This post may contain some affiliate links, which means I’ll make a little money on anything you choose to purchase. But of course, I only recommend my absolute favorites to you. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Hulaland possible.

What are the best things to do in Oahu?

Aloha! Thinking about heading to Hawaii? Most people are drawn to Oahu (Honolulu & Waikiki) because of the great flight options. As Hawaii’s main island (but not the biggest!) there is sooooo much to do here! Here are 15 things to do in Oahu that you definitely shouldn’t miss:

1.Take surfing lessons at Waikiki. Surfing has a long and rich history in Hawaii and Waikiki was the birthplace of it all. Paddle out into the lineup and you’ll be hanging ten like the pros in no time. Dozens of surf schools line the beaches of Waikiki, where ideal beginner surf conditions can be found nearly every day. Most schools will provide some on land instruction as well as all of the gear you’ll need to enjoy a morning out on the water.

15 Things to Do in Oahu | Hanauma Bay

2. Snorkel at Hanauma Bay. It’s hardly undiscovered but Hanauma Bay is still one of the best snorkeling spots in Hawaii. They only allow a limited number of people into the bay everyday and they close the parking lot when it reaches capacity so be sure to go early in the day. Near the parking lot is an overlook area that’s popular with the tourists and from this point is where you’ll pay your entrance fee (about $6/person) and watch a film about conservation efforts in the bay. From the top you can walk or take a tram down to the bottom where there are shower, bathroom, and locker facilities.

15 Things to Do in Oahu | Lanikai Beach

3. Sun bathe at 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. The remoteness and laidback vibe of this area will make you feel a world away from bustling Waikiki.

15 Things to Do in Oahu | Pearl Harbor

4. Tour Pearl Harbor. You can’t come to Oahu and not visit Pearl Harbor. The boat ride out to the USS Arizona is the true highlight but there are plenty of other things to tour as well. Admission to two of the museums as well as the USS Arizona are free but you’ll need to secure tickets for the USS Arizona Memorial as they limit the number of visitors each day. Tickets can be obtained in person but it’s a good idea to make reservations online ahead of time.

15 Things to Do in Oahu | Waikiki & Diamond Head

5. Watch sunset on Waikiki Beach. It may be swarming with tourists but Waikiki is 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.

Side Note: If you’re looking for a rental car for your trip, I LOVE Discount Hawaii Car Rentals. They’re seriously the only company I ever use. They’ll give you the very best prices, you don’t have to reserve with a credit card or pay until you show up, you can cancel and re-book anytime if you find a better rate, and they usually have a special that adds additional drivers for no fee. It’s a no brainer. Click here to check rates for your trip.

RELATED: Not very familiar with Oahu? Read up on the lay of the (is)land and where to stay plus my favorite beach resorts, budget hotels, condos, honeymoon resorts, family friendly resorts, luxury resorts, and boutique hotels.

6. Hike Diamond Head. For great views of Waikiki, consider making the trek up to Diamond Head. Diamond Head is an extinct volcanic crater and while the round trip hike can be made in under an hour, allow more time for stopping at picture points along the way.

15 Things to Do in Oahu | Waikiki & Diamond Head

7. Visit the Polynesian Cultural CenterOahu’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. You can buy admission to the park plus tickets to the luau here.

8. 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. Read all about my experience at the Paradise Cove Luau (plus reserve tickets) here.

15 Things to Do in Oahu | Paradise Cove Luau

9. 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.

10. 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.

15 Things to Do in Oahu | North Shore Haleiwa

11. 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. Read this post for more info.

15 Things to Do in Oahu | Kailua Beach

12. 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.

RELATED: 31 Things to Do in Honolulu & Waikiki

20 Free Things to Do in Waikiki & Honolulu

Ultimate Guide to Disney’s Aulani Resort and Spa

Paradise Cove Luau

Riding ATVs at Kualoa Ranch

5 Things to Skip on Oahu

13. Visit the Iolani Palace. Experience Hawaiian culture and history by touring the Iolani Palace. It’s the only imperial palace located on US soil and a popular tourist destination in Waikiki.

14. Find “Turtle Beach” on the North Shore. 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.

15. 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). My favorite thing at Kualoa is the 2-hour ATV tour. Read all about my experience at Kualoa Ranch (plus reserve your tour) here.

15 Things to Do in Oahu | Kualoa Ranch

Heading to another island? Check out my favorites on Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island.

Thanks for sticking around and reading this whole post! It’s always my goal to provide a TON of value to YOU. To that end, lately I’ve been packing my Instagram (@hula.land) FULL of content and adventures that you might want to check out. A lot of my post captions are like mini blog posts with travel info, I’ve got IGTV review videos for luaus and excursions, and helpful story highlights like grocery store prices and hotel reviews. Not to mention that my feed is pretty much the ultimate tropical eye candy! You can follow me here and share my account with your friends! Your support really helps me to keep this blog running!

Also, if you have ANY questions about planning your trip to Hawaii, you can join my free Facebook group here. I’m in there answering questions every day and there are 5000+ other friends who have a ton of Hawaii information to share!

Feeling a little overwhelmed with trying to plan the perfect Hawaii itinerary? I’ve got just the thing for you!

Hawaii Bound! I’ve put together the BEST Hawaii itineraries you’ll find anywhere! These are the itineraries I use on my trips to Hawaii (plus a few tweaks because hindsight is 20/20 right?) and they’re perfect for first time and repeat visitors who want to see the very best of each of the Hawaiian Islands.

Check it out here.

I’ve included everything from the best snorkeling spots, beaches, and excursions and it’s all broken down by each part of the island so you won’t waste any time backtracking.

So what exactly do you get? With Hawaii Bound, you’ll get 10-15 different DAILY itineraries for each of the four main islands (Maui, Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island).

These aren’t week long itineraries, but daily itineraries so you can pick and choose what works best for your trip. If you’re the go-go-go type, then pick 6 different daily itineraries and string them together into one adventure packed trip. If you’re staying at a nice beach resort and wanting to take advantage of the amenities, then pick 2-3 daily itineraries and spend the rest of the week chilling at the resort/beach. If you’re going on an island hopping extravaganza trip, use the daily itineraries to figure out how many days to spend on each island and what to do!

This is basically vacation in a box, friend! Just add a bit of salt water and you’re in for the trip of a lifetime.

Click here to grab the Hawaii Bound itinerary bundle.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This