
Tammy_P, Mar 2023
Hidden Hawaii Tours
This was a bright spot in our travels, we were able to see many beautiful spots on Oahu.
A Must Go Experience
James_M, Feb 2023
Kualoa Ranch - Jurassic Adventure Tour
One amazing experience to explore as a first time guest to see where they filmed Jurassic Park along with other films on Oahu!!
Absolutely Wonderful Experience
Emily_L, Feb 2023
Surf Lesson (2+ People)
Would love to do it again when we get a chance to visit Oahu again!
Happy Birthday 100 ft under
Johnny_G, Feb 2023
Waikiki Atlantis Submarine Adventure
You take a boat and just that view from the ocean to see the island of Oahu is worth it!
Wonderful guided waterfall trail hike
Gerald_V, Jan 2023
from Waikiki: Manoa Waterfall Hike with Health Lunch Included
She led us through this beautiful mountain trail; pointing out plants and fauna of interest along the trail to the waterfall.
Awesome short excursion
Madeline_K, Jan 2023
Whale Watch, Dolphins, Turtles and Sightseeing Cruise (winter only)
Our capitains were super friendly and incredibly informative about everything from local language to good food to other attractions in Honolulu and on Oahu.
Great guide with lots of...
Donna_L, Jan 2023
Oahu Circle Island - North Shore Snorkeling Tour (Dole & Temple)
Great way to visit Oahu in a short time frame!
Excellent tour to see a...
Rebecca_M, Jan 2023
Oahu Ultimate Circle Island Tour Full Day Experience
Excellent tour to see a lot of the highlights of Oahu.
First Timers
Marshall_V, Jan 2023
Oahu Ultimate Circle Island Tour Full Day Experience
My family got to see all around Oahu instead of just the tourist part
Fantastic experience
Paul_B, Jan 2023
Pearl Harbor USS Arizona Memorial
We came to Oahu to bring my 94 year old mom to see the USS Arizona memorial.
The best thing I’ve done...
Chutima_S, Jan 2023
Open-Door Helicopter Tour over Oahu
I could explore the hidden beauty of Hawaii from above including spotting whales and the Sacred waterfall.
Most deserving Trip Advisor 5 star rating I’ve given in years.
Scott_N, Jan 2023
Turtle Canyon Catamaran Snorkel Cruise from Waikiki
After ten days on Oahu spending time doing all kinds of activities and on the beach, it was my daughter’s favorite experience.
Amazing day tour!!
David_F, Dec 2022
Oahu Circle Island (Holoholo Mokupuni), from Waikiki
Definitely recommend to see the non-touristy areas of beautiful Oahu!
Awesome experience!
Aaron_K, Dec 2022
Diamond Head Hiking and Oahu Island Experience feat. North Shore
Would highly recommend this experience to anyone looking to see the island of Oahu!
Worth it!
Debbie_R, Dec 2022
Best of Oahu: Pearl Harbor & Oahu Circle Island Tour from Waikiki
It was a good excursion to see a glimpse of Oahu island.
Dolphins and more
hfloyd, Dec 2022
Swim with Dolphins in the West Coast line of Oahu
Stopping to see turtles rounded out a great tour.
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All about Oahu

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People Also Ask

What should you not miss on Oahu?

Most visitors to Oahu head straight for Waikiki Beach, but once you’ve soaked up the scene there, you should make time for the beaches along the North Shore and Lanikai on the slower paced west coast. Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay is a must, as is hiking up Diamond Head.

What is there to do in Oahu besides the beach?

You can dive into the cultural history of the Hawaiian Islands by visiting the Bishop Museum and Iolani Palace, which was home to the Hawaiian monarchy. History buffs should also visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona and keen hikers should follow the trails to the Makapuʻu Lighthouse, Lanikai Pillboxes, and Manoa Falls.

Are Honolulu and Oahu the same?

No. While the words are sometimes used interchangeably, Honolulu is the name of the capital of, and largest city in, the US state of Hawaii. Honolulu is located on Oahu, which is one of the eight main islands of Hawaii—the others are Maui, Kauai, Lanai, Molokai, Kahoolawe, Nihau, and the Island of Hawaii (“Big Island”).

What do locals do on Oahu?

A favorite thing to do is to grab some snacks from a local Foodland supermarket and spend a day with friends on the beach—though typically not on the crowded beaches such as Waikiki. On the first Friday of the month, the Honolulu Arts District and Chinatown host a street festival filled with art, music, and food and drink specials.

Why is Oahu so popular?

Oahu holds a place in travelers imaginations because, for so long, it has been immortalized in travel brochures and movies. For better or worse, Oahu—with its beautiful beaches and swaying palm trees— is the embodiment of the tropical island paradise so many travelers are looking for.

What is the prettiest part of Oahu?

Above the white sands of Lanikai Beach, Kaiwa Ridge, or the Lanikai Pillbox Hike, offers some of the best views on Oahu. From the top of the trail you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the Windward Coast, over its deep blue water and offshore islands, to Chinaman’s Hat and Waimanalo.


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