Did you know that Oahu is also referred to as Hawaii’s “gathering place?” The island is one of the largest in that region. And it gets its nickname based on only one fact. The majority of the population residing in Hawaii stays in Oahu. Here, you will even find the most number of travelers from all over the world. So it’s time to know all about the 20 best things to do in Oahu.
As you already know, Hawaii is a place of diversity. And this you see this in everything from art and languages to entertainment and culinary traditions. There’s a lot to look forward to, isn’t it? Even if you do nothing so you can watch the sunset or admire Mother Nature, you’ve made the most of your trip.
But there are many more things that you can do. So let me list them down for you!
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- 20 Best Things to do in Oahu
- #1 Drive Around Oahu
- #2 Watch the Sunset and Sunrise
- #3 Go to Paradise Cove for a luau
- #4 Visit the Iolani Palace
- #5 Experience the North Shore
- #6 Climb Up and Down the Koko Head Stairs
- #7 See the Mermaid Caves
- #8 Hike to the Manoa Falls
- #9 Zipline at the Kualoa Ranch
- #10 Chill by the Cockroach Cove
- #11 Go to the Pacific Aviation Museum
- #12 Visit the Byodo-In Temple
- #13 Eat at Honolulu’s Chinatown
- #14 Night Surfing at Waikiki
- #15 Snorkel at Hanauma Bay
- #16 Hike at Diamond Head
- #17 Spend the Day at Honolulu Zoo
- #18 Drop by at Pearl Harbor
- #19 See the Bishop Museum
- #20 Hike till the Makapu’u Point
- Time to Pack!
20 Best Things to do in Oahu
#1 Drive Around Oahu
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Do you know what “holoholo” means? It means going out for a drive. So that’s the first thing that you can do on Oahu. A leisure ride of the island takes about two hours. During this time, you’ll see the city as well as the countryside. And this is a good way to get to know the island before you get into other fun activities.
#2 Watch the Sunset and Sunrise
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This list consists of the 20 best things to do in Oahu. And out of these, there’s nothing more divine than watching the sunset and sunrise on the island. What makes it even better is the sea of options, quite literally, for coasts. It’s the beaches where the real beauty of the island lies.
For sunrise, you can get to Kailua Beach. And for sunset, head to the beautiful Kahanamoku Beach.
#3 Go to Paradise Cove for a luau
When in Paradise Cove, you need to go to its luau. It’s an important part of the culture and Oahu’s identity. A luau takes you back to the time where the people of Hawaii celebrated, lived, and ate in a different manner.
You can indulge in various types of activities here such as weaving headbands, stringing leis, or throwing spears. The meaning of the word “luau” is to feast. So there’s a lot of delicious Hawaiian cuisine to look forward to as well.
What is a Luau? - Paradise Cove Luau - Hawaii's Best Luau
#4 Visit the Iolani Palace
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This is a sight to see! And once you go there, you’ll know why. This is the majestic palace where King Kalakaua lived with his sister, Queen Liliuokalani, back in the 1890s. When you take a walk through its corridors, you can’t help but imagine great balls with music and dancing. Don’t forget to drop by the royal throne room and the grand dining room.
And if you think that’s about it, then you’re wrong. There’s a lot more to marvel at in the Iolani Palace.
#5 Experience the North Shore
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One of the best things to do in Oahu for free is right here! Do you wish to take a break from the busy, crowded Honolulu streets to enjoy some solitude? If that’s your thing, then you need to get to the countryside. It has many secluded beaches with a peaceful environment.
The North Shore also offers the best cuisine. And here’s the part that you might love the most. There’s the favoriteWaimea Bay Beach rock that you can jump off if that’s your thing too.
#6 Climb Up and Down the Koko Head Stairs
Now I know that not everybody likes to hit the gym. But if the gym is in Oahu’s South Shore region, then you might consider it. These 1,000 steps are a part of the Koko Head Park.And Obama climbed them too!
You should also know that the trail was once a railroad that helped in bringing military equipment to bunkers. It ascends into the beautiful mountains. So don’t forget to wear walking shoes, sunscreen, sunglasses, and maybe even a hat.
During the walk, you’ll get a 360-degree panoramic view of both the sea and the mountains. And this when you’ll know why you chose to come to Oahu for a vacation!
Koko Head Stairs (Birds eye view)
#7 See the Mermaid Caves
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Once a secret location, the Mermaid Caves have now turned into a favorite spot for locals as well as tourists. And why not when you can see water flowing into the underground caves from the beautiful ocean! The whole setting looks magical, almost fictional too, just like mermaids.
#8 Hike to the Manoa Falls
When in Oahu, you have to hike all the way to Manoa Falls. And if you think that it’s too much physical activity, then that’s not the case. It’s only a few minutes from Waikiki streets. The dense jungle trail opens up to this magnificent large waterfall. And this is where some scenes from Jurassic Park were filmed. Even the hit series, Lost was shot in this gorgeous, lush green region.
#9 Zipline at the Kualoa Ranch
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If you ask me, what is the most thrilling out of the 20 best things to do in Oahu, I will pick ziplining. And do you know why? It’s because you get to zipline through the territory of Jurassic Park. It’s the perfect way to float through the wonderful surroundings. It allows you to admire the scenic beauty while you also indulge in those selfies for Snapchat.
Plus, if you’re with the family, then there’s nothing better than this fun activity.
#10 Chill by the Cockroach Cove
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One of the most marvelous Oahu points of interest is the Cockroach Cove. Not many tourists relax at this place. So all the more reason to head out there and have a peaceful time, isn’t it?
You will find turtles feeding in the area. But it’s the little caves and rocky formations that make the experience well worth it.
#11 Go to the Pacific Aviation Museum
Looking for things to do in Oahu with kids? Let me introduce you to the Pacific Aviation Museum. It consists of aircrafts and flight simulators that your children will be thrilled to explore. Plus, the museum has the historical footage that depicts the infamous 1941 tragedy on the Pearl Harbor.
Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor Virtual Tour
#12 Visit the Byodo-In Temple
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The picture makes you believe that the temple is located in Japan and not Hawaii, right? But I can assure you that the Byodo-In Temple is found right near the Ko’olau base. It’s a non-practicing temple that was erected to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Hawaii’s first Japanese.
This also counts as one of the top things to do in Oahu with kids, doesn’t it?
#13 Eat at Honolulu’s Chinatown
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Out of the 20 best things to do in Oahu, this one’s the most delicious! It’s a place for your taste buds to have a good time.
In Honolulu’s Chinatown, you’ll find merchants from all Asian countries. There are Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Thai merchants that offer delicious cuisine. And these include fresh produce, tea, noodles, and other types of Asian foods.
#14 Night Surfing at Waikiki
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One of the best things to do in Oahu at night is surfing during a full moon. If you’ll are a group of friends, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t head to Waikiki. During a full moon, the ocean has enough light for you to spot and work on swells. But at the same time, you can also enjoy the starlit sky.
#15 Snorkel at Hanauma Bay
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Hanauma Bay is a part of Hawaii Kai located in the eastern region of Honolulu. It is considered to be the perfect place for snorkeling. The Bay is a beautiful natural reserve along with a marine sanctuary. It sinks into the crater and gives you a magnificent stretch of nothing but golden sand.
#16 Hike at Diamond Head
Coming to Oahu and not hiking at Diamond Head is like going to the supermarket and not buying groceries. Okay, this might sound like a bad example, but you got my point, didn’t you?
When in Honolulu, you have to hike. And when you’re hiking, you need to go to the Diamond Head. It is where an iconic volcano once stood, which means the perfect spot to take those pictures. The views are breathtakingly beautiful, trust me!
Diamond Head Hike - Oahu, Hawaii
#17 Spend the Day at Honolulu Zoo
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Your kids will love you for this! The Honolulu Zoo covers an expanse of 42 acres of land and houses around 905 different species. Most of these animals are tropical climate natives. You get the fantastic opportunity to see an orangutan and Komodo dragon!
#18 Drop by at Pearl Harbor
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I’m sure you’ve watched the movie “Pearl Harbour?” If not, then maybe you should do that instead of going to Oahu. It’s a memorial that marks the morning of that unfortunate day of Dec 7th, 1941. It was when Japanese aircraft attacked US ships based in the Pearl Harbor region of Honolulu. And this is how US entered WWII after declaring war on Japan.
#19 See the Bishop Museum
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For someone who loves art and history, you don’t need 20 best things to do in Oahu. Visiting the Bishop Museum is more than enough, isn’t it? It is the only place where you’ll find Hawaii’s rich cultural heritage. The museum contains the world’s greatest set of Polynesian scientific and cultural artifacts.
#20 Hike till the Makapu’u Point
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Here’s another pleasant hike that you can embark upon in Oahu. Once you reach the Makapu’u Point, you get a clear view of the Waimanalo Bay, Koko Head, as well as Sandy Beach.
Another reason why you need to get up there is whale watching. From the months of December all the way till May, you’ll spot hikers spotting whales.
Time to Pack!
So these are the top 20 best things to do in Oahu. I gave you as many as 20 reasons to visit that beautiful island. And trust me, once you see the pictures of Oahu, you will not want 20 or even 10 reasons to spend your next vacation there.
The island offers beautiful diversity in all aspects ranging from tourist attractions and food to culture and art. And even if you don’t want to indulge in any activity, you’ll still have a good time. Watching the sunset and sunrise are also quite rewarding and peaceful experiences.
So have you ever been to Hawaii or Oahu? Tell us all about the kind of places that you visited.
Please feel free to share your experiences with us here. You can drop your comments in the section below.
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