You’re going to Oahu??! You’re going to love it! I’ve put together my ultimate bucket list of things to do on Oahu, all 101 of them! Now of course you won’t get to all of these one one trip, but use this list to pick and choose what sounds best to you so you’ll be on your way to planning the perfect Oahu vacation!, So here are 101 things to do on Oahu:
Waikiki & Honolulu
1.Hike Diamond Head: This is probably the most iconic thing to do in Waikiki. It’s a mild hike and only takes about 30 minutes to get to the top but once you do you’ll have a fabulous view of Waikiki and Honolulu. Go early since there’s no shade. It’s $5/car to drive in (if there’s space available), and $1/person to walk in.
2.Chinatown: Spend a few hours exploring Chinatown’s markets, lei shops, and bar and restaurant scene. Don’t miss the Pig and the Lady.
3.Duke Statue: The famous bronze statue of Duke Kahanamoku (Olympic Champion and the “father of surfing”) is a must see on Waikiki.
4.Pearl Harbor: Really if there’s one “not to be missed experience” on Oahu, visiting Pearl Harbor is it. Get tickets in advance to visit the USS Arizona Memorial. Tickets to the Arizona Memorial are free but limited.
5.Iolani Palace: The only royal residency in the United States, touring Iolani Palace is will give you a great history lesson. Guided tours are $21.75/adult and $6/child. Self-guided audio tours are $14.25/adult and $6/child. 4 and under are free.
6.Aloha Swap Meet: This swap meet/flea market held on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at Aloha Stadium is the perfect place to do your souvenir shopping. Admission is $1/person.
7.Foster Botanical Garden: Honolulu’s oldest botanical garden is located near Chinatown and is home to some amazing tropical plants. Admission is $5/adult.
8.Waikiki Aquarium: The Waikiki Aquarium is a great place to get an up close look at local marine life, especially if you have kids. Admission is $12/adult and $5/child.
9.Honolulu Zoo: If you’re looking for a way to entertain the kids, the Honolulu Zoo has a pretty good collection of animals. Admission is $14/adult and $6/child.
10.Honolulu Museum of Art: You may not think art when you think Hawaii, but this museum has a surprisingly diverse collection. Admission is $20/adult. 18 and under are free. Admission is free on the first Wednesday and third Sunday of every month.
11.Shangri La: This may be the most unexpected surprise on Oahu. Previously Doris Duke’s Honolulu home, it now houses her extensive collection of Islamic art. The property may only be seen via guided tour from the Honolulu Museum of Art. Tours are offered Wednesday through Saturday. Tours last 2.5 hours (1.5 hours onsite and an hour at the museum) and cost $25 (that includes admission to the Honolulu Museum of Art). Reserve in advance.
12.Punchbowl: The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (nicknamed the Punchbowl) which was built in 1948 to serve as a final resting place for members of the US Armed Forces who lost their lives in WWII lays in the dormant volcano Pouwaina, which means “hill of sacrifice.”
13.Ala Moana Shopping Center: This is the most decadent shopping destination on Oahu and an attraction in itself. Even if you’re not in the market for designer/luxury brands, it’s a sight to see. And surprisingly, the food court is a world class international destination.
14.Hawaii Food Tours: This epic 5 hour “Hole-in-the-Wall” tour takes food lovers all over Honolulu for “local-style comfort foods of Hawaii.” Tours are $129/person and they pick up in Waikiki.
15.Bishop Museum: The Bishop Museum is one of Oahu’s best kept secrets. The Hawaiian and Polynesian Halls are first class Smithsonian quality exhibits and a visit here is a “don’t miss” for museum lovers or anyone who wants to learn about Hawaiian history and culture. Admission is $22.95 and the museum is open everyday.
16.Farmer’s Markets: For a taste of local life, visit the Honolulu Farmers Market on Wednesday evenings from 4-7 (held on the lawn of the Blaisdell Concert Hall) or KCC Farmers Market on Saturday mornings from 7:30AM – 11:00AM and Tuesday evenings from 4:00 – 7:00PM (held across from the entrance to Diamond Head.
17.Surf Lessons on Waikiki Beach: Taking surf lessons on Waikiki is such a classic thing to do (did anybody else watch Gidget Goes Hawaiian growing up?), and it’s actually a great place to learn. Book a lesson with Waikiki Beach Services.
18.Outrigger Canoe Ride: Besides surfing, this is the most culturally significant water sport in Hawaii. Dozens of companies will offer one or two wave rides right off Waikiki Beach.
19.Architectural Walking Tour: Take a break from the beach and learn about historic downtown Honolulu with Architectural Walking Tours. The 2.5-hour tour is held on Saturday mornings and costs $15/person. Make reservations here.
20.Lyon Arboretum: Part of the University of Hawaii Manoa Campus, the Lyon Arboretum is situated in a lush rainforest setting in Manoa Valley. It’s worth a trip if you’re a nature lover. The arboretum is closed on Sundays and there is a suggested $5/person donation.
21.Sunset Cruise: Go out on a catamaran for a different perspective on Waikiki. While companies offer cruises all day, a sunset cruise is a must. Book your cruise with Na Hoku II here.
22.Watch the sunset: Sunsets on Waikiki are pretty magical. You can watch from the beach for free, or venture up to a resort poolside bar for a special treat.
23.Friday fireworks. Every Friday night, the Hilton Hawaiian Village shoots off fireworks in the skies over Waikiki. Watch from the lagoon in front of the Hilton or anywhere in Waikiki really.
24.Ala Moana Center Stage: The Ala Moana is Honolulu’s most prestigious shopping mall, and while the luxury brands there will certainly set you back, their Center Stage offers great entertainment. Check the schedule here.
25.Aloha Tower: Located in Honolulu Harbor, built in 1926 as a beacon to welcome visitors to Hawaii (who came almost entirely by boat), the 10th floor observation deck offers great views of Honolulu and the water.
26.Royal Hawaiian Hotel Tour: The iconic “Pink Palace of the Pacific” offers complimentary walking tours that showcase the hotel’s history every Tuesday and Thursday at 1 PM. Tours meet in the Royal Hawaiian Bakery.
27.Moana Surfrider Tour: Similarly, Waikiki’s first hotel, “the First Lady of Waikiki” also hosts complimentary historical tours every Monday and Wednesday at 11 AM in the Historical Room on the 2nd floor.
28.Honolulu Fish Auction: The Honolulu Fish Auction is the only tuna auction in the United States and quite an experience. It’s free and open to the public, but you’ll have to arrive early to see the show (6AM-8AM is preferred) and it’s chilly inside so bring a jacket!
29.Manoa Falls: A popular hike because it’s quick (1.6 miles round trip) and rewarding (hello waterfall!), this may be your easiest chance for waterfall gazing.
30.Hawaii State Capitol: Located in downtown Honolulu, self-guided tours are available 8:30 AM-3:30 PM Monday through Friday. Guided tours are available for the public on Wednesdays at 1 PM.
31.Tantalus Lookout: Make the drive up to Puu Ualakaa State Park for amazing views of Honolulu, Waikiki, Diamond Head, and Pearl Harbor.
32.Royal Hawaiian Band Concerts: Weather permitting the Royal Hawaiian Band performs every Friday from 12-1 on the lawn of the Iolani Palace. Chairs are set up and a huge banyan tree provides nice shade.
33.Hawaii State Art Museum: Located on the 2nd floor of the No. 1 Capitol District Building in downtown Honolulu, HiSAM features rotating exhibits that highlight the art of the people of Hawaii.
34.Kawaiaha’o Church: Thought to be the oldest church in Hawaii, the “Westminster Abbey of the Pacific” holds services on Sundays in English and Hawaiian.
35.Honolulu Museum of Art: This world-class art museum offers free admission on the first Wednesday and third Sunday of every month.
36.Torch Lighting and Hula Show: Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday under the banyan tree at Kuhio Beach, catch a ceremonial torch lighting and hula show.
37.Hawaii Army Museum: Open Tuesday-Saturday from 9-5, the Hawaii Army Museum is home to artifacts from ancient Hawaiian armies to more modern campaigns.
38.Watch sunset on Waikiki: It may be swarming with tourists but it’s something that everyone needs to see at least once. Plan on dinner and drinks timed to see the sunset. Duke’s at the Outrigger Waikiki Resort or Rumfire at the Sheraton are both great options. There’s plenty of shopping to keep you busy well after dark.
39.Halona Blowhole: Just east of Honolulu, this blowhole is easily accessible from a viewing platform at a turnout in the highway. The drive from Honolulu along this coast is amazing.
40.Hanauma Bay: Oahu’s most popular snorkeling spot is just a quick bus ride from Honolulu. It’s $7.50 to snorkel in this pristine bay (it’s a nature preserve) and you can rent snorkel gear for another $12.50. Parking is $1 but it fills up early. It’s open from 6AM-6PM, but closed on Tuesdays.
41.Makapu’u Point Trail: If you’re out by Hanauma Bay and Halona Blowhole, consider doing this 2 mile round trip hike. It’s a pretty steep climb but completely paved and you’re rewarded with gorgeous views.
42.Visit the Polynesian Cultural Center: Oahu’s most popular paid attraction is definitely a don’t miss. The is a series of authentic villages displaying the cultures of islanders across the Pacific. From ukulele lessons to other cultural demonstrations, if you’re interested in learning more about Polynesian culture, plan to spend half a day here.
43.Attend the Luau at Paradise Cove: A luau is at the top of many visitors to do lists and the Luau at Paradise Cove is one of the best. Arrive early to participate in hula lessons, lei making, and a variety of cultural demonstrations before the main event. Plenty of food and a spectacular show cap off the night.
44.Watch the surfers on the North Shore: If you’re visiting Oahu in the winter months, you’ll witness some of the world’s best surfers taking on the world’s biggest waves on the North Shore. December brings the Triple Crown of Surfing to Oahu and be prepared for crowds if you plan to go out to watch the tournaments.
45.Explore Haleiwa town: A day spent on the North Shore isn’t complete without hanging out in Haleiwa town. Home to art galleries, local shops, and a famous bakery and shaved ice joint, Haleiwa will give you a feel for a real authentic Hawaiian surf town.
46.Drive the windward coast: The drive from Kailua town to the North Shore will take you past some of Oahu’s most breathtaking sights. On this drive you’ll see the true beauty of Oahu and really get away from all the traffic of the city.
47.Eat at the North Shore’s famous food trucks: The North Shore has no shortage of food trucks but the shrimp trucks are probably the most popular. The scampi at Giovanni’s is award winning and one of the most frequented.
48.Explore Kualoa Ranch: On the windward side of Oahu, Kualoa Ranch is home to quite a few recreational activities including ziplining, ATV tours, horseback riding and movie site tours (films such as Jurassic Park, Pearl Harbor, Godzilla, and the TV show Lost were all filmed here).
49.Swim with wild dolphins: Set sail on a catamaran from the west side of Oahu where you’re guaranteed to see dolphins and turtles.
50.Go whale watching: If you’re on Oahu from November to March, keep an eye out for humpback whales!
51.Check out Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa: This expansive resort on the west side of Oahu features impressive Hawaiian architecture, artwork, and cultural heritage. You can also have breakfast with the mouse.
52.Hike Kokohead: If you thought Diamondhead was a workout, wait until you hike to the top of the extinct volcano, Kokohead. This is the lesser known/done hike of the two, but perfect for those who love a challenge.
53.Lanikai Pillbox Hike: This short hike is one of the best on the island and offers a breathtaking view.
54.Kayak to the Mokulua Islands: These two picturesque islands off Lanikai beach are a popular spot for kayakers and paddleboarders. Pack a picnic!
55.Crouching Lion Hike: This moderate hike on the windward coast features incredible views of the ocean and mountains.
56.Chinaman’s Hat: This offshore island is shaped like, you guessed it, a chinaman’s hat. Admire it from Kualoa State Park or paddle over in a kayak.
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57.Lanikai Beach: The most beautiful beach in Hawaii is the perfect place to spend the day sunbathing and frolicking through the waves. Located on the windward side of the island near Kailua town, this postcard worthy beach is accessed by beach paths between spectacular beach homes.
58.Kailua Beach: Right next door to Lanikai, Kailua isn’t quite as hidden, but it has way better amenities (parking, beach rentals, restrooms, showers, etc.).
59.Waimanalo Beach: This gorgeous beach on the windward side is a popular spot with tourists and locals alike.
60.Waikiki Beach: Even though it’s shoulder-to-shoulder people, hitting the beach is THE most popular thing to do in Waikiki. Kuhio Beach is the most popular stretch of Waikiki and for good reason…the conditions are perfect for swimming and sunbathing.
61.Ko’Olina Beach Park: This series of manmade lagoons on the west side is the perfect spot for swimming (especially for kids).
62.Waimea Bay: This is a big surf spot in the winter, but it’s perfect for swimming (and cliff jumping) in the summer.
63.Magic Island: This small manmade peninsula next to Ala Moana Beach Park has a nice protected lagoon to swim in. It’s also a great spot to watch the Friday night fireworks from.
64.Turtle Beach (Laniakea): Laniakea Beach is the best place in Oahu to find Hawaiian green sea turtles. Not only can you see them swimming through the reefs just off shore, but at this beach they actually swim ashore to rest and sun themselves in the sand.
65.Sunset Beach: Just offshore from this beach is the Banzai Pipeline, one of the most famous surf breaks in the world.
66.Kahana Bay Beach Park: This beautiful beach is surrounded by phenomenal jagged green mountains.
67.Halona Beach Cove: This tiny pocket of sand is hidden away near the Halona Blow Hole. You’ll have to hike down to get to it, but you can see if from the parking lot.
68.Sandy Beach: This is a popular boogie boarding spot with locals, but watch out for the waves here!
69.Eggs ‘n Things: Be prepared to wait in line, but it’s worth it for their amazing pancakes.
70.Helena’s Hawaiian Food: This is a true local joint but they’re so welcoming to tourists who find their way out there (very close to the Bishop Museum). The Rainbow Drive-In is also a don’t miss.
71.Giovanni’s: Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck on the north shore is easily the most popular food truck in the area (and there are a lot of them!). Try the shrimp scampi.
72.Ted’s Bakery: This efficient bakery on the north shore has a whole bunch of goodies, but they’re most famous for their chocolate haupia (coconut) pie.
73.Moke’s Bread and Breakfast: The best lilikoi pancakes period. Boots and Kimo’s is also a favorite of mine. They’re famous for their macadamia nut sauce on their pancakes. Get there early or you’ll have a wait!
74.Island Snow: In Kailua, Island Snow is a favorite of the Obamas. Also, try Matsumoto’s in Haleiwa and Waiola Shave Ice in Honolulu.
75.Haleiwa Bowls: I could eat these every day. Just a little stand in Haleiwa on the north shore, you can add toppings to customize your acai bowl. They also make smoothies and cold pressed juice.
76.Leonard’s: Famous for their malasadas (Portuguese style donuts), you can grab them from their bakery in town or at one of their food trucks around the island.
77.Wow Wow Lemonade: I’m not sure if this is the only fresh made lemonade on the island (I’m guessing not), but it’s my favorite and I wanted to include it on this list! There’s a location in Haleiwa and Wahiawa. My favorite is the lavender blackberry lemonade!
78.Rainbow Drive-In: Opened in 1961, this famous counter service spot services up delicious plate lunches.
79.Waiola Shaved Ice: Considered to be the best shave ice in Honolulu (and a favorite of the Obamas) the Moiliili location is the longest running shaved ice store on the island.
80.Cinammon’s: This Kailua institution (windward side) has amazing guava chiffon pancakes. Be prepared for a wait!
81.Boots & Kimo’s: Another popular Kailua breakfast joint, they’re famous for their macadamia nut pancake sauce.
82.Ono Seafood: A local, no-frill spot known for their varieties of ahi poke.
83.Uncle Bo’s Pupu Bar and Grill: This modern but casual restaurant has great pupus (appetizers) with a local flair.
84.Kalapawai Café & Deli: This quaint deli/general store on Kailua Beach is the perfect place to pick up a sandwich or snacks for your beach day.
85.Kono’s Restaurant: This counter service restaurant has locations all around the island.
86.Fumi’s Kahuku Shrimp Truck: One of the most popular shrimp trucks on the north shore, this is a don’t miss!
87.Steak Shack: This stand near Fort Derussy Beach Park serves breakfast and steak plates all day long.
88.House without a Key: For a great evening of pupus, drinks, and live Hawaiian music and dancing, definitely check out House without a Key.
89.Mariana Sailing Club: Surprisingly, you won’t find a lot of tiki bars in Hawaii. This one has a fun vintage atmosphere and serves dinner as well.
90.Monkeypod: Chef Peter Merriman’s Maui restaurant has made it to Oahu and the Ko’olina location is lovely. This two story open air restaurant is casual and trendy with amazing food.
91.Haleiwa Joe’s: The location in Kaneohe (Haiku Gardens) is one of the loveliest spots on Oahu. The food is delicious, and the atmosphere feels special but not pretentious. It’s a favorite spot with locals to celebrate special occasions.
92.AMA AMA: Located at Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa, in Ko’olina, AMA AMA has such an amazing atmosphere and is right smack on the beach. Dinner is most popular here, but I love it for breakfast.
93.The Pig and the Lady: This trendy Vietnamese fusion restaurant is a super popular spot. Drop by for lunch, but you’ll want reservations for dinner.
94.Duke’s: This Waikiki institution is THE place for a nice sunset dinner.
95.Mai Tai Bar: The original mai tai was created by the bar tender here more than 50 years ago. If you time your dinner and drinks right, you’ll have a great view of the luau at the Royal Hawaiian.
96.Rumfire: This is one of the best views in Waikiki. Come for lunch or dinner.
97.Roy’s Waikiki Beach: Roy’s is one of the most famous restaurant in Waikiki and practically a tradition.
98.Alan Wong’s Restaurant: The go to spot for Asian inspired fine dining.
99.Haleiwa Beach House: This low key spot is your best bet for a nice-ish dinner in Haleiwa.
100.Kona Brewing Company: This spot in the Koko Head Marina on the southside has great open air seating.
101.Orchids: This fancy restaurant in the Halekulani Hotel is one of the nicest on Waikiki, has great ocean views, and a dreamy Sunday brunch.
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