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Things To Do in Oahu - Discovery, Fun & Culture

The Oahu Insiders Guide

With so many things to do in Oahu, vacations can sometimes feel quite overwhelming with endless choices and so little time!  Discover the best Honolulu attractions along with helpful insider local tips, and off the beaten path destinations!

We'll guide you to some of the simple island pleasures such as the best Hawaiian shave ice to climbing great Oahu hiking trails and trekking through tropical jungles to get to some amazing Oahu waterfalls!  Whether you're headed to the North Shore, taking a trip to Kailua Town, or hanging out in Waikiki, we've got it covered for you!

Things to do in Oahu

Fun Outdoor Oahu Activities Worth Exploring

Discover Beautiful Oahu Beaches

Who doesn't like the beach?  Relaxing, beachcombing and playing are great ways spend the day at the beach!

Oahu Beaches

There are some dreamy Oahu beaches with white powder sand to sink your toes in, and warm aqua blue waters to jump into.  Consider spending your day doing absolutely nothing but relaxing under swaying palm trees and reading your book or taking a nap.  

Hike to Amazing Views

Oahu Hiking Trails

On the days when you feel like exploring, you can choose from several fun Oahu hiking trails no matter if you more or less prefer to stroll or are looking to try to reach the summit of some of Oahu's ridges, in search of the ultimate panoramic views.

Trek to Grand Waterfalls

If you are feeling adventurous and excited to explore things to do in Oahu, you are in for a treat!

Oahu Waterfalls - Lulumahu Falls

This island’s outdoor natural wonders present some of the best active Oahu adventures. Discover accessible Oahu waterfalls, like Waimea Falls or Lulumahu Falls in the picture. 

Experience Kualoa Ranch Activities

Kualoa Ranch

Head to Hawaii's slice of Hollywood, where scenes of hit movies were filmed such as Jurassic Park, Pearl Harbor, and popular TV shows like Lost, and Hawaii Five-O!

Kualoa Ranch is a 4,000 acre park that attracts hundreds of visitors daily.  When it comes to things to do in Oahu, not only can you see dramatic landscape where movies were filmed, but also to engage in many exciting outdoor activities.

Spend a day exploring the vast grounds, riding ATVs, horseback riding, kayaking to a secret island, ziplining across the jungle, and a multitude of other equally entertaining options!

  - sponsored -

Attend a Hawaiian Luau!

Paradise Cove Luau

Today's more popular luaus have become major productions that deliver a taste of the islands for visitors of all ages.  Luaus are considered the #1 things to do in Oahu.

The rituals include special tiki torch lighting ceremonies, grand hula performances, roasted Kalua pig preparations, the requisite audience participation, intense fire dances, all topped with an elaborate buffet of delectable island treats that include Hawaiian poke, tropical fruits, and a taste of the mysterious purple poi.  All make a memorable Hawaiian feast for the uninitiated or veterans alike!

The most popular luaus on the island are... Polynesian Cultural Center, or Paradise Cove, and Germain's Luau.  Also check out one of Oahu's newest productions in Waikiki, "The Diamond Head Luau", located at the Waikiki Aquarium grand lawn.

Oahu Botanical Gardens - Take a stroll and be amazed!

Oahu Botanical Gardens. This is a tropical garden located at the Dole Plantation in the North Shore.

Take a stroll through Oahu's enchanting botanical gardens, where nature's artistry unfolds in vibrant displays of tropical landscapes. Each garden on the island tells a unique story, blending exotic flora with the rich cultural heritage of Hawaii. From the serene paths of the Foster Botanical Garden to the breathtaking landscapes of the Waimea Valley, these green sanctuaries offer a tranquil escape into the heart of Oahu's natural gardens.

Visitors can immerse themselves in the diverse ecosystems, discovering rare plant species and the delicate balance of tropical ecology. Whether you're a nature enthusiast or simply seeking a peaceful retreat, Oahu's botanical gardens promise an unforgettable exploration of the island's natural beauty.

Click here for our favorite Oahu botanical gardens...

Explore a Farmers Market

KCC Farmers Market

Sometimes referred to as the Diamond Head Farmers Market for its location, the KCC Farmers Market is one of the best on the island.  There are dozens of farmer markets on the island, but we like this one for the layout and local merchants that participate. 

Fresh local fruits and flowers are in abundance and easy to find in this market, along with other neat finds.  Take note that this farmers market only takes place for a few hours on Tuesdays and hungry, as there are some amazing dishes and treats being cooked on site by popup restaurants and entrepreneur.

If you’re lucky, Pig and the Lady (rated as one of the best Oahu restaurants) will be on site.  Also don’t pass up on an Ono Pop, which are unique local fruit Popsicles…they are delicious!

  • Location - Kapi'olani Community College, 4303 Diamond Head Rd, Honolulu
  • Times - Tue 4 PM to 7 PM, Sat 7:30 AM to 11 AM

Top 10 Oahu Adventures

Kaneohe Sand Bar Tour

Check out the top 10 Oahu Adventures ranked from top to bottom.  Whether you're a thrill seeker looking to swim with sharks, join a Captain Bruce Catamaran Tour and walk onto the Kaneohe Sandbar, Zipline at Kualoa Ranch, or be entertained by shows at the Polynesian Cultural Center, this is a fun list of different adventures to explore.  Or jump into a kayak adventure and explore away.

Oahu Water Activites

Surfing Waikiki Waves

Wanna try some Hawaiian surfing?  There are great south swells near Waikiki that'll keep beginners and neighborhood pros entertained.

Some of these Waikiki surf spots include Walls, Publics, and Canoes.  Intermediate surfers can sharpen their skills near by at surf breaks like Kaisers, Bowls, Ala Moana, and Diamond Head.

Waikiki Surf School

If you're looking for much larger waves...take a drive out to the west side to surf Makaha and you might be pleasantly surprised.

Or if you're bold enough, make the journey to the North Shore during the wintertime, and you'll know in a quick moment if you have what it takes or content on being a spectator, and leave the towering waves for the surf pros.

Waikiki Surf Lessons

Learning how to surf in Waikiki is like learning how to ride a bike.  With a little guidance and persistence you will be standing up surfing in no time.  Lessons start from shore, reviewing some of the mechanics and safety.

Now the fun begins as you paddle out on a longboard with you guide beside you in search of waves and riding them back to shore.  It’s an amazing feeling hard to put into words!

Book a 2 hour private lesson or group lesson off Waikiki Beach.

If that leaves you wanting more and you are a pretty good surfer, take a drive out to the west side to surf Makaha, or journey up to North Shore to the big wave beaches.  Depending on the surf conditions, you may either brave a few waves, or just be content to be a spectator on the beach and leave the towering waves for the surf pros.

Best Snorkeling in Oahu

The ocean offers so many things to do in Oahu, and there are a few protected reef spots around the island that are home to an abundant of tropical fish and marine life that also provides some ideal snorkeling in Oahu experiences.

Hanauma Bay

Try snorkeling Oahu's shallow reefs in favorite spots like Hanauma Bay or other less popular (and therefore less crowded) spots around the island.

If you would like to explore a little deeper into the Pacific, try submerging in some exciting scuba diving in Hawaii tours that offer an opportunity to experience amazing marine life, getting up close and personal with larger fish and intriguing shipwrecks in the deeper waters.

Catamaran Dolphin Watching & Snorkeling Tour

Dolphin Snorkel Catamaran Tour

Take a ride on an unforgettable catamaran dolphin watching and snorkeling tour along the beautiful West Coast of Oahu.  Snorkel along some beautiful Hawaiian reefs that are home to an array of tropical fish.

This 3-hour adventure offers an unique opportunity to witness Hawaii's incredible marine life, including wild dolphins, green sea turtles, and Hawaiian monk seals.  You will board a spacious 42-passenger double-hulled catamaran, which provides a more stable ride as you take in the breathtaking views of the ocean and the mountains.

Also checkout some of catamaran rides and sunset cruises.

Oahu Submarine Ride

Waikiki Submarine

Explore Oahu from below…100 feet below the surface!  The Atlantis Submarine Ride will take you beyond Waikiki’s outer reefs where you travel along the bottom of the ocean to view sunken boats and old crashed planes that have become a part of the underwater seascape.

There's ample viewing space within the 64-passenger submarine to see much of the local marine life that you may encounter, including schools of colorful fish, green sea turtles, dolphins, and reef sharks. 

Don’t miss out on this fun and adventurous sea expedition..See availability and book now…

Things to do in Waikiki

Waikiki Strip

Take a stroll and play around in Waikiki.  Discover some of the best things to do in Waikiki.  Did you know there are two dozen statues and plaques around Waikiki honoring some of Hawaii’s heroes and monarchy?

Make sure to stroll through Kapiolani Park and check out one of the oldest aquariums in America, and the aging War Memorial Natatorium.

Visit some of Waikiki’s oldest and most renowned hotels like the Moana Surfrider, even if you’re not staying there.  And check out the new Waikiki International Market Place, and many other new and old additions to this unique Hawaii beach city.

Explore the North Shore

Take a day trip to the famous North Shore, and experience laidback country life with so many things to do in Oahu!  Stop for some scrumptious grilled Huli Huli Chicken on the roadside along the way.

If tropical fruit is more what you're craving, step on your brakes to stop at the few fruit stands on the side of the road for some guavas, rambutans, mangoes, papayas, and pineapples, but make sure you make a donation as some of the stands are unattended and rely on the honor system. 

Oahu North Shore Sign

Slow down in Old Town Haleiwa to enjoy a Hawaiian shave ice, or a Pineapple Dole Whip at the Dole Plantation, and check out great local art in several art galleries and shops.

One of the main attractions of the North Shore are the legendary winter "big" waves that pound the North Shore beaches at Waimea and Sunset Beach.  Surf contests are quite a treat to watch with international and local contestants.  If hiking and waterfalls are more your thing, you can take an easy hike inland through Waimea Falls Park and a botanical garden to discover a roaring Oahu waterfall

Keep driving deeper into the countryside and discover the expansive Turtle Bay Resort, the Kahuku Shrimp Farms serving up garlic shrimp, and the entertaining Polynesian Cultural Center that's worth a day in itself!

You will feel like you have been transported to a different island when you arrive in Oahu’s North Shore!  The laidback countryside is the perfect antidote to busy Waikiki.  One of the best ways to see the country side and many of its attractions is through an Oahu Circle Island Tour.

Oahu in 1 Day or 3 Days

Only have one or a few days to spend on Oahu and want to spend it well?  Here's your guide and itinerary for 1 day on Oahu and a longer 3 days on Oahu.  These guides can help maximize your time on the island, discovering some of the best attractions, beaches, restaurants, and more.

Shop 'Til You Drop

Shopping on Oahu

Does Shopping on Oahu capture your interest?  There is a plethora of Hawaiian specialty shops, and world class Oahu shopping malls that will keep your wallet busy! 

Make sure to check out the popular Aloha Stadium Swap Meet that is a Honolulu attraction in itself, and it's hard to miss the 4-story shopper's paradise --- the Ala Moana Shopping Center!

Kailua Town on the Windward side has lots of fun boutique shops to explore.

Things to do in Oahu for Keikis (Kids)

There are lots of fun-filled island activities to explore for kids and the whole family.  Some great Oahu kid activities like the Waikiki Aquarium & Honolulu Zoo are right in town, but other fun discoveries are still close by or worth a ride out to the North Shore!  

See which beaches are kid friendly, museums that were designed for fun, and other great adventures worth exploring! 

Check out more…

Best 10 Honolulu Attractions

Bishop Museum

Honolulu is the largest city on Oahu, and it offers an endless list of things to do.  The city also makes up 80% of the local population and incorporates the most popular tourist destination known as Waikiki.  

It just so happens that some of the best Oahu attractions are located throughout Honolulu.  Take a moment to check out the best Honolulu Attractions that are worthy of a visit, including the stunning Pali Lookout, the Honolulu Museum of Art, and the history at Pearl Harbor.

Embrace Hawaiian Culture

Mix a little Hawaiian Culture into your trip.  The Hawaiian people take great pride in many old traditions and customs that make up a large part of Hawaiian culture ---- an island style and way of life that still exists today in Hawaiian music, food, language, dance, arts, and local family life!  There are two ways to experience Hawaiian culture.

Iolani Palace

You can witness it through museums such as the historic Iolani Palace which is the only palace in existence within the United States, the Bishop Museum which houses a great collection of Hawaiian historical artifacts, or the popular Polynesian Cultural Center where you can find fantastic array of Polynesian cultural and historical exhibits.  

The second way, and in my opinion, equally important and often more enjoyable, is to partake in the local culture through Hawaiian music, whether attending one of the many live music venues, or learning to strum an ukulele, or attending a Hawaiian luau.

You may not be lucky enough to be invited to an authentic luau, but the luaus produced for tourists are a good substitute to experience a Hawaiian ceremony complete with hula and fire dances, food, and music.

It is a fascinating experiencing getting to know the colorful locals and listening to them speak pidgin' English or if you're lucky, the real Hawaiian language.  The best part for me is the food!

Hawaiian food goes from yummy authentic Hawaiian staples that include kahlua pork, lau lau, poi, lomi lomi salmon, etc, to the mouth-watering fusion foods created by Oahu's renowned chefs who take the diverse population of Oahu and blend flavors and ingredients together to create some of the most "onolicous"  eats you'll ever have.  I'm getting hungry just thinking about it!

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