Home to the capital, Honolulu, and the exciting stretch of urban beach, Waikiki, Oahu has its fair share of city lights glistening against the surf. But Oahu is so much more than the islander’s city. Oahu is an outdoor paradise waiting to be explored up, down, and under the sea. We’ve uncovered the 10 best things to do in Hawaii on Oahu. Check out all that embraces our ‘Aloha Spirit’!
Spend the day exploring the rich heritage of the Pacific Islands where you can wander through 42 acres of tropical foliage and enjoy discovering all of the traditional hands-on activities. Dine like royalty at an authentic Polynesian luau, complete with the most spectacular evening show on the island. Many of our HGV Owners love the Circle Island Tour. This tour lets you explore the historical, scenic, and cultural highlights of the island of Oahu.
Chinatown is bursting with shops, galleries, ethnic markets, and incredible dim sum. This area is also an artistic hub, home to indie art galleries and the art deco Hawaii Theater Center, which stages concerts, musicals, and comedy shows. Temples to visit include the Buddhist Kuan Yin Temple, with its striking green roof. Don’t leave Chinatown without purchasing a lush flower lei or necklace!
Iolani Palace is a National Historic Landmark and is a living restoration of a proud Hawaiian national identity. Built-in 1882 by King Kalakaua, Iolani Palace was the home of Hawaii’s last reigning monarchs and continues to share the stories of their Majesties.
A visit to the Pearl Harbor museum is at the top of Hawaii’s to-do lists. This is an incredible opportunity to pay respects to the fallen sailors and brave heroes of December 7, 1941. The monuments, naval vessels, documentary, and museum are all a part of this unforgettable experience.
Drive to North Shore
Yes, the waves of the North Shore are what pull many travelers to visit this part of the island, but the drive to and around the North is just as enticing. Watch the powerful waves crash, while brave surfers try not to get bucked off their boards, cool off with a Matsumoto shave ice, and track down a shrimp truck to enjoy a casual lunch beneath a Banyan tree.
Swim in Makapu’u Tide Pools
Go off the beaten track to cool down in one of Mother Nature’s rocky inlets. The Makapu’u tide pools, made from black lava, is one of the most beautiful places on Oahu. Spend the morning searching for the residents of the tide pools; sea stars, crabs, and fish. Then make your way to the Makapu’u Lighthouse for incredible views and a great photo op.
Snorkeling in Shark’s Cove/Pupukea Tide Pools
Located on the North Shore, Shark’s Cove boasts blue water and an impressive amount of sea life. Sharks Cove has been rated by Scuba Diving Magazine as one of the “Top Twelve Shore Dives in the World.” Get ready to see a plethora of wildlife including sea turtles and manta rays!
Waimea Bay/Banzai Pipeline
The North Shore continues to show off its adventure activities and top lists for things to do in Hawaii. Waimea is famous for its 30-foot waves in the winter and is a top place to watch some of the world’s best and bravest wave riders. During summer the water calms and is a great destination for swimming, snorkeling, diving, and bodyboarding.
Hanauma Bay Snorkel & Diamond Head Hike
You really don’t need to bother with renting a car in Oahu; there is so much public transportation available! Consider taking the bus to Hanauma Bay to snorkel in one of the most beautiful inlets in Hawaii. After mingling with the fishes, take public transport to the base of Diamond Head to hike to the top. Yes, it’s worth it! The views and photos from the top are surreal.
Maunawili Falls Trail
The Maunawili Falls Trail is a fantastic hike in Kailua along the river that eventually meets at a beautiful waterfall with a great summing hole below. Many visitors enjoy a small jump into the pools below. Don’t forget your hiking boots! This trail is often muddy, and you’ll also cross the river several times along the trail. It’s all about the adventure!
If you want to see honu (turtles), Laniakea Beach is where you go. Nicknamed, ‘turtle beach’, Laniakea Beach in Haleiwa, just may become your family’s favorite. Green sea turtles come up onto the sand to sun themselves and relax in between the rocks on the shore.
Are you planning a trip to Oahu soon? Enjoy our list of the best things to do in Hawaii: Oahu Edition. We’d love to hear which one is your favorite! Share a photo with us on Instagram using #MyHGV.