37 Best Things to Do in Oahu | 2023 (with Photos)
Welcome to the beautiful island of Oahu, the heart of Hawaii and a paradise packed with stunning beaches, lush landscapes, and rich cultural history.
Whether you're seeking adventure, relaxation, or a taste of Hawaiian heritage, Oahu offers a myriad of unforgettable experiences.
From iconic attractions like Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head, and Pearl Harbor Memorial to hidden gems such as Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve and the North Shore area, Oahu has something for everyone.
In this guide, we've compiled a list of the 37 best things to do in Oahu to help you make the most of your visit to this breathtaking Hawaiian island.
1. Explore Waikiki Beach
Experience the vibrant atmosphere of Waikiki Beach, a world-famous destination renowned for its beautiful coastline, warm waters, and exciting nightlife.
Take a stroll along the soft sandy shores, and enjoy the view of Diamond Head towering in the distance. You can easily spend one to two hours here, enjoying the sand, surf, and sun.
With a variety of water activities available, from surfing and paddleboarding to canoe rides and boat tours, there's something for everyone to enjoy at this iconic Oahu hotspot.
2. Hike to the Top of Diamond Head
Embark on an exhilarating hike to the summit of Diamond Head, a dormant volcanic crater that offers stunning panoramic views of the island of Oahu.
As you navigate the well-maintained trail, you'll be rewarded with breathtaking vistas of Waikiki Beach, the Pacific Ocean, and the lush greenery that defines Hawaii's natural beauty.
Don't forget to bring a camera to capture the unforgettable memories of this remarkable hike.
3. Catch a Wave at North Shore
Experiencing the thrill of surfing at the world-famous North Shore is one of the best things to do in Oahu. This is a mecca for surfers and ocean enthusiasts alike.
With its impressive swells and legendary surf breaks, the North Shore offers a unique opportunity to ride the waves and embrace the spirit of Hawaii's most beloved sport.
Whether you're a seasoned surfer or a complete beginner, the North Shore is an essential destination for any Oahu itinerary.
You can also grab some Waiola Shave Ice and take a leisurely cruise. These quintessentially Hawaiian experiences will make your trip to Oahu truly unforgettable.
4. Snorkel at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
Discover the underwater wonders of Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, a marine sanctuary teeming with vibrant tropical fish and coral reefs.
Rent snorkel gear and explore the clear blue waters of this protected bay, where you'll encounter a diverse ecosystem of sea life, including sea turtles and colorful reef fish.
Remember to follow safety measures and respect the delicate marine environment during your visit.
5. Discover Hawaiian History at the Polynesian Cultural Center
When visiting Oahu, immerse yourself in the rich history and traditions of the Hawaiian Islands at the Polynesian Cultural Center.
Learn about the customs, art, and way of life of various Polynesian cultures through interactive exhibits, live performances, and hands-on activities.
Explore the center's lush grounds, marvel at the intricate architecture of ancient temples, and enjoy an authentic Hawaiian feast at a traditional luau.
6. Visit the Pearl Harbor Memorial
Delve into the history of World War II when you visit the Pearl Harbor Memorial, a solemn tribute to the lives lost during the infamous attack on December 7, 1941.
Take a guided tour of the Pearl Harbor and visit the National Memorial, the USS Arizona Memorial, and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, where you'll gain a deeper understanding of the events that led to the United States' entry into the war.
7. Pay Respects at the USS Arizona Memorial
Embarking on a journey through Oahu's rich history, it's essential to pay respects at the Arizona Memorial, a powerful reminder of the brave sailors and marines who perished during the Pearl Harbor attack.
With so many things to do in Oahu, visiting this poignant tribute is an important part of understanding the island's role in World War II.
As you honor the memory of the 1,100 servicemen who lost their lives on December 7, 1941, take a moment to appreciate the sacrifices made for freedom and peace.
Amidst the breathtaking beauty of the Hawaiian Islands, this solemn and touching memorial provides a profound contrast to the vibrant adventures offered across Oahu.
After exploring the memorial, continue to immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture by visiting the Bishop Museum, experiencing a short boat ride to another side of the island, or grabbing breakfast at a local cafe.
The memories you create while paying respects at the memorial will stay with you as a reminder of the sacrifices made and the resilience of the human spirit.
8. Take Boat Trips Around the Island of Oahu
Discover the beauty of Oahu from a different perspective by embarking on a boat trip around the island.
Whether it's a cruise along the coastline, a thrilling shark diving adventure, or a relaxing ride to the Mokulua, boat trips offer a unique way to experience the stunning landscapes and fascinating sea life that make Oahu a true tropical paradise.
9. Enjoy a Sunset Cruise Along the Coastline
Embark on a captivating journey as you explore things to do in Oahu and make unforgettable memories on a cruise along the island's stunning coastline.
Board a comfortable vessel and prepare to be mesmerized by the fusion of colors as the sun sets over the horizon, casting a warm glow on the lush landscapes, dramatic cliffs, and serene waters of the Hawaiian Islands.
The cruise offers an unforgettable experience that combines the beauty of the island with the enchanting ambiance of a Hawaiian evening.
As you soak in the breathtaking scenery, you'll undoubtedly treasure the memories made during your cruise along Oahu's picturesque coastline.
10. Relax at Lanikai Beach
Unwind on the pristine sands of Lanikai Beach, a tranquil slice of paradise nestled on the Windward coast of Oahu.
Known for its calm turquoise waters and powdery white sand, Lanikai Beach is the perfect spot for sunbathing, swimming, or simply lounging beneath the shade of swaying palm trees.
Enjoy the postcard-perfect views of the Mokulua just offshore and savor the peaceful atmosphere of this idyllic haven.
11. Visit Ala Moana Beach Park
Immerse yourself in the perfect combination of relaxation and adventure as you explore things to do in Oahu and spend a leisurely day at Ala Moana Beach Park.
This popular recreational area, situated just minutes from the vibrant atmosphere of Waikiki, offers a tranquil oasis amid the bustling island.
Embrace the Hawaiian culture as you unwind on the wide sandy beach, take a refreshing dip in the calm waters, or find a shaded spot under the tropical trees for a leisurely picnic.
Ala Moana provides countless opportunities for both fun and relaxation, from engaging in beach sports to strolling along the park's scenic pathways, which showcase the captivating beauty of the Hawaiian Islands.
The park also serves as an excellent vantage point for people-watching, offering insights into the diverse mix of visitors and locals who come to enjoy the sun and the surf.
This idyllic destination offers a perfect balance of activities and relaxation, allowing you to fully embrace the essence of the Hawaiian experience.
12. Experience the Film Locations of Jurassic Park
Embark on an adventure through the lush landscapes of Oahu as you explore the iconic film locations of Jurassic Park. If you love this classic movie franchise, this is one of the most exciting things to do in Oahu.
Discover the stunning backdrops that brought the prehistoric world to life, from dense jungles and majestic waterfalls to towering mountain ranges.
Capture memorable photos and relive your favorite movie moments while learning about the island's unique flora and fauna.
13. Visit Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum
When touring Oahu, make sure to immerse yourself in the world of military aviation history and visit Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, located on historic Ford Island.
Explore the impressive collection of aircraft, including fighter planes and helicopters, and gain a deeper understanding of the role aviation played in World War II and beyond.
Through interactive exhibits, hands-on activities, and captivating stories from knowledgeable guides, you'll uncover the heroic feats and technological advancements that defined the era.
14. Watch Sea Turtles at Haleiwa Beach Park
Discover the beauty of Haleiwa Beach Park, a popular North Shore area for spotting sea turtles. Observe these magnificent creatures basking in the sun or swimming through crystal-clear waters.
This family vacation destination offers fun things to do in Oahu while appreciating the breathtaking Hawaiian landscape. Explore the park, enjoy the pristine beach, and immerse yourself in the Hawaiian culture.
15. Drive the Windward Coast in a Rental Car
Embark on an unforgettable journey as you drive the coast in a rental car. Take in the stunning scenery, beautiful beaches, and lush trees as you experience one of the most picturesque things to do in Oahu.
Stop at Kailua Beach, Lanikai Beach, and Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve to soak in the diverse beauty of the Island of Oahu. Don't forget to grab some Waiola Shave Ice to keep cool on your trip.
16. Explore the Beautiful Waimea Valley
Embark on a breathtaking journey as you venture into the enchanting Waimea Valley, a lush nature preserve located on the picturesque North Shore area of Oahu.
This tranquil oasis showcases an array of hiking trails, stunning botanical gardens, and the captivating Waimea Falls, creating the perfect retreat for nature enthusiasts exploring the myriad things to do in Oahu.
Immerse yourself in history and culture as you embark on a guided tour through this serene escape, where you'll learn about the region's fascinating past, native plants, and the diverse wildlife that call this verdant sanctuary home.
As you wander through the botanical gardens, marvel at the vibrant display of trees and flowers, while the soothing sounds of the Waimea Falls create a mesmerizing backdrop to your exploration.
17. Swim at Waimea Bay
While you are visiting Oahu, you should experience the refreshing waters of Waimea Bay, a prime destination for both relaxation and adventure on Oahu's North Shore.
From the white sandy beaches to the crystal-clear water, Waimea Bay is perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and spotting tropical fish.
Don't forget to explore the tide pools and unique rock formations that make this place so special.
18. Visit Kailua Beach
Head to Kailua Beach, an idyllic stretch of sand on Oahu. With its pristine shoreline, turquoise waters, and swaying palm trees, Kailua Beach is the perfect spot for a relaxing day in the sun.
Enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking, or simply lounge on the sand and watch the Mokulua Islands in the distance.
19. Take a Guided Tour of the Bishop Museum
Discover the rich heritage of Hawaii at the Bishop Museum, where history, culture, and science converge.
Join a tour to explore the museum's vast collections, from ancient artifacts and royal regalia to exhibits showcasing World War II and the Hawaiian unique geology. This is one of the best things to do in Oahu if you want to learn about Hawaiian heritage.
20. Snorkel at Halona Beach Cove
Experience the underwater wonderland of Halona Beach Cove, a hidden gem of Oahu. Rent gear for snorkeling and dive into the crystal-clear waters teeming with colorful tropical fish, sea turtles, and other fascinating sea life.
Halona Beach Cove's stunning beauty and abundant marine life make it an unforgettable adventure for visitors seeking exciting things to do in Oahu.
21. Visit Temples Memorial Park
Explore the serene beauty of Temples Memorial Park, a peaceful oasis where you can connect with nature and reflect on the history of Hawaii.
Wander through the lush, landscaped grounds and discover ancient Hawaiian temples, picturesque ponds, and thought-provoking sculptures.
Temples Memorial Park is an ideal destination for a tranquil escape amidst the bustling Island of Oahu. If you are looking for peaceful things to do in Oahu, this park is the perfect place.
22. See the Fireworks at Hilton Hawaiian Village
Immerse yourself in the vibrant colors of Hawaii by taking in the firework show at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
You can see this fantastic firework display from land or from the comfort of a cruise. Wherever you choose to watch the show, make sure you have a front row seat.
This unique, family-friendly experience allows you to appreciate Oahu's vibrant nightlife.
23. Create Unforgettable Family Vacation Memories
Hawaii offers endless opportunities to create unforgettable family vacation memories.
From exploring the bustling streets of Waikiki Beach to delving into the rich history of Hawaii at the Polynesian Cultural Center, there is no shortage of fun things to do in Oahu.
Make lasting memories as you experience the Island of Oahu's unique attractions, stunning landscapes, and warm hospitality. There are so many things to do in Oahu, your family vacation is bound to be unforgettable.
24. Experience Shark Diving at Turtle Canyon
For a thrilling and unforgettable adventure, head to Turtle Canyon for an exhilarating shark diving experience.
Join a tour and ride a boat to the crystal-clear waters of the canyon, home to various species of sharks, such as the Galapagos and sandbar sharks.
With the safety of a secure cage, dive into the depths and come face-to-face with these magnificent creatures as they gracefully glide through the water.
This once-in-a-lifetime experience offers a unique and close-up encounter with some of the ocean's most awe-inspiring predators.
25. Join a Whale Watching Boat Tour
Embark on an unforgettable whale-watching boat tour off the coast of Oahu and witness the majestic beauty of these gentle giants.
Seasonal tours offer the opportunity to see humpback whales in their natural habitat, making for a truly unforgettable Hawaiian experience.
Don't miss this unique opportunity to get up close and personal with one of nature's most magnificent creatures.
26. Visit Iolani Palace
Step back in time and explore the grandeur of Iolani Palace, the only official royal residence in the entire United States.
Learn about the Hawaiian monarchy, admire the palace's intricate architecture, and delve into the rich history of Hawaii. Purchase tickets online to secure your spot on a tour through this opulent historical site.
27. Dine in the Historic Dining Room at Iolani Palace
Step back in time as you dine in the historic dining room at the magnificent Iolani Palace, the official residence of Hawaii's last reigning monarchs.
The grand palace, adorned with opulent furnishings and stunning artwork, offers visitors a unique glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of Hawaiian royalty.
Savor a delicious meal amidst the palace's elegant surroundings, and immerse yourself in the fascinating history and culture of Hawaii.
28. Hike the Many Scenic Trails on Oahu
Experience the natural beauty of Oahu up close by hiking the many scenic trails that traverse the island. If you are looking for stunning scenery and a bit of exercise, this is one of the best things to do in Oahu.
From the challenging climb to the summit of Diamond Head to the many lush and tranquil trails around the island, there is a hike for every skill level and interest.
With opportunities to discover hidden waterfalls, verdant rainforests, and dramatic coastal cliffs, hiking on Oahu is an ideal way to connect with the island's stunning landscapes and appreciate its diverse ecosystems.
29. Stroll Through the Dole Plantation's Pineapple Garden Maze
Navigate the world's largest pineapple garden maze at the Dole Plantation, a fun and engaging activity for visitors of all ages.
As you weave your way through the 2.5-mile labyrinth, you'll be surrounded by the lush greenery of tropical trees and pineapple plants.
The Dole Plantation is one of the most cultural things to do in Oahu. Learn about the agriculture of this magical island on an informative plantation tour.
30. Ride the Pineapple Express Train at the Dole Plantation
Experience a fun-filled adventure on the Pineapple Express Train at the Dole Plantation, an iconic Oahu attraction.
Hop aboard the vintage train and journey through the picturesque pineapple fields, learning about the history and cultivation of this delicious fruit.
If you are traveling with kids, this is one of the most fun and cultural things to do in Oahu.
31. Check out the Honolulu Museum of Art
Explore the fascinating history and culture of the Pacific region at the Honolulu Museum of Art (HoMA). Explore fine art from Hawaii, Asia, and around the world at this incredible museum.
You will also see works by artists like Van Gogh, Monet, Warhol, and Picasso. This museum holds the largest collection of art in the state of Hawaii and does a great job of representing different world cultures.
Once you've explored the museum, you'll find plenty of things to do in Honolulu.
32. Hike to Manoa Falls
Embark on an unforgettable hike through lush rainforests and towering bamboo groves to the majestic Manoa Falls.
This 150-foot waterfall is one of Oahu's most popular hiking destinations, offering visitors a glimpse of the island's breathtaking natural beauty.
The 1.6-mile round-trip trail is suitable for hikers of all skill levels, making it an excellent family activity.
After reaching the waterfall, take a moment to enjoy the tranquil surroundings and snap some memorable photos.
While swimming is not permitted at Manoa Falls, the sight of the cascading water and the serene atmosphere are sure to leave a lasting impression.
Remember to wear comfortable shoes and bring along water and snacks to make the most of this incredible hike.
33. Explore Sea Life in Tide Pools
Discover the hidden treasures of Oahu's coastline by exploring the island's diverse and captivating pools. These unique ecosystems, teeming with marine life, offer visitors a chance to observe fascinating creatures such as sea urchins, hermit crabs, and colorful fish up close.
Visit popular tide pool locations like Sharks Cove on the North Shore or Makapu'u Beach Park on the east coast, and witness the wonders of the underwater world.
With a keen eye and a sense of adventure, tide pool exploration offers a unique and educational experience for visitors of all ages.
When exploring these pools, remember to be respectful of the delicate marine life and their fragile habitats. Refrain from touching or disturbing the creatures, and always tread carefully around the tide pools to avoid damaging the environment.
34. Enjoy E-Bike Tours of Hawaii Kai
Discover a myriad of things to do in Oahu as you embark on an exhilarating e-bike tour through the captivating Hawaii Kai region.
With the assistance of an electric motor, you'll be able to cover more ground and experience Oahu's natural beauty with ease and comfort.
Don't forget to grab breakfast before setting off. Oahu's east coast is a treasure trove of excitement and beauty, with so much fun to be had in the great outdoors.
Stop at the Polynesian Cultural Center, then e-bike to one of Oahu's many amazing beaches. Spot Jurassic Park filming locations and don't forget to bring your camera. This is a great experience for anyone looking to see all of the diverse attractions Oahu has to offer.
35. Paddle to Mokulua Islands
Embark on a thrilling adventure to the stunning Mokulua Islands, also known as the Mokes, located just off the coast of Lanikai Beach on Oahu's coast.
Rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard and make your way to these twin islets, which are part of the Hawaii State Seabird Sanctuary.
This exciting excursion offers visitors a chance to enjoy pristine white sand beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and amazing views of the island's coastline.
Upon reaching the islands, take the opportunity to explore the rocky shoreline and discover the various seabird species that call the Mokes home.
Make sure to pack a picnic, sunscreen, and snorkel gear, as the waters surrounding the islands teem with colorful fish and other marine life.
This unforgettable adventure to the Islands is a unique and exhilarating way to experience the natural beauty of Oahu.
36. Take a Thrilling Helicopter Tour of Oahu
Discover the breathtaking beauty of Oahu from the sky on a thrilling helicopter tour. Witness the stunning landscapes of the island, from the lush green mountains to the turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean, as you soar above the diverse terrain.
Marvel at the panoramic views of Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head, and the North Shore, all while experiencing the exhilarating sensation of flight.
A helicopter tour is an unforgettable way to explore the natural wonders and iconic landmarks of Oahu.
37. Savor Hawaiian Shave Ice
A visit to Oahu is packed with incredible things to do, and one of the island's most popular treats is the delectable Hawaiian shave ice. This delightful dessert is a must-try after exploring Oahu's many attractions.
With countless flavor combinations, shave ice can satisfy every craving, from the adventurous to the traditional. Savor the cool and tasty Hawaiian shave ice at one of the many local stands, creating a sweet memory under the warm Hawaiian sun.
You will find Hawaiian shave ice on and around Sunset Beach to the north and Kailua Beach on the windward side of the island. This sweet treat is a must-try when you visit Oahu.
FAQs Regarding Things to Do in Oahu
Let's look at some frequently asked questions about things to do in Oahu, Hawaii.
What is Oahu best known for?
Oahu is best known for its beautiful beaches, such as Waikiki Beach and Sunset Beach, and the landmarks on this side of the island. The island also boasts a rich history, with attractions like the Bishop Museum and Iolani Palace.
The North Shore area offers world-class surfing opportunities, while Jurassic Park and the lush tropical landscapes provide stunning scenery for nature lovers.
Are 7 days in Oahu too long?
Seven days in Oahu is not too long, as there are plenty of things to do and see. A week allows ample time to explore the island's diverse attractions, including the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, snorkel at a nature preserve, and enjoy a sunset cruise along the coastline.
What should not miss in Honolulu?
In Honolulu, you should not miss visiting the iconic Waikiki Beach, exploring the historic Iolani Palace, learning about the island's culture at the Bishop Museum, and hiking to the top of Diamond Head for breathtaking views.
How many days in Oahu is enough?
The number of days in Oahu that is enough depends on your interests and how much of the island you wish to explore.
Generally, a stay of four to seven days will allow you to experience the main attractions and activities Oahu has to offer, such as the Cultural Center, and the North Shore.
Summing Up: Best Things to Do in Oahu
In sum, there are countless amazing things to do in Oahu. From Jurassic Park filming locations and the Pearl Harbor Memorial to hidden gems like Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, the island has it all.
Oahu offers a perfect blend of adventure, relaxation, and cultural immersion, making it a must-visit destination for travelers.
So, with 37 of the best things to do in Oahu now at your fingertips, there's never been a better time to explore this Hawaiian paradise. Don't wait any longer—book your trip to Oahu today and experience the magic for yourself.